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Montreal, Canada, May 25, 2013
Dr. Prof. D.S. Chahal

Dr Balwant Singh Dhillon, Director of Center for Studies on Sri Guru Granth Sahib (Center) at Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU), Amritsar was invited by the Institute for Understanding Sikhism (IUS), Laval, Quebec and the Gurdwara Sahib Greater Montreal, Montreal, Quebec on May 18 and 19, 2013.  Dr. Dhillon presented a seminar on the methodology being used to interpret Gurbani at the newly established Center at GNDU. This seminar is the first step in preparation for the forthcoming International Conference on Formulating Methodology for Interpreting Gurbani to be organized by the Institute for Understanding Sikhism on September 21, 2013.

The Center was established with a federal grant of Rs. 470 million (approximately $9.4 million Canadian dollars) at the recommendations of Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India. Although the initial commitment was made in 2004, on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of the compilation of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the Center became operational only in 2011.  This Center would be fully funded by the University Grants Commission (UGC) and Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) in the long term.

It is a matter of great pride both for the Institute for Understanding Sikhism (IUS) and the Sikhs of Canada, particularly from Montreal, that Prof Dr Devinder Singh Chahal, President of IUS has been appointed as a Member of Advisory Committee by the GNDU Syndicate. Dr Kulbir Singh Thind, who is also a member of IUS and the pioneer of developing the website, www. srigranth .org,  as a research tool for study of AGGS, has also been invited to serve on this Advisory Committee.

In his talk on Saturday May 18, Dr. Dhillon explained that the Center consists of six Divisions; each dealing with a specific aspect of the Center’s objectives.  These include the Studies on Interfaith Understanding, Scriptural Studies, Studies on Musicology, Hermeneutic & Linguistic Studies, Social and Cultural Studies, and Scriptural Translations. He discussed the workings and operational activities of each of the Divisions, especially the work being done in the Divisions of Scriptural Translations and Musicology, and the important task of collection and preservation of old manuscripts. The building where the Center is housed is being constructed with a touch of Gurdwara architecture as well.
While discussing the current affairs about Sikhs and Sikhism, Dr. Dhillon emphasized the need for unity among Sikh organizations to tackle various issues confronting the community, which are both religious and social in nature. In particular, he stressed the important role that Gurudwaras can play in addressing such issues while at the same time serve as Institutes for learning and promoting Sikh philosophical thought.

On Sunday, Dr. Dhillon spoke on the approach or methodologies to be adopted for interpretation of Gurbani. Giani Kaura Singh, the Granthi of the Gurdwara Sahib Greater Montreal, also participated in this discussion.  Dr Dhillon emphasized the use of hermeneutics, language, historical facts, effect of social and cultural practices during the time of Gurus’ period when the Gurbani was written.  At present, a professor and two senior research fellows and Dr Dhillon are involved with the translation of the AGGS. Ex-Jathedar, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, one of editors of Gurbilas Patshai 6 – a controversial book, is also one of the main collaborators for translation. However, his talk suggested that there was little or no discussion on the scientific and logical of interpretation of Gurbani, despite the assertion by Prof Dr Ajaib Singh Brar at the opening ceremony of the Center that not only the recent trends in the fields of humanities and social sciences but even insights from the fields of fundamental sciences would be incorporated.  Prof. Chahal suggested that some work on scientific and logical interpretation of Gurbani in various books and many research articles has been done by him, which could be considered as a stepping stone for further research on exegesis and annotation of the AGGS. Prof Chahal emphasized the need to pay some attention on using scientific information and logic in Interpreting Gurbani.  Dr. Dhillon concurred with this suggestion.