Environment – from perspective of Sikhism
Sikhism teaches and encourages us to be selfless, responsible and to live in harmony with the environment. The ethics of environmentalism are enshrined in the basic teachings of Sikhism. The holy book of Sikhs states “Air is the Guru, water is the father and Earth is the great mother. Day and night are like two nurses who look after us”.
I had a privilege to accompany Sant Balbir Singh Seechewal on his trip to Australia recently. We drove to Woolgoolga and Canberra where I got the insight into the great mind. Sant ji is true crusader and a very knowledgeable person. Many around the world have acknowledged him for his tireless work.
I was amazed to listen to his knowledge about the flora and fauna around Australia, though it was his first visit but he knew all the plants and vegetation around him where ever we went. He said, ‘Sikhism can serve as a model religion for the environmentalists of the West’
Let’s explore how
Environment has been a growing challenge for the humanity since centuries until recently when people started to realise the effects of the poisonous gases, landfills, polluted water and air.
The Sikh Gurus have emphasised a sacramental understanding of the natural world. God is immanent in nature — nature is sacred. Man is supposed to enjoy and live in harmony with the nature. Follow its seasons and cherish them.
ਪਉਣ ਪਾਣੀ ਧਰਤੀ ਆਕਾਸੁ ਘਰ ਮੰਦਰ ਹਰਿ ਬਨੀ ॥ - On page 723, the Guru says: Air, water, earth and sky - the
Lord has made these His home and temple.
The Creator Being resides in nature and its diverse species providing the balance of life. The air, the water and the earth are the givers of life and knowledge, and sustains the life cycle for all.
This diversity needs to be protected and looked after.
Sikh gurus planted trees developed gardens and nurtured the natural resources for the food and water. Guru Har Rai, the seventh Sikh Guru developed Kiratpur Sahib as a town of parks and gardens on the banks of tributary of the Sutlej, he planted flowers and fruit bearing trees all over the area.
The 7th Guru, was also famous for healing people with herbal remedies.
Other Sikh gurus also developed and established many other cities like Anandpur Sahib, Govindwal, Paonta Sahib, Kartarpur, Sultanpur Lodhi etc. All these towns and cities were established with the local knowledge of flora and fauna as well as the water resources. These cities have been sustainable and environment friendly.
Sikhism actively promotes harmony with the natural resources, nature and environment. Its philosophy entails ‘Khalsa’ or purity – purity of thoughts and actions.
Sant Balbir Singh Seechewal has made exemplary efforts to revive the love and respect for the natural resources in Punjab, Haryana and surrounding areas with the support of thousands of volunteers. His efforts and vision has made the rivers flowing again with clean water. He started his efforts and many started joining in knowing the benefits of clean water and air as well as healthier environment.
In his statement he has urged people to participate and support the efforts of cleaner environment everywhere. He said ‘We all understand the effects of pollution on health and environment. Its for us to follow what is said in Guru Granth Sahib (Holy book of Sikhs) and what the Guru’s also followed. Love and respect – Earth Water and Air.’
Sant ji was loved and respected by all on his tour downunder. He visited Sydney, Woolgoolga, Melbourne, Adelaide and Canberra on his short visit. In Sydney and Canberra he engaged with the member parliamentarians and apprised them of his ongoing projects in India.