Sikhism & Care of the Planet

Sikhism & Care of the Planet

Gurmukh Singh OBE

Sikh participation and lead in topics relating to global warming and care of Great Mother Earth (Mata Dharat Mahat), is a most encouraging development.

On Sunday 21 January 2007, I participated in a second significant event on behalf of the Sikh faith. The first was organised by a radical UK Jewish group at Windsor Castle on 14 November last year. This time it was the Peterborough Inter-Faith Council.

Global warming is the highest priority topic today and Sikh participation in discussions at all levels is important. The ecological and environmental damage being done by pollution and overuse of earth’s resources, the global warming, the socio-political conflicts, terrorism and the war on terrorism, and so on, threaten the future of our planet. That is the background.

Building on the Sikh contribution at the Windsor Castle, further research of Gurbani showed that Sikh teachings and institutions can give pointers to further action in the religious and policy making fields, while the world religions converge on human values which can be shared by all.

Giving Guru Granth Sahib as a prime example of interfaith harmony and consensus, world religions are encouraged to actively seek converts to those shared values to avert religious, social and political conflicts. The Sikh view is that religious texts should be researched and interpreted in terms of today’s needs, to promote a more caring attitude towards our planet and the diversity of life on it. It is important that the political and religious message on global issues is the same.

A point made from the Sikh side is that often the role of women in addressing today’s global issues is ignored. We forget that mother is the first teacher of the human child. According to Sikh teachings her role in the human family is of prime importance. (Sabh parvaaray mahe sresht.). In fact, Third Nanak, Guru Amardas, appointed women preachers in the 16th Century. Education of women is important to raise awareness of today’s global challenges at family level – from energy saving, water saving, and “want not waste not” habits, to family planning, leading on to population control – it all starts at family level where the woman, the mother and the housewife, leads. Equality and education of women should be made a global priority. On such important social themes Sikh teachings do show the way.

Sikhi concepts, pillars of faith and tradition, do give pointers to next steps in the evolution in our socio-political systems. The need is to move away from short term policies and projects (e.g. to win elections or to increase consumer base) to long term human goals to save the planet.

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