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Guru Har Rai Sikh EcoSociety, Guwahati

On March 14, Guru Har Rai Sikh EcoSociety of North East India will join Sikhs all over the world to celebrate the Global Sikh Enviornment Day. As part its celebrations, the EcoSociety with the help of Sikh Sangat of Guwahati will distribute 300/400 saplings to the Sikh Sangat on 13th March 2011 for plantation in all Gurduwaras and homes in Guwahati on 14th March. This day is dedicated to the seventh Sikh Guru, Guru Har Rai, who had a keen sensitivity towards preservation of nature and was instrumental in developing Kiratpur Sahib as a town of parks and gardens located on the banks of tributary of the Sutlej in Punjab, he planted flowers and fruit bearing trees all over the area. This created a salubrious environment, attracting beautiful birds to the town and turning it into an idyllic place to live in.
Indeed the Sikh scriptures have extolled the virtues of peaceful co-existence with nature. Any confrontation with enviornment is bound to lead to destructive consequences, some of which are very much apparent. Humanity is facing a major crisis, one that threatens the survival of the human race and of every species on the Earth. Fast depleting natural resources following indiscriminate use, high levels of polluting gas emissions leading to global warming; depleting ozone layer, if allowed to continue, would render mother Earth an unsustainable biosystem.Consciousness and Concern for enviornment and endeavour to exist in harmony with nature is embedded in Sikh approach to life and living. Through their deep reverance for ‘Mother Earth’, the Sikh Gurus have left a legacy of learning to live in mutual co-existence with enviornment. The Sikh Scriptures eulogise the importance of the elements, which form part of the Earth-Air, Water and Fire as indispensable for maintaining ecological balance. Hence, they deserve our care and respect and enjoin on us the responsibility to ensure their proctection and preservation for continuity of life on Earth. Further, in the Sikh religious hymns, each and every of natures gift to man, including birds, animals trees have been alloted great sanctity.
“The Lord infused His Light into the dust, and created the world, the universe. The sky, the earth, the trees, and the water – all are the Creation of the Lord. ||1||” (Sri Guru Granth Saheb page 723).
Sikhism opposes the idea that the struggle of the human race is against nature and that human supremacy lies in the notion of “harnessing” nature. The objective is harmony with the eternal—God—which implies a life of harmony with all existence. Striving for a life of harmony, as the Sikh scriptures reveal, implies also a life of supporting individual rights and environmentalism—a life that works against injustice toward anybody and anything.
“Men, trees, pilgrimage places, banks of sacred streams, clouds, fields. Islands, spheres, universes, continents, solar systems. The sources of creation, egg-born, womb-born, earth-born, sweat-born, oceans, mountains and sentient beings. He, the Lord, knows their condition, O Nanak. Nanak, having created beings, the lord takes care of them all. The Creator who created the world, He takes thought of it as well. “(SGGS page 466).
The Sikh Scriptures emphasis the importance of the elements in this Shabad (hymn):
Pa­uṇ gurū pāṇī piṯā māṯā ḏẖaraṯ mahaṯ. Ḏinas rāṯ ḏu­ė ḏā­ī ḏā­i­ā kẖėlai sagal jagaṯ.
Cẖang­ā­ī­ā buri­ā­ī­ā vācẖė ḏẖaram haḏūr. Karmī āpo āpṇī kė nėṛai kė ḏūr.
Jinī nām ḏẖi­ā­i­ā ga­ė maskaṯ gẖāl. Nānak ṯė mukẖ ujlė hor kėṯī cẖẖutī nāl. (2)
Air is the Guru, Water is the Father, and Earth is the Great Mother of all.
Day and night are the two nurses, in whose lap all the world is at play.
Good deeds and bad deeds-the record is read out in the Presence of the Lord of Dharma.
According to their own actions, some are drawn closer, and some are driven farther away.
Those who have meditated on the Naam, and departed after having worked by the sweat of their brow
O Nanak, their faces are radiant in the Court of the Lord, and many others are saved along with them!(2) (SGGS p146)
Following the rich legacy of Sikh ideals of commitment to nurturing and preserving the sacred relationship between human beings and environment, Guru Har Rai Sikh EcoSociety of Guwahati in association with SGPC (Sikh Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee), EcoSikh – a US based organisation, various Gurdwaras of Guwahati and Punjabi Sabha Guwahati pledges its support to an ‘honest understanding’ and ‘dedicated application’ of the ideals of bountiful nature enshrined in our scriptures. Guru Har Rai Sikh EcoSociety is highly indebted to the Forest Department of the Government of Assam and owes special thanks to Shri P P Singh Addl. DGP Assam Police, Shri R.P. Agarwalla, Additional PCCF Planning & Development, Shri Satyendra Singh, DFO and Shri Manoj Goswami, RO, Pradhans and members of various Gurduwaras and Punjabi Sabha for their cooperation and encouragement.
This is a small step by the Sikh society of northeast India where even the apex court of the country had to step in and put a ban on tree felling because of fast forest degradation and serious climatic changes taking places due to large scale deforestation in the region. We are confident that this small step will soon take the shape of a movement in the region and help make it a better place for our coming generations to live in a better world. Soon the EcoSociety will announce their plans to spread this to the rest of the northeast with the help of various likeminded groups and organisations.