Sikhs Take Bold Strides in Preserving Environment: A Green Revolution

by Dr. Jasneet Bedi

In a world grappling with environmental challenges, the Sikh community is emerging as a beacon of hope and inspiration. Rooted in their spiritual beliefs, Sikhs are actively engaging in initiatives to protect and preserve the environment, driven by the teachings of their leaders and the sacred Sri Guru Granth Sahib.

saachay tay pavnaa bha-i-aa pavnai tay jal ho-ay
jal tay taribhavan saaji-aa ghat ghat jot samo-ay

Earth, air, water, life and all activities connected with life come under the umbrella of environment.
(SGGS Sri Raag, M.1, p.19)

In July 2009, Jathedar Gurbachan Singh, the leader of the Akal Takhat, delivered a powerful message to the Sikh community regarding their duty towards the environment. During a gathering aimed at cleaning the polluted Kali Bein, a river in Sultanpur, he urged Sikhs to prioritize cleaning natural water sources over constructing Gurdwaras worldwide. This call to action emphasized the spiritual and moral obligation Sikhs have in safeguarding the environment.

Inspired by this directive, Baba Balbir Singh Seechewal, a Sikh leader, spearheaded efforts to clean a river and plant trees along its banks. This initiative set the stage for a broader movement within the Sikh community to prioritize environmental consciousness.

The EcoSikh Conclave in New Delhi, July 2009, brought Sikh leaders from India and around the world together to address environmental challenges posed by climate change. Notable figures, including UN Assistant Secretary-General Olav Kjorven and Victoria Finlay from the UK-based Alliance of Religions and Conservation, gathered to highlight the Sikh community’s dedication to environmental stewardship.

Guru Har Rai, the seventh Sikh Guru, set a precedent for environmental care by transforming Kiratpur Sahib into a town of parks and gardens. His vision turned the town into a serene haven filled with vibrant flowers and fruitful trees, symbolizing the deep connection between spirituality and nature.

In a significant move, the Sikh Council on Religion and Education (SCORE) initiated the “EcoSikh” program, outlining a five-year strategy to raise awareness about environmental issues within the Sikh community. The plan, supported by notable figures such as Union Cabinet Minister Dr. Manohar Singh Gill and SGPC Secretary Dilmegh Singh, aims to transform Gurdwaras and schools into ecologically sound buildings. The plan also includes integrating environmental education into the Sikh curriculum.

The teachings of Sri Guru Granth Sahib emphasize the interconnectedness of all creation, with air, water, earth, and life originating from the True Lord. Sikhs believe that harming any of these elements is equivalent to harming the divine essence within them.

The sacred verses of Japuji highlight the oneness of creation, emphasizing the equality and interconnectedness of all beings. The hymn “Aarti” further illustrates the divine presence in everything, celebrating the Creator’s relationship with the universe.

Guru Nanak’s profound connection to nature was evident in his choice to reside under trees during his travels, showcasing his deep love for the natural world and its role in spiritual enlightenment.

As Sikhs continue to forge ahead in their commitment to environmental stewardship, they serve as a remarkable example of how spirituality and eco-consciousness can intertwine, fostering a world where humanity and nature coexist harmoniously. The Sikh community’s green revolution stands as a testament to their unwavering dedication to the principles of environmental preservation embedded in their spiritual heritage.

Dr. Jasneet Bedi

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