2015- IUS Research Monograph # 5

NANAK: The Guru, The Founder of Sikhism



Professor Devinder Singh Chahal, PhD

Professor Devinder Singh Chahal obtained his PhD (Microbiology) from the Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio and University of Southern Illinois, Carbondale, Illinois, USA in 1966. He established a new Department of Microbiology at the Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana. He left this institute in 1974 from the position of Professor and Head and joined as a Visiting Scientist in the Department Food and Chemical Engineering at the prestigious institution, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, Massachusetts as a Fulbright Fellow, a prestigious award, for one year. In 1975 Professor Chahal came to Canada as an immigrant. He served for 5 years at the University of Waterloo, Ontario as a Visiting Professor and then as Visiting Scientist in the Department of Biochemical Engineering. Then he moved to the Institut Armand-Frappier, Université du Québec, Laval, Québec, and retired from there as a Professor of Industrial Microbiology in 1996.

He discovered two new species of fungi: Agaricus basiannulosis, an edible mushroom and Chaetomium cellulolyticum Chahal & Hawksworth, a very active microorganism to convert cellulosic matter into useful products. The later has been studied by many MSc and PhD students in the world. During his professional life he wrote three scientific books and one laboratory manual as well as many chapters in various scientific books and many research articles in international scientific journals. He has presented his research, especially on Bio-energy and Enzymes Production at many international conferences held in various parts of the world. During his scientific professional life he developed a few processes to produce valuable chemicals from waste biomass. He has five patents on these processes in Canada, the USA and India.

Outside his busy professional life he has written many articles on the scientific and logical interpretation of Gurbani (Word of the Sikh Gurus) with special reference to the universally acceptable philosophy of Guru Nanak, these having been published in various international journals and in many multi-authored books. He has also written critical analyses of some works on Sikhism and Gurbani. He continues this service through the Institute for Understanding Sikhism, as its President and the Editor-in-Chief of Understanding Sikhism: The Research Journal which is published twice a year.

He is a member of the Advisory Committee of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Study Centre at Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar since 2011.

He was at 77th and 67th position in the list of The Top Most Influential Sikhs of the World of 2012 and 2013, respectively, as the author for his writings on science and on the Universally Acceptable Philosophy of Guru Nanak. He has been honoured by the SGPC, Amritsar; by the Delhi Sikh Gurdwaras Management Committee, New Delhi on Khalsa Fateh Divas held at Red Fort, Delhi on March 8-9, 2014; and by the Sri Guru Granth Sahib World University, Fatehgarh, Punjab.

He has published 4 books and many articles about Nanakian Philosophy and thirteen (13) DVDs, about 45 minutes each on 'Discussion on Sikhism'.

Dr Kulbir Singh Thind, MD

Dr Kulbir S Thind, MD is a medical doctor who is a staff physician at the VA Medical Center, San Francisco, USA, since August 1981. He has made a number of contributions to Punjabi/Sikh causes. Since 1984, he has been producing and distributing, free of charge, Gurmukhi/Hindi fonts for computers (Macs & PCs). In the early 1990's, he spearheaded the development of the Gurbani-CD project which led to the computerization of the text of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib and a number of its translations. He also developed computer databases relating to the Sri Guru Granth Sahib along with many other specialized files of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib text to assist Sikh scholars to use Gurbani text on the computer as well as on the internet. He converted the Sri Guru Granth Sahib files to Devnagri (Hindi) and did a phonetic transliteration of the text of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib. He has also contributed to the making of many Guru Granth Sahib-related web-sites and formatted the translations of the Bhai Manmohan Singh and Dr Sant Singh Khalsa sentence by sentence.

Dr Thind has made major contributions to the http://www.srigranth.org web-site which is maintained by his son, Jasjeet Singh Thind. This web-site is an advanced search engine and a repository of many translations and teekas of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib in an interactive format.

Dr. Thind has received many awards relating to his Gurbani projects, from a number of different organizations, including SGPC, Amritsar.

Dr A. S. Dhaliwal, MD, MS, FACS

Dr Avtar Singh Dhaliwal, MD, MS, FACS, has been involved in research and interpretations of Gurbani for more than thirty years. He pioneered the interpretation of the Sabd, "Mitti Musalman Ki… (2009)" in the proper way as compared to centuries old misinterpretations. His articles describing doctrines of Gurbani on topics like "Sunn", "Soul", "Simran", "Heavens" and others have been published in "the Sikh Review-Kalkota" and "Understanding Sikhism - The Research Journal, Laval, Canada."

Born into a Sikh family from Punjab, India, he migrated to the USA in 1967. He retired in 2003 as an Associate Professor of Plastic Surgery from ETSU, School of Medicine, Johnson City, Tennessee. He is self-educated in Sikh literature, in the interpretations of Gurbani in both English as well as Gurmukhi, and he studied the syllabus books of the 'Sikh Missionary College, Ludhiana. He has attended several "Interfaith conferences," presented papers on the Sikh topics in the Parliament of World Religions, Barcelona (2004) and Melbourne, Australia (2009).

He is presently associated with the "Institute of Understanding Sikhism", Laval, Canada; and is Associate Editor of "Understanding Sikhism - The Research Journal."


Mr Jesse Schell

Mr Jesse Schell, born and raised in the West, values the importance of scientific enquiry and freedom of thought. Trained and educated in the sciences, he holds two degrees in nursing. He is also trained as English as a Second Language teacher with a CELTA degree from Cambridge University. This background and experience in science and language has allowed him to contribute to this work of Dr Chahal. A religious/spiritual seeker all of his life, Mr Schell has studied a number of religions and spiritual practices over the years. After much study, questioning, and serious thought it was clear that sound reasoning overcomes blind faith and so he always found himself abandoning each religion. He now describes himself as a secular humanist with Deist leanings, a free-thinker while being 'iconoclastic for good reasons'.

He finds that the current state of Sikhism is deplorable, demonstrating all the reasons why religion is evil. None-the-less, he feels a strong attraction to the original teachings of Guru Nanak (not current Sikhism) and it is for this reason that he has given generously of his time and abilities to further Dr Chahal's most important and greatly needed scholarly work. Currently, he lives in rural New Zealand, practicing self-sufficiency with his husband and their five dogs.