2015- IUS Research Monograph # 5

NANAK: The Guru, The Founder of Sikhism


In the present era of science and technology, religion is still the greatest single factor which influences people. For Western people religion has still the original Latin meaning - to bind or a relationship. But for the people of the East, religion is Dharma, a support and a way of life. The study of religious concepts is essential for it guides and enriches the social and individual life of the people. The doctrine of every religion consists of some basic concepts which are the result of the experiences of its prophets, holy persons or thinkers. In Sikhism these concepts have been expounded by Guru Nanak and elaborated by his successors to the 'House of Nanak'.

Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhi(sm), was a great preceptor and a mystic prophet of extraordinary foresight. With his remarkable gift of intuition, he brought forth revelations and contributed meaningful generic thought to our understanding of the phenomena of life and the universe. Guru Nanak's life is full of examples which confirm his critical thought, intellectual attitude and revolt against despotic authority. He exhibited a scientific spirit in his spiritual life as well as in his dealing with humanity.

A scientist of international stature and a noted Sikh theologian, Prof Devinder Singh Chahal, is a founder member of the School of Scientific and Logical Interpretation of Gurbani - The Institute for Understanding Sikhism. He is committed to bring out the scientific, rational and logical truth of Gurbani in the modern context. With his scientific training and firm religious faith, he is eminently qualified to do so. He is also a strong proponent of Nanakian Philosophy. With publication of his book titled 'Nanakian Philosophy - Basics for Humanity' (2008), he has made a laudable contribution in this field.

Prof Chahal adheres that Nanakian Philosophy is perennial and universal in its approach to the problems of life and is most suitable for humanity in the present era. In this booklet 'Nanak: the Guru - the Founder of Sikhi' (2014), he in collaboration with Dr Kulbir Singh Thind, MD, Dr Avtar Singh Dhaliwal, MD, both from USA and Mr Jesse Schell from New Zealand has tried to bring this truth to the limelight. He asserts that Guru Nanak was not only a great inspirer of altruism, egalitarianism and divinity but was a great philosopher and rationalist of the period of the Renaissance.

This publication unfolds several facets of Guru Nanak's life. The era of turmoil at the time of his birth, his search for Truth, the process of his spiritual enlightenment and his travels are well described in this booklet. Guru Nanak's mission and its continuance, Nanakian philosophy and its basic principles, Guru Nanak's concept of God and his delineation about the physical world are also depicted well in it. The authors have portrayed the philosophy of Guru Nanak in a scientific and logical manner to bring out its real perspective.

According to Prof Chahal science and religion are not polarized in Guru Nanak's hymns. The grandeur of secular scientific discoveries reveals the absolute magnificence and power of the sacred. The interrogative technique is very much at the heart of Guru Nanak's bani, and is extremely valuable in that it instills freedom and creativity in the minds of its votaries. The authors are well aware of the fact that their interpretation of Gurbani is not absolute, but they are open to reason and welcome debate and discussion to settle the issue.

Prof Chahal laments the fact that even about 545 years after the birth of Guru Nanak, there are no definite details available (except a few in his hymns) for his travels and discussions held during these travels. His own research in this context has yielded inconclusive results. Thus he emphasizes that there is a dire need to take up serious research projects in this direction. It is suggested that the Sikh institutions / organizations, the world over, should pool their resources to fund such projects, so that humanity could benefit from the true life history and the unique philosophical contributions of this great savant.

Guru Nanak's bani uphold definite moral and spiritual goals. Its scientific mode of inquiry, its universality, its inculcation of the values of justice, compassion and love for all, is in nutshell, the essence of Sikhi(sm). This booklet on 'Nanak: The Guru - The Founder of Sikhi' is a splendid addition to Sikh scholarship. Prof Chahal in collaboration with Dr Thind and Dr Dhaliwal bring his expertise in the area of natural and physical sciences to the Guru Nanak's sacred bani and offers an exciting bridge between religious studies and the natural and physical sciences. This exploration of the symbiosis of science and religion is a dire need of our times. I hope Prof Chahal's pioneering effort to present Guru Nanak's message in modern context, will be received with serious attention from Sikh Diaspora.

Devinder Pal Singh, Ph. D.
Center for Understanding Sikhism
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
28 October 2014
Victorville, California, U.S.A.
25 October 2014