2015- IUS Research Monograph # 5

NANAK: The Guru, The Founder of Sikhism

Book Review by Dr Solomon Naz

Authors: Prof. D. S. Chahal, Dr. K.S. Thind, Dr. A. S. Dhaliwal
Edited by: Jesse Schell
Year of Publication: 2015 (Electronic Edition); Review written for Paper Edition (2014)
Published by: Institute for Understanding Sikhism, Laval, QC, Canada

The most difficult part of a religion is to explore and expound the main doctrinal aspects of life. The major problems, rightly termed as its polemics, is an area where most of the complexities lie. In my school days, I was faced with this confusion and the tangled web of the idealism and fanaticism of Islam and Hinduism. Christianity had its own grey areas, which were to a great extent repudiated in the second century of the Year of Christ under the oversight of King Constantinople. There, they sifted the superior and spurious and cleansed the major doctrinal aspects of Christianity. No religion can be determined or perpetuate in its entirety unless we determine its doctrines, and above all create the theology of that religion. To be more specific, the violence and repudiation of human rights and social evils in Islam are the same polemics that were not purged in its early history. Now it is next to impossible to determine the mainstream right strands acceptable in Islam - Sunnis or Shiites, Sufis or Mirzais, or the modern way of absolutism "WAHEED" Allah in the hands of idealistic terrorism.

Sikhism, the youngest in the race of religions has its own polemics. Its origin and proliferation has its own ebbs and flows since the fifteenth century. Internal political upheavals and instability created by the foreign invasions, the social divisions and racial castigation, and above all accursed poverty in Punjab had made its scholars insensate to the ecclesiastical issues. The cradle of Sikhism remained for centuries, a racially divided and shattered people. To think above any basic needs in these circumstances was a deadlock vision. If the 14th and 15th century saw revolutions in socio-political and religious spheres of society under the influence of Martin Luther and futuristic scholars of renaissance and industrial revolution In Europe, it was entirely a different scenario in relation to India. We find the birth of the first Guru in 1469 in Punjab. In 1521, when the first Mughal Babar invaded India, Guru Nanak must be fairly in his early fifties.

Just imagine, who would be in a position to comprehend the basic philosophy of the Nanakian way of life? All Hindus, no matter what denomination they belonged to were being forcibly proselyted to Islam. The rest of the Hindu ruling classes, lords and Rajas, were winning favour through matrimonial alliances with the ruling Muslim class. The impact of "Jazia", a non-Muslim forced religious tax, had further crippled religion, social and economic order. There was only one group left to defend the Hindu society from this onslaught. They were the Sikhs of Punjab. They had braved torture, executions, and wars, even to the point of sacrifice of the Gurus. Precisely, when we lament why were those polemics not rectified and doctrines of Sikhism were not determined, it looks next to impossible under these circumstances. Who could have been in a mind set to occupy their time for religious discourses when their own survival was at stake?

No history and its philosophy will be justified enough if its prevalent conditions of those times are ignored. Maybe, this could be my answer to the confusion about Sikh doctrines and theology.

It is a great honour to read a booklet on Nanak: The Guru - The Founder of Sikhism authored by Dr Devinder Singh Chahal, Dr K S Thind, and Dr A S Dhaliwal. As I have already mentioned about the travails the Sikh religion has passed through, these new scholars of Sikh religion are doing fantastic work. No matter how arduous, conflicting and contradictory it may look, yet they are doing something and Dr Devinder Singh Chahal is one of those chosen ones. To me, it is irrelevant to know that his scholarship is in science or religion. He has authored so many books already on Sikh religion. Rather it enhances the beauty and vision of a religious philosophy if it reflects all its hues and colors through a scientific prism. Dr Devinder Singh Chahal is one of those pioneers who has delineated a footpath for the Sikh scholars to make wider and more durable highway for the generations to come. Godhead no doubt, is determined through Nanakian philosophy as an absolute truth, yet its manifested reality is portrayed in myriads of biological and ecological systems of life. It gives me great elation that a scientist like Dr Devinder Singh Chahal talks about the composition of a substance through five elements described by Guru Nanak. All beings and humans, in essence come out of the same source and are therefore, related with one or the other. God alone is the "PITTAM" Pita the father of us all. Nobody is small or big. Does that philosophy depict the same scientific knowledge we determine by Microcosmic and Macrocosmic order of life today? Yes it does.

The greatest visionary flow in a prophetic order depicts life as a (1) Deliverer (2) Reconciliator (3) and a Restorer. In this booklet on Nanakian philosophy Dr Devinder Singh Chahal explains, how Guru Nanak is a deliverer from ignorance, darkness to light. He unites and reconciles the microcosmic being to the immensity of Godhead. Finally, he restores humanity and all organic and inorganic being to eternity. It is not enough to call it a successful effort alone (It is far more than that) by Dr Chahal in explaining the main doctrines of Guru Nanak's philosophy

The Sikh scholars of today are making great efforts to bring to the knowledge of people the scientific analysis of Sikh religion. It is a very a profound and befitting exegesis of philosophy of Guru Nanak. My humble suggestion to Dr Devinder Singh Chahal will be one and only one that is to formulate Sikh theology out of these doctrines; he sketched out, inerrant and irrevocable. Most of these doctrines could be systematized in relation to God, nature, humanity and approachability to God.

Dr Solomon Naz is a retired Professor of Comparative Religious Studies, Canadian Christian College, York University, ON, Canada. (416-271-1040)

Email: solomon.naz@gmail.com

NOTE: This booklet, The Guru - The Founder of Sikhism, is available on Web site, iuscanada.com, under the heading eBo