‘O Lord of the Universe, Master of the Breath of life, Treasure of Mercy,
Guru of the World.
O Destroyer of fever of the World, Embodiment of Compassion,
please take away all our pain.’
To the worldwide Guru Nanak Naam Leva, Sikh brothers and sisters,
Wahe Guru Ji Ka Khalsa, Wahe Guru Ji Ki Fateh!
Today the entire world is impacted by the contagion of the Coronavirus. There could be many reasons, many explorations and discussions which shall continue for a long time.
The calamity is upon us, it shall also pass. But the decisions we take to solve the issue, would not only impact the health and welfare of the people, but may profoundly alter the way the human society thinks, lives, works, functions, does economics and politics.
Only humans are bound by national boundaries, not viruses.
There is no doubt that the lockdown implemented in various countries are very necessary, but the real challenge is for us entire humanity to fight this disaster together. Considering their individual self-interest, the rich nations will no longer be able to ignore the poor nations. Until there is even a single case live anywhere in the world, the clouds of danger shall hover over all nations.
Only humans are bound by national boundaries, not viruses. If the nations and people with good infrastructure have to save themselves, they will have to also save those nations and people which do not have good infrastructure.
There are many places in the world where people do not have soap to wash their hands, shortage of hospitals for the ill, paucity of food for children, scarcity of even being able to think how to save oneself, lack of strength to fight an illness. If the rich nations have to fight illness like the Coronavirus, they will have to develop resources not only within themselves but also in the poor nations.
As long as there are people in the world who do not have the support and systems to fight this illness, until then Coronavirus, or in the future other more dangerous illnesses, will continue to stalk our lands. If the rich people and the rich nations want to keep themselves secure, they will have to move out of their individuality and think about the Sarbat de Bhalla – Welfare of All.
The calamity and the resultant economic crises, both will impact the entire globe. That is why their solutions too will come from being able to think at the global level which is only possible through the cooperation and trust between all the nations.
The world thinks America is great, Russia is great, China is great, India is great. We keep hearing these slogans. All are great, but humanity is much more important than them.
If humanity’s future is safe, only then will the greatness of these nations be safe. In these times of crises, to prevent the spread of Coronavirus and their like, where the individual identity of the nations could form a context, even more important is the cooperation among the nations and fellowship with one another.
We normally wake up only when trouble hits us. Nuclear wars, climate change, terrorism–that recently swallowed our Sikh brothers, children, and women in Afghanistan – unemployment, inequality, intolerance, and other problems hover over us. These all can only be solved through human society’s cooperation and togetherness.
If the rich people and the rich nations want to keep themselves secure, they will have to move out of their individuality and think about the Sarbat de Bhalla – Welfare of All.
Guru’s followers! Coronavirus is a warning that we go beyond our national interests and think about the Welfare of All. We create an atmosphere of togetherness. That we balance the freedoms of the nations with the unity of nations and create a constructive integration over issues.
If we want to exterminate these diseases in the future, we will also have to end the trade wars. Constructive competition is one aspect, collaboration and rivalry work hand-in-hand, just like the logic of freedoms and equality, there needs to be a logic of competition and collaboration.
To tackle Coronavirus we are being told to keep distance between not only nations, but also in regions, cities, villages, even homes. In these times of distancing, how will we create an atmosphere of togetherness and fellowship among human beings? To solve this issue we just need to understand one thing: the distance between bodies is not a distance within society.
In the current times online and digital networking has made it easy to bridge the distances between bodies, homes and nations by providing a space for social cooperation, mutual help, and fellowship. This technology and modern free thought has not only created world powers but has also helped universal brotherhood.
The Sikhs scattered around the world in different nations are coming together as a world community through these technologies. Through these means we Sikhs sitting in different parts and nations of the world are able to experience ourselves as one community. Like the railways, post offices and print media had at one time fathomed the modern Indian nation, like that today air travel, global banking, digital media are strengthening the world Sikh community.
Like multinational corporations are doing for the progress of world societies, the work for universal brotherhood and betterment of humanity is now the responsibility of world communities. This is because world communities now do not belong to one nation but are located in many nations - such as the Sikh community.
Coronavirus is a warning that we go beyond our national interests and think about the Welfare of All.
We do not need to critique nationalism, but it is entirely true that nationalism is not a perfect framework to solves the crises that humanity faces today. Today we are witnessing that worldwide our scientific researches, technology, economics, media, and populations are drowning in the quagmire of nationalism.
Now we have two paths in front of us: either we remove our scientific progress, economics and technology from the world’s discourse or if that is not possible then the only path for us is that we make our community politics part of the world discourse. If world class politics does not mean a government, then how can our politics be made relevant to the world without the community being split into one, two, three factions? This is a big and important question of our times.
Dear Khalsa ji, the world is today going through the same struggle in which the Sikh society has been entangled for a while. If we search for a solution to the Sikh crises, we can also find a solution to the world’s crises. That is how the Sikh society can become a laboratory for the world to solve its crises.
We can look at the Sikhs as a fellowship of Gurdwara networking, open mindedness, and progressive society. But for that we must not look at the Gurdwara only as an institution but understand its relevance within the context of our environment and the events of these times.
Gurdwaras and associated Sikh congregations uphold the philosophy of ‘Hard Work’, ‘Meditation’, and ‘Shared Meals’ and adapt them to modern times.
The Gurdwaras - located in varied cultural, regional, neighbourhoods, fraternities, communities, villages and local governments can strengthen the community’s world-level networking and foster the Sikh religion. This way they can play not a competitive but a cooperative role in the development of the Sikh society and formation of the Sikh panth. And they do that. When we look at this phenomena in some detail we will understand that looking at globalization and the nation state in opposition to each other was a mistake.
After the trade multinationals, there is need to look at these worldwide, progressive and dynamic fraternities as the next stage of globalisation. I feel honoured to say that the Sikh society, if not the first, is among those forward looking fraternities who are advancing rapidly on the path to globalization. The Gurdwara is the first unit of globalization. The progressive networking of the Gurdwaras can pave the way to the future of the Sikh community.
Guru’s followers! Let me repeat. If world class politics does not mean a government, then how can our politics be made relevant to the world without the community being split into one, two, three factions? The answer is: like Gurdwaras are taking globalisation ahead, the Sikh fraternity on the one hand without any doubt is becoming an equal partner to its motherland and its workspace, and on the other hand is also an eminent role in paving the way for world peace, ecological concerns, world economics and science.
We need to understand one thing: the distance between bodies is not a distance within society.
We can say that starting from souls like esteemed Bhagat Puran Singh ji, Professor Manjit Singh, former Jathedar Sri Akal Takht Sahib, Baba Balbir Singh Seechewal, Baba Sewa Singh Khadur Sahib-wale, Eco-Sikh, Khalsa Aid, and many other Sikh organisations are working to address the needs of the environment, seeking ways to solve humankind’s issues, and working on the path laid out by the Gurus. Even if they are small steps, we can make the claim that the ‘Guru Nanak Sahib’s langar, sewa, sangat-pangat, the principle of sharing food,’ will guide the world Sikh community.
That is why we need to understand that the congregation associated with Gurdwara and its traditions are not caste-specific. They are links to the diversity of the Sikh congregations in the network of Gurdwaras spread all over the world. The Sikhs have many forms: Amritdharis, Nanak Naam Leva congregations, many other Sikh communities, and that Panjabi fraternity, about which Professor Puran Singh writes, ‘Panjab lives in the names of its Gurus.’ Everybody is Sikh.
Professor Puran Singh’s intellectualism forms the idea that every such person who follows the teachings of Guru Nanak Sahib and looks beyond his self and seeks the Welfare of All, is Guru Nanak’s Sikh.
Guru’s followers! I want to state explicitly that Sri Akal Takht Sahib does not represent only Punjab’s Sikhs who wish for Punjab’s welfare, Indian Sikhs who wish well for India, but also those American Sikhs who wish well for America, Canadian Sikhs who wish well for Punjab and Canada, Pakistani Sikhs, and all those Panjabis and non-Panjabis who live in different nations, cultures and communities.
Bestowed with Miri-Piri, the Guru’s Akal Takht recognises the Nanak Naam Leva and along with them intellectuals, literary people and artists from other religions who work on Sikh religion, culture, history, politics, and thought.
With the Guru’s blessings, let us forget all differences, animosities, debates, each other’s deficiencies, and become the family the Guru decreed.
Sri Akal Takht rises beyond its self-interest and represents all those Nanak Naam Leva and from Guru’s Khalsa Panth who seek the Welfare of All.
It is from this sentiment that I feel honoured to thank all those sisters and brothers who - either formally or informally – are with their hearts and souls conducting langars, providing treatment to patients and medicines.
To take this service further in a meaningful manner, in the interest of humanity, in the short or long term, I express my desire to undertake the work under the aegis of the Gurus through the Shri Guru Granth Sahib and the leadership of Sri Akal Takht.
With the blessings of the Guru, we shall be beginning institutional activities soon. I shall let you know about them soon. For these, I seek your advice and co-operation.
Time waits for none. We have to start soon for the Sovereignty of the Khalsa and towards the Welfare of All.
‘Come, O friends: let us meet together and enjoy all the tastes and flavours.
Let us join together and chant the Ambrosial Name of the Lord, Har, Har,
and so wipe away our sins.’
‘Look ahead; don't turn your face backwards.
O Nanak, be successful this time,
and you shall not be reincarnated again.’
With the Guru’s blessings, let us forget all differences, animosities, debates, each other’s deficiencies, and become the family the Guru decreed.
For all far and near, sisters and brothers, I shall pray for happiness, good health, and Guru’s blessings: ‘Where there is Khalsa, there is safety and protection’. So that through the Guru’s blessings we shall attain the Welfare of All.
Servant of the Guru Panth,
Giani Harpreet Singh
Sri Akal Takht Sahib, Sri Amritsar Sahib.
Takht Sri Damdama Sahib (Talwandi sabo), Bathinda.
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