Dynamics of spirituality
Manmeet Sodhi

Sikh Philosophy and Religion: 11th Guru Nanak Memorial Lectures
by Nirmal Kumar. New Dawn Press.
Pages 232. Rs 500.

The second edition of Nirmal Kumar’s Sikh Philosophy and Religion is an important contribution to Sikh literature. The book has direct relevance to the modern age and especially for the modern man. It is a collection of the 11th Guru Nanak Memorial Lecturers delivered in 1977 at Punjabi University, Patiala.

The diverse perspectives taken up in these lectures are meant for the general readers to view history and philosophy of Sikhism. The author has discussed at length the rational approach of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, and other gurus to God, immortality and love.

Sikhism is a practical religion of universal equality and brotherhood. The Sikhs believe "we are the sons of Waheguru, the Almighty". In other words, all creatures have God’s spirit and must be properly respected. Their aim is to develop understanding and promote universal moral values to build a better society and to fight disruptive forces. The gurus have exploded the age-old Indian myth of suffering for suffering’s sake. Instead of turning your cheek to the person who has slapped you, slap him harder, for if he is unjust, he is godless.

Sikhism is a religion of the sensible householders. The Sikh gurus denounced such tendencies that promote hypocrisies such as retirement to forest to attain salvation or the path of recluse. They believed that salvation is obtained by one’s actions—good deeds. They preached to uphold moral values: defend, safeguard and fight for the rights of all creatures and in particular your fellow beings.

Another important perspective of Sikhism is that negative energies cannot be suppressed or avoided. By avoiding them is to give them a separate existence. The right way is to see them as slaves that serve human values.

Love is another subject that is a vital part of Sikh discipline. It is a power that subdues haumey and whatever it sees and thinks the world to be.

The Sikh love of nature is another unique fact. The author also dwels on the attitude of the Sikh gurus towards women, who should be given equal status in all spheres of life.

Basically, the book talks about the primary beliefs and principles of Sikhism. Its greatest virtue lies in simplicity, brevity and honesty of his expression. In translating the divine songs of the gurus, he has tried to catch the "divine whisper of love"behind the words and makes one wonder at the glories of God.