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Sikh Society Honors Guru Nanak On Anniversary

January 2004
Sikh Society Honors Guru Nanak On Anniversary

The Sikh American Society of Georgia (SASGA) celebrated the 534th birth anniversary of the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak, at the Global Mall, Atlanta on November 22. In keeping with its objective of creating awareness of Sikhs among other communities and integrating them into mainstream America, the SASGA had invited many representatives from other communities along with renowned Sikh scholars Dr. Harbans Lal and Dr. Inder Jit Singh.

In his keynote address, Dr. Harbans Lal emphasized that due to developments in technology and the world's changing face into a more pluralistic society, a new faith is emerging to satisfy the needs of a global generation. It has to fulfill the unprecedented choice available to the global generation that is tested by science and transparent in claim. So it should be global in scope, judged by facts and should bring harmony to the world.

Dr Lal proceeded to depict the life story of Guru Nanak who was born into a Hindu family but grew up with Muslim influences. "Hindus accepted him as holy man and a little later Muslims did too," he said.

Guru Nanak created a faith that was global in scope, according to Dr Lal. "He preached that human life begins with animal instincts inherited from former cycles of life; the five inner evils namely undue but overwhelming desires, anger, greed, frustration, excessive and protective form of attachment, and the ego. These evils bring upon us all our sufferings. The main purpose of human life is to salvage human mind from these ills and divert it towards the divine- the animal consciousness to the divine consciousness," he said.

"Guru Nanak's way of metamorphism from animal to divine is to worship the infinite, nourish the finite," he said.

Renowned Sikh scholar Dr. I. I. Singh spoke next. The New York based scholar touched on the key elements that make the Sikh religion a unique concept for all mankind. He focused on the teachings of Guru Nanak, founder of Sikhism and its implications on the modern world.

"Sikh scholars have long debated the unique niche of Sikhs in the modern society that is dynamic, fast moving and global," he said. "Sikhs have done well in the various global arenas due to the basic belief in their religion that the teachings of "Naam japna, wand chakna & kirit karni" must be the guiding principles of their lives. They believe in not only wishing good for others but also doing good for others. The practical lives of Sikhs with these principles are a driving force for their success in the world. Guru Nanak's concept of equality of all men and women no matter what their caste, creed or origin was a unique phenomenon at the time it was introduced and a credible guiding principle for all mankind. Dr. Singh described Sikhs as being blessed with a unique background and leading practical lives."

"Guru Nanak hoped that we as human beings would continue our quest to build upon our traditions and be exemplary for others," Dr Singh added.

The lecture was well attended, and represented members of diverse communities including around 55 mainstream Americans. Dr. Singh expressed his desire to return to Atlanta in the future to continue a dialogue with the youth and members of the Sikh-American Community.

The program had started with an opening note from young professionals Nimrata and Navnit Singh Narula followed by a short slide show by the latter depicting the origin and history of Sikhism and the separate identity of Sikhs.

Dr Inder Pal Singh proposed the vote of thanks. This was followed by a QA session, which was moderated by Surinder Singh Lalli.

R.S Johar and Gurpal S Gill presented Appreciation plaques to the speakers.


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