This essay was written by H L Bradshaw an American Philosopher several years ago. It goes to show how respected the Sikh faith is among a few of the Western scholars that have studied it. Let us all work hard to portray a good image of our faith and truly make Sikhism the religion of the new age.
SIKHISM is a universal world faith with a message for all men. This is amply illustrated in the writings of the Gurus. Sikhs must cease to think of their Faith as “just another religion” and must begin to think in terms of Sikhism being the religion for this New Age. We must instil a missionary spirit in our people. The religion preached by Nanak is The Faith of the New Age. It is the `summum bonum’ for the modern man. It completely supplants and fulfils all the former dispensations or older religions. Books must be written proving this. The other religions contain Truth, but Sikhism contains the fullness of Truth. The older faiths were good in their day, but that day is now past, and we are living to the dispensation of Guru Nanak. Just as we appreciate the discoveries and conveniences of modern living and do not want to exchange them for the modes of the past, and just as we do not want to exchange our modern jet airlines, automobiles and electricity for the horse-drawn carriages and candles of the past, we do not want to exchange the New Age Faith of Guru Nanak Dev Ji for any of the old-age religions and their antiquated philosophies. The Sikh Faith is the universal religion for the present Space Age.
The Guru Granth Sahib, of all the world’s religious scriptures, alone states that there are innumerable worlds and universes other than our own. The previous scriptures were all concerned only with this world and its spiritual counterpart. To imply that they spoke of other worlds, as does the Guru Granth Sahib Ji is to stretch their obvious meaning out of context.
The Sikh religion is truly the answer to the problems of modern man. But our own Sikh people must be made aware of their universal mission for the entire world. Sikhs must evolve out of their self-imposed provincialism into a universal brotherhood as envisaged by the Gurus. Local customs and traditions must be transmuted into a world culture. We must be one world-minded and space conscious. This is the keynote, meaning and challenge of the present cycle that began with the partition of the Punjab in 1947 – at almost the same time hydrogen and atomic-power were unleashed.
Did you ever stop to think that all of our modern discoveries and scientific advances have been made since the Dispensation of Nanak began? Truly his spirit has revolutionized the world. This would be a good subject for a book by a Sikh scholar – to show the parallel rise of Sikhism and modern technology! The Sikhs are God’s own people and the Sikh Gurus are the saviours of the world! The challenge of the future is here, and it is ours, now. We must rise to the task of the hour else perish with the materialistic civilization that has sown the seeds of its own destruction. What other meaning or purpose can be found in the holocaust of partition and the scattering of our suffering people abroad? God speaks to us through the events of history and He is speaking to us now. Will we heed His voice or be destroyed by an atomic war? The fate of Humanity could well rest in the hands of the Sikhs. Never before has the fate of civilization rested in the hands of so few. With the Guru’s grace, however, we shall be sufficient to the task.
Our Sikh Panth, its organizations and institutions, must be revitalized and constituted on a universal pattern. We must modernize and centralize our facilities. Schools of Sikh scholars must translate the Guru Granth Sahib, meaningfully, in its entirety, into all the world’s major languages, as commanded by Guru Arjan Dev Ji, so that its divine message may, like oil, calm the troubled waters of a war-torn world. Our colleges and educational institutions must become missionary-minded, revise their curriculum and give great impetus to the training of Sikh missionaries. Our Sikh People must once again begin to practice the giving of tithes (dasvand) – 10% of their income to the cause of religion; and the funds must be channelled through an international Shiromani Gurdwara Praabandhak Committee as the central agency.
Sikh parents must teach their children the honour of being missionaries and the responsibility which is ours and they must encourage these young people to become missionaries. Books of instructions must be written, translated, and distributed throughout the world. Courses of instructions and training programmes utilizing the latest techniques of other religions and large scale organisations must be formulated, standardized and pursued under the direction of this International S.G.P.C., our supreme authority. Books advocating Punjabi as an international auxiliary language could be written. Motion pictures of our Sikh shrines, the Holy Har Mandir and the Kirtan there in, and of Amritsar, the holy city, should be made and distributed all over the world. Documentary films and movies, which could also be shown over the world’s TV stations and dealing with the history of the Sikhs, Their Gurus, doctrines and practices, should be utilized to the fullest extent possible. Our world-wide Sikh community must strengthen its ties with Amritsar and the International S.G.P.C. which would be the focal Point and centre for all our endeavors. Sikh Gurdwaras all over the world must be placed under the International S.G.P.C. and services though in different languages, must be standardized through an officially translated and approved text.
All of this could and should be accomplished in our life time. If it is done, we shall forget our petty differences and annoyances, for we shall be so busy with the Guru’s work, His Seva and Parchar that we don’t have the time to waste on trifles. You will ask if this is not too ambitious and difficult a programme to pursue. In answer, let us ask ourselves: `If this is not what the Gurus have enjoined us to do – if this is as any greater sacrifice than that made by the martyrs and our forefathers – if this is less than the followers of other religions, such as Islam an Christianity are doing – if this will not be a small price to pay for civilization – if this will not assure our children of a better world in which to live – if this will not add purpose to our present day petty living – if this will not cause future generations to look back and call us “blessed” – if this really involves any choice on our part, for do we have any other alternative?
H. L. Bradshaw U.S.A