Amritsar, Punjab: In view of the approaching foundation day of the GNDU, a two-day 28th Annual National Seminar on Guru Nanak Dev’s Contribution to Indian Philosophy was organised by the Department of Guru Nanak Studies today in the university’s conference hall.
As many as 50 scholars from various parts of the country are participating in this seminar.
Avtar Singh Makkar, President, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, was the chief guest at the inaugural session today while Prof Jagbir Singh, former head, Department of Punjabi, Delhi University, Delhi, delivered the keynote address. Prof Ajaib Singh Brar, Vice-Chancellor, presided over the occasion.
SGPC President said the contribution of Guru Nanak Dev started from the ‘Janeu’ ceremony in his childhood. “Condemning the bare rituals, Guru Nanak Dev propounded his basic teachings, “Kirat Karo, Naam Japo” and “Wand Chhako”. Guru Sahib widely travelled all over the world and raised his voice against political and religious leaders,” he said.
Dr. Rajwant Singh, Chairman of The Sikh Council on Religion and Education, who has played a key role in having Gurpurab celebrations taking place at the White House in the last few years, said, “We are so thankful to President Obama for standing with the Sikhs and always making sure that our community is not only included, but involved. We want to make sure that celebrations of this kind and Sikh involvement in the American affairs will continue for generations to come.” He applauded the efforts of Gautam Raghavan and the previous work of Paul Monteiro in orchestrating Sikhs events in the last five years at the White House.
Valarie Kaur, Founder, Groundswell at Auburn Seminary spoke about her experience being a third generation Sikh in America and how Guru Nanak Sahib Ji has impacted her life, family and work in the community. She said “Guru Nanak Sahib Ji’s life teaches us to always remain in “chardi kala”, a state of bliss and positivity” and reminded the audience of the plight of Bhai Panjab Singh, one of the survivors of the Oak Creek Shooting. Romi Bhatia, Senior Advisor, U.S. Agency for International Development implored Sikhs to not only do service for our own community but for the community at large, focusing on the “importance of connecting to our neighbors” and “healing while educating”.
Major Kamal Singh Kalsi, of the U.S. Army, EMS Director at St. Clare’s Health System started off with the story of Guru Nanak Sahib Ji’s Parkash and the way through which he was named “Nanak”, meaning either “one without pain” or “one who is not different”, stating that Guru Nanak Sahib Ji brought light into a time of darkness. He also stressed that “through social service we can cleanse our souls” and that there can be no peace without justice”. Nitasha Sawhney, Commissioner, California Commission on Asian Pacific Islander Affairs & Co-Chair, SAALT applauded Sikhs in the US for keeping in touch with their roots and for Sikhism flourishing despite adversity. She said, “I can assure my dad that Sikhism’s future is brighter than ever in America.”
Another musical performance filled the halls of the Dwight D. Eisenhower building with the sounds of the sitar and tabla in an Indian classical ensemble featuring revered sitar player Jagjit Singh Matharoo and tabla player Jashon Singh, both of New York. They were accompanied by Harjit Kaur on Tanpura.
The program concluded with the closing remarks by Amardeep Singh, Member, President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Harpreet Singh Mokha from the Justice Department was also recognized for his outstanding work on Sikh rights. James Santelle of the U.S. Attorney’s office from Wisconsin, who had worked closely with Oak Creek Sikhs immediately after the shooting, was also present.
The key officials of SALDEF, Sikh Coalition, and United Sikhs along with members of the Oak Creek and Washington area Gurdwaras were in attendance.