Today is the anniversary of Guru Har Rai becoming the seventh Guru of the Sikhs (this type of anniversary is called a Gurpurab) in 1644. Among the aspects of his legacy that Sikhs remember today was this Guru’s love for the natural world.
In his honor, the organization EcoSikh launched Sikh Environment Day at this time last year, a movement to promote environmental consciousness and action in its preservation. Eco Sikh has continued this campaign in 2012 and by all accounts, this movement is a growing success, with over 1,000 organizations taking part in commemorating this legacy by inspiring Sikhs around the world to take up the cause of the preservation and promotion of the natural environment.
Dya Singh, on sikhchic.com comments on the international momentum generated by EcoSikh in only its second year of this cause:
It is quite amazing that the least known of our Gurus has now become the rallying point for a world-wide movement to inspire us to engahe [sic] with our environment. He is the gentle guru who advocated care for animals, care for the environment, encouraged the growing of trees, herbs and plants, herbal medicines for the sick (he is reputed to have cured the son of the Moghul emperor with his herbal medicines) and gentleness towards each other.
As Sikhs recognize the existence of God permeated in all things, the regard for the environment is actually fundamental to Sikhism. In the journal Sikh Spectrum, N. Mathumohan discussed the eco-philosophy espoused in the Guru Granth Sahib, the sacred text and Guru of the Sikhs today:
However, it is astonishing to find that Guru Granth Sahib contains a very well articulated eco-philosophy that can meet the challenges posed by the modern age. The ecological and environmental concerns of Sikhism are not something external or excessive to the philosophy of Sikhism. On the other hand, Sikh philosophy as it is found in the hymns of the Gurus or in Guru Granth Sahib contains in its very basis an eco-philosophy.
It is inspiring to see Sikhs take our faith’s philosophy to such a practical level on a global scale. Kudos to EcoSikh, happy Gurpurab, and happy Sikh Environment Day!