Kalam offers help to preserve Sikh heritage

Kalam offers help to preserve Sikh heritage

Amritsar, August 31,2004
Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam described Guru Granth Sahib as a ‘national treasure’, and offered the services of the Rashtrapati Bhavan to Guru Nanak Dev University to locate all original manuscripts of Guru Granth Sahib and digitise them with a view to preserving the great Sikh heritage in the text and musical form.

In his presidential address at the IV international seminar on “Relevance of Guru Granth Sahib in New Millennium” organised by Guru Nanak Dev University here today, Dr Kalam said he found Guru Granth Sahib as ‘Universal Guru’. Expressing his happiness over the availability of good authentic translations of Guru Granth Sahib, received from various sources, Dr Kalam said those translations alone did not fully capture the beauty of the original one, especially the beauty of music and melody associated with its rendering in the original. He said he was happy to note that out of the 31 ragas of Guru Granth Sahib, the first place was given to Sri Raga which happened to be his favourite raga.

Speaking on the occasion, the Governor of Punjab, Justice O.P. Verma, said if relevance of the scripture in the past 400 years had increased manifold, it was because that it carried a charter of great human values. He said it was also a charter of human rights, rights of the weak, disadvantaged, downtrodden and particularly women who were subjected to all kinds of inhuman indignities. The Guru not only spoke of gender equality, but also of social equality, which was a taboo at that time. The Harimandir where the Guru Granth Sahib was installed, has four entry points which tells the world that all four varnas have an equal and dignified access to Golden Temple and the scripture, he added.

The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, said Guru Granth Sahib was a symbol of humanism, pluralism, universal brotherhood and cosmopolitanism. It is a source of enduring wisdom. The Gurus and the saints whose verses are included in Guru Granth Sahib propagated scientific temper and there was no place for bigotry. He, however, said even after 400 years of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib, society had not been able to practice the teachings of Gurus in letter and in spirit. He said it was unfortunate that we could not do away with the practice of casteism.

Rev Dr Marcus Braybrooke, an Anglican clergyman who is president of the World Congress of Faiths, USA, said the message of Guru Granth Sahib that there was one God and that all people were his children was a universal truth.

Dr Harbans Lal, Professor Emeritus, University of North Texas Health Science Center, while speaking on “Guru Granth Celebrations: What do they all mean to us,” highlighted that If we were to move forward in our mission, we must first empower ourselves in the light of Guru Granth Sahib to define our future in terms of who we have been, what we are today and what we ultimately want to be. He said these celebrations compel us to address the world through the lense of our understanding of the message of Guru Granth Sahib.

Speaking on historical significance of Guru Granth Sahib, Prof Shireen Moosvi, a historian of Aligarh Muslim University, and former secretary of the Indian History Congress, stressed on the universality of the message of the Gurus, and its specificity for contemporary circumstances.

Earlier, Dr Kalam released more than 10 books on Guru Granth Sahib and Sikhism published by the university. The Vice-Chancellor, Dr S.P. Singh, also honoured Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Justice O.P. Verma, Capt Amarinder Singh, Dr Harbans Lal and Prof Moosvi by presenting them silver plaques, phulkaris, a symbol of Punjabi culture and sets of university publications.

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