Wednesday, July 27

Nature Consciousness in Gurubani

Jaswant Singh Zafar

West began to employ scientific methods to understand the behaviour of nature towards the end of fifteenth century and beginning of sixteenth. Theory began to be tested in laboratories simultaneously. Conclusions began to be explained with the help of mathematics. This was the time when Guru Nanak was exploring the east on feet. He was singing of the nature with its beauty, limitlessness, liveliness, diversity and inherent unity:
kudrat kawan kahaa vichar. Vaari-aa na jaavaa ayk vaar
(How can Your creative potency be described? I cannot even once be a sacrifice to You.)
pavan guroo paanee pitaa maataa Dharat mahat. Divas raat du-ay daa-ee dd-I-aa khaylai sagal jagat
(Air is the Guru, water is the father, and earth is the great mother of all. Day and night are the two nurses, in whose lap all the world is at play)
gagan mai thaal rav chand Deepak banay taarikaa mandal janak motee. Dhoop mal-aanlo pavan chavro karay sagal banraa-ay foolant jotee
(Upon that cosmic plate of the sky, the sun and the moon are the lamps. The stars and their orbs are the studded pearls. The fragrance of the sandalwood in the air is the temple incense, and the wind is the fan. All the plants of the world are the altar flowers in offering to You, O Luminous Lord)
rookh birakh garihi baahar so-ay
(The Lord is among the trees and plants, within the household and outside as well)
baliharee kudrat vasi-aa. Tayraa ant na jaa-ee lakhi-aa
(I am a sacrifice to Your almighty creative power whih is pervading everywhere. Your limits can not be known)

Towards the end of seventeenth century western world began to present the matter and energy, completely separate from each other. Cartesian division made them see all things as lifeless and isolated. The western world began to visualise all creations of the nature as inert things just like isolated digits in mathematics and nature as a sum total of all these things/digits. This mechanical understanding became the basis of Newton's classical mechanics in the mid seventeenth century. But it was in the beginning of the seventeenth century itself that Guru Granth Sahib was compiled incorporating the writings of five Gurus and saints and sages like Kabir, Farid, Namdev and Ravidas. This set the tune for singing of nature's greatness, largeness, uniformity and. All of them called the nature not merely a game of creator but also His own self:
so-ee purakh Dhan kartaa kaaran kartar karan samratho
(Blessed is the Primal Lord God, the creator, the all powerful Cause of causes)
hukmee sarisat saajee-an jotee jot milaa-i-aa. Jotee hoo sabh chaannaa satgur saba sunaa-i-aa
(By his command, the Lord of Light fashioned the universe, and infused His divine ligt into it. From the Lord of Light, all light originates. The true Guru proclaims the word of the Shabad)
ji-o pasree sooraj kiran jot. Ti-o ghat rama-ee-aa ot pot
(Just as the light of the sun?s rays spread out, the Lord permeates each and every heart, through and through)
jal thal mahee-al poori-aa su-aamee sirjanhaar. anik bhaant ho-ay pasri-aa naanak aykankaar
(The Creator Lord and Master is pervading the water, the land, and the sky. In so many ways, the One, the Universal Creator has diffused Himself, O Nanak)
jee-a jant sabh paykhee-ah parabh sagal tumaree dhaarnaa
(All beings and creatures that are seen, God, depend on your support)

The God was said to be omnipresent not only in living creatures but also things considered to be lifeless were considered to be His expression only. Man was told to understand his ego as not separate from His Magnificence. Ways and means to merge this ego in the infiniteness of nature were propagated. Gurubani considered the whole expanse and origin of nature as the result of constantly happening change and dynamism:
saachay tay pavnaa bha-I-aa pavnai tay jal ho-ay. Jal tay taribhavan saaji-aa ghat ghat jot samo-ay
(From the True Lord came the air, and from the air came water. From water, He created the three worlds; in each and every heart He has infused his light)

On the other hand, Newton had this to offer on the origin of universe:
"God in the beginning formed matter in solid, massy, hard, impenetrable, movable particles, of such sizes and figures, and with such other proportions to space, as most conducted to the end for which he formed them; and that these primitive particles being solids, are incomparably harder than any porous bodies compounded of them; even so very hard, as never to wear or break in pieces; no ordinary power being able to divide what God himself made one in first creation."
For Newton the origin of all planets was something that happened simultaneously and conclusively and he accepted the universe as a finite and definite space. Every natural change was begun to be attributed to some external force and God that external force which made them follow the natural laws. In effect this made a difference between doer and the task. Matter was considered immortal.
Such worldview took in its sweep not only the science but begun to cast its influence on humanities very soon. To comprehend a thing it was broken into pieces. Body was begun to be seen as a sum total of parts. This Cartesian division and mechanistic worldview put man onto the expressway of mechanical and industrial progress but in the process his relations with nature, environment and other humans and creatures were spoiled irretrievably. For man ?I?, ?Nature? and ?God? became separate entities. Gurubani calls even one such moment of separateness as dangerous:
ik gharhee na miltay taa kalijug hotaa
(When I could not be with You for just one moment, the dark age of Kali Yuga dawned for me)

But human consciousness came under the spell of this separation forever. The humankind was divided more stringently into races, communities and religions. Nature, earth, air and water was begun to be treated as lifeless. Man started believing him to be master of the nature instead of one small part of it. A mad race began to exploit natural resources. Welfare was replaced by profit as the prime ingredient of human activities. The 'Kaliyug' came out to dance in open. Mega shows of it were seen in many places. The destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, partition in 1947, the 1984 massacre in New Delhi and Bhopal Gas disaster, 9/11, communal riots of Gujarat and Bush?s hooliganism in Arab world are some recent examples of these.
This 'modern scientific outlook' gave birth to such industrial activity which had no place for service, sacrifice, liberty, love, sympathy but was dominated by greed, selfishness, sycophancy, exploitation, competition and opportunism. Rivers which earlier provided water, that Gurubani says is life (pani jeeo hai) now became dumps for industrial garbage. Activities like agriculture, animal husbandry and tourism that were means of love, cooperation and dialogue with nature were turned into profitable businesses.
The nature consciousness of Gurubani rejects this scientific outlook, industrial activity and attitude towards nature:
eh jo dunee-aa sihar maylaa dastageeree naahi
(This world is just a magic show; no one will be holding your hand. Or, This world is justa fair, not the mechanics)

A fair is not numerical total of all the people present there. It has no final shape. Every person present there is participant as well as a spectator. The fair is not conducted by some external force but its conducting force is implied in all those present in the fair:
andaj jayraj ut-bhuj saytaj tayray keetay jantaa. Ayk purab mai tayraa daykhi-aa too sabhnaa maahi ravantaa
(The being born of eggs, born of the womb, born of the earth and born of sweat, all are created by You. I have seen one glory of Yours, that You are pervading and permeating in all)
man tan rav rahi-aa jagjeevan gur sabdee rang maanee. Andaj jayraj saytaj ut-bhuj ghat ghat jot samaanee
(He is permeating and pervading my mind and body; He is the life of the world. Through the Word of the Guru?s Shabad, I enjoy His love. His light fills all those born of eggs, born from the womb, born of sweat and born of the earth, each and every heart)

The advent of Einstein applied breaks to the notions of Cartesian Division and Classical Mechanics when he declared that matter and energy were not exclusive of each other. He gave the famous equation of E = MC² or M = E/C².
The detection of X rays and radioactivity also proved that matter is not immortal and that it is converted into energy. Even the elements can convert into other elements.
This way Science distances itself from its basis of Cartesian Division and Classical Mechanics and it comes closer to the perspectives of Gurubani according to which:
ka-ee kot keenay bahoo bhaat. Parabh tay ho-ay parabh maahi samaat
(Many millions are created in various forms. From God they emanate, and into God they merge once again)

Newton's principles of gravity and speed were limited to only those heavy and solid bodies that were made of countless particles and whose speed was lesser than that of sun. The inner composition and nature of atom was beyond their comprehension yet. Towards the twentieth century science stepped in this direction. Rutherford proved that smallest unit of a particle is nucleus situated in center of an atom around which electrons revolve just like plants do around sun:
jo barahmand khand so jaanhu. Gurumukh boojhhu sabad pachchaanhu
(Know the One who pervades all the realms of the universe. As Gumukh, understand and realize the shabad)

Then it became known that nucleus comprises of protons and neutrons. This knowledge remained in application till 1930. By 1935 six basic particles had been identified. Till 1955 this number rose to 18. Now this number runs into centuries and is constantly being replenished every year. Now scientists do not consider any of these basic particle because these keep on colliding, combining, converting into each other and dividing. Thus science starts seeing even in the depth of the smallest unit of matter the limitlessness of outer universe. According to Gurubani:
paataalaa paataal lakh aagaasaa aagaas
(There are nether worlds beneath nether worlds, and hundreds of thousands of heavenly worlds above)
The behaviour of electron in an atom is not stable or uniform. Sometimes it?s like matter particle and at others like energy wave:
aapay soor kiran bisthaar. so-ee gupat so-ee aakaar
(He himself is the sun, and the rays emanating from it. He is concealed, and he is revealed)

According to Quantum Theory, this dual character of electron is a matter of perception that means it is impossible to separate the task and the viewer. This way the scientific logic makes it possible to understand the unity between 'happening' and the 'spectator' instead of harping on immortality of matter. Gurubani speaks of it thus:
kar kar vaykhai keetaa aapnaa jiv tis dee vadi-aa-ee
(Having created the creation, He watches over it Himself, by his greatness)

Einstein also proved that atom has some amorphous and weightless photons that are constantly apace with speed of light. Thus science has a glimpse of the fundamental unity in nature and a common light in its every particle. Gurubani is replete with this:
an-din naamay rati-aa jot samaa-ay. Jotee hoo parabh jaapdaa bin satgur boojh na paa-ay
(His light merges into the light, and He finds peace. O servant Nanak, this is all Extension of the One)
jotee jot milee such paa-i-aa jan naanak ik pasaari-aa jee-o
(His light merges into the Ligt, and he finds peace. O servant Nanak, this is all the Extension of the One)
jot saroopee tat anoop. Amal na mal na chhaah nahee dhoop
(He is the embodiment of light, the incomparable essence. He is stainless, without stain, beyond both sunshine and shade)

According to Einstein it is inconceivable to see the existence, situation, speed or energy of any part of atom separately from the other. This sets science on the path of nature consciousness of Gurubani that acknowledges inter-related co-existence of different things, creatures, earths, skies, experiences and thoughts in the creation and not the sum total of these:
kudrat disai kudrat sunee-ai kudrat bha-o sukh saar. Kudrat paataalee aakaasee kudrat sarab aakaar. Kudrat vayd puraan kataybaa kudrat sarab veechar. Kudrat khaanaa peenaa painan kudrat sarab pi-aar. Kudrat jaatee jinsee rangee kudrat jee-a jahaan. Kudrat badee-aa kudrat maan abhimaan. Kudrat pa-un paanee baisantar kudrat dhartee khaak. Sabh tayree kudrat too kaadir kartaa paakee naa-ee paak, Nanak hukmai andar vaykhai vartai taako taak
(By His power we see, by His power we hear; by His power we have fear, and the essence of happiness. By His power the nether worlds exist, and the akaashic ethers; by His power the entire creation exists. By His power the Vedas and the Puraanas exist, and the Holy scriptures of the Jewish, Christian and Islamic religions. By His power we eat, drink and dress; by His power all love exists. By His power come the species of all kinds of colours; by His power the living beings of the world exist. By His power virtues exist, and by His power come honour and dishonour. By His power wind, water and fire exist; by His power earth and dust exist. Everything is Your power, Lord; You are the all powerful Creator. Your name is the holiest of the holy, O Nanak, through the command of His will, he beholds and pervades the creation; He is absolutely unrivalled)

In this order of inter-related life, it is not possible for existence of one living being without another. All living beings are dependent further on vegetation. The oxygen required by them is also being produced by the trees and plants. Gurubani points towards this dependence:
birkhai hayth sabh jant ikthay
(Beneath the tree, all beings have gathered)

Trees do not merely fulfill the breathing and food requirements of the living beings but they also serve as comfort zones to them:
jaa kay birajh aaraa-o
(The one who owns the trees of the forest and the plants of the garden)

Destruction of vegetation brings imbalance in life. Gurubani exhorts for its upkeep and respect:
brahm patee bisan fool sakarday-o, teen dayv partakh toreh karahi kis kee say-o
(Brahma is in the leaves, Vishnu is in the branches, and Shiva is in the flowers. When you break these three gods, whose service are you performing?)
kabeer daataa tarvar da-yaa fal upkaaree jeevant, pankhee chalay disaavaree birkhaa sufal falant
(Kabeer, the Great Giver is the tree, which blesses all with the fruit o compassion. When the birds migrate to other lands, O Tree you bear the fruits)

The industrialization brought on by our irrational approach has posed big dangers to our physical and spiritual health. Interestingly greenery is the symbol of physical well-being, joyful mind, beautiful environment and omnipresence of God in Gurubani:
ay man hari-aa sahj subhaa-ay
(This mind is rejuvenated with intuitive ease)
man basant tan man hari-aa ho-ay
(When the mind is in spring, the body and mind are rejuvenated)
saa dhartee bha=ee haree-aavalee jithai mayraa satgur baithaa aa-ay
(That land, where my true Guru comes and sits, becomes green and fertile)
daavaa agan bahut tarin jaalay ko-ee hari-aa boot rahi-o ree
(The forest fire has burnt down so much of the grass; how rare are the plants which have remained green)
so-ee ma-ulaa jin jag ma-oli-aa hari-aa kee-aa sansaaro, ab khaak jin banDhrahaa-ee Dhan sirjanhaaro
(He is the master who has made the world bloom; He makes the universe blossom forth, fresh and green. He holds the water and the land in bondage. Hail to the creator lord!)

Thus the nature consciousness of Gurubani also becomes a guiding principle to take on the dangers posed by mindless modernization. The basis of this modernity, Cartesian division and Newtonian theory of origin of universe has anyway come to be rejected by science itself. The concept of entropy in thermodynamics has proved that space is constantly expanding. At one point it was shrunken. The big bang at that point brought in the universe. With passage of time the space will again start shrinking and reduce into one point. This has been going on and this will go on:
ka-ee baar pasri-o paasaar. Sadaa sadaa ik aykankaar. Ka-ee kot keenay baho bhaat. Parabh tay ho-ay parabh maahi samaat
(so many times, he has expanded His expansion. Forever and ever, He is the One, the One universal Creator. Many millions are created in various forms. From God they emanate, and God they merge once again)

Thus Gurubani talks of the inner unity and dynamism of nature and space as well as the dynamism and changeableness of the space:
alaahu alakh agamm kaadar karanhaar kareem. Sabh dunee aavan jaavnee mukaam ayk raheem
(He is Allah, the unknowable, the Inaccesible, All Powerful and Merciful Creator. All the world comes and goes only the Merciful Lord is permanent)
Mukaam tis no aakhee-ai jis na hovee laykh. Asmaan Dhartee chalsee mukaam ohee ayk
(Call permanent only the One, who does not have destiny inscribed upon Hid forehead. The sky and the earth shall pass away; He alone is permanent)
din rav chalal nis sas chalai taarikaa lakh palo-ay. Mukaam ohee ayk hai naankaa sach bugo-ay
(The day and the sun shall pass away; the night and the moon shall pass away; the hundreds of thousands of stars shall disappear. He alone is permanent; Nanak speaks the truth)

Earlier religiosity understood the different experiences of nature through symbols of different gods and goddesses. All gods and goddesses had their own areas of functioning and powers ? at clash with each other somewhere and in cooperation at other. Everybody had his or her own existence. Their number runs into cores but it is not uncountable. The whole nature was divided into three parts 1.Production/creation, 2.Conduction and 3.Destruction and these three were believed to be under Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh respectively. But Gurubani did not accept this division of nature. The ?one? in first word in Guru Granth Sahib ?Ik Omkar? that symbolizes the unity of infiniteness of God and whole creation declares this disagreement. When we understand the infinity beyond the sum of digits such division gets rejected automatically. Let's present numerically the infinite spread of God or the nature:
GOD = 1+2+3+4+5+6+7+8+9+ ---------------------------
Now let?s divide this further into three parts:
Brahma(Generator) = 1+4+7+10+13+ -----------------------
Vishnu (Operator) = 2+5+8+11+14 --------------------------
Mahesh(Destroyer) = 3+6+9+12+15 -------------------------
If we look carefully the third part seems to be third fold than its original:
Destroyer = 3+6+9+12 --------- = 3(1+2+3+4 -----------) = 3X GOD
Thus this division seems ridiculous. The science till now has seen the whole nature dividing it into parts. Quantum Theory was propounded for the part of atom where Newton?s law does not apply. Electromagnetic theory explained the corresponding influences of Electric field and magnetic field. Same thing happened in the fields of zoology, chemistry, geography and astronomy etc. Different models, theories and equations were employed to explain different hues of nature by science. These have replaced the older gods and goddesses. The division remains. Human outlook remained influenced by duranda. This suits contemporary politics and economic system also. The deeper knowledge of atom remained confined to select laboratories and was not reflected in humanities or new world outlook. That is why this knowledge did not give birth to sages of knowledge but creators of atom bombs. The atomic explosions that destruct even fertility of soils have come to be considered as prides of nation.
The intellectual limits of man have made the 'division' a final truth of our minds. Gurubani urges man to practice constantly to diminish this division between 'I' and the 'creation and creator' so that the balance between 'union' and 'separation' can lead to joy and welfare:
sanjog vijog du-ay kaar chalaaveh laykhay aavahi bhaag
(Union with Him, and separation from Him, come by His will. We come to receive what is written in our destiny).

(Jaswant Singh Zafar, a poet and cartoonist, is an engineer by profession)

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