Getting back to Sikhi’s treehugging roots

Nihang_Troop_on_Horseback_By_Canal.jpgEnvironmental issues have taken a backseat for way too long. Even under this administration – which promised to create jobs through new and clean energy initiatives, and rejoin the international community to reduce worldwide carbon emissions – environmental issues have taken a backseat to health care overhaul and reviving our frail economy.

Crisis

We should be especially concerned because the consequences of misusing resources are all too clear in the near-crisis state that Punjab’s ecology is currently in. Those who still have relatives in Punjab know that this past summer, electricity outages were a daily occurrence and lasted 8 hours at a time – the worst in many years. These shortages in electricity occur because the government subsidizes electricity for farmers so that it’s free or nearly so and they can pump water for irrigation to their heart’s content. However, this leads to electricity shortages, overuse of waterpumps, and water wastage. [Forbes-India]

An article in Forbes-India asked yesterday, Is India running out of water? For Punjab, the answer is yes.

And Punjab, as the breadbasket of the most populous nation in the world, may be an indicator of other similarly situated agricultural communities.

Earlier this year, NPR did a series of stories looking at the downsides of Punjab’s Green Revolution. In the ’60s and ’70s, Indian farmers were urged to abandon their traditional crops and methods of farming for the modern, American way. [NPR] The downsides today include high cancer rates from overuse of pesticides and mishandling of chemicals, soil depletion, high indebtedness leading to farmer suicides, and a quickly falling water table. [1, 2, 3, 4]

For example, the advisers told farmers to stop growing old-fashioned grains, beans and vegetables and switch to new, high-yield varieties of wheat, rice and cotton. Farmers began using chemical fertilizers instead of cow dung. They plowed with tractors instead of bulls. [NPR]

The high-yield varieties of wheat, rice, and cotton that Punjab’s farmers were urged to plant, that ushered in the Green Revolution, required a lot more water than did the traditional grains, beans, and vegetables that farmers had grown through prior traditional methods, without irrigation. The high-yield seeds did make Punjab the breadbasket of India. But they also required farmers to dig for water to irrigate the thirstier high-yield seeds. Over time, farmers have been digging deeper and deeper, permanently altering the ecological balance of the region.

But Sandeep says he has been forced to hire the drilling company again, because the groundwater under his fields has been sinking as much as 3 feet every year.

Government surveys confirm it. In fact, his family and other farmers have had to deepen their wells every few years from 10 feet to 20 feet to 40 feet, and now to more than 200 feet because the precious water table keeps dropping below their reach. [NPR] (emphasis added)

Today in Punjab, water is being “mined” – meaning that water is being extractedat an unsustainable and urenewable rate from underground aquifers that were formed over millions of years. [1, 2]

Gurbani and Nature

Our practices in the US aren’t much better. Too many gurdwaras still use ridiculous amounts of styrofoam every week, missing a great opportunity for seva (washing thaalis), and leaving permanent scars with remnants of daal in landfills. Like most Americans, we use more than our share of the world’s resources and contribute to more than our share of the world’s pollution. Few of us are conscious of the footprints each of our actions makes on the environment around us.
There is a strong connection between nature and Gurbani that our community’s environmental practices don’t reflect today.

gurbani_8.jpg
O Nanak, the Guru is the tree of contentment, with flowers of faith, and fruits of spiritual wisdom. Watered with the Guru’s Love, it remains forever green; through the karma of good deeds and meditation, it ripens.

gurbani_9.jpg
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 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. ||1||

[panna 147 and 13 of SGGS, referenced in EcoSikh Seed Plan]

If we reconnected with the love and respect for nature that is found in Gurbani, how would our lifestyles change? Environmental concerns simply cannot wait. Even if Washington is pushing the issue to the back burner, we can still begin to reconnect on our own by understanding the importance of nature in Gurbani and giving due reverence to the natural world in our own daily lives.


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24 Responses to “Getting back to Sikhi’s treehugging roots”

  1. Harinder says:

    NEW ERA ENERGY :-

    Coal and Carbons and suns are old foggies.

    For the SIKHS liking to donn the cap of Veterans like "Newton ,Einstein , Planck" etc etc

    Here are some exotic inexhaustible sources of energy;
    givng hope to the timeless life (AKALIS)

    1) Vacuum energy ( Casimir effect )
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casimir_effect

    2) Dark energy
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_energy is ensured

    Trip to Blue Hall of Stockholm City Hall is guranteed.

  2. Rajinder Singh says:

    @Harinder on New Era Energy :-

    The road to heaven seems to be going through Hell.

  3. Harinder says:

    NEW ERA ENERGY :-

    Coal and Carbons and suns are old foggies.

    For the SIKHS liking to donn the cap of Veterans like "Newton ,Einstein , Planck" etc etc

    Here are some exotic inexhaustible sources of energy;
    givng hope to the timeless life (AKALIS)

    1) Vacuum energy ( Casimir effect )
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casimir_effect

    2) Dark energy
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_energy is ensured

    Trip to Blue Hall of Stockholm City Hall is guranteed.

  4. Rajinder Singh says:

    @Harinder on New Era Energy :-

    The road to heaven seems to be going through Hell.

  5. Roger Mangat says:

    New era energy,it might sound good however it is not widely,easily or readily available.Only energy derived from fossil fuels is readily & cheaply available.The drawbacks in forbes magazine fails to tell that it was the new practises,in agriculture that made india self sufficient in food & made the farmers of the state prosperous.The deficiency doesnot lie in using new technologies & usage of them but in the exponential population growth & poor distribution.Why bring gurbani into this discussion,gurbani deals with the abstract hereafter,while this problem is real & here to stay.

  6. Harinder says:

    “Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be attained.”

    Marie Curie quotes (French Physicist, twice winner of the Nobel Prize, 1867-1934)

    http://thinkexist.com/quotation/life_is_not_easy_

  7. Harinder says:

    “Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be attained.”

    Marie Curie quotes (French Physicist, twice winner of the Nobel Prize, 1867-1934)

    http://thinkexist.com/quotation/life_is_not_easy_

  8. Roger Mangat says:

    New era energy,it might sound good however it is not widely,easily or readily available.Only energy derived from fossil fuels is readily & cheaply available.The drawbacks in forbes magazine fails to tell that it was the new practises,in agriculture that made india self sufficient in food & made the farmers of the state prosperous.The deficiency doesnot lie in using new technologies & usage of them but in the exponential population growth & poor distribution.Why bring gurbani into this discussion,gurbani deals with the abstract hereafter,while this problem is real & here to stay.

  9. justasikh says:

    We all know that energy can't exist without a source. The one light, the one energy, in all atoms that make up plants, animals, people, and the dirt is the same, because the atomic matter is the same.

    The concept of naam is the force pervading all in the universe is quite interesting in this regards. It very well may be what gives all matter (and anti-matter) it's energy and source.

  10. justasikh says:

    We all know that energy can't exist without a source. The one light, the one energy, in all atoms that make up plants, animals, people, and the dirt is the same, because the atomic matter is the same.

    The concept of naam is the force pervading all in the universe is quite interesting in this regards. It very well may be what gives all matter (and anti-matter) it's energy and source.

  11. Roger Mangat says:

    Of course the energy cannot exist without a source.The source for us on earth is the sun,take alook it is the source of the heat and the light.Naam on other hand literally means the name in this case the name of the unseen creator.The concept that naam is the source and the end product (energy) is quite ridiculous.

  12. Roger Mangat says:

    Of course the energy cannot exist without a source.The source for us on earth is the sun,take alook it is the source of the heat and the light.Naam on other hand literally means the name in this case the name of the unseen creator.The concept that naam is the source and the end product (energy) is quite ridiculous.

  13. Harinder says:

    1) Sun energy can only be harnessed by the forces of NAAM.
    No Naam force ; and SUN is no good.
    If we are not there then the SUN will be a bland star among the billions in this universe.
    Just gettng formed and destroyed like any other stars life cycle.
    http://aspire.cosmic-ray.org/labs/star_life/starl
    It is "WE" who give life and reality to our todays SUN.

    2 ) Reference :- Does the Universe Exist if We're Not Looking?
    to quote Wheeler :— provocative idea for an idea, something he calls genesis by observership. Our observations, he suggests, might actually contribute to the creation of physical reality. To Wheeler we are not simply bystanders on a cosmic stage; we are shapers and creators living in a participatory universe.
    http://discovermagazine.com/2002/jun/featuniverse

  14. Harinder says:

    1) Sun energy can only be harnessed by the forces of NAAM.
    No Naam force ; and SUN is no good.
    If we are not there then the SUN will be a bland star among the billions in this universe.
    Just gettng formed and destroyed like any other stars life cycle.
    http://aspire.cosmic-ray.org/labs/star_life/starl
    It is "WE" who give life and reality to our todays SUN.

    2 ) Reference :- Does the Universe Exist if We're Not Looking?
    to quote Wheeler :— provocative idea for an idea, something he calls genesis by observership. Our observations, he suggests, might actually contribute to the creation of physical reality. To Wheeler we are not simply bystanders on a cosmic stage; we are shapers and creators living in a participatory universe.
    http://discovermagazine.com/2002/jun/featuniverse

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