The Department of Guru Nanak Studies was converted into a teaching department in 1982. Thereafter, research unfortunately stood relegated to the background, so that we were not able to project the life and teachings of Guru Nanak Dev and their cultural and religious impact in the context of Indian and World civilizations-a statutory obligation (vide Sub clause 2, Article 4 of Guru Nanak Dev University Act, 1969). With a view to boost research, the University authorities decided to hold an annual seminar or Guru Nanak and his teachings on the occasion of the Foundation Day Celebrations of the University which falls in the month of November every year. The responsibility of organizing the Seminar was entrusted to this Department in 1986. The tentative programme for this annual seminar was circumscribed by cultural and social milieu in which Guru Nanak lived and to which he reacted and preached his message of unity of god and brotherhood of man. A comprehensive study of the teachings of Guru Nanak in its religious context could equally benefit the students of Sikhism and researchers of medieval Indian religious thought and to help them to have a better understanding of the past. Besides, it is hoped that with an indepth exercise on the subject under study, it may be possible to discuss quantitatively the motives and magnitude of people who were interested in the teachings of Guru Nanak as well as to comment with certainty on the level of religious consciousness of the contemporary Indian society and the impact of the creative vision of Guru Nanak on the Indian Civilization in terms of time and space in wider perspective.
The first seminar in this scheme was organized in 1986 for two-days (22-23 November). The occasion being the seventeenth Foundation Day Celebrations of he University. The Seminar was inaugurated by S. Nirmal Singh Kahlon, State Minister of Technical Education, Punjab. While highlighting the teaching of Guru Nanak, Mr. Kahlon laid stress on their relevance in the present context. He pointed out that the teachings of Guru Nanak are not confined to a particular community but are the proud heritage of the whole universe. He appreciated the decision of the then University authorities to hold an Annual Seminar on the "Life and Teachings of the Great Savant that Guru Nanak was of Medieval India."
The key-note address was given by Dr. J. S. Neki, a Psychiatrist of international repute. In his address, Dr. Neki went into the causes of the present spiritual malaise of the Punjabi people. Pointing to the crux of the present crisis, the physician scholar explained in detail the psychologist's processing of the present conflict and suggested means for prevention and remedy of the crisis. In this context, he emphasized the relevance of the teachings of Guru Nanak. He suggested that we should organize value-oriented educational programmes to derive moral inspiration from the great Guru's teachings to enable the youngsters to get stimuli for better performance. For this purpose the educational institutions should chalk-out community programmes which will provide motivation for social change, and it is actually the dire need of the hour. We must shake off the caste ego and the belief in rituals and idol-worship. The Punjabi community must have organisations for training and production of educated preachers with a broad outlook.
Dr. Attar Singh, Professor, Baba Farid Chair of Medieval Indian Literature, Panjab University, Chandigarh, in his Presidential address dwelt upon the "Concept of Sufferings in Guru Nanak Bani." He accepted the seriousness of the present social challenge but believed that we would come out of this crisis by cultivating awareness to differentiate between the right and wrong and to have the will power to face the challenge boldly. He assured that a true believer in the teachings of Guru Nanak can never be cynical and has the power of nam which removes the shackles of his sufferings and can regenerate him afresh.
A number of eminent scholars participated and presented scholarly papers and their expert views on various aspect of the theme of the Seminar. Inspite of our repeated requests to certain participants, we could not get manuscripts of papers presented by them orally in the Seminar.
The present volume contains selected papers presented in the Seminar. Apart from the, three fresh papers on related themes by Dr. S. S. Sagar, Mr. R. S. tak and Mr. G. S. Bachan have been included in this collection.
The printing of the proceedings of the Seminar had to wait long on account of heavy work load on our University Pres. We are happy that we are now able to make this collection available to scholars and readers interested in Sikh Studies.
This volume does not any formal introduction on the subject of the Seminar. Instead a micro-study of the thee Guru Nanak in context of Indian Religious Tradition and the Elements of Universalism in his teachings follows the forum.
It is our hope that the present volume will prove to be a valuable addition to the existing literature on Guru Nanak Dev. The publication of the proceedings is a testimony to the fact that the Seminar had succeeded in focusing the attention of scholars on the fundamental doctrines as propounded by Guru Nanak.
The compiler is grateful to all scholars who have contributed to this volume. Dr. Shashi Bala and Mr. R. S. Tak of the Department of Guru Nanak Studies are to be thanked for the help provided by them in proof reading of the English section of this volume. I am also grateful to my colleagues Dr. S. S. Sagar, Dr. Rai J. S. and Mr. Sarabjeet Singh for the help extended by them in checking the index of the proceedings. The printing of this book owes much to the efforts of the Director, Mr. Jagjit Singh Walia and staff and workers of our University Press.
Finally, it is my pleasant duty to express my deep gratitude to our worthy Vice-Chancellor, Mr. G. S. Randhawa, for conceding my request to write a Foreword to this collection.
Foreword - II
Guru Nanak Dev can with all justifiability be considered a harbindger of a new civilizational superstructure on an altogether different ideational base. He was able to do so as he propounded a qualitatively new philosophical idea of substituting being for the spirit. His doctrine that there is only one God is not confined to his teachings alone but is also uniersal in its expanse. The concept of the unity of the universe pronounced by Guru Nanak leads us to the idea of the universality of human spirit and, consequent upon it, to the equality of all human beings. In this context Guru Nanak's is a revelation of the inner unity and identity as well as the ultimate knowledge of the 'Truth' inherent in all beings and things.
In this book, a humble attempt has been made to familiarize the reader with various attempts that have been made from time to understand and disseminate the teachings of Guru Nanak Dev Ji. The analytical insights presented in this book into the treasure-house of the teachings of this apostle of peace on the earth, about his cosmpopolitan outlook as manifested in his individual compositions and all that his dynamic personality stood for is a welcome of academic exercise.
As Guru Nanak did not belong to any one creed only and was not confined to any particular place, his teachings can never become stale. They rise above the confines of time and clime. The need of the hour is to make a search with open eyes and open mind into the individual compositions
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