Sikhs all over the world celebrated 1st Prakash Utsav of Guru Granth Sahib Ji on 1st September. While we celebrated this important occasion let us see what Guru Granth Sahib Ji teaches us about our mental health. Among all the Holy Books Guru Granth Sahib is the only Holy Book, which has been passed on to us in its original form by Gurus. It is a universal Holy Book, meaning the teachings are for the whole mankind irrespective of the religion, race, color or gender.
A Holy Book is said to be universal if its message is for the whole of humanity and not only for its followers. A universal Holy Book unites all of humanity, and does not divide it. Guru Granth Sahib is a universal Holy Book because:
- Guru Granth Sahib teaches us that there is only one God who is the creator of this universe.
- Guru Granth Sahib teaches mutual co-existence and co-operation because of the universal Fatherhood of God and brotherhood of mankind.
- Guru Granth Sahib contains the teachings of the Sikh Gurus as well as the teachings of 30 Hindu and Muslim saints, is the only Holy Book which contains the teachings from other religions as well.
- Guru Nanak Dev ji’s first sermon delivered in 1499 AD was “No one is Hindu or Muslim. All are children of God, so they are equal”. Thus, Guru Nanak Dev Ji laid the foundation of “Human Rights For All” in 1499 AD.
- Guru Nanak Dev Ji was asked in Mecca by the Qazi (Muslim priest) whether Hinduism or Islam is the greater religion? The Guru replied that neither one is greater because it is your deeds which make you great. This stands in contrast to some other religions, which say that if one does not belong to a particular religion, one will not be saved on doomsday. They even call them non-believers, kafirs and heathen.
- Guru Nanak Dev Ji traveled for 24 years a distance of 39,000 km by foot, preaching the word of God to all mankind not only in Punjab but, as far as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Russia, China, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan, Burma and Sri Lanka.
- The foundation stone of Harimandir Sahib (Golden Temple) was laid by Mian Mir, a Muslim saint. Harimandir Sahib has four doors to show that anybody can come from all four directions and pray to God, irrespective of caste, creed or color. Harimandir sahib is the place where 1st installation (Prakash) of Guru Granth Sahib was done by 5th Guru, Guru Arjun Dev Ji.
- The 9th Guru, Guru Teg Bahadur, sacrificed his life to save Hindu religion from extinction at the hands of the then Mogul emperor of India, Aurangjeb.
- The 10th Guru, Guru Gobind Singh started the concept of the modern day Red Cross.
Quotations of some famous writers:
“Sikhism is a universal world faith, a message for all men. This is amply illustrated in the writing of the Gurus.” – H. L. Bradshaw in The Sikh Review, Calcutta
“The religion of Adi Granth is a universal and practical religion.”- Archer
“The unique concept of universality and the system of langar in Sikhism are two features that attract me towards the study of Sikhism. Langar is the exclusive feature of Sikhism and found nowhere else in the world. Sikhism is the only religion which welcomes each and everyone to its langar without any discrimination of caste, creed, color or sex.” – Dr. W.O. Cole, in his 1985 keynote lecture in India on the message of Guru Nanak Dev.
These examples of universal brotherhood are found only in teachings of Guru Granth Sahib and nowhere else. If accepted and applied properly, the mental health of all mankind can improve irrespective of their religion.
The Guru’s concern was with humankind and it’s destiny. He taught that several distinctive and unique features set it apart from the rest of His creations and characterize humanity. They are as follows:
- We have the power to discriminate between good and bad. We can make choices.
- We have the ability to choose between different forms of action, i.e., we can use our earnings to help the needy, improve our homes or gamble.
- We have the opportunity to enter a conscious unity with God through choices that we make.
- The spirit of the human being was raised with the belief that he was not a helpless creature, but a responsible being having a will of his own, which can do a lot to shape his destiny.
- Guru Granth Sahib teaches us to praise God and develop the spirituality of the individual and the community as a whole, irrespective of their religious affiliations.
If applied as the Gurus have prescribed, modern day conflicts between different countries, between governments and the public, along with the resultant mental health problems can be drastically reduced.
Present world situation is going to bring innumerable sufferings and mental health problems to humanity. This could have been avoided if world leaders had acted according to the philosophy of Guru Granth Sahib as outlined above. That is why there is a need to propagate and adopt this philosophy by everyone including politicians all over the world, only then the wars, terrorist attacks and senseless killings with its attendant mental health problems can be stopped. Thus, teachings of Guru Granth Sahib are the ideal future international hope for humanity and the need of the day is to make these reach mankind all over the world.
Dr. Kala Singh did MBBS degree from Delhi University, India. He worked as Psychiatric Doctor in Africa for 21 years before immigrating to Canada. He gives Sikh religious and spiritual counseling and psychotherapy to clients with stress and mental health problems. For more information he can be contacted at 604-327-5253