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Guru Nanak Commemorative Volume - Book By Gurbachan Singh Talib

Publisher: Punjabi-University-Patiala
Authors: Gurbachan Singh Talib
Page: 260
Format: Hardbound
Language: English
Product Code: SGE167
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Introduction To The Book 'Guru Nanak Commemorative Volume' By Gurbachan Singh Talib

In the history of nations it is usual to treat millenia and half-millenia as natural landmarks for computing the passage of time since occurrence of some great or significant event. As one such point of time approaches, the human mind is aroused to a new expectancy, a sense of the imminence of some momentous developments in history. That an institution,a system or faith should have survived among mankind for such a long period of time is itself looked upon as momentous happening in this world where everything is devoured by the inexorable process of time, and is rolled up into the past and oblivion. Where the might of a system has withstood the onslaught of time, that is looked upon rightly as an occasion of triumph, to be celebrated. In our own country, the completion of two and half millenia the Advent of Buddha was rightly celebrated as an event of global significance. Guru Nanak stepped comparatively late into history. But during the half millenium since his birth, our country has passed through tremendous changes in its history and culture. Guru Nanak illumined the spiritual and moral darkness of medieval India with the light of his vision and Divine Insight which dispelled 'the fog of ignorance, in the noble words of great Bhai Gurdas. He emphasised the brotherhood of man taught that through love and service of mankind one could attain the Supreme Bliss------the real purpose of life. The Quincentenary of his birth therefore, is looked upon by the people of the Punjab in particular and by the generality of our countrymen as an event of extraordinary significance. Being celebrated on a vast scale, it led to a great deal of activity in the religious and cultural fields and was the inspiration behind many acts of public beneficence. One example of this last has been the organizing by the Guru Nanak Foundation of a camp for the free treatment of the blind at the hands of highly qualified surgeons------some eye specialists were even called from abroad. All such multi-faceted activity needed to be recorded and put into a handy volume.

The present volume carrying reports drawn from various authorities, organizations and cultural institutions from within our own country and from those countries abroad where Indians are present in considerable numbers, in being published at the instance or the Punjab Government which took a leading share in organizing on a big and vast scale the Quincentenary Celebrations of Guru Nanak's birth during 1969. As will be evident from this Volume, the Quincentenary as was befitting such a momentous occasion, sent a wave of enthusiasm among our people of all creeds. The celebrations were spread over a number of months in the form of functions of a religious character and those arranged under the auspices of the Union and State Governments and public, educational and cultural organizations. These were marked also by the production by a number of publishing firms and cultural institutions of a great deal of literature hearing on the presentation of the thought and teaching of Guru Nanak and the dissemination of his Message.

In respect of the celebrations perhaps the most significant and spectacular functions have been held in Amritsar on the eve of the actual date of the Quincentenary (23rd November, 1969) when a birthday procession originating from Burj Baba Phula Singh passed through the city and terminated in Gol Bagh where on an unprecedentedly vast scale indeed a public gathering was held to pay tributes to the memory of the Guru whose personality and vision helped to shape the mind and the soul of the Punjab besides spreading the light of spirituality over vast areas of our country. The procession referred to was a memorable event and al least five lakh persons, including followers of the various religious groups in the city and its neighbouring areas marched in their colourful costumes and with spontaneous fervour to pay their homage to the Guru's memory. This procession marching for several hours, was joined by personalities of great public importance, besides the vast surging masses. The huge concourse gathered in Gol Bagh listened to speeches which brought out the Guru's greatness. Among the speakers was Dr. V. V. Giri, the President of India, Cabinet Ministers and public leaders. In Amritsar also on this occasion was laid the foundation of a new University named after Guru Nanak.

Every town and village in the Punjab as also in the Capital, Delhi and other towns such as Kanpur, Lucknow, Allahabad, Bombay, Calcutta and Patna saw the celebrations on a similar pattern and scale. Besides India, wherever we have a Mission or Embassy, gatherings were held to celebrate the event, at some of which besides our own Ambassadors, High Commissioners and Charges 'D' Aggaires, foreign dignitaries also spoke. It was a truly world-wide phenomenon and one's  heart leaped up to witness the grand event which like a heavenly light illumined the whole globe.

Within our own country the Information Services of the Government, the Radio and the Press duly highlighted the event which assumed a truly national character. This was as it should be, for Guru Nanak is claimed to be a teacher of mankind-------"Jagatguru" -------and not the Founder only of a sect or a narrow tradition. The values he gave to mankind are of an abiding and universal character, and to spread his message is one important way to bring about national integration. Of this aspect  of the celebrations a glimpse is provided in the pages that follow.

Schools, Colleges and Universities similarly took upon the theme and with varied programmes the significance of the event was impressed on the public mind. Writers and poets came out with books and other writings in several languages particularly English, Punjabi, Hindi and Urdu, though work in some other Indian languages also was done on differing scales. Among the books produced are learned studies, explications of the Guru's Word, translations, biographies, dramatized versions of his teaching and books for children. In these last fields particularly, though the output has not been very voluminous, a good beginning has been made. Out of this literature a good part is of continuing value. The momentum thus given is still powerful and good research and creative work is being done by scholars in several places. In the field of art also a new portrait of Guru Nanak was commissioned by the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee by the artist Sobha Singh which, because of its distinctive character has set the tone for representing the Guru's personality.

Although a number of Universities organized celebrations, two particularly stand out in respect of the great deal of work done in the literary field on Guru Nanak. The Panjab University, Chandigarh formulated and carried through a scheme to get books on Guru Nanak written. These are in English and Punjabi. Besides, this University was also the first to establish the Guru Nanak Chair for the study of the Guru's thought under a scheme adopted by the Punjab Government in its Department of Education to establish several such Chairs at a number of Universities in the country. The Chair at the Panjab University started functioning in 1970. For this scheme the credit must go to the devotion to this idea shown by Shri Suraj Bhan, the Vice-Chancellor of the Panjab University.

The Punjabi University, Patiala must however, take the first place for the vast amount of literary and creative work done in respect of the Quincentenary Celebrations. A great deal of research and the publication of a large number of volumes on Guru Nanak in English, Punjabi and Hindi was accomplished by this University. It has further, the unique distinction of conceiving and organizing an International Seminar on Guru Nanak. This was reminiscent in scale and vastness of the earlier occasion of the 25th centenary of the appearance of Gautama Buddha and gripped the public imagination as hardly any other event in the cultural history of the Punjab had done. The Seminar, which was attended by over fifty delegates drawn from all over India and countries like the USA, Great Britain and Australia was continued for three days in the newly completed splendid building of Guru Gobind Singh Bhavan at the University Campus, dedicated to the nation by the then Chief Minister of Punjab, Sardar Gurnam Singh on the eve of the Seminar. This edifice which is symbolic of India's catholic spiritual out look and is a structure with an aura of distinction in its opaque glass and points towards the celestial regions, has since been made the centre for carrying on advanced study of several religions traditions. The Seminar was inaugurated by Shri Yashwantrao Chavan, the Home Minister of India. Present on the occasion were the Punjab Governor, Ministers, Maharaja Yadavindra Singh of Patiala, the entire University Senate and a cross-section of the intellectual elite of the State. Among those who presided over the sessions were Dr. V. K. R. V. Rao, Education Minister of India, Dr. D. S. Kothari, Chairman of the University Grants Commission, Professor Wilfred Cantwell Smith, Director of the Department of Religious Studies at Harvard University and Dr. Bhai Jodh Singh, veteran scholar and former Vice-Chancellor of the Punjabi University. The addresses presented at the inaugration of the Seminar along with other details are reproduced in the pages of this volume. The entire conception of the Seminar and its execution besides allied activities like the vast production of literature on Guru Nanak was owing to the initiative of the then Vice-Chancellor of  Punjabi University, Sardar Kirpal Singh Narang and the Head of the Religious Studies Department, Professor Harbans Singh. Happily these two distinguished persons are still available to the University.

A few distinguished books came out on the occasion. In this connection mention may particularly be made of books by Professor W. H. McLeod, Professor Harbans Singh, Professor Niharranjan Ray, Professor A .C. Bannerji, Professor Gurbachan Singh Talib and Dr. S. S. Bal and collections of valuable essays edited by the late S. Gurmukh Nihal Singh and Professor Sant Singh Sekhon. The Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee of Delhi, besides sponsoring a biography of Guru Nanak, published the translation of Guru Nanak's great spiritual composition Japuji in several languages. An important direction in which the Quincentenary has resulted in starting beneficent activity is the establishment of the Guru Nanak Foundation at whose disposal ample funds have been placed by the Government besides some organizations. This body has opened an Institute for the education for the Master's degree of scholars in Religion at Patiala. It is planning to establish an Institution for research in  Religion, at Delhi.

The above statement provides just a glimpse of the vast amount of cultural and social activity inspired by the event of the Quincentenary. As already said, its influence is continuing to grow in the form of more studies and creation of literature and general awareness of the integrated life, spiritual experience and uplifting thought in the light of Guru Nanak's teaching. It is hoped that the reader will get some idea of the event in its effects over a vast field from the pages of this volume. Perhaps some of the reports are not full : some are even sketchy. This could not be helped as the sources of information available were in many cases inadequate. After the celebrations were over, it was not possible to get fuller details, particularly from abroad. This handicap was faced particularly with regard to Pakistan with which our contacts were lost not long after the Quincentenary year. With this handicap and with the due apologies the book is commended to the readers. Thanks are due to the Punjab Government for making this book possible and to Sardar Kirpal Singh Narang, Vice-Chancellor of the Punjabi University for accepting this work to be executed in his University. It is to be hoped that this record now preserved, will guide not only the general reader particularly outside the Punjab, but also the historian of our culture in the future with regard to the upsurge of spontaneous enthusiasm which veneration for the personality of Guru Nanak has aroused at the close of the half millenuim since his birth in 1469.

Punjabi University, Patiala
Table of Contents of the Book 'Guru Nanak Commemorative Volume' By Gurbachan Singh Talib


I In Account of the Guru Nanak Quincentenary Celebrations with India   1
II An Account of the Guru Nanak Quincentenary Celebrations outside India   42
III Notes and Articles on the occasion of Guru Nanak Quincentenary Celebrations in Daily Newspaper, Weekly Journals and Monthly Magazines   69
IV An Account of the International Seminar of Guru Nanak's Life and Teachings, held under the Auspices of the Department of Religious Studies, Punjabi University, Patiala, September 3 to 5, 1969   76
V A Cross-Section of the Literature produced on the occasion of the Quincentenary of Guru Nanak   97
VI A Selection from the Research Papers presented at the International Seminar on Guru Nanak's Life and Teachings, held at the Punjabi University, Patiala    
  The Nature of God Geoffrey Parrinder 118
VII A Study of Guru Nanak's Teaching in Relation to the Indian Spiritual Tradition Prof. G. S. Talib 156
VIII Guru Nanak and the Siddhas Bhai Jodh Singh 181
IX Tagore and the Sikhs Amaiendu Bose 200
X Guru Nanak's Impact on History Ganda Singh 206
XI Guru Nanak and His Message-Saintly Relevance and Challenge Amiya Chakravarty 216
XII The Religions, the Sacred and the Holy Guru Nanak and Secularization David B. Harned 236
XIII Japuji and Universal Mysticism K. Seshadri 252
XIV Guru Nanak as Historical Memory and Continuing  Reality in the Sikh Tradition Harbans Singh 257


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