TORONTO: Prof Devinder Singh Chahal, an Indo-Canadian scholar of Sikhism, has been re-appointed for another two years as a member of the advisory committee of the Centre on Studies in Sri Guru Granth Sahib at Guru Nanak Dev University in Amritsar.
Dr Chahal is currently the president of the Institute for Understanding Sikhism (IUS) at Laval in Quebec. The institute develops an expertise in scientific and logical interpretation of Gurbani.
He has authored three important books based on scientific and logical interpretation of Gurbani: Nanakian Philosophy: Basics for Humanity; JAP: The Essence of Nanakian Philosophy; and Sabd Guru to Granth Guru. Currently, he is scientifically and logically interpreting the Bani (words) of Guru Nanak, which has been incorporated in the Aad Guru Granth Sahib – the authentic source of Bani of Guru Nanak. He is hopeful that interpretation of JAP would be ready by Guru Nanak/s birthday this year.
The Centre on Studies in Sri Guru Granth Sahib at Guru Nanak Dev University has been established with a grant of Rs 47.05 crore from the University Grant Commission (UGC) and the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) on the recommendation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
The Centre was inaugurated on April 1, 2011, with ardas (prayer) by then Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh Vedanti. Prof Balwant Singh Dhillon is the Director of the Centre.
According GNDU vice chancellor Dr Ajaib Singh Brar, the Centre would have six divisions:
1. Division for Studies on Interfaith Understanding
2. Division for Scriptural Studies
3. Division for Studies on Musicology
4. Division for Hermeneutic & Linguistic Studies
5. Division for Social and Cultural Studies and
6. Division for Scriptural Translations.
He said not only the recent trends in the fields of humanities and social sciences even insights from the fields of fundamental sciences would be incorporated. He said to conduct research and avoid duplicity; the Centre would work in close rapport with the universities where research work on the holy Guru Granth Sahib is being done.
During his first term of two years, Prof Chahal advised the Centre that Divisions numbered 2, 4, and 6 are closely related with each other thus they should work together.
The first Division for Studies on ‘Interfaith Understanding’ is dependent on the findings of the second, fourth and sixth Divisions. ‘Interfaith Conferences’ held all over the world for the last many years have not been able to make any dent to understand ‘Interfaith’.
Therefore, it becomes utmost important for this Centre to define ‘Interfaith’ according to the philosophy embodied in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib to help the humanity to establish peace in the world.
God is understood differently in different religions. Although God is not mentioned at all in Buddhism and Jainism still Buddhism is practiced almost throughout the world including China. This observation revives the century-old question: What is God? Therefore, it also becomes important for the Centre to define God according to the philosophy of Guru Nanak – the founder of Sikhism – if his God is different than that believed in other religions.
To cover the complete study of Sri Guru Granth Sahib, however, close collaboration of all the six Divisions is necessary.
“I see that during the first two years due to lack of appointments of the expert staff not much work has been accomplished,’’ says Prof Chahal, adding that he would try to fulfill the objectives, “… insights from the fields of fundamental sciences would be incorporated” of Prof Dr Brar, VC in the project of interpretation of Sri Guru Granth Sahib with the application of Science and logic in close collaboration with the Division of Scriptural Translation.
Dr Dhillon, director of the GNDU Center, visited the Institute for Understanding Sikhism in Laval on May 18 and 19 this year. During the visit, Prof Chahal requested him to include the role of science and logic in interpreting the Gurbani.
“We hope that the Centre would be able to Interpret Gurbani considering every possible methodology to get the best interpretation first in Punjabi then in English and other languages,’’ says Prof Chahal.
(This report is based on a statement issued by Dr Chahal)