Sikh symposium spotlights Guru Nanak’s teachings of universal love, oneness and justice

Left: Dr. Nikky Kaur Singh, Right: Dr. Simran Jeet Singh. A tapestry with an image of Guru Nanak is in the center.

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Born in 1469 in the Punjab province (present day Nankana Sahib, Pakistan), Guru Nanak was a great religious innovator and is the first of the ten Gurus in Sikh religious tradition. His 974 poetic hymns, a repository of wisdom, are recorded in the Sikh holy scripture and through them posit that there is only One God who constitutes the eternal Truth. His teachings were carried on and expanded on by nine gurus, forming Sikhism, which is now which began the fifth largest religion in the world.

Dr. Veena Howard
Dr. Veena Howard

“Guru Nanak’s teachings can be very relevant in today’s world as we are dealing with issues of divisions, bigotry, hatred, and distrust,” said Dr. Veena Howard, Associate Professor of Philosophy and event organizer and moderator. “Nanak was one of the first leaders who focused on interfaith harmony while upholding the dignity of the human.”

In commemoration of Guru Nanak’s 550th birthday, the Department of Philosophy and the College of Arts and Humanities presents the symposium “Melodies of Peace in Sikhism: Guru Nanak’s Vision of Universal Love” at 9 a.m. PST Friday, March 12 on Zoom. Registration is free, and the general public is invited to attend. 

The following evening, the Fresno State Department of Art and Design and Department of Music present “Celestial Synergy,” an Indian classical music concert, at 7 p.m. PST Saturday, March 13, live on YouTube. The concert is free and open to the public. Celestial Synergy features Pt. Debasis Chakroborty on a modified slide guitar, Dr. Lovely Sharma on Sitar, Shri Shambhu Dayal Srivastava on violin, Ustad Rashid Zafar Khan on Tabla and Shri Debaditya Chakroborty on Sitar.

“This is a unique opportunity to hear world-class musicians perform Indian Classical Music,” said Professor Joan K. Sharma, Celestial Synergy organizer. “This experience brings rhythmic patterns and uplifting melodies that highlight this rich musical tradition.”

Ustad Rashid Zafar Khan on Tabla, Pt. Debasis Chakroborty on a modified slide guitar, and Dr. Lovely Sharma on the Sitar.
Ustad Rashid Zafar Khan on Tabla, Pt. Debasis Chakroborty on a modified slide guitar, and Dr. Lovely Sharma on the Sitar.

The Melodies of Peace in Sikhism symposium will feature Dr. Nikky Kaur Singh, Crawford Family Professor and Chair of Religious Studies at Colby College, Maine and Dr. Simran Jeet Singh, Union Theological Seminary, New York, and moderated by Dr. Howard.

Dr. Nikky Kaur Singh
Dr. Nikky Kaur Singh

Nikky Kaur Singh is an educator and author who has published many books, including “The First Sikh: Life and Legacy of Guru Nanak,” “Birth of the Khalsa: A Feminist Re-Memory,” and “Feminine Principle in the Sikh Vision of the Transcendent.” Her interests focus on poetics and feminist issues.  

Guru Nanak’s message, Nikky Kaur Singh says, is “truth that transcends all humanly constructed boundaries. An elaboration on how this theological vision is focused toward building a culture of universal love.”

Dr. Nikky Kaur Singh
Simran Jeet Singh

Last year, Time Magazine recognized Simran Jeet Singh as one of 16 people and groups fighting for a more equal America. He is a senior advisor for equity and inclusion at YSC Consulting and a visiting professor at Union Theological Seminary. He is also a 2020 equality fellow with the Open Society Foundations, a racial equity media fellow with Interfaith Youth Core, and a senior fellow with the Sikh Coalition

“Guru Nanak may have lived 500 years ago, but his teachings have so much to offer our world today. Join us as we dive into Guru Nanak’s vision of oneness, love, and justice, and how these principles can help address some of our most urgent challenges,” Simran Jeet Singh said.

The Symposium is sponsored by the Uberoi Foundation for Religious Studies and cosponsored by the peace and conflict studies program, Ethics Center, Cross Culture and Gender Center and the Fresno State Alumni Association. Celestial Synergy is cosponsored by the Uberoi Foundation for Religious Studies and ASI.

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Fresno State College of Arts and Humanities Communication Specialist

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