2004 Declaration of Guiding Principles
New York, September 13, 2004. Sikh attendees of United Nations Organization NGOs meeting released the 2004 Declaration of Guiding Principles for Civil Society to nudge forward. These principles are taken from the universal wisdom of Sri Guru Granth Sahib compiled 400 years ago.
The fifty-seventh annual Conference of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI) concluded a three days conference at the UN Headquarters in New York. More than 1,800 representatives from 540 organizations based in 93 countries had come together for three days to assess the progress and consider the way forward to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
The one hundred eighty-nine member states originally adopted these goals at the Millennium Summit of UNO in 2000. The UNO Summit preceded by a Summit of World Religious Leaders where heads of many Sikh religious organizations participated and a memorandum on Spiritual Ecology was submitted by the Guru Gobind Singh Foundation President, Dr. Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia.
At this year’s meeting, the Sikh representatives and their friends urged that a significant change in attitude would be necessary to unite the world communities to promote the peace and achieve the development goals.
On the First Day of the conference, September 8, the friends of the Sikhs met informally with Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information of the United Nations, Shashi Tharoor, after the plenary session in the General Assembly.
On the next day, September 9, the Sikh delegates with their friends gathered for a brief meditation in the meditation room. A silent prayer for the goodwill of all humanity followed it. Moving out of this room, an informal meeting was held where brief history of the compilation of the Aadi Granth was reviewed to stress its interfaith character, its universal message and its reverence for human rights, justice, peace and freedom of religious practice. It was felt:
1) that the initiatives taken by the compiler of the Aadi Granth were clearly to establish world peace through understanding, gratitude, and reverence for nature.
2) that the ancient wisdom of the Aadi Granth would be of value to the modern world when they are considering its future.
Dr. Harbans Lal of Academy of Guru Granth Studies read a 10- point Declaration as given below. Five member sponsors then signed the Declaration. They were Tatiana Androsov, Harbans Lal, Sat Kiran Kaur Khalsa (Sardarni Sahiba of Sikh Dharma International), Sat Mitar Kaur Khalsa (NGO/DPI/UN Representative of 3HO), and Dyal Singh Khalsa.
O the final day of the conference, September 10, the Sikh group collected again to review the comments and good wishes received from the world faith leaders who could not attend the New York Headquarters. Messages of support for the effort of the Sikh delegation were received from Marcus Braybrooke (President, World Congress of Faiths), Kiranjot Kaur (Shromani Gurdwara Parbhandhal Committee, Amritsar), Jogi Harbhajan Singh (Sri Singh Sahib, Sikh Dharma International), Dr. Inderjit Kaur (Bahi Sahiba, Sikh Dharma International, 3HO), Dr. Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia (Guru Gobind Singh Foundation, Chandigarh), Dr. Rajwant Singh (Sikh Council on Religion and Education (SCORE) and Guru Gobind Singh Foundation, Washington DC.), Alfredo Sfeir-Younis (World Bank), Rajinderjit Kaur (Sikh Women Association and Temple of Understanding), and Pritpal Singh Bindra (Sikh Social and Educational Association Canada), Col. Perminder Singh Randhawa (Sikhya Seekers International, Chandigarh).
During the NGO Conference, the participants held several workshops and day-long panels on many topics. Sikh delegates participated and made comments on applicability of ancient message of the Aadi Granth at many panels. Their contributions were particularly relevant at least three panels entitled; (1) Intolerance, Terrorism and Community Policing; (2) Role of Spirituality in Peacemaking and Conflict Resolution; (3) The Ethical and Spiritual Dimensions of the Millennium Development Goals.
1. To Recognize Presence of Divine Light in every living being.
2. To recognize that the earth is created according to God’s cosmic blueprint and it is therefore intrinsically good. Nature is our mother, our home, our security, our peace, our past and our future. It is our obligation to treat natural things and habitats as our sacred temples and shrines, to be revered and preserved in all their intricate and fragile beauty.
3. God is the Creator and its creative manifestation extends to all humans. Therefore, all humans are intrinsically creative in partnership with God.
4. It is a human destiny to emulate the divine attributes; such as Identity with Truth, Fearlessness, Without Animosity, Eternal Personality, beyond the genetic and mimetic imprisonments, and Free Spirit that lives in Gratitude.
5. To experience Divinity in work and service, in art and science, in philosophy and religion, and in environment and creation.
6. To follow the principles of righteous living by believing in: Human Equality, Human Dignity, Justice, and Human Behaviors that cleanse the Body and the Mind.
7. To build the institutions of altruism and sharing in social infrastructures. Examples are: Langer or free community kitchen attached to every congregation, OR Institutions like Pingalwara for every unfortunate citizen.
8. To be Advocate for those who are most vulnerable in our society.
9. To exert Spiritual and moral responsibility to Guide politics and political institutions, and to provide guidelines for leadership of religious institutions.
10. To build a world order without the culture of “mera Tera” (meaning “mine and yours”) psychology. It is a transgression of the divine principle of unity in god’s creation to profile and divide people in “us “ and “them”
Harbans Lal, PhD., D. Litt. (Hons)
5415 Amicable Drive
Arlington, TX 76017