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Universality of Religion

Beyond Boundaries: A Search for Unlimited Powers of Mind Along the Path of Guru Nanak 
By Dr. Devendra Singh*

Available at


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Most religions start with a remarkable leader who inspires his followers with the message. This personal belief has to remain the core of any religion but the believers also need to organize themselves into a human institution and that institution can lose touch with the essentials of belief.

This is the challenge facing the Sikh community, according to Beyond Boundaries, a thoughtful book by Dr Devendra Singh. The problem is summed up by his sentence: "The foundation of Sikhism today is so flimsy that if a Sikh gets his hair cut, he is no longer a Sikh no matter how truthfully he or she is following the teachings of his or her holy book."

Throughout the book, Singh argues that the teachings of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, and those of Sikhism's other gurus are more important than the formal trappings of religion, no matter how important the symbols might be. He points out that the religion is still going strong and has a lot to offer the world, even if the famous five K symbols, which are the traditional essential identifiers of a Sikh, have fallen into disuse. The sword (illegal in many countries), shorts, steel bangle and comb are rarely used, while the uncut hair and turban are becoming less and less used in the modern world.

Beyond Boundaries is also a good introduction to Sikhism for a non-Sikh and has several chapters on the religion's history, which continues into recent years. It goes into detail on how the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), the general assembly of the religion, was formed during the 1920s and how it defined modern-day Sikhism. Singh then takes issue with how the SGPC has "ignored the interfaith spirit and universal character of the Sikh Gurus".

What brings Beyond Boundaries to life is its broad overview of this universality of the Sikh religion, using a lot of very accessible quotations from the texts. While offering the reader a direct insight into the core of the religion, Singh makes a point of emphasizing the power of the human mind and how the mind can expand to achieve great things, particularly when harnessed to the universal values found in so many religions. Success without fulfillment is meaningless and several chapters describe how a universal value system helps us attain our ultimate goals. Such values include truthful living, contentment, spiritual wisdom, mediation, kindness and forgiveness; and Beyond Boundaries is very clear on how the teachings of the Gurus link back to these values and also carry a message for all people, not just Sikhs.

Singh makes a powerful case that we all need to hear and understand the timeless truths of the Guru's messages of peaceful coexistence and individual uplift, so that we can achieve the higher goals of experiencing the unlimited powers of mind and establishing a peaceful society.

Source: Gulf News

*Dr Devendra Singh is a journalist on Gulf News in Dubai, who previously worked on the Pioneer and Indian Express. He holds a doctorate in Sikhism from Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi, India.

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