Guru Nanak's Life and Thought by Kapur Singh
‘Guru Nanak’s Life and Thought’ consists of a number of selected works by Kapur Singh, one of the most prominent Sikh figures of the 20th Century. Kapur Singh has authored some influential books including ‘Parasaraprasna’ and ‘Sikhism for the Modern Man’. His essays were, of course, no exception. They consider a number of topics to communicate Sikh political and spiritual thought. With this, Madanjit Kaur and Piar Singh were able to draw from many years of Kapur Singh’s research regarding the life of Guru Nanak when compiling this book.
In total, sixteen essays form the body of this work and all demonstrate a unique and independent way of thinking. These essays relate to a number of subjects from Guru Nanak’s observations of the society around him, his general life and vision, and the gurbani written by Guru Nanak. The advantage of discussing a range of subjects using a compilation of essays is that readers are able to pick up at any chapter without having read previous chapters. This is particularly useful for those who would like to understand specific elements of the life and philosophy of Guru Nanak.
The introductory essay, ‘Brief Life-sketch and Teachings’, gives a short yet valuable introduction to Guru Nanak’s life. This forms the background for Kapur Singh’s later essays, as the stories of Guru Nanak’s life bring context to his way of thinking and philosophy, both in a spiritual and temporal manner.
Throughout these essays, Kapur Singh homes in on the misconceptions of Guru Nanak’s philosophy. He deconstructs arguments that suggest that Sikhi is an extension of the Hindu faith or Bhakti movement. Though this may seem obvious, it is position that is still held by many across the world and understanding the details as to why Sikhi is an independent and sovereign way of life is essential. This theme echoes throughout Kapur Singh’s work and is not just restricted to these selected essays. ‘Documents on Sikh Homeland and Speeches in Parliament’ and ‘Parasaraprasna’ are just two of the many examples.
Following the conclusion of each article, the editors have also included the origin of the article and any applicable notes. This is useful for those who would like to do any further reading around the articles. Examples include the ‘Sikh Review’, ‘Journal of Sikh Studies’ and ‘Nanak Prakash Patrika’.
This book is recommended to anyone who seeks to understand more about Guru Nanak’s philosophy and mindset, as well as how it has been put into practice. Kapur Singh’s reputation as a Sikh scholar, political theorist and philosopher is one that has inspired many Sikhs across the world. His insightful and thought provoking essays should have a place in the life of every Sikh.