Saturday, July 29, 2006

Hindu View of Ecology

Hindu View of Ecology

Hindu religion's reverence for the sea, soil, forests, rivers, mountains, plants, birds, and animals stems from its broader view of divinity. Unlike many
other religions, Hindus believe that all things and beings in the world are various manifestations of the Ultimate Reality (Brahman), and nothing exists
apart from It. The whole emphasis of Hindu scriptures is that human beings cannot separate themselves from nature.

Thousands of years ago, Hindu sages realized that preservation of the environment and ecological balance were necessary for the survival of mankind. To
create an awareness among the common people for preservation of the environment, the rishis taught that earth has the same relationship with man as a mother
with her child. In the Vedic literature, the earth is addressed as Mother Earth and personified as the goddess Bhumi, or Prithvi. Five thousand years later
the world experts addressed earth as Mother Earth for the first time at the Global Conference in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro.

There are numerous direct and indirect messages contained in Hindu scriptures for the protection of our environment and the maintenance of ecological balance.
The following are a few examples of some of these timeless teachings: 19

• "One who plants one peepal, one neem, ten flowering plants or creepers, two pomegranates, two oranges, and five mangoes does not go to hell." (Varaha
Purãna, a Hindu scripture)
• "Oh wicked person! If you roast a bird, then your bathing in the sacred rivers, pilgrimage, worship and yagñas are useless."
• "The rivers are the veins of God, the ocean is His blood, and the trees the hairs of His body. The air is His breath, the earth His flesh, the sky His
abdomen, the hills and mountains the stacks of His bones, and the passing ages are His movements."

(Srimad Bhãgavatam 2.1.32-33)

• "One should not throw urine, stool or mucus into the water, nor anything mixed with these unholy substances, nor blood or poison, nor any other [impurity]."
(Manu Smriti 4.56)
• "Five sorts of kindness are the daily sacrifice of the trees. To families they give fuel; to passers by they give shade and a resting place; to birds
they give shelter; with their leaves, roots, and bark they give medicines." (Varaha Purãna 162.41-42)


• Feeling one with nature is the fundamental environmental message of Hindu culture. Unlike many other religions, Hindus perceive life not only in human
beings, but also in plants, birds, and animals. This vision of oneness of life has helped Hindus develop a worshipful attitude towards everything in nature.

• Nature is not a commodity to be dominated and conquered. Man must change the attitude of dominating nature to one of cooperating with it. A fundamental
reorientation of human consciousness is required to recognize that earth has the same relationship with man as a mother with her child.
• Life is an organic entity and the sea, soil, mountains, plants, and animals are inseparable parts of the cosmic web. Man must learn to live in harmony
with nature and recognize that plants and animals have a meaningful life too in the cosmic play (lîlã).
• Environmental issues require a spiritual response. An awareness of the ecological balance must be created at all levels of human thought and activity.


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