May 1, 2008

Nature and We

Nature manifest In many forms. Hinduism has always been an environmentally sensitive philosophy. No religion, perhaps, lays as much emphasis on environmental ethics as Hinduism. The Mahabharata, Ramayana, Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, Puranas and Smriti contain the earliest messages for preservation of environment and ecological balance. Nature, or Earth, has never been considered a hostile element to be conquered or dominated. In fact, man is forbidden from exploiting nature. He is taught to live in harmony with nature and recognize that divinity prevails in all elements, including plants and animals. The rishis of the past have always had a great respect for nature. Theirs was not a superstitious primitive theology. They perceived that all material manifestations are a shadow of the spiritual. The Bhagavad Gita advises us not to try to change the environment, improve it, or wrestle with it. If it seems hostile at times tolerate it. Ecology is an inherent part of a spiritual world view in Hinduism.

he rhythm of life is dictated by water and Hindus hold rivers in great reverence. India is a country that not only nurtures the resources nature has bestowed upon her, but also worships them for the all-round prosperity they bring in their wake. Rivers are one such gift which are considered highly sacred throughout the length and breadth of the country. This is primarily because these mighty rivers have perennially been a source of livelihood to millions of people living in areas lying along their courses. No wonder people see in them a manifestation of divine female power (shakti). "Sindhu in might surpasses all the streams that flow.... His roar is lifted up to heaven above the earth; he puts forth endless vigour with a flash of light .... Even as cows with milk rush to their calves, so other rivers roar into the Sindhu. As a warrior- king leads other warriors, so does Sindhu lead other rivers.... Rich in good steeds is Sindhu, rich in gold, nobly fashioned, rich in ample wealth.'' - Rig Veda "Ambitame, naditame, devitame, Sarasvati"- "O best of mothers, O best of rivers, O best of goddesses, Sarasvati"

About 4,500 years ago the Sarasvati was eulogized thus in the Rig Veda.One of the sad effects of progress is destruction of environment and with it nature.
Large-scale deforestation, pollution of air, introduction of toxic chemicals in rivers and
oceans and general march of our present technological progress is depleting biodiversity.
American heritage dictionary defines nature as “The order, disposition and essence of all
entities composing the physical universe” or in essence the biosphere. Some critics of
environmental movements contend that if some living species do get annihilated due to our
activities still we are part of nature. They also contend that our technological march is an
evolutionary process, which automatically allows reduction of biodiversity. Their argument
may carry weightage if our technological progress is environmentally sustainable but at
present we do not understand all the natural forces surrounding us and hence we are not
working in tune with them. Eventually we may, but till that time we need to conserve nature
and biodiversity. Hence we should be concerned about nature’s destruction for if we destroy
nature we will loose valuable genetic information and with that a possible mechanism to
evolve efficiently and sustainably.
How Nature