Roots of environmental sustainability in Hinduism
Hinduism is the oldest known religion in the world. But the question here is what that has with sustainability? And why am i writing this stuff on web? Do I have any political interests or a new campaign that has to do with Hinduism? Well a clear NO. No political, social or cultural judgement or interests. But again, there is something new in perspective. I have some insights observed and learnt in the traditions and culture. Along with the mythology or let me say it history (not Mughal and British era, neither Harappa or Indus valley civilization). The actual history which is far deeper and older in case of Hinduism. We have texts mentioning the earth and evolution in Vedas and Puranas.
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A lot of traditions involving the nature and environment are daily part of Hindu tradition. We have portrayed the elements in form of deities or Devi/Devata. Earth is said to be mother earth (Devi). Elements like water, air, fire are considered devatas or male deities. There is another element that is important to mention because it is never talked of in any other tradition. This is Akash or Space. Space has never been given an important place but this recognition was even mentioned in the Rigveda that date backs so long that it can be said one of the oldest. Hence we have been looking to the things around in nature and environment as deities (Devi/Devata-meaning one who gives). This shows immense respect we have for the basic resources and necessities. Anyways coming back to the sustainability, the core meaning of sustainability is the ability to sustain, to carry the load (the burden or stress). When it comes to Hinduism, Lord Krishna in the Bhagwad Gita says about dharma, which means duties, principles and responsibilities. He states about holding on one's dharma to maintain the balance. The same goes with the sustainability, to maintain the stress on environment responsibly. I could not explain in less simpler words than these, but it is all about the dharma or sustainability that is same as mentioned on Bhagwad Gita. When you relate the concept with current scenario, the imbalance of nature and environment needs us.
What more we have about environment? You must have heard or seen the worship of trees. Have you heard of worshipping forests and mountains? Let me share or if you know, then remind you a small incident from Lord Krishna`s life. The story of Govardhan. People of Vrindavan used to arrange worship event known as yagna (holy fire ceremony) for worshipping Indra (who is symbolized to be rain devata). Lord Krishna somehow convinced people to worship Govardhan instead which was source of food for animals and humans, burning wood for cooking. Later Indra was furious and flooded the village to acknowledge his importance. And lord Krishna lifted the mountain to protect people from Indra`s wrath. Summing up, in the times of crisis, it is the nature who can save us from the wrath of nature. The balanced phenomenon explained 5000 years ago. Again to mention, rivers are also considered mother and ocean as the devata. Lord Krishna saving river Yamuna from Kaaliya snake poison. Today the current situation of Yamuna is same, struggling to fight the pollution and waiting for the Lord to save her again. For maintaining the integrity of water quality. Lord Rama has crossed ocean by building a bridge but not at the cost of marine lives sustaining in the water between India and Lanka for his personal mission. The one who balances the nature is the god himself in his different avatar. He taught us many times but we are forgetting the lessons. Talking about animals, lets explore a few things, every Devi/Devata has a companion animal. Look at Lord Shiva`s family. The mouse with lord Ganesh, peacock with Karthikey, tiger/lion with mother Durga, Bull and snake with Lord Shiva. All in a single family but they are forming a food chain among themselves. Let`s see this, mouse is food for snake, snake is food for peacock. Bull and tiger/lion has prey-predator relation. Yet they are all in a family. A strong message of balanced ecosystem and co-existence. Hinduism is strongly supporting the animal protection and that is the reason they always believed in being vegetarian. Majority of Hindu people are vegetarian and that is the world now understanding towards being vegan and animal cruelty. Lord Krishna was raised in a cowherd family. He lived with cows and was well known for stealing butter from the village homes. The cows are considered mother as well. You see the productive components being called mother. So simply animals, trees, rivers all being involved somehow with god. And at last, the actions of all the avatar in motion of maintaining ecosystem.
Closing line, remember lord Krishna promised not to lift weapons in the war of Mahabharat. But Lord Krishna still lifted a wheel as an weapon against Bhishma. What is the message?
Those in power and old generation (Bhishma) need to be very well showed that the one who stands for balance (Krishna) may not be the part of war (bounded to not lift weapon) but are yet the most powerful because he is the one who stands for Dharma and sustainability. Bhishma symbolizes the power in position. He represents the pre-established norms which are causing harm to the sustenance of truth. Relate Mahabharat with current scenario. Don`t you see any coherence. Well that is how nature works, in any yug or any time.
यदा यदा हि धर्मस्य ग्लानिर्भवति भारत ।
अभ्युत्थानमधर्मस्य तदात्मानं सृजाम्यहम् ॥
परित्राणाय साधूनां विनाशाय च दुष्कृताम् ।
धर्मसंस्थापनार्थाय सम्भवामि युगे युगे ॥
हेभारत! जब-जब धर्म की हानि और अधर्म की वृद्धि होती है, तब-तब ही मैं अपने रूप को रचता हूँ अर्थात साकार रूप से लोगों के सम्मुख प्रकट होता हूँ
साधु पुरुषों का उद्धार करने के लिए, पाप कर्म करने वालों का विनाश करने के लिए और धर्म की अच्छी तरह से स्थापना करने के लिए मैं युग-युग में प्रकट हुआ करता हूँ
Who is the one who will stand for dharma again??
It is me who is Krishna. It is YOU who is Krishna. It is we all who is Krishna. He is alive within us. Me writing this blog for sustainability and you reading it for the sake of environment. If you have reached here reading, you stand for nature. Remember restriction to not lift weapons, we are not in power, neither in politics. But strong enough to warn the power. The fight with all the problems that were let happened by old generation in front of their eyes and still fighting against the dharma for the sake of position. This is all same, yesterday and today. Let`s see how is dharma established yet again.