• There are three types of people in the world, those who don't know what's happening, those who wonder what's happening and those on the streets that make things happen.

Ecology in the Vedas

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on June 10, 2014

Rakshas Tal

Last week on the occasion of World Environment Day, I attended a talk that highlighted the occurrence of ecological themes in our religious scriptures. The speaker presented to the audience the “Bhumi Sukta”, a 63 verse hymn from the Atharva Veda, believed to belong to the Vedic Period around 1500 BC. The hymn is a beautiful prayer to “Mother Earth” with words like,

“Mother Earth, may whatever I dig from you grow back again quickly, and may we not injure you by our labor”

I was surprised to hear subjects of renewable resources and alike in hymns more than three millennia old. But then again, human intelligence is not a function of time.

The 40 minute talk was followed by an open for all discussion. As I sat back and heard experts exchange opinions, I wondered how successful the “Save the Earth” initiative has been over the last few decades. A world wide initiative that began in Stockholm in the 1970s has certainly raised a lot of awareness. The developed world and its consumers have seemingly taken the lead in this by voicing protests against exploitation of resources on their lands. However, such an approach has only led to the “export of pollution”. What used to happen on your soil in the past is now happening on mine. Industrial pollution and uncontrollable mining is ruining the ecological balance in India but it is conveniently hidden from the sights and sounds of the developed world. And the mirage of economic prosperity has blinded most Indians towards the existence of an alternative greener way of life. It is not our fault either. With almost half the population surviving on less that a dollar a day, I do not expect a green revolution in India. It is not fair to ask a hand to mouth laborer to fight for the environment at the cost of his own survival and that of his family. So while the developed world has outsourced pollution to the developing world and continues to fuel it by its uncontrollable consumerism, I do not see an end to this menace. The developing countries and their population are just too poor to resist the greed of survival. It is unfortunate that I have to label survival as a greed. As to why I do that can be the topic of another post.

Lastly, the environmentalists have got the message wrong. Its not the Earth that needs saving, its us.

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