On Hinduism’s Role in Protecting Nature

Vasudha Narayanan, Distinguished Professor in the Department of Religion at the University of Florida, has written a well thought out essay in Newsweek Washingtonpost on Hindu religion's role in protecting nature.

Some excerpts from the essay

One tree is equal to ten sons” says the Goddess Parvati in the Matsya Puranam, a little known Hindu text.

Tirupati temple promotes reforestation and donations for ecological projects is important; it raises the consciousness of millions of Hindus about the ecological disaster that is facing the Earth.

Hindu narratives, rituals, customs as well as local, ethnic folklore have been highlighted to help lift up the urgency of protecting the environment. From major Hindu temple complexes to small grass root organizations, one is urged to give one’s time, money, and energies to saving the Earth. In some meditations and action forums, Earth is personified as a Goddess and like dharma or righteousness, she protects those who protect her.

Nature worship is an important aspect of Hinduism. But the great teaching that Hinduism had to offer regarding the protection of nature is being ignored in India. I agree there are several communities and temples which has been protecting nature.

But take a look at the high level of pollution in the Ganges; not only Ganges but several important rivers are highly polluted. We might be keeping the inside of our temples clean but the surrounding areas of most temples are filled with filth.

Our ancestors very well knew the importance of nature. But today most Hindus worship nature unknowingly and they are little bothered about its protection.