Hinduism and Nature - Today is World Environment Day

Today - June 5 - is World Environment Day. Nature and Hinduism are so entwined that it is quite impossible to think about one without the other. The need for an ecological balance is stressed in the Vedas and Upanishads and this message is repeated in the Ramayana, Mahabharata, Gita, Puranas and in the messages of Hindu saints. Mother Nature is worshipped in Hindu religion. But for majority of Hindus, worship is confined to temples and homes and thus they are equal contributors in global warming, pollution and emissions.

Here are a few thoughts which ancient seers of Sanatana Dharma had shared more than 5000 years ago regarding the importance of nature and majority of them are highly relevant today.
  • One should not destroy the trees. (Rig Veda Samhita vi-48-17)
  • Plants are mothers and Goddesses. (Rig Veda Samhita x-97-4)
  • Trees are homes and mansions. (Rig Veda Samhita x-97-5)
  • Sacred grass has to be protected from man's exploitation (Rig Veda Samhita vii-75-8)
  • Plants and waters are treasures for generations. (Rig Veda Samhita vii-70-4)
Earth, in which lie the sea, the river and other waters, in which food and cornfields have come to be, in which lives all that breathes and that moves, may she confer on us the finest of her yield. Earth, in which the waters, common to all, moving on all sides, flow unfailingly, day and night, may she pour on us milk in many streams, and endow us with lustre. (From the Atharva Veda - Hymn to the Earth - Bhumi-Sukta)

May those born of thee, O Earth, be for our welfare, free from sickness and waste, wakeful through a long life, we shall become bearers of tribute to thee. Earth my mother, set me securely with bliss in full accord with heaven, O wise one, uphold me in grace and splendor. (From the Atharva Veda - Hymn to the Earth - Bhumi-Sukta)
  • Earth, atmosphere, sky, sun, moon, stars, waters, plants, trees, moving creatures, swimming creatures, creeping creatures all are hailed and offered oblations. (Taittiriya Samhita i-8-13)
  • One should protect the habitation. (Rig Veda Samhita vi-71-3)
  • Waters as friends of man give full protection to his progenies. (Rig Veda Samhita vi-50-7)
  • One shall take care of quadrupeds. (Taittiriya Samhita iv-4-10)
  • One shall be auspicious to animals. (Taittiriya Samhita ii-3-14)
  • One shall not find fault with animals. (Chandogya Upanishad ii-18-2)
  • Waters represent splendor. (Atharva Veda Samhita iii-13-5)
  • Waters bear off all defilements and cleanse people. (Vajasaneya Samhita iv-2)
  • Whoever injures the essence of food, kine or steeds is a robber who sinks both himself and his offspring into destruction. (Rig Veda Samhita vii-104-10)
  • Offerings are dedicated to waters of wells, pools, clefts, holes, lakes, morasses, ponds, tanks, marshes, rains, rime, streams, rivers and ocean. (Taittiriya Samhita vii-4-13)
  • There was only water in the beginning. (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad v-5-1)
  • Waters and herbs should have no poison. (Rig Veda Samhita vi-39-5)
  • Waters are to be freed from defilement. (Atharva Veda Samhita x-5-24)
  • Waters cleanse humanity from the evil of pollution committed by it. (Atharva Veda Samhita xii-2-40)
  • Waters are healing and they strengthen one to see great joy. (Taittiriya Samhita vii-4-19)
The Mahabharata says that 'even if there is only one tree full of flowers and fruits in a village, that place becomes worthy of worship and respect.’
‘No religion, perhaps, lays as much emphasis on environmental ethics as does Hinduism. It believes in ecological responsibility and says like Native Americans that the Earth is our mother. It champions protection of animals, which it considers also have souls, and promotes vegetarianism. It has a strong tradition of non-violence or ahimsa. It believes that God is present in all nature, in all creatures, and in every human being regardless of their faith or lack of it.’ Dr. David Frawley
We Hindus are always proud to hear others praise our culture. We publish them, discuss them in social circles but rarely follow the unparalleled teachings in our scriptures.

Lord Ganesha, Holy Cow, Worship of Mountains, Worship of Nagas (Snakes), Tulsi and the numerous other plants and animals that form part of Hindu worship are nothing but messages incorporated by wise Hindu Saints to teach us that we humans are part of nature and not outside it and above it.

The Hindu concept of Brahman, the Supreme Soul, suggests that all animate and inanimate and all born and yet to be born are part of Brahman. Therefore an imbalance in a particular part will affect all other parts. The Supreme Being then finds out a method to transform that defective part. Since Brahman is present in all, it is easy to transform. And we humans might term such a transformation as the End or Death or total annihilation. For the Supreme Soul, it is a small repair work carried out by a minute virus.

Mother Nature is not dependent on Human Beings but Human Beings are. Ancient Seers knew it and therefore they worshiped Nature. Modern Humans termed it as animism and replaced it with more refined worships. And the result of such a refined worship ...

‘In our arrogance and ignorance we have destroyed the environment of this planet. We have polluted the oceans, we have made the air unbreathable, we have desecrated nature and decimated wildlife. But the Vedantic seers knew that man was not something apart from nature, and, therefore, they constantly exhort us that, while we work for own salvation, we must also work for the welfare of all beings.’ Karan Singh
Only a people’s movement can save the earth from destruction. We are armed with wise teachings of our saints. Now what we need is its implementation.

Courtesy: Quotes from Vedas as found in the articles of Dr. S Kannan and Dr. Karan Singh