Today is Earth Day - Hindu Religion and Nature

Today, April 22 is being observed as Earth Day. For Hindus all day is earth day. Take any Hindu scripture and one will find that Nature plays an important role in it. The earliest teachers of Sanatana Dharma saw Earth as a large family and knew the importance of each animate and inanimate in Nature. The Vedic teachers realized that the Supreme Soul (Brahman) resides in all living and non living being and he coined the great thought – Tattvamasi – Thou Art That and Vasudeva Kudumbakam - the world is a village.  

A Hindu worships nature not out of fear but by realizing each living being is a representation of the Supreme Soul or God. Hindus worship and feed cows, ants, rats, bull, snakes…we find divinity in rivers, mountains, trees…Each and every aspect of Nature is Holy for a Hindu.

In the tenth chapter of Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna says
  • Now I will declare to you My Divine glories, immanent, in their prominence; O best of the Kurus, there is no end to the details of My extent.
  • I am the Self, O Gudakesha, seated in the hearts of all beings; I am the Beginning, the Middle and also the End of all beings.
  • Among the trees, I am the holy banyan tree (the Ashwattha tree – Pipal ),
  • Among the cows, I am the wish giving Kama Dhenu
  • And among the water bodies, I am the sea
  • And among the immovable, I am the Himalayas
  • Among the peaks, I am the divine Meru
  • Among the shining objects, I am the Sun God
  • And among the stars, I am the moon
  • Among those who move fast, I am the wind
  • And among the rivers, I am the Ganga
  • And among the seasons, I am the flowering spring
  • Among the animals, I am the lion,
  • And among the birds, I am the eagle.
  • Among the fishes I am the Shark.
  • Among the great elephants, I am Airavatha,
  • And I am Vasuki among serpents,
  • And whatsoever is the seed of all beings, that also am I, O Arjuna; there is no being, whether moving, or unmoving, that can exist without Me.
But is an average Hindu protecting Nature or at least not destroying it. Sadly, majority of the Hindus only remembers trees, animals, mountains and other aspects of nature only during festivals and auspicious days. 

Even some of the Hindu festivals which were deeply rooted in Nature have been converted into pollution festivals by crass commercialization.

River Ganga is slowly dying; Ganesh Chaturthi is in news for polluting water bodies; important Hindu temple towns are highly polluted, not a single river associated with Hinduism is pollution free, tigers and numerous other animals that are constantly depicted with Hindu Gods and Goddesses are facing extinction….it is a long list.

There is no use in being part of a great culture, if one is not able to follow its basic universal teachings. The basic concept of Hinduism is to see the earth as a whole family – Vasudeva Kudumbakam.

We often find lame excuses to escape from responsibility or play the blame game. There are a lot of things an individual can do.

When reading Hindu scriptures we realize that there was period when Nature was without human beings and there are indications in many scriptures that in future too there can be a period without Human Beings – the Supreme Soul appears to annihilate that which is straying from the path of Dharma. By destroying Nature and behaving as if we are above Nature we are straying from the path of Dharma and behaving like the demons in the holy books and inviting the wrath of the Supreme Being.

Nature will survive even after human beings are gone. Man needs to change, if he needs to survive in Nature or Nature will find ways to eliminate Human Beings.

You may also like to read