Hindu teachings have always been very caring towards the mother nature. Hindu texts contain numerous references to the worship of the divine in nature in it the Vedas. Hindu dharma lays as high emphasis on environmental ethics. Since, the earliest times of The Mahabharata, Ramayana, Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, Puranas and Smriti, all of them contain the earliest messages for the preservation of the environment, loving the nature and ecological balance. Hindus have never considered nature or Earth a hostile element to be conquered or dominated. Hindu teach to live in harmony with nature and recognize that divinity prevails in all elements, including plants and animals.
The rishis of the past have always had a great respect for nature. Millions of Hindus recite Sanskrit mantras daily to revere their rivers, mountains, trees, animals and the earth. Ecology is an inherent part of a spiritual worldview in Hindu religion. Today’s environmental crisis demands a spiritual response. An awareness of our actions and a rise in the human consciousness, that is born out of inner commitment is very much needed today. Hence, here are some of the saying mentioning about Environmental ethics and relation from Hindu texts that can help us to be more aware of our relation and responsibility towards the environment.
1. Ishavasyam Idam Sarvam
“Ishavasyam idam sarvam” means, “Whatever there is in this world, it is covered and filled with Narayana. Hindu texts, such as the Bhagavad Gita and the Bhagavad Purana, contain many references to the omnipresence of the supreme divinity, including its presence throughout and within nature. Thus, Hindus worship and accept the presence of God in nature, in the environment in every form.
2. Bhoomi Devi – Mother Earth
Hindus consider Earth as a mother, seemingly as all our mothers, even our mother Earth deserves our respect, love, and care. In fact, many Hindus touch the floor before getting out of bed every morning and ask the Devi to forgive them for trampling on her body. Many Hindu rituals recognize that human beings benefit from the earth, and offer gratitude and protection in response.
Atharva Veda, states ‘Bhumi Devi’ (Mother Earth), “May whatever I dig from you grow back again quickly, and may we not injure you by our labor.” There are also hymns to Mother Earth, which states, “Earth, in which the seas, the rivers, and many waters lie, from which arise foods and fields of grain, abode to all that breathes and moves, may she confer on us with her finest yield.”
Good behavior results in good karma, hence, our behavior towards the environment marks simultaneous karmic consequences. In short, our environmental actions affect our karma. Karma is the basic focus not just in Hindu philosophy but in Buddhism as well. It says that each of our actions creates consequences which constitute our karma and results or effects our future actions.
We as humans, who have free choice to act anyway have to have a sense of responsibility and be cautious to our actions. Many Hindu texts and Gurus mentions that natural disasters are consequences of our actions where we have harmed mother nature in various ways.
Dhar and darna mean hold/support/harmony. It is a set of practices that enables humans to sustain in the world. Dharma includes the moral code and lays out the rules & guidelines on how humans can stay in harmony with the world around us. Mostly, Hindu religion believes to not have any specific name for the religion. It is just called ‘dharmic’(religious) – one who follows a code.
Therefore, protecting the environment is part of Dharma and people in the olden times, did not have an understanding of “the environment” as separate from the other spheres of activity in their lives.
5. Pancha Mahabhutas – Five Elements
Hindu religion teaches that the five great elements, such as, Space, Air, Fire, Water, and Earth constitute the environment, which is all derived from nature. As a result, it creates a web of life that connects the cosmos, nature, plants, animals, the human body and everything present in the universe. The Upanishads explains that the interdependence of these elements in relation to Brahman, the supreme reality, from which they arise: “From Brahman arises space, from space, arises air, from air arises fire, from fire, arises water, and from water arises earth.”
It is recognized that the human body contains and relates to these five elements. Furthermore, each of the elements relates to one of the five senses. The human nose is related to earth, tongue relates to water, eyes relates to fire, skin relates to air and ears relates to space. This bond between our senses and the elements is the foundation of our human relationship with the natural world. They are an inseparable part of our existence, and they constitute our very bodies. Hence, harming nature would, in fact, be harming ourselves.