Today is World Environment Day. Is the concept of Environment a relatively new idea, or did it always exist?
Is the concept of environment anti-modernism? Should we give up AC’s and deodorants for the sake of environment? Should we shut down industrial units, just because they are polluting and some marine life is endangered? Should we stop providing shelter for people, just to allow some marshes in the neighbourhood?
No environmentalists will tell you to endure any of the above. All s/he will tell you to do is be more sensitive to environment and leave the universe a better place to live for the next generation. This is not a new concept; our ancient texts had thought through this and laid down a few guidelines for the same.
The Veda’s have laid down principles for the conservation of natural resources, importance to the environment, welfare of plant and animal life, etc.
Here are some references to the same:
- One should protect 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)
Plant Life Welfare
- One should not destroy 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)
- Waters represent splendour (Atharva Veda Samhita iii-13-5)
- Waters bear off all defilement and cleanse people. (Vajasaneya Samhita iv-2)
- Whoever injures the essence of food, wine 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, streams, rivers and ocean. (Taittiriya Samhita vii-4-13)
- 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)
Just because nature does not punish immediately, is it not imperative for us to follow the laws of nature? All of us know all about Global Warming, but it needs to graduate beyond the level of holding a coffee-table discussion, and marking a day to ‘celebrate’ a day in the name of Environment.
In the quest for modernity and profits, we are making a mess of our environment. Is it mere coincidence that our ancient thinkers had created gods like Prithvi (earth), Vayu (air) Ganga (river) Meru and Himalya (mountains), etc.? Plants and trees, fishes and other marine life, birds and animals, etc. have all been given the status of divinity. All this was probably just to impress upon people the significance and the importance of nature. Myths associated with them have been told only to impress upon us that if the laws of nature are meddled with, the results would not be favourable to mankind. (Bhoodevi running away in the form of a cow - This is Utkarsh Speaking: Chourasi Devonwali Gaay) We have instances of floods, droughts, etc. which only highlight the constant degradation of environment.
On this day, lets us all pledge to our little bit. Stop using plastic bags, plant a tree or sapling, waste less water, conserve rain water, etc. If nothing, let us try to atone for what we have done till now!