Hindu View Of The Environment.. Essay, Research Paper
The view of the world in the eyes of a Hindu believer is one that is filled with reverence and interconnectedness with their own well-being. Yet, the necessary means that they apply in order to live off the land (known to be detrimental) are just that, necessary and thus in their eyes the will of god “bhagwaan”. To be human is inherently thought of as a cause of suffering and thus the deeds of the suffering humans not matter how disrespectful they be towards the environment are in the end forgiven by the goddess earth. Being as mother earth “ Bhu Devi” is a forgiving and patient entity, who is in her times of weakness protected by Vishnu, the misdeeds of the humans are in a way thought of as the delinquency of an errant child. The misdeeds are miniscule compared to the power of the mother to forgive and replenish herself, of course with the help of the other gods, not humans.
The advent of a western way of life in such a context laden view of the world, is in many ways the reason for the environmental degradation of a sacred mother earth.
Even though the common Hindu recognizes deforestation and over hunting as “paap” sins, for the most part issues such as water pollution, unsanitary hygiene practices and improper waste disposal are relatively insignificant in his eyes. The best example of this is in the essay by Nagarajan, the view of the sacred in India isn’t as clear cut as the west, especially the idea that mortals might hurt the gods (river Ganges, ) is almost sacrilegious. The pollution of the river might be obvious and highly visible to the western eye, but to the Indians it’s a matter of faith in the Ganges, to think that it could be polluted would be reducing it to corporeal standards.
The respect for these sacred figures is mutable, it’s the context in which the Hindu believer looks at the Devis and Devtas (gods and goddesses) that determine the sacredness at that time. For instance, in the monsoon season, primarily on the west coast of India, there is a festival known as Ganesh Chaturti. Lord Ganesh is a mythological figure who is the son of Shiva and Parvati, most commonly recognized as the god with an elephants head. The festival is a celebration for ten to twenty days and during this time huge idols of Ganesh are put up in communities and ‘aartis” or prayers and offerings are made to the god as thanksgiving for the bountiful rain, the interesting part is that once the ten days are done, the idols are taken in huge processions to the beaches surrounding the area or any large body of water and immersed in it. The idea being that the next year Ganesh will rise up from the ocean (water) once again and bring the monsoon rain to the people (huge processions travel through the streets, chanting “Ganapati bapa moriya; agla varshi laukar ya.” Which translates in to “ Hail father Ganesh, come back earlier next year.”) . Yet, it would seem disrespectful to immerse a god in an ocean that is polluted by the waste of the people and expect him to return, even so, the people believe that by immersing the idols they somehow purify the water, whence actually they are only adding to the pollution of the sea. The breathing in of a sacredness into objects that are not regarded as sacred, at certain times of the year is problematic and a hindrance to environmental preservation from the religious angle. These problems are only a few of the encumbrances that an environmental ethic stemming from Hinduism would face.
The scope of Hinduism’s view of the worlds connectedness and continuity with the fate of its human inhabitants is one that would cover most all the ground that a western environmentalist could dream of covering with a religious backing. The ideas ranging from preserving Krishna’s Vrindavan to keeping the Ganges clean from improperly cremated bodies, all have a certain validity, but in my opinion no matter what the noble ideas of the authors of the essays might suggest to us as the next step for an ecological/religious movement in India, the truth of the matter is that no single authority will be able to organize such a movement in India. The lack of infrastructure and monetary resources is another factor. Thus in my opinion even with the valiant western interpretation of Hinduism, there is no scope for a ecological revolution in India.