By sharing mantras from the shastras, HH Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji shows that environmental management is a time-honoured Indian tradition
There are so many beautiful mantras in Hinduism,
Traditionally known as Sanatana Dharma or the ‘Eternal Law’, that give us precious keys to live our lives. I particularly prefer the following two core tenets and teachings, which I think are critical to shifting the state of our global challenges to global opportunities that allow us to connect, unite, and live in peace and harmon with all beings.
Vasudhaiva kutumbakam (The world is a family):
One beautiful mantra
says,“Ayam nijah paroveti ganana laghuchetasam, udaracharitanantu
vasudhaiva kutumbakam.” Tragically, today we are treating our whole world as a marketplace, but this core tenet explains that the world is not a bazaar; the world is a parivar. We are all one family that lives together, loves together, shares together, and serves together. In the bazaar where we exploit, grab, and hoard, it’s every man for himself. But in the parivar, we share, sacrifice, and are there for others. Let us shift our mindset and live for each other with the idea that the world is one big family.
Ishavaasyam idam sarvam: Worshiping the Creator means protecting and preserving all of creation. The first line of the Isha Upanishad, ”Ishavaasyam idam sarvam,” reminds us that God pervades everything on earth. All of creation is, therefore, Divine. Our tradition asks us to protect all of life that God has created. In so doing, we ensure that generations to come will benefit from bountiful natural resources that give us clean water and air.
Our ancient sages personified the earth as mother earth and worshipped her as a Goddess (Devi). In the Atharva Veda, it says: “Mata bhumi putro aham prithivyaha,” meaning, “The earth is my mother, I am the earth’s son.”
We worship trees as Vriksha Devatas (tree gods), forests as Vana Devatas, mountains as Giri Devatas, rivers as Goddesses, and cow and cattle for their agrarian utility. The Vedas state, “Vriksho rakshati rakshitaha,” meaning,“Protect trees, trees will protect you.” We believe water is a purifier; thus, we offer a daily prayer to the deity of water: “The waters in the sky, the waters of rivers,
and water in the well whose source is the ocean, may all these sacred waters protect me.” (Rig-Veda 7.49.2).
Protection of Nature is paramount in Hinduism. Nature is seen as a guru, the very pure essence of the divine and not as a commodity at our disposal. Mother Nature teaches us how to give endlessly without hesitation, expectation, and discrimination.
Hinduism offers many green mantras and reminds us to be aware of our actions and the impact they have on our communities, our environment, and our planet. Therefore, we have to live more mindfully and use its resources sparingly, while serving tirelessly to replenish that which we have taken from it. By doing so, we can perform true puja every moment of our lives, honouring all of creation and conserving it for our future generations.
Swami Chidanand Saraswati is the president and spiritual head of the Parmarth Niketan Ashram, a spiritual institution based in Rishikesh, India.
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