All the sages and philosophers here in India have been environmental lovers. The place of their meditation was settled near a river, lake, mountain, or a forest. In the Vedas, there are laws of worship of water bodies, land formations, trees and wild animals. Even the postures of yoga are a mimicry of the movements of animals (Shashankasana, Mayurasana, Garudasana, Bakasana, bhujangasana, etc.) and the structure of trees and plants (vrksasana, padmasana, etc.), and the shape of land formations (tadasana). The methods of pranayama in yoga have also been developed by yogis by studying and researching the breathing process of wild animals.
To enculturate a whole society in the respect of natural phenomenon with postures and breathing is an indication of this culture’s deep and ancient sensitivity toward the environment. Before this education began, thousands of years ago the earth was given the status of mother and the five elements were explained as demigods. Looking forward to current times, you notice that our evolution has placed us in a different relationship with our environment. It happened gradually with one revolution after another – the industrial evolution, then the information revolution, now the technological revolution. Where humans once defined happiness with health, freedom, family, love, the masses now find happiness to be directly dependent on a material life separate from the original Mother, provider of health through provisions of food, water, air and all the requisite elements necessary to produce perfect offspring. We willingly hand over our freedoms in exchange for objects marketed to us from multi-national corporations focused not on our wellness as individuals or communities, but on their own wealth and the profits of their stakeholders.
This blind belief that man-made objects, paid for by our labor, will bring more health or happiness than those given freely by Nature is a delusion that has been propagated upon our naivete since the invention of currency, since the popularization of marketing, and continues to fuel the furnace of capitalism. All of this destruction comes from desire, attachment, reaching beyond our own existence for something to sooth our ego.
As a result of this grand change in human behavior, the poison of smoke (carbon dioxide) and other toxic gases is dissolving in the air. Pesticides and chemical fertilizers are dissolving in the water. There is excessive misuse of our most sacred element – water. We drill holes in the earth for tube wells and fracking for coal stone petroleum and metals. When we dig arbitrarily, we uproot indigenous plants which have stabilized and cleansed our soil and sand for millennia. Shrubs found in the Thar desert of Rajasthan such as Innan, Matha, Murali, Phog, Khimp, Kumtha, Ber, Boddi, Kankera, Sithia, Banwli are being destroyed. Bird and animal habitats are disappearing, and so their numbers are decreasing. Due to the ecological imbalance caused by removing these plants, precipitation is also out of balance, with some regions getting too much rain, and others none. In the droughted regions, insects and bumblebees are dying from the extreme heat decreasing pollination and rendering flowering and fruiting trees and plants infertile. Due to ecological imbalance, the mutual links between birds and animals have started breaking. Many vulnerable species are completely extinct. Plastics choke our waterways, trees clear cut by machines; trees aged hundreds of years fall to the ground in the blink of an eye to make way for factories and houses. And dangerous noise destroys the natural sound waves made by animals and plants.
Noise pollution is spreading rapidly in religion, spirituality and society. In mosques, amplifiers are installed on each high minaret. Many Hindus install them in the highest peaks of temples. Pilgrims and weddings drag along their DJ truck piled high with speakers destroying the eardrums of young children diminishing their listening and I.Q. over their lifetime. It has been recorded that the heights of this noise pollution is equal to that of a jet plane taking off a few feet from your ears. This man made noise creates confusion for the animals whose eardrums are smaller, more fragile and sensitive than our own. The great noise instills fear in them, and they run in the night, becoming prey, or experiencing abortion. How many times have we heard our villagers complain that ‘after last night’s wedding noise, our cows refused to give milk for two days’?
The culprits of this pollution, the insensitive loud person, is not even aware how their behaviour opposes the sacred work of religion. Where is it written that Krishna encouraged loud, destructive, man-made noise with the aim of disturbing birds, animals, trees, old people, students and sick people all night? Where are the sutras which instruct humans to destroy their environment and everything in it?
I believe this person thinks he is very powerful. I agree; certainly man is a masterpiece. We are constructed in the form of God. We have intellect and conscience along with our body. This body is called the body of Narayan (all-pervading God). Yet, without the environment even a single moment of our life cannot happen. This body grows and moves with the food and water grown on the earth. This is the air we breathe in. we get light from the sun. The moon, the stars, the rain, all the beauty belongs to it. These lakes, rivers, hills, mountains, deserts, waterfalls, shrubs, trees, insects, moths, birds, animals, it is all because of it. We are made of the five elements, just as the birds and trees. What about our construction gives us the right to destroy all others constructed of the same five elements? When was the right of mass destruction given humans?
As we are getting away from the environment, our cultural heritage is getting weaker. In earlier times, playing in open space with soil, climbing trees, volunteering in public place like Nadi, Agora, temple etc on Igyaras, Amavas, Poornima and gathering, assembly, social spiritual discussion, women’s singing, dance art performance, etc. used to happen. Nowadays people are confined to their homes staring at radiating monitors. Outdoor sports and meetings have been replaced by mobile phones, computers and television. People do not even recognize their village friends any longer. Due to being away from nature, physical and mental diseases are increasing. And soon the person, most powerful and destructive, will break with his own Nature and no longer recognize himself.
We can no longer argue whether or not global warming is happening. Every day we read the newspaper or watch the news there is another epic catastrophe somewhere in our country and abroad, evidence that we are affecting our environment in a negative way. The life of humans and other organisms on earth is in danger. Stephen Hawking, the greatest scientist of this century, announced before his death, that on the basis of research and experience, he believed that humanity on Earth is moving toward self-destruction. The countdown to this has already begun. We cannot stop the clock entirely.
A UN report warned that we have very little time left to save ourselves. If we do not take the right steps to stop carbon emissions, by 2050 humanity will find itself on the list of endangered species alongside all the creatures of the forest we have sent into oblivion. That may be our only just reward for our behaviour.
The only solution to all these problems is a healthy, pollution free natural environment. Together we can do the work of environmental protection and public awareness about the environment. It is absolutely necessary to brainstorm and implement this. we have limited time. This is the last chance for mankind to improve.
Many environmental savvy and voluntary organizations are doing the work of environmental protection. Our beautiful present and future depends on this sacred work of environmental protection. Suthar Samaj Charitable Trust, Surat has been doing this important work continuously for the last 6 years.
Over the years, Shridev Jasnath Trust has grown thousands of peepal saplings by planting them at various places. Due to this effort of the Trust, environmental consciousness has been awakened among the general public. The trust has a beautiful contribution in making the Marwar region green. The shelter for birds, the shade of calm trees, the work of trust in giving healthy life to humans through pure air, is inspiring everyone. This trust deserves thanks for the work of environmental promotion and human welfare.
Mr. Mohan Kumar of Suthar Samaj Charitable Trust Hearty thanks to Mr. Hearty thanks to Mr. Mohan Kumar of Suthar Samaj Charitable Trust that you are doing the holy work of environmental improvement with forward-looking thoughts and tireless efforts.
What you can do
- Conserve nature by using the knowledge of spirituality and environmental science.
- In place of negative thoughts (greed, hatred, jealousy selfishness, ego) move toward positive thoughts of happiness, peace, love, compassion, enthusiasm and joy. Be a good role model in this to your friends and family. This will do a lot to shift your environment toward positivity, optimism, and ACTION
- Understand the five elements (earth, water, fire, air, sky) and the importance of balancing them. Protect them from being polluted and contribute to maintaining the natural order of the earth.
- Deforestation in the name of development has to be stopped to help in maintaining the ecosystems which provide all of our air and water: hills, mountains, springs, lakes, rivers, deserts, forests and wildlife.
- In social and religious events, sound amplifying devices should be used on a limited basis and never in the late night when Nature is sleeping and regenerating. It should be kept in mind that birds, animals and humans and trees should not be disturbed by the loud sound frequency and also the filth of noise pollution should not spread. You can also be a good role model in this to your neighbors.
- Establish an eco-friendly culture in the society but encouraging curriculums of environmental sciences in schools and after school programs which teach children to provide nurturance to Nature – cleaning up rubbish, planting trees, cleaning out waterways.
- To keep the earth poison free, organic natural farming is to be used.
- Single-use plastic has no longer a place in commerce. If you do not have a source of good quality marketing bags, contact the ashram and we will send you some.
- Consider the size of your family in terms of what the natural environment can provide over the lifetime of your children. One human requires the air produced by eight full grown trees. If you want to have a child, consider planting a grove of trees and nurturing them to adulthood.
- Learn to plant indigenous trees and plans to stabilize the soil and clean the air and water. The ashram and the Forest Department of India provides this education, or well-rooted saplings for your projects and homes.
If we show deference to the amazing environment we have been born into and entrusted with, Mother Nature will then conduct her work with ease. And perhaps we can slow the destruction we ourselves have invited.
All these living and non-living (movable and immovable) components are born of this. It is the mother of all. When we consider the beauty, subtlety, and vastness of nature, we find how wonderful it is. As human beings our knowledge and understanding are very limited. Nature was before us and will be there after we are gone.
Om Shanti & Prem, Surajnath Siddh