Hindu View of Ecology
Hindu religion's reverence for the sea, soil, forests, rivers,
mountains, plants, birds, and animals stems from its broader view of divinity.
Unlike many other religions, Hindus believe that all things and beings in the
world are various manifestations of the Ultimate Reality (Brahman), and nothing
exists apart from It. The whole emphasis of Hindu scriptures is that human
beings cannot separate themselves from nature.
Thousands of years ago, Hindu sages realized that preservation of the
environment and ecological balance were necessary for the survival of mankind.
To create an awareness among the common people for preservation of the
environment, the rishis taught that earth has the same relationship with
man as a mother with her child. In the Vedic literature, the earth is addressed
as Mother Earth and personified as the goddess Bhumi, or Prithvi.
Five thousand years later the world experts addressed earth as Mother Earth for
the first time at the Global Conference in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro.
There are numerous direct and indirect messages contained in Hindu scriptures
for the protection of our environment and the maintenance of ecological balance.
The following are a few examples of some of these timeless teachings: 19
- "One who plants one peepal, one neem, ten flowering plants or
creepers, two pomegranates, two oranges, and five mangoes does not go to
hell." (Varaha Purăna, a Hindu scripture)
- "Oh wicked person! If you roast a bird, then your bathing in the
sacred rivers, pilgrimage, worship and yagńas are useless."
- "The rivers are the veins of God, the ocean is His blood, and the
trees the hairs of His body. The air is His breath, the earth His flesh, the
sky His abdomen, the hills and mountains the stacks of His bones, and the
passing ages are His movements."
(Srimad Bhăgavatam 2.1.32-33)
- "One should not throw urine, stool or mucus into the water, nor
anything mixed with these unholy substances, nor blood or poison, nor any
other [impurity]." (Manu Smriti 4.56)
- "Five sorts of kindness are the daily sacrifice of the trees. To
families they give fuel; to passers by they give shade and a resting place;
to birds they give shelter; with their leaves, roots, and bark they give
medicines." (Varaha Purăna 162.41-42)
- Feeling one with nature is the fundamental environmental message of Hindu
culture. Unlike many other religions, Hindus perceive life not only in human
beings, but also in plants, birds, and animals. This vision of oneness of
life has helped Hindus develop a worshipful attitude towards everything in
- Nature is not a commodity to be dominated and conquered. Man must change
the attitude of dominating nature to one of cooperating with it. A
fundamental reorientation of human consciousness is required to recognize
that earth has the same relationship with man as a mother with her child.
- Life is an organic entity and the sea, soil, mountains, plants, and
animals are inseparable parts of the cosmic web. Man must learn to live in
harmony with nature and recognize that plants and animals have a meaningful
life too in the cosmic play (lîlă).
- Environmental issues require a spiritual response. An awareness of the
ecological balance must be created at all levels of human thought and