Saturday, October 19, 2013

86. Nature, its worship and Sanatana Dharma.

The view of Sanatana Dharma on ecology is different from that of the other major western philosophies. The western philosophies have the notion that the nature is created by God and has to be protected. It has never regarded nature as something which has sanctity of its own. 

The ancient Sanatana Dharma view of nature is based on the Vedas, Upanishads and Vedanta. It has its own philosophical views, as well as devotional and ritualistic practices in revering nature. According to their thought, there is no separation between the Absolute and Nature. They are the two aspects of the same reality. The cosmic reality is like the ocean and nature is like the waves hitting the shore. But it is all water the same single ocean. The Absolute and Nature are so entwined that it is impossible to think about one without the other. 

The followers of Santana Dharma revere rivers, mountains, forests and animals, and love to live close to nature. For example, many villages had a sacred lake near temples. On the banks of those lakes trees like Banyan, Neem, Peepal, were grown and worshipped. Though on the surface for an atheist it may seem to be stupidity to worship those trees, in reality it was to catch rainfall and protect the banks from erosion. The lake and its grove store rainfall for irrigating surrounding fields and supply village wells with drinking water. Our mythological stories were aimed at teaching us value of nature and in a way asking us to protect it. Suppose we were told that water is important and should not waste it, it would go to deaf ears until we were ourselves in trouble during drought period. Until recently we were respecting nature but some rational thinking minds ridiculed our ancient ways of worshipping trees, rivers and mountains. Lord Krishna fought with Indra by lifting the Goverdhana mountain to teach the people of Vrij how important it is to worship nature rather than Demi Gods.           

Ganga water contains enormous amounts of viruses called “BACTERIOPHAGE” which kill bacteria and algae. These bacteria and algae in water makes water not potable for a long time. Our Ganga water is unique, the sailors of East India Company ships used to stock the water from Ganga while leaving Calcutta to London and the water would be potable throughout the journey. While coming from London to Calcutta the Thames river water so stocked would develop fungus and was unable to drink. This shows the rich minerals we have in Ganga water. Hence River Ganga revered by us, irrelevant of what those rational minds think. 

Our ancient Rishis (Seers) in order to protect the holy water gave us stories with a hidden message in them about the importance of it. They said that water of Ganga was the purest water which was used by Lord Brahma to wash the foot of Trivikrama (incarnation of Vishnu) and while coming down to earth Ganga had to fall on Lord Shiva’s head. Hence the Ganga water has the touch of Trinity. With the minerals present in it Ganga can dissolve bones quickly which any other river water fail.     

 A decade or so, the practice of nature worship in my country was considered superstitious mysticism by other countries but now they have realized that this practice recognizes the importance of conservation of natural resources and comes handy to stop over exploitation of nature. The Vedic vision of nature and humans as unity is the basis for an ecological approach in which we learn honor the entire universe as part of our own higher Self. It takes us beyond the duality of Absolute and the creation. 

Absolute did not create the universe out of something; instead He emanated to become this vast universe. The Universe, Absolute and the soul are intrinsic aspects of the same Eternal. We should not protect nature with the aim of getting something out of it but we have to honor nature as our own greater life and expansion.  

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