In India we have a living tradition of paying respect to mother earth as the first ritual of the day. This is a reflection of the so called glorious past of India, the wonder that was India kind of feeling where we consider every living being whether it is an ant, a rat or a plant as an extension of the same soul.
The sloka goes like this:
समुद्रवसने देवि पर्वतस्तनमण्डले ।
विष्णुपत्नि नमस्तुभ्यं पादस्पर्शं क्षमस्वमे ॥
Devi Parvata-Stana-Manndale |
Vishnu-Patnim Namas-Tubhyam Pada-Sparsham Kshamasva-Me ||
- O Devi (a salutation referring to earth as Goddess), who has ocean as garments, mountains as bosoms
- O Consort of Lord Vishnu, Please forgive my touch of the feet (on Earth)
The concept of Vasudaiva kudumbakam is not a pep talk on a corporate social responsibility eye wash campaign. It is derived from VI-72 in Maha Upanishad ,samaveda tradition of India.
The sloka reads:
अयं बन्धुरयंनेति गणना लघुचेतसाम्
उदारचरितानां तु वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम् ॥
Meaning: The distinction “This person is a relative, and this one is not is a mindset of the narrow-minded. For those of noble conduct, the whole world is one family”.
The whole world is a family is an indigenous concept .That’s why when we meet someone for the first time, we comment. ‘’You make me feel like family’, bro’.
Integrating people into the universal family hood is the wow factor or the wonder factor of this country where 5000 years old tradition is still prevalent. As a culture, India never looked at the world and called it a ‘market place’ . The country never used the word ‘exploitation’ when we refer nature. Nature, for us, is a living entity, an all season friend that is very much part of the day to day life ;an entity that gives meaning and depth to human existence.
The Vedic hymns are testimonials to such simple but profound universal messages, such as:
Plants are mothers and Goddesses. (Rig Veda Samhita x-97-4)
Trees are homes and mansions. (Rig Veda Samhita x-97-5)
Sacred grass has to be protected from man’s exploitation (Rig Veda Samhita vii-75-8)
Plants and waters are treasures for generations. (Rig Veda Samhita vii-70-4)
We invoke all supporting Earth on which trees, lords of forests, stand ever firm (Atharva Veda 12:1:27)
“Do not cut trees because they remove pollution.” (Rig Veda 6:48:17)
“One should not destroy the trees.” (Rig Veda Samhita vi-48-17)
(Reference: Viva Kermani ,What modern ecology can learn from ancient Hinduism)
The domination of Human Race over other species was a thought never expressed or entered in ancient Indian psychology. On the contrary, the protection of nature was considered as a key responsibility of every householder enforced through the code of conduct and laws .Bhuta Yajna(offering of food to all living creatures) is one among the five daily duties need to be performed by a householder as mentioned in Mahabharat Anusasana Parva.
This year, Earth day 2019 has the key theme ‘’Protect our species’’, an effort to save the millions of species on the planet that became extinct or face the threat of extinction from the most intelligent Homo sapiens.
Vasudaiva kudumbakam is relevant again. Protection of species is a way of life in India irrespective of religion when someone feed ants, pigeons, and offer milk to snakes .Here Hindu religion was just an extension of that magnificent way of life where nature was loved, adored and worshiped.
During the colonial days of India, when viewed from the cultural cataract eyes of the then narratives, India was portrayed to the western world as the land of snake charmers who pray to monkeys and Indians as paganistic superstitious primitives. Those narratives stayed for years even after Indian Independence as western world and even the English educated young Indians were caught in the slumber of misconception, not willing to revisit the pages of History or travel around the country to see the lifestyles in rural India,take part in festivals , rituals ,folklores and other artifacts of culture.
We depend on forest for our breathe (oxygen), food, shelter, medicines and rain. In ancient Indian, there was an astrological system based on Personality types .There are 27 star categories and each one of us fall within that and are supposed to nourish an animal and a tree mentioned under that category . At any circumstance ,one is not supposed to destroy that mentioned animal or tree .
To cut down a tree meant cutting down an eco-system and it became vital to ask for forgiveness of the tree spirit before cutting down any tree as mentioned in Varahamihira in Brahat Samhita.
In the Atharva Veda’s “Hymn to the Earth “(Bhumi Suktha), the earth is worshiped and cherished. There is an ancient Sanskrit text that deals with the sustainable management of plants and trees, Vrikshayurveda written by Acharya Surapala, around the 10th century.
The Indian folklore,myths,performing arts and tribal dances were heart-pouring declarations of the natives about a perennial theme called mother earth. Forests and water bodies are regarded as sacred sites in India. The age-old system of a temple, a tank and an accompanying sacred grove illuminates the country-wide network of protected places, where the intrinsic diversity of flora and fauna are preserved for current and future generations. The tradition of preserving nature starts from the Himalayas, known in different names in Indigenous practices such as “Ka Law Kyntang’’ in Meghalaya, “Than” in Assam, Kenkri” in Rajasthan, “Devrai” in Maharastra, “Sarana” in Central India, “Kovilkadu” in Tamil Nadu, “Devarkadu” in Karnataka, “Kavu” in Andhra Pradesh, and “Sarpakkavu” in Kerala.
A proverbial saying in sanskrit language goes like this:
परोपकाराय फलन्ति वृक्षाः परॊपकाराय वहन्ति नद्यः |
परॊपकाराय दुहन्ति गावः परॊपकारार्थम् इदं शरीरम् ||
Meaning : Trees give fruits for others to eat, Rivers flow for others to use, cows give milk for the sake of others and this body should be used as an instrument to help others.
Today the sacred groves of India joined a galaxy of extinct traditions unable to withstand the disintegration of joint families and modernization. Globalization forced local communities to shift its base to metros and money making has become the single most goal in life making all other pursuits of life meaningless.
We need to revisit that love for nature back in our live’s this earth day and make every day an earth day. Let’s not shun that homeless pigeon that looks for a safe delivery in our balcony .Let’s not throw that rotten tomato which can be given a fresh life just by throwing it in a mud pot.
Let’s give us and our future generations a chance to live without much climate change if we act today as nature is the only home we know and we can revive it just by loving it.
Image Courtesy: Arabian Gazette
There is always an inner child in you craving to do somersaults when it rains. Being open to the present moment is an innate gift of being a child, one of the perennial treasures we compromised being an adult.
”Ma, there is a bug in my PUBG”, a cute little munchkin, a 10-year-old boy was complaining to his mother without taking his eyes off from his iPhone.
”It’s raining, maybe bad signal, I will fix it later, okay”. The super stylish mom commented even without lifting her eyes off from a lip-syncing tik-tok video bursting into laughter in between.
It’s just another day of my daily commutes from work and back home by Train. I get to see the life of people around me a little closer. The train was halted for a cross over train and the rain picked up its momentum bringing a lovely splash of its glory inside.
”Please shut down the window, oh my god, my phone”. Now in my compartment, all windows down and all phones are safe.
Somewhere one window panel was up and I can see the stunning lightning and bold thunders, the splash of raindrops and a feeling of contentment and romance in the air. Rain slows down everything in Bangalore; the train; the traffic. Still, we won’t yell at each other. It brings a mood-lift, making the daily sojourns of life more tolerable.
”Is that a real Gucci leather bag ?” -my friend asked and before I could answer, she made a snap judgment. ”It can’t be”.
April showers blessed Bangalore right before and after Vishu, the Malayali new year. In India,we celebrate new year more than 4 to 5 times a year as ethnically we are so diverse in culture and languages. Ask any foreigner, what is the language of India? Pat comes the reply” Indian”.
The smell of the fresh earth drenched in rain was all around me. I can sniff and tell the difference of the smell of the mud in Kerala and Bangalore.
My heart took a quantum leap back to my childhood days. April showers were not just showers. It’s torrential. The petrichor, that smell is something to die for. The hide and seek of the mist and the golden sun;the overpowering mist blurring the lines of the sky ,sea and the earth;paddy fields stretching to the crimson evening sky and the call of the rain bird;the pied crested cuckoo,a ringing composition of whistling notes; sets the prelude for the heavenly orchestra true to the name of God’s own country. Along with the rain; earthworms, grasshoppers, locusts, dragonflies, millipedes make its lavish presence. I always spot a friendly pachilapambu (the slender green vine snake) winking at me from a black pepper tree or a curry leaf tree.
As kids,we make an umbrella out of the huge leaves of the Taro Plant and cling to dad’s shoulders and visit the local roadside shop for the steaming tea, set dosa and chutney.
”Amma,marapatti ” I cry out to my mom when I hear the loud whispers of a family of harmless civet cats that looks like mongoose scurrying around the attic of my house.
Lots of silver fishes, sardines, river fishes, water snakes,baby turtles flee from backwaters and fill up the flooded paddy fields, tadpoles swim around while the pedestrian path in between the fields gets submerged by rain.
The sound of the rain can be heard by the rising volume of hurl of the swaying coconut trees dancing to some unknown hip-hop of nature. Nights are desperate with the clarion call of mating by the frogs and the crickets .These are the magic moments of the incessant love story of Kerala and Rain.
Through the window panel, the day was getting a darker shade.I was just lucky to spot a cluster of moving glow worms.
If we care a little more for the green cover, we don’t need to visit a national park to see butterflies and glowworms.
They would be in our backyards and front yards just like the mosquitoes and cockroaches due to reckless garbage dumping.
When we are not in a mood to lift our eyes from the all captivating phone screen, do we make an effort to plant a seed? Obviously, no. The sprouted potato we recklessly throw away, a rotten tomato, a ginger root, garlic, onion can be given a new life if we just recycle it. I guess it is the other way around; they can give us a new life.
My heart was filling with overwhelming joy as the rain lifted a lot of weighing thoughts from me. I was connecting to my inner child and was caught with a smile.
My friend asked, ”Why smile, any news update?” I told her ”nothing, just tik-tok video”. She smiled back in agreement. What if I told her, I was just happy without any reason.
I don’t know whether she will accept that.
The evening twilight was giving way t pitch black night. The train left me with a trail of thoughts.
As adults we give in to a lot of peer pressure, trying to fit into a life based on someone else’s attributions. Sadly for most of the time, we don’t even know them well; still, we want to live a life picture-perfect for other’s judgment.
When we live a hyperactive virtual life letting Alexa, Siri and other apps to control our lives, we miss these blissful orchestras from heaven-a thunder, lightning, an April shower, a glow worm that lifts a lot of burden from our lives.
Let go that inner child…….follow the present moment.
First drops of April showers, fresh smell of mud, crowded metro train but we are just happy .Bangalore is thrilled and relieved from the scorching sun even for few moments like this .Rains with lightning looks like God taking screenshots from different parts of the city. It makes everything look pleasant again, the traffic snarls, work pressures, very little ” me time”, everything. Most often we are weighed down worrying about the big big obstacles to our small little dreams. Those imaginary obstacles which never happen most of the time take our wonderful moments with nature away. Now I hear the birds sing again. Along with the birds, Alexa and Siri, the virtual bots play music, wind joins the symphony. Life, hope and love are back in the air. Happiness lies in these small little intoxications. Let’s get wet and get swayed.