In view of the catastrophe that we see prevailing in the environment all around, the need is to first realise and subsequently, as a mature disposition, play our roles sincerely towards Mother Nature. Time and again, Akhand Gyan, the Eternal Wisdom magazine has come up with such articles that have sensitised masses and inspired them in this regard. In January 2010, one such article was published by the name 'Nature and its Devastating Dance.' It was a dialogue between an environmentalist and His Holiness Ashutosh Maharaj Ji. The environmentalist put forth various questions– 'Why the earth, the sky, the whole atmosphere is engendering frightening holocaust? It seems as if Nature has resorted to the dance of death and destruction. Our mother earth and its caring nature, flora and fauna, have always nourished us with food and water. Nature has ever lovingly caressed us with the soothing pats of its pleasant seasons. But, what has made it adopt such a horrifying disposition?' The various philosophical and scientific aspects pertaining to the human-Nature relationship that were explained by His Holiness in this article hold a great relevance even for the present times. On the request of some readers, we are reproducing this article before you, in order to instil a realisation in ourselves that, in these times of peril, we need to fulfil our roles with full sincerity and responsibility.
Environmentalist– Revered Master, from the past few years, the environmentalists are shouting at the top of their voices that Nature is progressively sketching out the terrifying portrait of death and destruction. Earthquakes! Cyclones! Tornadoes! Famines! Floods! Epidemics! Pollution! Global Warming! One or the other similar news springs up in the headlines of media every now and then. Till the year 1980, hardly 100 such natural calamities were in records. But, from the year 2000, this figure has gone threefold. The contemplators all over the world are expressing their concern in this context. But, I would like to know from you what is all this and why is it being staged?
His Holiness Ashutosh Maharaj Ji– The holy texts of India throw light on the concept of Shiva & Shakti. In the language of Sankhya (one of the six schools of Hindu philosophy composed by sage Kapila), Shiva is referred to as 'Purusha' and Shakti, the power, is referred to as 'Prakriti'. According to the scriptures, it is said that this Shakti or power, which otherwise pervades as an embodiment of affection and care, expresses its deadly wrath time and again. Do you know why and when?
Environmentalist– Whenever the savagery of devilish forces reaches its peak… then, for their destruction…
His Holiness– Absolutely correct! Don't you feel today even man is behaving devilishly in regard to prakriti or Nature?
Environmentalist– I understand your point. Today, what environmentalists consider as 'anthropogenic pressures' (pressures caused or produced by humans), you are referring to them as 'devilish human behaviour'. In a way, that sounds correct. Today, man is barbarously assaulting Nature. To erect the sky scraping towers of modernism, he is busy interfering with the functioning of Nature. He is blindly taking to de-forestation. In the name of industrialisation, he is releasing the toxic gases like nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide in the atmosphere. He has left no stone unturned to choke Nature by spreading air pollution, water pollution, noise pollution, radioactive pollution, etc. No doubt, all these ill-activities depict nothing but his devilish attitude.
His Holiness– For this reason only, Nature has been compelled to assume an extremely terrifying form. There is a verse in the Rig Veda saying– Maa no maataa prithivi durmataa dhaat– “O Mother Nature! Please don't cast your cursing glance at us. If you will give way to provocation and wrath, then no one can save us from the disastrous calamities like famine, epidemics, floods, etc.”
Here too, in a way, Newton's third law of motion is being projected– “To every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Man projected his ill- behaviour towards Nature. Reciprocating to man's actions, Nature also started expressing its wrath towards man. This aspect has been very lucidly expressed in the science of the Vedas– “Avataam tvaa dyaavaaprithivi, ava tvam dyaavaaprithivi”– if we give protection to earth and sky, then they too shall protect us. Since, today, instead of protecting Nature, we cast our ill-glance towards it; it too is bound to cast its ill-glance towards us.
Environmentalist– But, what will happen now? How can this ill-glance of Nature be checked? How will the devastating dance of outrageous Nature cease?
His Holiness– First of all, the human society will have to change its attitude. We will have to inculcate the realisation within us that Nature is not enslaved to us. We don't have any right to exploit its treasures and resources. Instead, Nature is our Mother – ' Maataa bhumihi putro aham prithivyaahaa'. And, one doesn't exploit one's mother; instead, one draws one's nourishment from her… receives her blessings, love, and affection.
Our Vedic ancestors tied the same affectionate knot of respect and reverence with Mother Nature. There is a maxim in the Atharva Veda– Bhumirmaataa… bhraataantariksham… dyaurnaha pitaa– “the earth is our mother, the sky is father, and the space is like brother.” In one of the verses of the Yajur Veda, a tree has been considered akin to ten sons– 'dashaputrasamo drumaha.'
Not only this, our great ones, in fact, offered a reverential and divine status to Nature. The five elements of Nature– earth, water, fire, air, space– were considered divine by them. In Vedic Scriptures, the reference of Aditya (the sun god), Varun (the god of waters), Marut (the god of wind), Agni (the god of fire), Vanya (the god of forests), Indra (the god of rains), etc. deities, actually, represent the natural forces. Not only this, in Vedic Scriptures, vegetation and trees are also considered divine– veerudho vaishvadeveehi… vanaspatihi saha devairna aagan.
In addition, our great rishis gave shape to certain religious rituals and traditions; like, the worship of earth (bhumi-poojan), the worship of well (kuan-poojan), the worship of forests (van- poojan), etc. These rituals and traditions involved the heartfelt worshipping of natural resources and treasures.
Environmentalist– I beg your pardon, but was it not an open invitation to blind faith or orthodoxy?
His Holiness– Not at all! This was purely a psycho- scientific approach. Ancient sages were fully familiar with the psychological aspect behind any devotional practice. They very well knew that anything that is worshipped by a man cannot be harmed by him. If he worships a tree as a divine power, he would ruminate at least ten times before chopping it down. If a river is held sacred by him, he cannot ever pollute it. For this reason only, the great rishis considered the peepal tree (Sacred Fig) as a deity– Ashvattho deva sadanaha, and the tulsi (Holy Basil), pulsating with medicinal qualities, as a goddess. And you might have noticed that both of them– the peepal tree and the tulsi plant– are not easily uprooted or harmed by those observing the devotional rituals for them.
Environmentalist– But, by merely observing the devotional practices, can natural calamities and disasters be checked? Not everyone is religious– especially in today's world!
His Holiness– Correct! Merely devotional practices and religious bent of mind cannot suffice. That's why, along with it, strict rules and regulations are required to be enforced on constitutional grounds. We can gather inspiration for this too from our Vedic treasures. During ancient days, great rishis (the saints and sages), being the embodiments of justice and righteousness, used Zto be the protectors of society. Their verdicts or compositions were observed as constitutional rules by all. They had issued numerous verdicts in the context of preservation of Nature; for instance–
Samantariksham dushyeno aptu (Rig Veda)– Keep the sky free from dust and smoke.
Maa apo maushadheerhi (Yajur Veda 6.22)– Do not cut the trees.
Apaha pinvaushadheerjinva (Yajur Veda 14.8)–
Water and nourish the trees and vegetation. Dyaam maa lekheehi– Do not harm the skies.
Antariksham maa hinseehi– Do not pollute the space.
Prithivyaa sambhava– Be supportive towards the earth.
Mahat tadulbam sthaviram tadaaseed… Tasyot jaayamaanasya- ulba aaseed hiranyayaha (Rig Veda 10.51.1, Atharva Veda 4.2.8)– The ozone layer (mahat ulba) in the atmosphere is like a delicate membrane. To mess with it is just like messing up with the membrane of an infant in the womb. Therefore, be alert!
At that time, even the coronations of the kings were performed as per the directions of great rishis. Adorning the royal crown, the king used to take oath while hailing all natural forces–
Prithivi maatarmaa maa hinsaurmoaham tvaam
(Yajur Veda 10.23)
O mother earth, we won't be violent towards you; you kindly don't be violent towards us.
In this context only, I remember a didactic tale dating around 5000 years back. In some kingdom, a magnificent temple was planned to be constructed. For that, there was a proposal of cutting down one lush green forest. When the news of that proposal reached one of the enlightened rishis, he instantly rushed to address the congregation of that kingdom. Alarming the people of the kingdom, he voiced– “Your king is about to take a foolish step of trampling the numerous living temples erected by God (in the form of trees) for the sake of erecting one temple of bricks and stones. Go and stop him! That which he cannot vivify, he has no right to destroy it! Is it not his obligation to safeguard the natural beauty and resources of the kingdom? If all the natural treasures be ruined, what will he hand over to his inheritors? Merely barren land!! He shall never be forgiven for his misconduct.”
Thus, these verdicts and rules of conduct proposed by rishis were a part of their socio- scientific approach. They intended to keep man confined to the boundaries of wise rules and codes, to take care of Nature.
In addition, in that era, certain life-style related approaches too were implemented; like, mantra chanting, performing yajnas, tree-plantation, etc. In some kingdoms of ancient times, it was mandatory for all to plant a tree every year till 60 years of their age. Everyone keenly observed the practice of tree-plantation and preservation of gardens and orchards–
Sumana baatikaa sabahin lagaain, bibidha bhaanti kari jatana banaain (Ram Charit Manas 7.27.1)
Environmentalist– Excellent! Indeed you have blessed me with the knowledge of “Environment Management in the Vedic Age.” No doubt, all these solutions regarding the preservation of Nature and its resources are relevant today as well. If we too, in the present age, observe the same reverence for Nature, if we also propose and implement strict rules and regulations in this aspect, and if we too adopt the practices of tree-plantation, etc. in our lifestyle– we can succeed in bringing a complete revolution in our environment.
His Holiness– Well, even then complete transformation is not possible!
His Holiness– I mean to say even if all such steps are undertaken, they shall still prove to be gross- level precautions only. You might be aware of many environmental laws which already exist in the Constitution of India (21, 48A, 51A, 268, 269, 272, etc.) In educational institutions also, right from the childhood, we are made familiar with our moral duties with regard to the environment. However, despite all this, there is hardly any laudable improvement one can observe in this respect. A philosopher has rightly said– “No one can persuade another to change. Each one of us guards a gate of change that can only be opened from the inside. We cannot open the gate of another, either by arguments or emotional appeal.” Environmentalist– I could grasp the implication of your words to some extent only but not fully…
His Holiness– What I want to emphasise is that our aforementioned gross-level precautionary steps can be successful only if an effort is made at the subtle, inner level of existence as well.
Environmentalist– Inner or subtle level?
His Holiness– Yes, at the soul level or the level of consciousness! The dance of destruction of Goddess Kali was pacified only when she was brought in divine communion with the super-conscious Shiva. Shiva, meaning Purusha, denotes the awakened state of consciousness, our soul level. As long as there is no awakening at the inner level of our consciousness, there cannot be practical transformation at our thought level and at the level of our actions. Therefore, the key to environmental preservation is– Self Realisation! Self-Awakening– which is possible only through the attainment of True Knowledge, Brahm Gyan. At the time of initiation into Brahm Gyan, the Third Eye is opened, which enables one to behold one's True Self, the soul, and he is able to realise the awakening of his inner consciousness. Such realised and awakened souls, then, prove to be a boon to Nature. All actions and complete conduct of such awakened souls prove to be a blessing for the environment. Why only actions, they can bring a revolution in environment even through their subtle thought currents!
Environmentalist– The revolution in the environment– that too through subtle thought forces! How come that?
His Holiness– You must have heard about the 'Butterfly Effect'. In the year 1972, Edward Lorenz penned a research paper titled– “Predictability: Does the flap of a butterfly's wings in Brazil set off a Tornado in Texas?” Edward proved that this is possible. Through his researches, he proved how even a subtle incident taking place in some remote corner is potent enough to initiate a series of reactions in the environment, which, finally, can culminate into disastrous cyclones and tornadoes.
Environmentalist– True! But how come you are trying to show that the subtle thought currents of those initiated into True Knowledge, Brahm Gyan, can propagate the 'Butterfly Effect'?
His Holiness– It is quite simple. After the proposition of the theory of relativity by Einstein (E = mc2), it has been verified scientifically that the entire cosmos, all matter, at its subtle level, exists in the form of vibrations. From this research, a new fact comes to the surface.
Environmentalist– Which new fact?
His Holiness– The fact that if entire creation exists in the form of vibrations, then it can be influenced by another set of vibrational currents! The distorted, negative vibrational currents in the cosmos can be rectified and replaced by potent, positive currents of consciousness.
Environmentalist– Your views seem to be progressively becoming profound and philosophical… but is it really feasible to bring about their practical implementation?
His Holiness– Why not? Let me give you a scientific illustration. Through his miraculous device called 'Crescograph', the great Indian scientist, Jagdish Chandra Bose, has brought forth the subtle relationship between our thought-currents and the vegetation world. When some gardener or a lover of Nature approaches the plants and trees, the graph depicted on the Crescograph displays the sensations of happiness. However, when some wood-cutter or destroyer of natural vegetation approaches them, the graph of the Crescograph displays the sensations of fear, hatred, violence, etc.
In the same context, let's reflect on one more scientific research, which was carried out by the Japanese author and doctor, Masaru Emoto. In his research work, he showed how our thought- currents affect water. For his experiment, he took a few glass bottles and filled them up with clear water taken from the same source. After that, he labelled all of them differently; on the first bottle, he pasted the label– 'Terror'; on the second, he pasted– 'Love'; on the third, 'Hate', etc. After labelling them, he started expressing the respective feelings before each one of them as per their labels. For instance, in front of the bottle labelled 'Hate', he continued spitting feelings of hatred and jealousy for 10 minutes; in front of the bottle labelled 'Love', he kept on uttering emotional words of love and care, and so on. After that, he crystallised the water contained in different bottles separately. The outcome was startling! The crystals formed out of the water in different bottles looked different, despite the fact that water was taken from the same source. The crystals formed from the water contained in the bottle labelled 'Hate' were black and deformed. On the contrary, those formed from the water contained in the bottle labelled 'Love' were bright, clear, and well-shaped.
This experiment of Emoto made it crystal clear how intensely our thought currents impact the natural element water, which constitutes 70% of our earth!!
His Holiness– But 100% true! Both the aforementioned experiments reveal the fact that our subtle thought currents can be constructive or destructive for Nature. Rabindra Nath Tagore, in his fundamentally insightful write-up 'Tapovan', narrated– “The environment surrounding the man is intensely and intricately coupled with the thought waves and emotional fluctuations of man.”
The same fact has been illustratively revealed in our ancient scriptures. In the Silver Age (Treta Yuga), the incident of the polluting of Pampa Sarovar (lake)– due to the negative feelings of ascetics and, then, later on, its consecration and purification by the holy touch of earnest devotee Shabari– is a vivid illustration of the same fact.
Therefore, in the end, I would like to say– If we really intend to rectify and purify our natural environment, then we will have to rectify and purify our mental environment as well. We will have to make sincere efforts for the awakening of our inner consciousness. Both these aspects can be fulfilled by treading the path of True Knowledge, Brahm Gyan. Therefore, True Knowledge, Brahm Gyan, is…
Environmentalist– …the only means to bring about total, revolutionary transformation in Nature surrounding us!... Revered Sir, my heartfelt genuflections at your lotus feet!
His Holiness– May God bless you!