Monday, April 21, 2008

Earth Day(April 22) : Confluence of Science and Religion

Long before the "Environment" and the "Earth Day" became key talking points for the glitterati and the chatterati, humankind's ancient heritage had already provided a spacious spiritual home for the environmental ethos. All religious traditions established the principles of ecological harmony centuries ago - "not because the world was perceived as heading for an imminent environmental disaster or destruction, nor because of any immediate utilitarian exigency, but through their quest for spiritual and physical symbiosis, synthesized in systems of ethical awareness and moral responsibility."

In the Judeo-Christian tradition, the Bible (Genesis 8: 22) says "As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease."

Native American peoples have long recognized and celebrated in story and song the interdependence of the earth and all her creatures. 'I was born by these waters. The earth here is my mother'

Hindus in Vedic hymns (('Atharva-Veda,' XII, I, ) pray "O mother earth, kindly set me down upon a well-founded place! With (father) heaven cooperating, O thou wise one, do thou place me into happiness and prosperity"

Muslims believe that God compels them in the Quran to respect and revere the environment "Greater indeed than the creation of man is the creation of the heavens and the earth." (40:57)

His Holiness The Dalai Lama in The Buddhist Declaration on Nature, in words which breathe and pulsate with the Buddha's ethical and ecological vision: 'Destruction of the environment and the life depending upon it is a result of ignorance, greed and disregard for the richness of all living things.'

In my own Jain faith the scriptural aphorism "Parasparopagraho Jivanam" states that all life is bound together by the mutual support of interdependence. Jainism founder Mahavira proclaimed a profound ecological truth: 'One who neglects or disregards the existence of earth, air, fire, water and vegetation disregards one's own existence which is entwined with them.'

While many of us are convinced by the Science behind the need to care for the Earth and our environment, others who look for guidance on such issues from Religion can draw strength from the fact that in all likelihood their own religious traditions strongly endorse care for the Earth in some shape, way or form.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love one saying that apparently the Australian aborigines have, "This land doesn't belong to us, we belong to it". Given the fraility and short duration of human life, its a great perspective to have!

- Anupam

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