In the words of Noble Laureate, poet Robindra Nath Tagore, “Forests have nurtured India’s mind and India’s civilization. Intellectual growth in India did not take place in enclosures made of brick, wood and mortar, but was inspired by the life of the forests in which nature’s living forces express themselves in daily variation, creating a diversity of life and sounds, providing the context for the understanding of Nature and man”. Human understanding in such a context could not be restricted to perceiving Nature as inert, as an accumulation of dead resources waiting for exploitation.
In behavioral terms as well, the Indian culture
teaches an attitude of gratitude towards every components of Nature which helps our survival and growth in one way or the other. Nature provides light, air, food, water and enormous other resources. This awareness of life in Nature as a precondition for man’s survival led to the worship
of light, air, food and water and they are considered sacred. Indian culture
has been cradled by the culture
of the forest first in the Vedic period and later during the times of Buddha and Mahavir.
Let us look at some of the mantras and shlokas (hymns) extracted from the Vedic texts to understand how the Vedas and other Indian scriptures guide us to help protect our ecosystem
by conservation of the forests, wildlife, and water and other natural resources.
Girayaste Parvata Himavattoaranaya Te Prathivisyonamastu |
Babhrum Krashnam Rehinim Viswarupam Dhruvam Prathivimindraguptam |
Ajitoahato Akshatoadhyashtham Prathivimaham ||
-Atharva Veda 12|1|11
Meaning: O Earth! Pleasant be thy hills, snow-clad mountains and forests; O numerous colored, firm and protected Earth! On this earth I stand, undefeated, unslain, unhurt.
Yat te madhyam prathivi yacca nabhyam yasta urja tanvah sambabhuvuh |
Tasu no tehyabhi nah pavasva mata bhumih putro aha prathivyah |
Parjanyah pitah sa nah pipartu ||
- Atharva Veda 12|1|12
The treasure of minerals and of other elements that provide vigor indwells in your naval part (central core). Offer these to us. Your land and the cloud enshowering upon it nurture us like a mother and father. May the shelter of these purify and strengthen us.