Everywhere in Nature there is perfect unity and harmony. Only humans are destructive. We destroy various species of birds, reptiles, animals, even entire forests. Today, there are hardly any one-horned rhinos in Assam because they’re killed in the belief that their horns have aphrodisiac properties. The number of migratory birds in India is dwindling due to pollution and rising sound-decibels.
Animals, trees, plants, rivers and lakes are our natural resources, our national wealth. Once, India was among the top ten mega-centres of biological diversity. Today, as per satellite imagery, we have only 20% of land area as forests. Ecological destruction is a dangerous game we are playing. We don’t care for Mother Earth who was worshipped in ancient India as ‘Vasundhara’.
Philosopher Phythagoras had said that as long as man slaughters plants and animals, we shall know no peace or health. Today, trees are slaughtered for flimsy reasons, like making helipads for the VIPs, animals are slaughtered in the name of religion, custom and cruel games. The question raised in the story of Prince Siddhartha and the swan is relevant today. He asked, “Who is the owner of life? The one who destroys it, or the one who protects and preserves it?”
Article 51 A (g) of the Indian Constitution envisages the fundamental duties of an Indian citizen. It says, “To protect and improve the natural environment forests, lakes, rivers and wild life and to have compassion for all living creatures.” And yet, various industries cause horrendous pollution by releasing its untreated effluents in lakes and rivers. A recent example is the frothing in Bengaluru lakes. A great many rivers in northern India are also victim to it. The Government has, from time to time, closed down many industries on the banks of such rivers. It is after tremendous agitations and legal steps by the local governments, that the matter has come under some control. But a lot still requires to be done!
Our country, the land of sages, rishis and munis has a great tradition of Ahimsa – kindness, compassion and non-violence. The ‘Shanti Mantra’ prays for peace on everything on Mother Earth, all creatures, sentient beings, bipeds, quadrupeds and vegetation. Indians have never considered plants as lifeless. In fact, we worship the Banyan tree whose roots are supposed to be Lord Shiva’s hair. Indian women worship the Tulsi. In ‘Abhigyan Shakuntalam’, Kalidas describes how Shakuntala says goodbye to every plant in the Ashram by caressing it.
Mother Earth is a silent witness since ages to worldly pursuits of human beings which seem so important to us. Earth is also a silent witness to the births and deaths of all plants, vegetation, animals, birds and humans on this planet and each and every one, in fact, everything is important to her.. Every feather of every bird, every sound, every breath, every blade of grass and the entire landscape of our planet, without past or future time which are actually in this very instant and in all instants, transience and eternity through life and death and new life again! Mother Earth teaches us the impermanence of individual existence and the eternal continuity of ‘becoming’ and ‘being’.
We all have a major role to play in Mother Earth’s five elements and ecologically, the entire Universe including various kingdoms like plants, minerals, animals and birds are inter-connected. Let’s each one of us do something, however small, to protect our home, our planet, Mother Earth, who feeds and sustains us in Divine order.