There is an anecdote in Indian scriptures in which the mother earth in form of a cow met the then king, Raja Parikshit. She was in a great pain and distress due to her oppression and over exploitation. Tears were flowing out of her eyes as like a mother was weeping on the death body of her son. The king was righteous and almighty and hence he assured the earth and prospered her to a healthy state. Now, the history repeats and the mother earth is screaming again. She has been made barren and hollow by the precipitate digging of oil, water, coal, stones, gems and metals out of her womb. Be it water, or soil and air, the whole nature has been stricken.
The air quality index of metros like Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai has crossed over 300 mark (very unhealthy category). We are facing worst water crisis. A report of NITI Aayog has said that 40% of India’s population would have no access to drinking water by 2030, if the current trends are followed. The perpetual rivers like Ganga, Yamuna, Kaveri, Panchganga and Godavari seem to be dying. More than 50% reduction in the water flow of Ganga, Godavari and Yamuna has been recorded. This is not limited to India but the whole world is suffering from this severe environmental imbalance.
These circumstances have arose out of the present 7.8 billion world population. The United Nations predicts that by the year 2050 the total world population figure may cross 9.7 billion. In the absence of any concrete policy and plan, this population could result in a big disaster. According to a research, 95% of the species of animals have become extinct and many others are on the verge of extinction. This declining biodiversity will create a crisis for life on Earth, which could be understood from the fact that the honeybee alone helps in the cultivation of more than 400 types of crops. If insects and moths are completely eradicated from the earth, life could not sustain on earth for more than 50 years. The earth would flourish better without us. The earth is not because of us but we are here because of this environment. Our environment is our life.
The world today is following a divisive and fragmented way of life. This fragmented view considers the creation and human as independent entities. Everything on the planet is for me and for my pleasure. It leads to the exploitation of resources and hence this idea is resulting in a disaster. On contrary, the unifying principle of every object in the universe in which the universe and human beings (or any other life) are not separate entities, but a part of this creation itself.
Just as animals, birds, plants, rivers, waterfalls, ponds and mountains etc. are a part of this nature, similarly man is also a part of the Mother Nature. Human beings can remain separate from their friends and relatives but could not separate themselves from the nature even for a moment. The trees give oxygen, and we are alive by taking the same oxygen in our breath. When a head is hurt, the hands protect, and when an ear hurts, the eyes shed tears. They know that they are parts of the same body and without that body the organs have no meaning. Whatever you experience as a part of yourself, nobody has to tell you to take care of that part. In any way you will take care of it. Similarly, if a man recognizes his connection with the nature, then he cannot harm her. Only with this holistic and integral way of life and the corresponding behavior, we can save the nature and life.
The idea of Param Purush and Vishwa Roop emanated from the Vedas, explains the same principle. We have worshiped rivers, mountains, animals, birds and plants on the same principle. This was the idea which encouraged the brave hearted lady of Rajasthan, Amrita Devi Vishnoi to sacrifice herself with 363 others members of her society for the protection of trees. The Daripalli Ramaiah who planted millions of trees alone and Babulal Dahiya, Tulsi Gowda, Jamuna Tudu, Salumarada Thimakka who devoted their entire life to the environment followed the same idea. Although they were less educated but their work and practice was awe-inspiring and the people of India were over-whelmed when they all were awarded the Padma Shri.
Resource are limited and desires are endless. Even if you get kingdom of the entire world, will desires cease? Mahatma Gandhi has said that nature has enough to fulfil everyone’s need but not to fulfil everyone’s greed. Today, we are in a democratic state and the public is all powerful. Democracy has its own limits and hence United Nations or any government can come up with any scheme, campaign and movement but cannot bound the people to behave in a particular way.
In democracy, people havw to play their role. Just as the fight with Covid-19 is being fought by each and every individual responsibly. Similarly and even more aggressively and pro-actively, every person has to come up as a leader in this environment conservation movement. We must understand that there is livelihood for life, not life for livelihood. Directionless economic development and an opulent lifestyle will not work to protect and nourish your life but pure water, clean air and chemical-free nutritious food will work. This notion has to go in everybody’s mind because problem has not arrived from the nature or the creation, but has been generated from the human mind and brain. Therefore, a long ago, the Isopanishad had said, “Ishāvāsyam idam sarvam yaţ kinchiţ jagaţyām jagat …” i.e., this whole creation, conscious and unconscious, living or dead is all pervaded by God. Enjoy whatever is given to you but with a sense of abstinence.