Blog by Alka Nigam at SpeakingTree.in
In hoary Vedas one of the peace prayers is for the various aspects of Nature apotheosizing the powers of air, water, earth, sky, fire and vegetation.** It encompasses the ancient wisdom of our saints that recognizes and salutes their vast, unlimited powers. People of India having immense faith in the beliefs of saints showed deep reverence for these elements and worshipped them in the forms of deities. These deities can control the happenings that our sanatan philosophy identifies with the operation of natural law. The laws are universal and recognized in various ways in different cultures. Greeks and Romans too have gods for these different elements that operate on the same level of natural laws. It is always believed that Nature returns whatever man offers. Thus good and bad both are returned in abundance as in the case of the Greek warrior Ulysses who in retribution of his good deeds was helped immensely and vice versa suffered also the fury of Nature greatly. On his departure from the island of Aeolus he gets the favour of the king who tied up a leather bag with the dangerous winds packed inside with a silver string and commanded fair winds to blow the bark smoothly. He also had to suffer the wrath of Neptune who transformed his vessel into a rock. The epics of Homer and Virgil are loaded with such stories. In Bible the Red sea parted to allow Moses and his men to pass and closed as their pursuers -the army of Pharaoh -tried to cross. The stories from the epics of the Ramayana, Mahabharata and Puranas are still alive in Indian psyche. In these stories Nature is lovingly humanized, given a name and kept very near to our hearts and homes. Every single flower and animal that is dear to our gods is associated with divinity and embedded in our imagination. Rivers are worshipped to the extent that a jar of the sacred water of Ganges will be found in any Hindu household. The Himalaya is considered holy because it is seen as the abode of gods just as the Mount Olympus is the abode of Greek gods or Mount Sinai where God first revealed himself to Moses is sacred in Christian, Jewish and Islamic traditions. Nature is linked with divinity in these mythological stories keeping in mind the huge role it plays in the existence of mankind.
Nature includes all living and non -living things – vegetation, microorganisms, rocks, minerals, five elements, animals and birds. Our ancestors connected this treasure with the daily lives of humans through religion. It teaches mankind that all living and non-living organisms are inter-dependent on each other and that extinction of one will snap the chain of fertility, prosperity and well being of all others. Our gratefulness is expressed in traditional reverence. In India women folk tie a thread around Bargad, make a toran from the mango leaves symbolizing fertility with a wish to ever increase the progeny of their family, sit under the amla tree, offer water to sun god, place an earthen lamp before tulsi plant every day and under peepal every Saturday, listen to the story of Satya Narayan placing Him under the canopy of banana leaves to bless with all that is shreya and preya. Deodar is dear to gods. The banyan tree is said to be eternal because even when hacked, the tree phoenix like jumps back to its glory. Rishi Uddalak taught the whole spectrum of Vedic wisdom –TAT TWAM ASI to his son Shwetketu citing the example of the hollow inside of the seed of this mighty banyan tree and linking it with the jiva. The Kalpa Taru is not just a wish –fulfilling tree in Hindu mythology: it captures a whole spiritual concept of maintaining the ecological balance of our planet.
Nature has given mankind everything in ample for its needs. Man too has taken its bounty with reverence and has lived in its proximity praying to always remain thus blessed. These days the world has been rudely awakened by the fury and the destruction created by Nature. We have used it in our necessity, we have abused it in our greed and it has lost its balance. The harmony that prevailed between man and nature has evaporated in the heat of modern development. It is not paradoxical but an ironical fact that the ecological balance can be kept in order if the civilized human activity is kept under discipline. Alternative eco-friendly technological means can provide sufficient water and energy to people. In India many movements mostly led and nourished by rural villagers and women are trying to save our forests, rivers and the settlement on the banks of rivers — Chipko Movement, Narmada Bachao, and the exemplary love of Bishnoi women for the trees and animal are examples to prove that this is possible if only we once more place our belief firmly on the kalyankari aspect of Nature.
Our sages have shown us the way. Let us go back to Mother Nature with the same love for a long life of our magnificent planet.
**ॐ द्यौः शान्तिरन्तरिक्षं शान्तिः
पृथिवी शान्तिरापः शान्तिरोषधयः शान्तिः ।
वनस्पतयः शान्तिर्विश्वेदेवाः शान्तिर्ब्रह्म शान्तिः
सर्वं शान्तिः शान्तिरेव शान्तिः सा मा शान्तिरेधि ॥
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥
Om ,Peace is in the Sky, Peace is in Space,Peace is in Earth, Peace is in Water , Peace is in Plants , Peace is in Trees, Peace is in Gods, Peace is in Brahman, Peace is pervading everywhere , Peace is inside the Peace. May you be in that Peace.Om, Peace, Peace, Peace!!
Om Dyauh Shaantir-Antarikssam Shaantih
Prthivii Shaantir-Aapah Shaantir-Ossadhayah Shaantih |
Vanaspatayah Shaantir-Vishve-Devaah Shaantir-Brahma Shaantih
Sarvam Shaantih Shaantireva Shaantih Saa Maa Shaantir-Edhi |
Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih ||