In today’s busy life, humans have turned into machines and are unaware of how far we’ve drifted from nature. It is important to think about what our scriptures suggest. We know from history that Ram Ji went to the Jungle, Pandavas also went to the Jungle, Buddha also chose a Peepal tree. What did they get from the Jungle? Ram Ji achieved enlightenment (Aatmgyana) i.e., Shri Hanuman Ji, and transformed into God Rama. Similarly, the Pandavas too experienced spiritual growth and encountered God who gave them many divine powers during their exile. Buddha attained enlightenment under a tree and became Lord Buddha. These great figures were deeply connected to one common thing – Nature, which has always been our great teacher. Even today, we go in the lap of nature to be inspired and rejuvenate.
Surprisingly, for many centuries, we remained ignorant and ruthlessly exploited nature. It was only towards the end of the 20th century that humanity realizes the importance of preserving it. Unfortunately, we encountered disappointment in this effort. This modern civilization has pulled us away from nature. Despite numerous campaigns, national and international conferences, protocols, treaties etc., at both small and large scales, we have still been unsuccessful in safeguarding and conserving nature.
It is evident that, humans are one of the best and most intelligent creations of the nature. But today, we face a big challenge in restoring nature’s beauty. It’s been a matter of discussion about protecting nature since ancient times, like in the Vedic era. Now it’s important for us to look back at this history. If we don’t take action now, it may soon be too late to reverse the damage. So let’s explore the Vedantic or spiritual philosophy in this context.
Nature and Vedanta:
Vedantic wisdom, which is thousands of years old, has already spoken about the guidelines for Nature. The entire human life is a spiritual journey that comprises four stages: Brahmacharya Ashram, Grihastha Ashram, Vanaprastha Ashram, and Sanyasa Ashram and each with its specific guidelines and responsibilities. This system allows our lives and society to progress in a harmonious way, ‘आत्म -मोक्षार्थम जगत हिताय च !’. With regard to nature, in the Brahmacharya Ashram, the focus is on exploring the nature; in Grihastha, people may use nature for their needs; in Vanaprastha, the aim is to enrich nature; in Sanyasa Ashram, the goal of life is to detach from the nature and attention towards spiritual evolution. Hence, according to the Indian Santana Scriptures, it is advised that only one generation should exploit the nature at a time. The Grihastha utilize nature because this ashram serves as the foundation for all other ashram.
Nature and Bhagwad Gita
Lord Krishna has also explained the ‘significance of nature’ in the Bhagavad Gita. The entire universe is the Yajna of Lord Brahma where every entity diligently fulfills its unique Dharma by serving as an instrument [3.10]. Interestingly, in the universe, no one questions what we will gain from fulfilling duties; it is we, humans, who often ask about the rewards of our actions. Due to our failure to perform actions with a selfless service or spirit of dedication or Yajna, in what condition have we left the planet? It’s a regret of our intellect! In reality, if ants disappeared from Earth, it could lead to the planet’s downfall within a few years but, if humans were to vanish, our Earth would become more beautiful. That is why the Bhagavad Gita [3.11] says to the worship of deities or Devtas (Gods) like Vayu Deva and Agni Deva, etc., because every particle of nature has contributed to our existence. As a result, we carry a debt to nature, and the Karmas or actions we take to repay this debt are referred to as Yajna. So, live in harmony with Universal forces (nature) and these forces will nourish or sustain you. Those who do not contribute to maintaining this balance, i.e., those who only take from nature without giving back, can be considered as thieves ‘अप्रदायः भुङ्क्ते स्तेनः …!’ [3.12] and what they are having (eating) is a sin, ‘अधम भुञ्जते …!’ [3.13]
To understand these we don’t require any specific educational qualifications! Instead, we should just follow the life system established by our sages, and saints, and considering it as the guiding principles or Dharma of our lives. Therefore, we should make an effort to follow the ancient wisdom of India in our lives; it would be a sincere respect and gratitude to Mother Nature. If we can be instruments of our nation’s laws, why can’t we serve as instruments of divine laws or cosmic laws?
In 19th century, a great social reformer, Swami Dayanand Saraswati encouraged people through a slogan – “Back to the Vedas!”. He found that the Vedas contained important teachings about equality and numerous reforms. In simpler terms, he believed that to protect nature and its creations, we must turn to the Vedas. According to him, no modern philosophy or theory could save the universe, and he raised voice for the wisdom of Sanatan, or ancient, knowledge.
We must understand that by incorporating the wisdom of ancient philosophy into our lives, only then can we establish that humans are the finest creations in the universe. As the Vedas originated in the land of India and have become our sacred scriptures, hence it is natural for us to follow their principles. Swami Vivekananda also supported these sentiments, stating that it would be more appropriate to refer to Indians as ‘Vedantic’. If we try to understand his perspective, he strongly believed that the advancement of humanity resides in the principles of Vedanta. By identifying people as Vedantic, it would strengthen their bond with the ancient scriptures. Hence, it is relent to acknowledge that these scriptures serve as a means to help us remain aligned or connected with our natural selves.
Credits: “Vedanta Va Jeevan Prabandhan” (Hindi Edition) by Dr. Vikrant Singh Tomar (Author);
Karma Yoga; Image source: https://www.istockphoto.com