Thursday, October 9, 2008

ENVIRONMENTAL AWARENESS IN CLASSICAL SANSKRIT LITERATURE

ENVIRONMENTAL AWARENESS IN CLASSICAL SANSKRIT LITERATURE
-Dr.Chilakamarthi Durga Prasada Rao

Sanskrit is one of the ancient languages of the world. Its contribution to the preservation and promotion of Indian ness is remarkable. Its contribution to Philosophy, Sociology, Psychology, Literature and almost all other disciplines is irrefutable. It is of course a classical language, but it is something more. It is a perennial river of knowledge catering to a variety of situations leading to the creation of an ideal society. A mere list of literary varieties that constitutes Sanskrit Language and Literature is mind-boggling..

Environmental pollution is one of the serious problems that confronts the world. The contribution of Sanskrit towards the protection of environment is tremendous.

The world constitutes five elements, Earth, Water, Air, Fire and sky. Of these, the three elements, Earth, Water and Air are prone to pollution, while the rest remain unaffected. The pollution which disturbs ecological balance is called Environmental Pollution.

In olden days, man, as part and parcel of nature, used to live harmoniously with it. He even treated the forces of nature as divine beings—Agni Deva, Varuna Deva, Vayu Deva and glorified their existence and prayed for their intervention in nature’s fury.
But in the modern age man partly out of necessity but mostly selfishly started industrial and other such activities, but soon his greed de -generated into avarice and drove him to excesses. He indulged in the over
-exploitation of nature’s bounties and began polluting natural elements in the name of development and modernization.











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The evils, Viz., exploitation of natural resources, industrial pollution, deforestation and excessive use of chemicals have contributed to the environmental pollution. As the present generation is a nexus between the past and future generation, it has a bounden duty to leave a good legacy to
posterity.

If the attitude of the modern man continues to be the same, the survival of humanity itself will become a big question. In fact, no country wishes to remain undeveloped. But the development should be healthy and at an affordable cost. It should not create obstacles in the healthy and prosperous development of future generations. So, in order to achieve sustainable development, one should give up one’s greed and learn to live in peace with nature. This is how our ancestors, even in the Vedic times, learned to live.
‘Veda’, the very first book of mankind, which is also considered to be the greatest treatise on environment, ensured a healthy relation ship between man and nature. This relation ship
should be as sacrosanct as between mother and child. The Earth was looked upon as universal mother and all living beings, her children. [1]
In Vedic times rituals were encouraged and performed with a view to keeping the environment pure and prefect. The flora and fauna were considered to be the two important facets of Mother Nature.

The Vedas have glorified the greenery and identified it with divinity. [2]
According to the Sastras plantation of saplings is a sacred dharma, and destruction of trees, a great sin.

All the poets of Sanskrit literature, with no exception, are great lovers of nature. They not only loved nature but also identified themselves with it. There are many instances to highlight the love of Sanskrit poets for flora and fauna.
In the II canto of Raghuvamsa a lion speaks to Dilipa
explaining the significance of a tree. [3]



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Oh, King! the tree which you see yonder is a Devadaru Tree brought up by Siva like his own son. His wife, Parvathi nourished it by providing pots of water as she nourished her own son Kumaraswamy with her breast milk.

Here the motherly affection towards a tree is established. Moreover it is also said that once upon a time a wild elephant rubbed her cheek against this same tree rupturing the bark of the tree. On seeing this, Parvathi felt sad as if her own son Kumaraswamy was wounded by the arrows pointed at him by Asuras [4]


Harshavardhana, while describing the hermitage of a saint in his magnum opus Nagananda, declares that the trees in the hermitage are barked only superficially lest deep-skinning should cause great pain to the trees. [5]
From these anecdotes it is evident that in the Vedic times even the smallest injury done to trees was seriously viewed and resented.

In the Kumarasambhavam, Kalidasa went a step further by saying that even a poisonous tree should not be cut down even by the person who raised it. [6]

In Abhijnanasakuntalam, Anasuya while conversing with Sakuntala speaks to her jovially. She said:
Similarly the sage Kanva, while sending Sakuntala to her husband’s house, reminds the trees about the service rendered by her to them and seeks permission from each for her departure.[9]

Our culture went to the extent of saying that no loss of trees under any circumstances should be permitted. Even in extraordinary circumstances the destruction of trees or plants should be compensated for.As an example the loss of plants occurring for a cremation should be replenished by cultivating the same number of saplings by the person who performs the funeral rites.

The plantation of trees is highly encouraged in our culture. “One should raise big trees which bear fruits. Even if it does not offer fruits, it at least gives shade”. [10]

Now let us come to the other aspect of environment, Fauna without mutual animosity. The sages also used to treat them as their children. The description of Vasistha’s hermitage in the Raghuvamsa establishes a sort of mother-child intimacy between man and animal. The hermitage of Vasista was littered with deers which were so eager for their fodder that they almost blocked the wives of the hermits carrying grains inside.
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The indiscriminate killing of animals for food, export, scientific experiments, preparing medicinal potions, and cosmetic purposes, may disturb the ecological balance.

The messages such as “Non-violence is the supreme Dharma”, “Let not all animals be killed” are found in the Vedas, which advocate non-violence. {11}

In our culture, every creature in nature has been treated and worshipped as a divine being and even venomous serpents are treated as gods and worshipped.

It may evoke great interest to point out that all animals forgetting their identity used to live together in and around the hermitages of saints
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From times immemorial the bond between man and nature has been extremely strong. Now it is our responsibility to maintain the equilibrium and see that nature is not disturbed or interfered with, lest it should lead to chaos and confusion as aptly pointed out by Earnest Hemingway, the famous American novelist, who said “Mending nature is ending nature”.

It would be a great service to nature if littérateurs, besides environme


“I think that our father sage Kanva must be having more love and affection for the trees of our hermitage than for you who, though extremely delicate, has been entrusted the task of watering them.[7]

Then Sakuntala replied that she had been watering the plants not merely because of her father’s behest
but because she was also having brotherly affection towards them. [8]
It is very interesting to observe that every tree in the hermitage of Kanva offers ornaments to Sakuntala at the time of departure to join her husband.


ntalists, contribute their share in preventing further environmental pollution.

Let all the lokas be happy

2 comments:

पौलस्ती प्रधान said...

thank you sir for this great artical

Durga Prasada Rao Chilakamarthi said...

sir, thank you for your kind appreciation