climate, environment


“The greatest shortcoming of human race is our inability to understand the exponential function” -Albert.A.Bartlett In a bid to achieve the twin goals of boosting economic growth and ending extreme poverty, nations have exploited the existing resources without understanding the true cost of its depletion. They are confronted with a resource scarcity crisis as they are unable to satisfy the unlimited wants of human beings with the limited resources. Resources have been used, abused and misused over and above their rate of replenishment. At this juncture, it becomes imperative for nations to understand the concept of “Sustainable Development”. Sustainable development refers to development that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The questions for nations is not “whether” to embrace sustainable development but “how” to embrace it. The answer lies in an older school of thought. In ancient India, the inhabitants of the river Indus(Hindus)followed certain practices that were environment friendly with or without their knowledge. They embraced nature as an integral part of their life. Hindus have long had a palpable and organic connection with nature. In this paper, “Hinduism” is considered as “a way oflife”thatwaspracticedbyourforefathersand not merely as a religion. Ancient Indian texts like Vedas, Puranas and Upanishads clearly describe the eco-friendly attitude of Hindus. Plants and trees are valued so highly in Hindu sacred texts that their destruction is connected with doomsday scenario. For the same reason, almost every temple in South India dedicated to Lord Shiva or Vishnu, or to a manifestation of the goddess, has a “sthalavriksha”, a special tree regarded as sacred to that area. The sthalavriksha symbolizes all trees and reminds pilgrims that all trees are worthy of respect. Similarly, in older days, people revered rivers, mountains, forests and animals. For example, many villages had a sacred lake, and around it a grove of trees to catch rainfall and protect the banks from erosion. The lake and its grove would store rainfall to irrigate surrounding fields and also to provide drinking water to the local community. In recent times, the neglect of these simple techniques for gathering and protecting clean water has led to serious water shortage crisis. These are just few among many traditions followed by our forefathers. The objective of this paper is to study the traditional techniques of environmental protection that were followed in ancient India and to provide suggestions to government entities, NGO’s and International organizations for embracing those techniques for a sustainable future. It is high time to seek lessons from the spiritual heritage of our country as they offer auniquesetofmoralvaluesandcustomsthat serves as a guide in nurturing the relationship between man and nature, thereby, leading to a sustainable future.