Tuesday October 23, 2018

Understanding Nature through Vedas: How seers could realize the principle behind shifting weather phenomenon

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By Gaurav Sharma

The word Veda means knowledge. Knowledge not just of the self, but also of the surroundings and the relation of the self (atma) with the surrounding environment (paryavarana).

Nature forms an important connecting link with life. In fact, nature is life. The glory of sun-rise and sunset, the mellow of virgin nature, the beauty of landscapes, silent meditation in the forest, worship of mountains and rivers find pure poetic expression in the Vedic literature.

Still, the environment has been viewed differently by different civilizations.  While the modern age defines the environment as the relationship of and among the living creatures, earth, air and water (The Environment Protection Act, 1986), the Vedic worldview is far more comprehensive and insightful as it recognizes the Universe as consisting of five basic elements namely earth, fire, air, water and ether.

The scorching brightness of the sun, the inundation by the rain, the thunderous roar of lightning, the bulging red flame of fire, the immense whirling of the wind and the tremulous shaking of the earth are viewed as forces beyond man’s power and thus ascribed as Dhevi or divine.

Each fundamental element of nature assumes the character of a Devata or divinity. The Sun or Surya is regarded as the soul of everything moving and non-moving. The hymns in Atharva Veda assert water or Apah as it possesses healing powers which dissipate diseases. The reverence for water and other elements act as a deterrent against pollution.

The earth is also offered great prayers in the Vedas. It is called as Vishwambara–as the representative of the universe. Another name for earth is Prithvi, the power of which is invoked in various hymns of the Vedas for realizing the underlying truth of the Cosmos: ‘O Prithvi! thy centre, thy navel, all forces that have issued from thy body- Set us amid those forces; breathe upon us.’

The Vedic seers also understood the importance of Vayu or air for life.  Rig Veda mentions, ‘O Air! You are our father, the protector. Let wind blow in the form of medicine and bring me welfare and happiness.’ Therefore, pure and unpolluted air is considered to be essential for the well being of the individual and the society by the Vedas.

Warnings and admonition against pollution of Akasha or ether also find substantial mention in the Vedic scriptures. The Yajur Veda states, ‘Do not destroy anything of the sky and do not pollute the sky. Do not destroy anything of Antariksha.’

The Mantra: Om Shanti, Om Shanti, Om Shanti is not just about bringing peace within ourselves, because peace is understood to exist only in concordance with the well being of the Universe around the individual.

The so called ‘ideal’ aim of living up to a hundred years could be visualized not as a mere thought, but a lived experience only because the ancient Indians could recognize the importance of the environment, and, act on those lines.

In the Rig Veda, it is said that the universe is pervaded by a sense of Cosmic order or Rita.  Therefore, the ancient Rishis or seers could realize the principle behind the shifting and changing phenomenon of nature.

On the other hand, our current perception of environment is something of an ‘other individual’–distinct and separate from our existence. And hence, it is not a great surprise that the indiscriminate usage of nature goes in accordance with such a distorted and disfigured visualization.

It is time we take-off the mask of separateness and realize our oneness with nature.

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350 Chinese Cities Get Better Air Quality

In the first three quarters of this year, 7 out of 20 cities with the worst air quality were in northern Shanxi province

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Officials told CNN that the Chinese military did not intercept the US aircraft during their mission.
South China Sea, Pixabay

More than half of China’s cities saw air quality improve year-on-year in September, the Chinese Environment Ministry has said.

The average density of PM 2.5 stood at 25 micrograms per cubic meter in September in 338 cities, down 16.7 per cent from the same period last year, according to the Ministry of Ecology and Environment.

These cities enjoyed good air quality on 90.8 per cent of the days last month, up 2.6 per cent, Xinhua news agency said.

Air Quality
Air pollution can also damage your kidneys. wikimedia commons

The world’s most populous nation has over 600 cities and is grappling with chronic pollution which kills about one million people annually.

China is the world’s biggest coal producer and alone burns half of it, leading to severe pollution. The country is also the largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world.

However, the government has cracked down heavily on the polluting industries, shutting many of them. In July, the government released a three-year action plan to tackle the problem.

It also punishes top officials for not doing enough to rein in pollution.

Beijing is no longer the world’s most polluted city.

Air quality

Air quality
Buildings are seen on a hazy day in Xiangyang, Hubei province, China. VOA.

In the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, the share of days with good air quality in September stood at 79.2 per cent, a year-on-year increase of 27.8 percentage points, while the PM 2.5 density of the region dropped by 33.3 per cent on year to 36 micrograms per cubic meter, the Ministry was quoted by Xinhua as saying.

In the first three quarters of this year, 7 out of 20 cities with the worst air quality were in northern Shanxi province, China’s coal-producing hub.

Also Read: Sundar Pichai Clears Google’s China Centric Plans

According to the action plan released in July, by 2020, emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide should have dropped by more than 15 per cent over the 2015 levels, while cities that fail to meet the requirement of PM 2.5 density should see a decline of more than 18 per cent from 2015 levels. (IANS)