Nature is referred to as “Mother” in many Hindu texts. We understood long ago that what nature provides in her mysterious ways, is better than what we can. Survival is impossible without her grace, yet her life bestowing gifts, are free.
Parivrajakas were those who chose a life of unhurried peace and contemplation in forests. Recognising nature as the essential life giver and sustainer, Indians across the country worship nature. The sun, moon, air, trees, shrubs, mountains and rivers are all considered holy, due to the early recognition of our interdependence. Nourish nature, it nourishes us, destroy nature, it destroys us.
Trees are mute teachers of a selfless life of service, never consuming their own produce. Each fruit, flower, leaf, bark, sap, root, even their wooden bodies they give, for others. They are exhalers of oxygen that we need and inhalers of what we exhale, transforming waste into nutrition. According to Ayurveda, all vegetation is medicinal. Enriched by nature, we express gratitude by worshipping it. Sun and moon worship began as we realised our dependence on them. Man still learns not from these selfless, purposeless givers. The sun gives nutrition, health, light, heat and life, not because it “wants” to give, but because that is its nature, so also do Earth, water, and air. Air is a humble, invisible giver. Unnoticed, it sets into motion all our body systems: respiration, digestion and excretion. We turn into manure, or lunch for the worms, when air blesses us not. Life bestowing water and Earth are the biggest (Annapurna) providers of food.
Early Rig Vedic hymns exalted nature. The Greeks, Romans and other Semitic religions worshipped these great benefactors of mankind. Let’s also learn to give with humility and surrender, for even that which “you give” has been “given” to you by Mother Nature.
Prarthna Saran, president, Chinmaya Mission Delhi