Friday, August 14, 2015

ENVIRONMENTAL HARMONY AND PEACE NEEDS SPIRITUAL SUPPORT

 Environmental Harmony and Peace Needs spiritual support

(Compilation for a discourse by N.R. Srinivasan, Nashville, TN, August 2015)Top of Form

Hindu prayers in Temples and home usually end with the following prayer which looks like   benediction:
Kaale varshatu Parjanyah  Prithavee sasya saalinee |
desoyam kshobha rahitaha braahmanaah santu nirbhayaah ||
Sarve Janaah sukhino bhavantu | lokaah samastha sukhino bhavantu  ||
May the Rains fall at the right time! May the crop bearing land be fertile! May the country where I live be free of famine! May the thinkers (those who meditate on Brahman and not   necessarily belonging to present day Brahmin caste) be fearless! May all people live happily! May all living beings be happy and content!
This can only be the benediction of the Supreme Lord, if not of the priest, and may not be called as any individual’s prayer!  By this Good Lord means we must all love the world as He loves us and therefore take care of the flora and fauna by ending our “Waste and indiscriminate Destruction Culture”.  He said in Bhagavadgeetaa “Yogakshemam Vahaamyam”; “Vinaasaaya cha Dushkritaam” – meaning He is   the custodian of the welfare of the world and He at the same time will also punish those who are engaged in destructive acts. Religiously devoted would interpret this   as loving and caring Nature is the same as loving Him and adoring Him.  A Kannada proverb says: “ Janaseveye  Janaardhanana seve”—serving humanity is serving God. Serving Nature is serving Humanity and serving Humanity is serving God! 
Five mass extinctions happened before mankind walked the Earth, and are believed to have been mainly caused by natural disasters, such as asteroid impacts and volcanic eruptions due to Supreme will. The last mass extinction happened about 65 million years ago, killing off the dinosaurs. The Earth’s sixth mass extinction is already underway—and humans are the driving force behind it, according to new study.  Recent extinction rates are unprecedented in human history and highly   unusual in Earth’s history according to Science Advances.  The average rate of vertebrate species lost over the past century was up to 114 times higher than normal.  These estimates reveal an exceptionally rapid loss of biodiversity over the last few centuries, indicating that a sixth mass extinction is already underway.   Among the World Wildlife Fund’s critically endangered species--- those at the most at risk of going extinct today are—the Amur leopard, black rhino, leatherback turtle, Sumatran tiger and western lowland gorilla.
Pope Francis reflects the thoughts expressed in ancient prayers of Veda above in his recent addresses to his followers referring to climate calamity.  Pope Francis has become increasingly vocal on the importance of acting on climate change. He understands that with rising sea levels, threatening coastal communities, intensifying droughts devastating crops, and more extreme weather destroying livelihoods — our warming planet is putting us all at risk, especially the poor and vulnerable around the world.
Einstein once said “Religion without Science is blind and Science without religion is lame”.  Einstein was a   scientist but was also philosopher too with a religious and humanitarian bent of mind.  Perhaps many of you are not aware Pope Francis has a master’s degree in Chemistry and a history of environmental   concern. He   said in January that science is largely settled on the causes of climate change and that greater stewardship of God’s creation is necessary.  He thus strongly reflects the statement by the philosopher scientist Einstein.  He gives the environmental community everything it hoped for: a swift dismissal of global warming deniers, along with an embrace of science showing how the plant is suffering and humans are largely at fault.
As a student of Chemistry he says that he is convinced based on the best scientific research available today that global warming, rising seas and the likely fallout of extreme weather events are happening.  He sees fish-depleted seas, barren coral reefs and thousands of plant and animal species disappearing every year because of human’s profligacy.    

The leaked out draft encyclical released by PoL’Espresso published on Monday says that while there may be other factors involved in climate change, "numerous scientific studies indicate that the majority of the global warming in recent decades is due to the large concentration of greenhouse gases... emitted above all due to human activity," according to a Huffington Post translation of the document.

His more than 180 page encyclical—a letter circulated throughout the Catholic Church—includes poetry: “Soil, water, mountains: everything is, as it were, a caress of God….. There is mystical meaning to be found in a leaf, in a mountain trail, in a dew-drop, in a poor person’s face”. There is also brutal observation: “The Earth. Our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth”

We have grown up thinking that we were earth’s owners and dominator, authorized to loot her,” the draft reads,   “The violence that exists in the human heart, wounded by sin, is also manifest in the symptoms of illness that we see in the Earth, the water, the air and in living things.”

The document goes on to declare that access to clean drinking water is "an essential human right, fundamental and universal." It describes the disproportionate effects of climate change on poor populations, who’s "livelihoods depend heavily on nature reserves." It also accuses those with more resources and greater economic power of "making the problems or hiding the symptoms" of climate change.

“The attitudes that stand in the way of a solution, even among believers, range from negation of the problem, to indifference, to convenient resignation or blind faith in technical solutions,” the draft reads. "Today we cannot help but recognize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach, which must integrate justice in the discussions of the environment, to hear the cry of the earth as much as the cry of the poor."

The core of his message is a toughly worded warning about human behavior that the pontiff says is bringing earth to ecological disaster. Francis places blame not just with global warming deniers but many faithful who are indifferent, resigned or foolishly await technology to solve everything. Only world’s poor escape papal wrath.  They are the least capable for creating the problem, yet suffer most from the consequences: “when all is said and done, they frequently remain at the bottom of the file” he says sympathizing with the poor.

Pope Francis is the custodian of religious faith of 1 billion Catholics first but a scientist too. Probably he started with “Science without Religion is Blind and Religion without Science is Lame” not stop thinking of well-established scientific facts that disturbs humanity.  Now he is more convinced and says “Religion without science is blind and science without religion is lame” in equal voice with Einstein.  So he is taking all faith based efforts to shift thinking on climate actions and also   very hopeful his followers will listen and act. His appeal and encyclical to 1 billion Catholics is going to have a bigger impact than the Paris negotiations thinks climatologist from NASA, Dr. Gavin Schmidt.
Scientists can firmly establish and find means to prevent truly catastrophic, potentially irreversible climate change but their implementation is not in their hands. Will to do what is necessary   is in the hands of politicians and religious followers.   Strong public outcry can force policy changes and here it is possible for the religious faithful who still are in a vast majority than those who despise religion. Here the world religions should take the lead following the initiative taken by Pope Francis. It is our fortune that his deep religious involvement has not   side-tracked the  built-in scientific urge and his timely intervention could open the eyes of   all the religions to act too and  turn the tide on climate debate   in favor of human cause even though politicians with self -interest feel that it is all unnecessary and a false alarm.  It is heartening to note Scientists are applauding the Pope. Probably this would attract more scientists who are skeptical about religion   and sitting on the fence to think about the peaceful world Creator started with which we have played too much for too long with selfish motives, following the religious sermons of Pope Francis and philosophic thoughts of Einstein. 
Let all religions follow the message of Sanatana Dharma by way of mantras given to humanity   long before Christianity was born whose theme Pope Francis has been reiterating again and again including Hinduism as is practiced today and understood today.  Here are quotes from the wisdom of Sanathana Dharma and other Religious wisdom thoughts.

SANATANA DHARMA
Our sages had scientific vision and the foresight even in Vedic days. They   were concerned    that man will ultimately exploit Nature in pursuit of selfish attitude while deriving benefits from it for his own selfish living and hence included mantras for the veneration of Nature in their philosophical discussions. Nature being the darling and a gift from God for nurturing humanity   was praised by them as Brahman alone.   Spirits of Botanical Kingdom like the Pippala (peepal) or Aswattha (fig tree), the Vata also called Nyagrodha (banyan) tree, Asoka tree, the sacred Tulasi (holy Basil), the Vilva(leaves of wood apple tree also known as Bel), not to leave the humble reeds  of Kusa grass,  Darbha grass, and Dhoorva grass (Aruham pul in Tamil) Mountains and Rivers are revered with great respect by Hindus  inspired by the Veda mantras. The first Mantra Top of Form The first mantra Tis the most popular   Veda Mantra chanted every-day in concluding Hindu prayers at home and temples praying for all round healthy atmosphere leading other popular mantras found in Upanishads. I believe this earliest Veda Mantra should have inspired later Hindus as well as various faiths to raise many Nature spirits for worship turning them to divinities and also plead for Earth on Peace and to make it a habit to preserve the pristine beauty of nature.

Dyauh saantih antariksha(ga)m saantih prithivee saantih aapah saantih oeshadhayah saantih | vanaspatayah saantih viswedevaah saantih brahma saantih sarva(ga)m saantih saantireva saantih saa maa saantiraedhi ||

May there be peace in the higher regions!
May there be peace in the firmament!
May there be peace on earth!
May the waters flow peacefully!
May the herbs and plants grow peacefully!
May all the divine powers bring unto us peace!
The supreme Lord is peace;
May we all be in peace, peace, and only peace!
And may that peace come unto each of us!
May Peace prevail!  May Peace prevail!  May Peace prevail!                         -- Veda Mantra

Sumitraa na aapa oshadhayah santu (MNU)

May the water and herbs be friendly to us!

Aaapah Swaahaa | oshadhivanaspatayah swaahaa | Prithvee swaahaa | Antariksaha swaaha  | Dyauh swaahaa | Sooryah  swaahaa | Chndramaaha Swaahaa || (MNU)

These are the mantras in MNU used in worship an oblation seeking for all-round peace in  water, herbs and trees , wind blowing in the sky,  heaven, earth, spirits dwelling in the sky,   Sun and Moon, essentially praying for all round peace in the universe reminding people their duty towards flora and fauna!

Tvamagne dyubhistvam-asusukshanis-tvam-adbhyas-tvam asmanas-pari |
Tvam  vanebhyas-tvam  oshadheebhyas-tvam  nrinaam  nripate jaayase  suchih | |

Oh Agni! Thou art born on the days of sacrifices as the protector of men in general and of those among men who offer sacrifices.  Thou art born spreading light around, or causing pain by mere   touch. Thou art born from water, lightning or as heat under the sea (plant life and animal life exists under the sea because of this heat and light only).  Thou art born from clouds or stones by friction. Thou art born from the forests. Thou art born from herbs. Thou art born ever pure from the Sun.
This is a Rigveda Mantra reproduced in MNU. The purport of the stanza is stated to be prayer to the Supreme Being for averting devastation deifying Nature. Agni here refers to Supreme Being alone.  We cannot destroy forests and plant kingdom which are divine whose benefit he has bestowed on us by his sacrifice and benevolence.  Pain caused to nature will reverberate in causing pain to you just as the pain caused by touching fire.

Yaabhir-aadityas-tapati  rasmibhih  taabhih  parjanyo  varshati  parjanyena  oshadhi –vanaspatayah  prajaayanta  oshadhi -vanaspathibhir-annam bhavati annena praanaah…….. pranair manoh manasascha vijnaanam vijnaanaat anando  brahma yonih |||

Those rays by which the sun gives heat, the same rays transform water into rain-cloud which shows rain.  By the rain-cloud herbs and trees come into existence.  From herbs and trees food is produced. By the use of food the breaths and senses are nourished……. The vital breath and the senses of creatures are from food, that reflection functions with the vital breaths and senses, that unbroken direct realization comes from reflection and that Bliss comes from unbroken direct realization of Truth. Thus having attained Bliss one merges with the Supreme which is the Source of the Universe—from MNU.

It therefore implies   serving   with divine respect plants and herbs the very source of our food,    one walks into the realm of Eternal Bliss of the Supreme Being.
--Hindu Veda Mantras   

Here is a popular  Madhumantra (Self-knowledge)  prayer from MNU:

Madhuvaataa ritaayate madhuksharanti sindhavah | maadhveer nah santvoshadheeh || madhu naktamutoshasi madhumatpaarthiva(ga)m rajah| madhudyaurastu nah pitaa || madhumaanno vanaspatirmadhumaa(ga)mastu sooryah | maadhveergaavo bhavantu nah|

To me, who is the devotee of the Supreme Truth let the wind blow sweetly. Let the rivers run sweetly. Let the herbs be sweet and beneficial to us. Let there be sweetness day and night. Let the particles of the earth be sweetness-bearing. let heaven, our father, be sweet to us. let the sun be sweet and beneficial to us. Let cows be sweetness-bearing to us!

The worshipers thus pray: We are seekers of Truth and let Nature be benign to us! Let bus be surrounded by sweetness--chiefly consisting of salubrious wind and water! may herbs and cow give us healthful yield in proper time! May day and night cause for us only joy and happiness!May every particle of the earth and the sky, paternal to all, favor us with suitable conditions of climate and weather may the sun shine favorably over us and the trees give us sustenance through edible fruits! Only in such a happy surrounding proper cultivation of knowledge and realization of the Truth become effective and fruitful.

OTHER RELIGIOUS VOICES

Many have high expectations for the encyclical, as well as the pope’s upcoming address to the United Nations in September, said Neil Thorns, director of advocacy at Cafod. In an article for The Guardian, Thorns wrote:
“The Catholic community everywhere will be called upon to reflect not just on whether our lifestyles are promoting care for creation, but whether our social, political and economic choices truly promote the interests of the poorest among us.”
Through the silence of nature I attain Thy divine peace.
Oh sublime nature, in thy stillness let my heart rest.
Thou art patiently awaiting the moment to manifest through the silence of sublime nature.
Oh nature sublime, speak to me through silence, for I am waiting in silence like you the call of God.
Oh nature sublime, through thy silence I hear Thy cry.
My heart is tuned to the quietness that the stillness of nature inspires.

                                                                                                                                -- Hazarat Inayat Khan
Lord, help us to maintain a reverent attitude towards nature, threatened from all sides today, in such a way that we may restore it completely to the condition of brother/sister and to its role of usefulness to all humankind for the glory of God the Creator.
Praised are you Adonai our God, who rules the universe, which lacks nothing; for God created fine creatures and pleasant trees in order that humans might enjoy them.

                                                                                    --
The Rabbinical Assembly Conservative Judaism
Gracious God, your amazing love extends through all time and space, to all parts of your creation, which you created and called good. You made a covenant with Noah and his family, putting a rainbow in the sky to symbolize your promise of love and blessing to every living creature, and to all successive generations. You made a covenant with Abraham and Sarah, blessing them and their descendants throughout the generations. You made a covenant with Moses and the Israelite people to all generations, giving them the 10 commandments and challenging them to choose life. In Jesus, you invite us to enter into a new covenant, in communion with all who seek to be faithful to you.
As people of faith, we are called into covenant. Your covenant of faithfulness and love extends to the whole creation. We pray for the healing of the earth that present and future generations may enjoy the fruits of creation, and continue to glorify and praise you.
                                                                                                                   --National Council of Churches
O God, enlarge within us the sense of fellowship with all living things, our brothers the animals to whom you gave   the earth as their home in common with us. We remember with shame that in the past we have exercised the high dominion of man with ruthless cruelty so that the voice of the earth, which should have gone up to thee in song, has been a groan of travail.
May we realize that they live not for us alone but for themselves and for thee, and that they love the sweetness of live.

God is the foundation for everything. This God undertakes; This God gives. Such that nothing that is necessary for life is lacking. Now humankind needs a body that at all times honors and praises God. This body is supported in every way through the Earth. Thus the Earth glorifies the power of God.
--Hidegard of Bingen

Water comes from high mountain sources. Water runs deep on Earth. Miraculously, water come to us and sustains life. My gratitude filled to the brim.
--Thich Nhat Hahn

Oh, Eagle; come with wings outspread in sunny skies. 
Oh, Eagle, come and bring us peace, thy gentle peace.

Oh, Eagle, come and give new life to us who pray.
Remember the circle of the sky; the stars, and the brown eagle,
the great life of the Sun, the young within the nest.
Remember the sacredness of things
---Pawnee payer

 

Let us give thanks for the world around us.
Thanks for all the creatures, stones and plants
Let us learn their lessons and seek their truths,
So that their path might be ours,
And we might live in harmony, a better life.

May the Earth continue to live,
May the heavens above continue to live,
May the rains continue to dampen the land,
May the wet forests continue to grow,

Then the flowers shall bloom
And we people shall live again.

                                                                                                                                  --Hawaiian indigenous prayer

 Kaale varshatu par-jan-yaha Prithavee sasya-saalinee /
Desoyam kshobha-rahitah  Braahmanaah  santu nirbhayaah  //
May the rains fall at the right time! May the crop-bearing land be fertile! May the country where I live, be free of famine! May the spiritual thinkers be fearless to practice their religion!
Sarve bhavantu sukhinah Sarve santu niraa-mayaah
Sarve bhadraani pasyantu Maa kaschit dhukhinah bhavet //
May all beings be happy! May all beings be free of disease!   May people learn to see good things in   others! May none suffer!
--HINDUISM
The tragedy of human history is decreasing happiness in the midst of increasing comforts
 —Swami Chinmayananda
Here are some opinions expressed from people of Various Faiths:
“I believe that the most important way for faith-based environmentalism to succeed is to translate our work into the language of community development, which I firmly believe is the strongest language for cooperation. I envision a robust movement where people work together across religion and politics to bring great change. I hope for a world defined by equality, sustainability, and opportunity.”
“When I look to the future, I see faith-based environmentalism as the key force in solving the ecological crisis. Touching people’s hearts and values will shift the focus from unbridled consumption to sustainable living -- technology and science alone are not enough. The longer we wait for the science to save us, the closer we get to ecological collapse. We need to bolster the science with values, ethics, and in some cases, faith”.
“By viewing the natural world with humility, one cannot avoid being ever-grateful to all Mother Earth provides us. With gratitude comes a desire to reciprocate with love and respect, which is how I feel we all need to treat the environment. Faith-based movements have much to offer, and are increasingly becoming vocal about environmental concerns. Where governments, big business, and international organizations like the U.N. have struggled, religions could succeed. With their combination of philosophy, spirituality and moral direction, meaningful engagement with the world’s faiths could yield significant positive changes in the world”.
I think the faith-based environmental movement will continue to grow and become more diverse. Churches have been doing this work for decades, but I think that young people of faith will become more active in the movement. For most young people, caring for the Earth is a no-brainer since we will be living with the consequences of environmental actions (or lack of action) for a long time. The projected impacts on our Earth from climate change are really very frightening, but I think what the faith community can offer this discussion is hope. Christians are hopeful people, and if we start seriously caring for creation, there is hope for a bright future”.
Humanity ambitious and greedy has gone into a culture of excesses and waste making the lives of the poor miserable. It has to overcome the same.  For this we need change our lifestyle, production and consumption. The Hindu prayer above while praying for all round peace implies the same in the context of   encyclical speech of Pope Francis.  All these thoughts go to the very basic discipline we all need in life.  Mere prayers alone will not lead into peace and harmony if we do not act as Good Lord said in Gita. “We must replace self-centered, self-obsession with unselfish service to others. We must replace the existing covetous entitlement with a sense of obligation “to do our duty” toward God and our fellow humans.  We must replace a “win-at-all-costs” mindset with lives of sacrifice and grace in loss. We must replace I-centered, individualistic atomism so evident in our culture, by restoring a sense of obligation and duty toward others, especially those in need and duty towards nature which serves all alike. We must replace the blame-shifting, excuse-making whininess   of immaturity, with mature, sober, responsible men and women who can deal with success and failure. These are the kind of things that will hold a people together and give them a future. These are the means by which a culture and society propagates itself with future hope, peace and prosperity for which we pray seeking divine Help.  Remember the advice of Robert Edward Lee:

·        Get correct views of life, and learn to see the world in its true light. It will enable you live pleasantly in good surroundings and when summoned away, to leave without regret.
·        There is true glory and true   honor; the glory of duty done-the honor of the integrity principle.
·        Our greatest influence will be exercised in the home.  A man is not qualified to lead others if he fails to lead his own house.
·        Courage is not the absence of fear but the willingness to do one’s duty in the face of fear.
·        A man unwilling to deny himself is a slave to the world and not a leader of it”

--Perry Coghlan, founder of Spring Hill Academy, TN, USA, on Father’s Day message

This discourse emphasizes that Religion and Science must work together and therefore   dedicated to the memory of Bharat Ratna APJ Abdul Kalam a celebrated scientist of many talents who devoted all his life for the people recalling his speech on August 15 of 2014.   He was a Saint Scientist and his life constantly engaged between science and saintliness.  Saintliness is more important because if you don’t have that nothing can come to you.  Our sages delivered science as a bye-product of saintliness. Saintliness calls for determination, dedication and devotion which are equally important for scientific success. Pope Francis is walking in that Path.


Please also go through my discourse on Earth’s Day: Thoughts on Earth Day from Hindu Reflections <nrsrini.blogspot.com> as well as the   present one.
 http://nrsrini.blogspot.com/2013/05/thoughts-on-earth-day-from.html
Please also go through my discourse: “Abhishekam outflows are Sacred; Treat them with Respect”
BIBLIOGRAPHY:
1) Srinivasan   N. R., Invocation and Concluding Prayer Mantras, Hindu Reflections.
2) Gegg Zoroya, USA Today, Pope May alter Climate Debate
3) Perry Coghlan, The Content of our Character, Nashville Christian Family, June 2015
4) Huff-post Religious columns and The Tennessean, June 15,   2015
5)  Veda Mantras from Mahaa Naaraayana Upanishad (MNU)
  
Appendix
INDIA’S DANGEROUS SMOG PROBLEM
Toxic air pollution in the India’s Capital of Delhi has given some 2.2 million children irreversible  lung  damage, according to a 2010 study from the Kolkata- based Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute that surfaced in June, 2015. The report has raised fresh concern in a country where carbon emissions are forecast to increase for decades.
 Delhi’s air now contains as much toxic a matter as that of notoriously smoggy Beijing.  The health impact has been disastrous, with children in Delhi now three times as likely as others in India to develop lung disorders.
The Capital isn’t alone; according to the U.N., India has 13 of the world’s 20 most polluted cities.  Low vehicle–emission standards, booming industrialization, crowded cities and the   burning of trash means, that the vast majority of Indians breathe unsafe air.
 Prime Minister Modi launched India’s first air-quality index in April, but pollution will keep growing unless India stems coal production, which Modi has pledged to double by 2020.
--Time, June 15, 2015


[This discourse material is a compilation from the reference above    as well as other sources for a prepared lecture for delivering at Vedanta Class of Sri Ganesha Temple which is gratefully acknowledged. I do not claim anything as original though I have included my explanations and comments elaborately suitably editing. Anybody is free to download partly or fully this discourse, modify and redistribute this as well as other  discourses from the blog Hindu Reflections <nrsrini.blogspot.com> for spreading the wisdom of Vedas and scriptures further.  These  lectures are  posted on the blog for the benefit of those who are not able to attend my lectures personally due to personal reasons or due to not living in Nashville or able to go through the various sources as I have done.]