Dharmic Ecology: Perspectives from the Swadhyaya Practitioners Page: 305
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BRILL Worldviews 13 (2009) 305-320 brill nl/wo
Perspectives from the Swadhyaya Practitioners
Department ofForeign Languages and Literatures and Philosophy and
Religious Studies, North Carolina State University Raleigh, North Carolina
This is an article about the lives of the Swadhyayis, Swadhyaya practitioners, in
the Indian states of Gujarat and Maharashtra. The Swadhyaya movement arose in
the mid-twentieth century in Gujarat as a new religious movement led by its
founder, the late Pandurang Shastri Athavale. In my research, I discovered that
there is no category of "environmentalism" in the "way of life" of Swadhyayis
living in the villages. Following Weightman and Pandey (1978), I argue that the
concept of dharma can be successfully applied as an overarching term for the
sustainability of the ecology, environmental ethics, and the religious lives of
Swadhyayis. Dharma synthesizes their way of life with environmental ethics
based on its multidimensional interpretations.
dharma, Hinduism, ecology, tree-temples, religion and environmental ethics,
Swadhyaya's Dharmic Ecology
Having heard about the tree-temples of Swadhyaya, I called their office in
Mumbai to visit one of such sites in the summer of 2006 during my trip
to India. Soon, I found myself on my way to Valsad in Gujarat. I arrived
at the home of a swadhyaya volunteer Maheshbhail who took me to the
site of the local tree-temple with several other Swadhyayis. All of them
') In this article, I have used pseudonyms except for the well-known personalities.
O Koninklijke Brill NO Leiden, 2009
DOI: 10 1163/136352409X12535203555795
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Jain, Pankaj. Dharmic Ecology: Perspectives from the Swadhyaya Practitioners, article, 2009; [Leiden, Netherlands]. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc38896/m1/1/: accessed March 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT College of Public Affairs and Community Service.