Dharmic Ecology: Perspectives from the Swadhyaya Practitioners Page: 318
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318 r Jain /Worldviews 13 (2009) 305-320
the path of the pravrtti (action) instead of nivrtti (renunciation). Athavale
repeatedly stressed that only actions done with a devotional motive can be
considered dharmic actions leading to moksa. He correlated the motive of
the action with the potential for moksa. Based on my case study of Swad-
hyayis, an ethical framework, based on dharma and karma that is also
integrated with moksa, can serve as an important step to develop compre-
hensive Hindu environmental ethics.
Several authors such as T S. Rukmani, George James, Vasudha
Narayanan, and O. P Dwivedi have noted theoretical and textual refer-
ences from Indian texts to show ecological reverence (Chapple and Tucker
2000). These textual references have also been part of the worldview or
cosmology of Hindus from the last several millennia as I noted in the lives
of the Swadhyayis. They follow the texts by revering the natural resources
such as the trees and the earth. Their relationship with nature not only
includes revering it, but it inspires them to restore, protect, and conserve
it. However, considerations of Hindu dharma must extend from mental
textual constructs to daily experiences by the body in its immediate cos-
mic environment where the world is imagined as a transparent unity. As
the stream of sensory experience is constantly flowing, dharma only has
the appearance of permanence. While the dharma texts show that dharma
boundaries are fixed and absolute, the flow of bodily experience, upon
which such boundary conditions are superimposed, is constantly chang-
ing. The ambiguity that results is often better reflected in the myths of the
epics and puraas than in the dharma texts themselves. Thus, Hindu
dharma manifestations at the level of bodily perception (house walls, field
boundaries, rivers, etc.) are important for the study of Indian culture.
I have found such patterns in my case study. By participating in differ-
ent activities related to ecology, the practitioners of traditional communi-
ties such as the Swadhyayis not only undergo somatic experiences but also
these experiences help them to "relive" the lives of Vedic sages and other
mythical figures such as Arjuna. This is the embodied imagination or the
"ecological mind" where perceptions, self-perception, and symbolic ideas
resonate together. This is the level at which dharma means something to
them before it has acquired its extremely diverse lexical meanings and
social functions. It connects the practitioners with the experiences of their
gurus and their natural surroundings.
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Jain, Pankaj. Dharmic Ecology: Perspectives from the Swadhyaya Practitioners, article, 2009; [Leiden, Netherlands]. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc38896/m1/14/: accessed April 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT College of Public Affairs and Community Service.