Dharmic Ecology: Perspectives from the Swadhyaya Practitioners Page: 308
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308 Jain /Worldviews 13 (2009) 305-320
gave slogans such as " rksa main Vasudeva," (literally, Krsna in trees) and
"Paudhe main Prabhu" (literally, God in plants). To explain divine power
in trees, he interpreted the capillary action of trees in this way, "There is a
divine power in trees which makes it possible for water and fertilizer to
rise from the roots below and reach the top portion against the gravita-
tional force. It is not just the result of Keakarsana (capillary action) but it
is Keiavakarsana (Krsna's force)."
According to Athavale, ancient Indic sages had the spiritual vision to
see divinity in the entire universe. Since it is difficult for common people
to see this transcendental reality in their routine lives, sages specifically
asked them to revere some representative plants. Athavale explained that
the sages deliberately chose tulsi, which has no material benefits for
humans. It provides neither shelter nor flowers nor fruits, and yet sages
considered it sacred. Millions of Hindus establish this plant in their
homes and worship it. Similarly, bilva is considered sacred for Siva and
even the common grass durva is used in rituals such as Ganeia-
worshipping. He also explained the ritual of VataSavitri performed by
married women. They tie the sacred thread, janeu, to vata and pipal trees
and worship them. Women ask for long lives for their husbands and fam-
ilies from these huge trees. According to Athavale, ancient sages intro-
duced the sacred use of specific plants and trees in all these rituals to
develop reverence for them. Evidently, Athavale's teachings are based on
the Upanisadic philosophy to see divinity in every particle. His emphasis
here is to inspire his followers to see divinity beyond their immediate
socio-economic needs. According to him, it is easy to develop respect and
reverence for one's own family. The ultimate goal of dharma is to tran-
scend this limited family and see the entire universe, including natural
resources such as trees, as family.
This dharmic approach is different from shallow ecology's utilitarian
approach, i.e., to protect ecology for human needs. This is also different
from deep ecology's biocentric approach of privileging nature more than
human society. The dharmic approach is to connect humans with ecology
based on the divine relationship between the two, not by separating one
from the other. The dharmic approach is also different from a religious
approach because it is not based on one's belief in the "truth" of the words
of a historic person or a scripture.
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Jain, Pankaj. Dharmic Ecology: Perspectives from the Swadhyaya Practitioners, article, 2009; [Leiden, Netherlands]. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc38896/m1/4/: accessed March 23, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT College of Public Affairs and Community Service.