Dharmic Ecology: Perspectives from the Swadhyaya Practitioners Page: 310
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310 Jain /Worviews 13 (2009) 305-320
the devadar tree, regarded as a son by Siva is nurtured by goddess Parvati.6
Also from the same text, when Kautsa, the disciple of Varatantu visits
King Raghu, Raghu asks Kautsa about the well-being of the trees at the
hermitage of his guru, "The trees of hermitage that you nurtured like your
children, who provided comforting shadow to the travelers, are they safe
from thunderstorms and other calamities?"7 According to Athavale, this
conversation shows that the ancient Indians had a sense of kinship with
trees and they asked for their well-being. Athavale mentioned other verses
from Kalidasa's Abhijianaakuntalam. Once while Sakuntala was watering
the plants, her friend Anasuya tells her that her father Kanva seems to
have more affection for his trees than she does. Hence, he asked her to
water the plants. Sakuntala replies, "I feed the plants not just to obey my
father but I love and feed them considering them my own brothers."3
Later, when Sakuntala leaves for her husband's home, Kanva asks his trees
to bid farewell to her,
One who did not even drink water before feeding you, one who loved to
decorate but never took even a leaf from you, one who celebrated when your
first flower blossomed, that Sakuntala is today going to her husband's home,
please bid her farewell. (Abhijiunaakuntalam act 4.9)9
All the above references from different texts again exemplify the dharmic
interrelationship of trees with the human society In July 1979,10 Athavale
gave a practical shape to his dharmic ecology, when he inaugurated the
first tree-temple at village Kalavad in Rajkot district in Gujarat. It was
named Yajavalkya Upavan, an orchard named after the Vedic sage
Yajfiavalkya. There were 6000 trees planted here. So far, followers of Atha-
6) Amum purah paiyasi devdarum putrikrtau asau vrsabhadhvajena. Yo hemakumbha sta-
nanih sritanam skandasya matu payasa rasajnah.
7) Adharbandhapmmukhaih prayatnaih samvardhitanam suanirvieeam. Kacchina vachva-
e) Na kevalam tata niyoga eva. Asti me sodarasneho apyetesu.
') T. S. Rukmani also cites Abhiranaiakuntalam in her article in the Harvard Volume on
Hinduism and Ecology (Chapple et al. 2000).
10) Coincidentally, these were the years when Chipko in UP, Appiko in Karnataka, and
Anna Hazares efforts in Maharashtra were being hailed as successful socio-ecological
movements based on people's participation. Athavale included tree-plantation projects
into his programs of spiritual activism after emergence of other socio-ecological move-
ments and soon launched several other environmental prayogs related to water conserva-
tion, sanitation, and agriculture.
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Jain, Pankaj. Dharmic Ecology: Perspectives from the Swadhyaya Practitioners, article, 2009; [Leiden, Netherlands]. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc38896/m1/6/: accessed September 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT College of Public Affairs and Community Service.