Hindu Declaration on Global Climate Change

Hindu Declaration on Global Climate Change

(ln the context of the Paris Global Climate Meet-2-15) 


Why a Hindu Declaration on Climate Change? – Because Hinduism comprises living traditions that revere Nature and its entire ecosystem. 

  1. Hinduism manifests a very long-sustained human endeavor to seek and encourage harmony among all peoples within themselves and with their environment. Unlike other Faith and religious traditions Hinduism does not attempt to homogenize and eliminate diversity, guided by theology. 
  2. Hindu efforts to harmonize diversities, including religious ones, are grounded in its openness for dialogue and cordial debate on its own fundamentals and in its desire to know and debate on the fundamentals of others. The intention behind this approach is not to force conviction or conversion but to enhance mutual understanding and cordial co-existence, This recognition of diversity and openness to dialogue among the erudite avoided over millennia differences spilling over to the streets leading to conflict,violent clash and blood shed among people. 
  3. Mass killing among humans has been estimated to be as high as 1.2 billion world-wide. lt is worth noting that till the 13th century CE, there was virtually no mass-killing in India, particularly arising out of diversity in traditions of religion and beliefs. This was so when rivers of blood were flowing elsewhere in the world. This bears testimony to the Hindu way of living With diversity, ironing out differences by dialogue and debate. 
  4. Comprehensive global dialogue on world-view systems after the World Parliament of Religions in 1893 in Chicago, the very idea of religion got benchmarked on Abrahamic religious norms, denying a serious consideration of the Hindu view on things of importance to life in all its forms. Instead, based on the faulty benchmark, Hinduism was judged and adjudged at times as archaic idolatry, pagan animism etc. This view of Hinduism had been universalized during the colonial period. After India’s independence too, no corrective steps were taken on account of faulty notions of secularism in the country. This has further eroded the opportunity for and even capacity of Hinduism to contribute to global discourse on matters of great importance not only to human life but the health of our planet. 
  5. The absence of a widely respected Body representing Hinduism in all its splendor of philosophy of life and of beliefs and practices, made it difficult to make its presence felt in global discourse. lt may be recalled that even Swami Vivekananda, who expounded the idea of universal brotherhood from Hindu perspective was almost disqualified from the World Parliament of Religions on the ground that he was not the authorized representative of the ancient and still living tradition of Hinduism. This lacuna was addressed in 2002 with the formation of the Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha, comprising the Heads of more than 150 ancient Hindu institutions of teaching, training and fieldwork among the people for their economic and social empowerment, representing Hinduism in all its diversity.(2)

The Hindu Vision of Creation is ecocentric-the entire creation down to the tiniest atom is a manifestation of the Divine. 

     6. The essence of Hindu traditions is to see everything, be it humanity, animal kingdom, plant life, mountains or rivers all animate and inanimate beings as the expression of the Divine. In Hindu Vision, the entire material world and all that animate beings including human beings need for survival-the earth, water, air, fire and space-are not secular assets to be exploited to the hilt by the humans, but inherently sacred, as sacred as human life. The Hindu worldview is thus eco-centric and not anthropo-centric.(3) An ancient sacred Text, lsavasya Upanishad, for example, begins with the words, ” lsavasyam idam saruam”. Mahatma Gandhi translates this sentence as meaning “everything down to the tiniest atom is the manifestation of the Divine”. Put differently, Hinduism does not believe or accept that God has granted man dominion over the world of nature. Nature in all its aspects, animate and inanimate, is sacred. lt is not the secular asset of man. Thus Hinduism is centered on deep environmental and ecological consciousness.

Other Eastern traditions namely Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Taoism, and Shintoism are also rooted in and build environmental consciousness. 

     7. The Hindu Vision on ecology and environment is found in all Indic religions (religions which originated in India) and also in many other Eastern religions. Deep environmental and ecological consciousness is not an intellectual idea. It is an abiding reverence for Nature. lt is a spiritual Value, not merely a religious tenet. Many ancient cultures all over the world have a similar orientation. All of them see the five fundamental elements of Nature, earth, water, air, fire, and space. According to them, as in Hinduism, humans and their environment emanated from the same source, the Divine, and are interrelated. So, according to them, are the five basic elements of Nature mentioned earlier. To illustrate:

    1. Isavasya Upanishad: as already mentioned, the Divine is immanent in every tiniest atom of this Universe; 
    2. Kalachakra Tantra: this ancient Buddhist sacred Text s the Kalachakra (the Time god) declares emphatically, “through the power of Time, air, fire, water, earth, islands, hills, oceans, constellations, moon, sun, stars, planets, the fourfold animal origins, human beings and infernal beings have all been created”; 
    3. Achara Sutra: this Jain sacred Text says, “the five elements of earth, water, air, fire and space are not lifeless matter; they have soul”; 
    4. Guru Granth Sahib: this Sikh sacred Text says, “the five elements of earth, water, air, fire and space and all living beings are, O God, only thee!”; 
    5. Taishang huado dushi xianjing, the Taoist scripture says, “Tao is the Mother of Heaven and Earth and of Yin-Yang. and the origin of the Five Agents and of the myriad Beings. Man and all other Beings are born from the same primordial Breath (aiS so that all Beings emanate from Tao and obtain their essence from Tao”;
    6. Shinto Belief regards the land, its nature and all creatures including the human, are children of Kami (the Divine). Therefore there exist Kami of Rain, Kami of Wind, Kami of Mountain, Kami of Ocean, Kamiof River, Kamiof Thunder”.

  8. The entire spectrum of Eastern traditions converges on the view that the entire creation is the manifestation of the Divine. Man occupies no special status in Creation which plants, animals, water and wind do not. Thus the Asian philosophies of Life clearly different from others that set apart humanity from Nature conceptually.

The cultural anthropological traditions in Hinduism are eccentric (centered on Nature) and not anthropocentric (centered on man). 

9. The Hindu-Buddhist and other Indic philosophies of Life consider that humans and all other constituents of Nature share a common origin and share the common biological space. They do not consider humans as the crowning glory of biological hierarchy. Humans and Nature are interdependent and humans have a clear duty to protect and safeguard Nature as if it is a part of their own. This sense of duty is imbibed in several rituals prescribed about how to view and handle Nature. What is noteworthy is that these are not dead traditions.

10. The ancient sacred Hindu Texts-the Vedas, Upanishads, Smritis and Puranas-are still living traditions with millions following in varying degrees the rituals prescribed in them in their day to day’ life. These constitute the cultural anthropological traditions of India, which is a nest of family and community relations and continuities. These traditions do not conform to “modern” Western Sociology of Individualism.

11. The cultural traditions embedded in Hinduism seek to prevent environmental deviance by restraining environmental violations from within. These inner restraints are supplemented by external environmental Regulations. In contrast the modern anthropocentric models exclusively rely on external control and regulations.

12. The ancient Hindu Vedas, the spiritual dialogues and teachings comprised in the Upanishads and enchanting and instructive stories in the Puranas, all of which constitute the corpus of Hindu sacred Texts, regard the Ultimate Reality ( called by them as Brahman) or the unmanifest Eternity, as manifesting what is seen and perceived as universe, the world, and the five elements of Nature. All of them are an interrelated and inseparable part of the whole of Creation that includes humans. The thought, lifestyle and behavior of millions in India are deeply influenced by what these Texts expound.

13. The definition of Environment in the Environment Protection Law in India accords with the foregoing paragraphs. lt defined the environment as including “water, air, and land and the inter-relationship which exists among and between water, air, land and human beings, other living creatures, plants, microorganisms and ‘property’”.

14. The following Hindu Statement on Global Climate Change should be construed not only as a statement on behalf of what is now generally known as Hindu religion, culture and civilization. lt includes and encompasses whatever, wherever and in whichever religions and cultures the aforementioned Hindu approach to Nature and Environment are to be found.

Statement on behalf of Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha 

In the context of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference and with the foregoing exposition based on primary supporting references detailed in the Annex to this Declaration, the Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha appeals to all religious leaders and political heads to, 

  • go back to the ancient roots of reverence for Nature prevalent in all ancient societies and still in vogue among many societies and communities of the world as a living tradition: 
  • recognize and declare that traditional culture and faith are social capital which protect environment and ecological assets of the concerned communities and of the world; 
  • interpret religious texts and secular laws to view forests, wild animals, trees and plants, rivers and mountains, earth and fire, air and sky as manifestations of the Divine and not as secular assets for indiscriminate exploitation for human consumption, satisfaction and life; 
  • promote among peoples of the world deep ecological and environmental consciousness in place of shallow ecology based on consumption, leveraging on the traditional reverence for Nature, in all its aspects; 

Modify and adapt the education and training systems to rebuild the sentimental and emotional relationship with Nature and to promote deep ecological consciousness in all people; 

  • Stop ridiculing ancient societies and peoples as “backward” and “animistic” but hold dialogue with them to understand their belief systems as they have relevance to today’s problems; . 
  • Understand the value of vegetarian food habit and its contribution to ecology and environment; 
  • .Promote mutual respect among religions, not merely ‘tolerance’, restrict religious conversion only by genuine choice and without enticement or coercion or fraud of any sort and ban transnational religion-based funding, in accord with the 2008 Faith in Human Rights statement of all religious leaders at The Hague on December 10, 2008; and 
  • Emphasize human duties as much as human rights in matters connected with community traditions so that the human rights paradigm does not result in the destruction of the traditional base of communities. 
  • Signed on behalf of the Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha by Acharya members and by the National Secretary of the Acharya Sabha: 

1 According to a three-decade long Study by Prof. R.f .Rummel of Hawaii University on violence of humans against humans.
2 The Sabha took birth in 2002 and it holds conclaves periodically in different parts of India. It engaged in a comprehensive dialogue with |judaism, an ancient  Abrahamic Faith tradition. It helped in reaching clarity on several basic issues and in eliminating some common misconceptions about Hinduism. 
3 In this Vision of creation and existence, Hinduism is very different from other major traditions-for example, the declaration and belief that God created man in his image, “to fill the earth and subdue it; bear rule over the fish of sea; over birds of the air and over every living moving creature on earth”. 
4 For example, the social philosophy that plants, animals and humans must coexist as interdependent on each other was behind village people in India (Chipko movement) insisting on hot cutting trees for purposes of construction and willing to be killed for protecting the trees and forests. This bottom-up approach to environmental protection is the outcome of environmental consciousness in society over many centuries.

Copyright © 2023 Powered by Temple Connect. All Rights Reserved.