Home > Newsletters > GreenFriends Q3 2021 Newsletter

Home Source Reduction Friends of Green Friends Newsletters
Gardening Resources What You Can Do Contact Us
An Excerpt from the Booklet 'Man and Nature'
Comprised of Amma’s Answers to Questions on Nature
Amma smiling

Question: What part does religion play in the relationship between man and Nature?

Amma: "It is religion that helps a person to maintain the awareness that he or she is not separate from Nature. Without religion mankind loses that awareness. Religion teaches us to love Nature. In truth, the progress and prosperity of mankind depend solely on the good which man does for Nature. Religion helps to maintain a harmonious relationship between human beings, between the individual and society, and between man and Nature.

The relationship between man and Nature is like the relationship between Pindanada (the microcosm) and Brahmananda (the macrocosm). Our great ancestors understood this. That is why they gave so much importance to Nature worship in religious practices. The idea behind all religious acharam (practices) was to closely associate human beings with Nature. By establishing a loving relationship between man and Nature, they ensured both the balance of Nature and the progress of the human race.

By establishing a loving relationship between man and Nature, they ensured both the balance of Nature and the progress of the human race.

Look at a tree. It gives shade even to the person who cuts it down. It gives its sweet, delicious fruits to the person who harms it. But our attitude is completely different. When we plant a tree, or raise an animal, we are only concerned about the profit we will make from it. If the animal ceases to make a profit, we will have it destroyed without delay. As soon as the cow stops producing milk, we will sell it to the butcher in order to make money. If a tree stops yielding fruit, we will cut it down and make furniture or something else from it.

Selfishness reigns supreme. (Today) selfless love cannot be found anywhere. But our ancestors were not like this. They knew that trees, plants and animals were absolutely necessary for the benefit and good of humans. They foresaw that man, in his selfish moments, would forget Nature, and would cease to have any concern for her. They also knew that future generations would suffer, due to man’s disassociation from Nature. They therefore linked each religious rite with Nature. Thus, through religious principles, they could succeed in developing an emotional bond between man and Nature. The Ancients loved and worshipped trees and plants, such as the banyan tree, bilva and tulasi, not because the trees bore fruit and helped them to make a profit, but because the Ancients knew that they themselves in truth were one with all of Nature.

Religion teaches man to love the entire Creation. Some people mock religion saying that it is mere blind belief; yet it is generally found that the actions of such people do greater harm to Nature than those who believe in God. It is the religious minded people, not these so-called intellectuals, who protect, preserve and love Nature. There are some people who, by quoting modern scientific theories, are always trying to prove that whatever religion teaches is wrong. The truth is that the reverence and devotion that human beings develop through their religious faith are always beneficial, both to humanity and to Nature.

Religion teaches us to worship God within Nature. Through the stories of Sri Krishna’s life, the tulasi (basil) plant and the cow have become very dear to the people of India, who lovingly protect and look after them. In times past, there would be a pond and a small grove of trees adjoining every house in India. Each home had a tulasi plant growing in the front yard. Tulasi leaves are highly medicinal. The leaves won’t decay, even if plucked and kept for several days; the medicinal potency remains. Part of the daily routine in those days was to water the tulasi plant every morning, bowing down with reverence and devotion in front of it, worshipping it as an embodiment of the Goddess. This was the traditional way of reverence and worship which the Indians also showed to other trees, such as the banyan, the bilva and the fig.

The medicinal value of tulasi leaves, which was known to the ancients rishis eons ago, has now been proven through modern scientific experiments. But the question is, do scientists and others who have discovered the medicinal value of the tulasi and other sacred plants, show the same love and reverence toward Nature as the Ancients did, who were inspired by their religious faith? Is it not religious faith which helps to protect and preserve Nature, rather than the knowledge obtained through modern science?

Suppose you have ten seeds. Consume nine of them if you want, but let at least one seed remain for planting. Nothing should be destroyed completely. If you receive a hundred dollars from a harvest, at least ten dollars should be given to charity.

Top

The scriptures of India teach that a householder should perform the pancha yajnas, or five daily sacrifices. The first of these is the deva yajna, or worshipping of God, the Supreme Power, which is to be done with devotion and to the best of one’s ability. Next comes rishi yajna, or the adoration of the sages. The ancient God-Realized sages did not allow their unique experiences to vanish into oblivion. Out of compassion for humanity, they passed them on in the form of scriptures and other sacred writings. A devout study and practice of the scriptural teachings constitute this sacrifice. The third is pitru yajna. This consists of showing respect and rendering service towards one’s parents and elders. It also includes thinking holy and auspicious thoughts for the welfare of one’s departed ancestors. Fourth comes nara yajna, or service rendered to mankind. This includes all forms of selfless service, such as feeding the poor and serving the sick and the aged. Bhuta yajna is the last sacrifice; it is to serve all living beings as embodiments of the Universal Being. This is done through the feeding of and caring for the animal kingdom and the plants. In olden days family members never ate before feeding their domestic birds and animals. They would also water their plants and trees before eating. In those days, worshipping Nature and natural phenomenon were part and parcel of human life. People were always eager to please Nature in gratitude for her kind gifts. Bhuta yajna brings about the consciousness of the unity of all life. Through these rituals and sacrifices, human beings learn to live in harmony with society and Nature.

More than the knowledge of modern science, it is the deeper understanding of religion, the truth of the oneness of all Creation, which teaches humans to love Nature, and to develop a sense of reverence and devotion to all. The love that religion teaches is not the kind of love which a gross intellect can understand. It is that of the heart. It can only be imbibed by a person who is endowed with a subtle intellect born out of faith.

If there is a policeman in a village, fewer thefts will occur because people fear him. Similarly, reverence and devotion to God help to maintain dharma, or right conduct, in society. By truly imbibing the principles of religion, and by observing the prescribed customs, people can avoid committing mistakes. Those who declare that religion is merely a collection of blind beliefs will not spare even a moment in order to try to understand the scientific principles behind religious practices. Modern science can produce rain by spraying silver iodide in the clouds. However, the water from such unnaturally caused rain may not be completely pure.

The scriptures, on the other hand, prescribe certain ritual sacrifices that will bring rain. The wise ones know that the purity of rain water obtained through these means is far superior to water obtained through unnatural methods, such as cloud seeding.

In a similar manner, a very beneficial change both for Nature and for human beings can be brought about by offering prescribed ingredients into the sacrificial fire. All such sacrifices and rituals help to restore the lost harmony and balance of Nature. Just as ayurvedic herbs and plants cure physical diseases, the smoke that emanates from the sacrificial fire, in which ingredients of medicinal value are offered, purifies the atmosphere. Burning incense, lighting oil lamps, offering pure food in a sacrificial fire, or to God, also helps cleanse the atmosphere. The side effects of such rituals will not create as much pollution as chlorine and the disinfectants which are used for purifying water and destroying germs. The smoke that comes from the sacrificial fire also helps to cleanse the respiratory system, by removing the mucus and phlegm that block the air passages.

Modern science says that it is harmful to look directly at the sun during a solar eclipse. The same cautionary advice was given by the ancient rishis eons ago. Using a primitive but effective method, they only looked at the sun’s image reflected in water, in which cow dung had been dissolved.

By protecting and preserving wild and domestic animals, trees and plants, we are protecting and preserving Nature. The Ancients worshipped the cow and the earth, including them amongst the five mothers (pancha matas). The five mothers were: deha-mata - the biological mother, desamata - the motherland, bhumata - Mother Earth, vedamata - the Vedas, and gomata - the cow. To our ancestors, the cow was not just a four-legged creature, but a sacred animal which was worshipped as a form of the Mother (the Goddess).

No religion can exist disassociated from Nature. Religion is the link that binds mankind to Nature. Religion removes the ego in man, enabling him to know and experience his oneness with Nature.

Amma picks up litter

Amma picks up litter

Read about Amritaculture's sustainable gardening in the Q3 2021 newsletter >>

Top

Home Source Reduction Friends of Green Friends Newsletters Resources What You Can Do Contact Us


For more information, e-mail info@greenfriendsna.org