Book Name: Hinduism and Nature
Author: Nanditha Krishnan
Publisher: Penguin Random House India
Book Blurb: The basis of Hinduism is dharma or righteousness, incorporating duty, cosmic law and justice. Five thousand years ago, the Vedas showed a clear appreciation of the natural world and its ecology, the importance of the environment and the management of natural resources.
Hinduism and Nature delves into the religion’s deep respect for all life forms, the forests and trees, rivers and lakes, animals and mountains, which are all manifestations of divinity. Nature is venerated all over India: every village has a sacred grove, every temple a sacred garden and sacred tree. In this fascinating book, scholar and environmentalist Nanditha Krishna explores both the classical and the tribal traditions that venerated nature and convincingly argues that we can save the environment only by seeking answers in ancient wisdom.
Review: All religions advocate a close relationship with nature and linkages with nature and its varied forms are found in many religious scriptures. Many aspects of Hinduism evolved from nature worship and Nanditha Krishnan in this scholarly work delves deeply into these synergies between Hinduism and Nature.
Any book on religion requires a lot of research and Nanditha has carefully placed material providing contemporary examples of religious practices prevalent today.
In the name of modernization, even good practices of religion are being discarded which is perhaps a worrying sign. Perhaps, works like these can help us in reminding how religion can be a positive force and help in preserving our environment.
“The verses of the Vedas express a deep sense of communion of man with God.”
The book discusses and starts with a discussion on sacred groves.
“In Himanchal Pradesh, the local myths and legends associated with sacred groves protect them.”
There is a discussion on divine waters where the major sacred rivers of India have been discussed. The sanctity provided to such rivers and water bodies also helped in their conservation. While this may not be true for the Ganga but the river Narmada, widely revered in Madhya Pradesh has escaped pollution and this is primarily because of the sacredness of the river. It is one of the few rivers where the practice of circumambulation is still prevalent and lakhs of pilgrims can be spotted each year worshipping the river Narmada.
The book is fairly well researched but is a bit bland and bereft of anecdotes and personal experiences. It is more of a scholarly work relying far more than necessary on research and texts. A book should be a book and not a research paper.
I remember reading a similar work, “Where Gods Dwell” by the same publisher where the author discusses the Gods of Uttarakhand and it was much more refreshing because of the personal experiences of the author.
Anyhow, it is still a book worth reading and has a lot of information which may not be known to all readers.