This Doddamma Devi shrine is located under a Banyan tree in Dinnepalya village, outside Bangalore. Many Hindu shrines are found beneath both the Banyan and the Pipal tree. The sacred grove is seen as an important spiritual and ecological symbol.
Photo by Shabin Paul
RAISING ENVIRONMENTAL CONSCIOUSNESS
The ‘Culture and Ecology’ theme attempts both to describe and understand the complex and plural values and ethics, which impregnate the different cultural and religious traditions of India and help them face the ecological challenges that lie ahead. India of the 21st century remains a deeply religious and spiritual country with a population of more than 1.2 billion persons. Both traditional and modern beliefs and values affect the consciousness of its different peoples.
In global terms, India is emerging as the world’s third largest polluter, after China and the United States of America. This is a cause of great concern, not only to Indians, but also to the whole world. India’s different cultural and religious traditions can play a significant role, as to modern science and ethics, to reverse this worrying trend.
The Dalai Lama, who lives in India, said: “The environment is very important not only for this generation but also for future generations. If we exploit the environment in extreme ways, even though we may get some money or other benefit from it now, in the long run we ourselves will suffer and future generations as well. When the environment changes, climatic conditions also change. When they change dramatically, the economy and many other things change as well. Even our physical health will be greatly affected. So this is not merely a moral question but also a question of our own survival.”
‘Culture and Ecology’ brings together contributions from Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh and Buddhist traditions. It also carries contributions that are drawn from cultural perspectives. All of them address the role of culture and religions in dealing with the ecological crisis we are facing. Each contribution is accompanied by a photograph, a citation and a further reflection that develops de topic.