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Hindu - Advaita

Photo by Abhik Deb/Indian Photo Agency (InPA)

Hindu - Advaita

Hindu devotee offers prayers to the Sun God

Hindu devotees offer prayers to the Sun God while standing in a body of water, on the occasion of Chhath Puja festival in Agartala, Tripura, India. The rituals of the festival are rigorous and are observed over a period of four days. They include holy bathing, fasting and abstaining from drinking water (Vratta), standing in water for long periods of time, and offering prashad (prayer offerings) to the setting and rising sun.

Supreme Lord, let there be peace in the sky and in the atmosphere. Let there be peace in the plant world and in the forests. Let the cosmic powers be peaceful. Let the Brahman, the true essence and source of life, be peaceful. Let there be undiluted and fulfilling peace everywhere.

Prayer from the Atharva Veda, one of Hinduism’s most sacred texts

Advaita and Nature

by Anantanand Rambachan

Advaita is one of the traditions within Hinduism. It talks about non-separation of the self from the universal spirit. They are ‘not two’. (Editor's note)

Dualistic traditions, in general, propose a radical distinction between self and world/nature, spirit and matter. The distinctions are hierarchical since self is identified with spirit/consciousness and considered superior to inert matter/nature. Nature is the realm of mortality and change, while spirit is accorded a higher value since it is immortal and unchanging. In searching for alternative philosophical viewpoints that overcome such dualisms, affirm the intrinsic worth of nature, and offer grounds for a positive relationship between man and nature, many have commended the Advaita tradition of Hinduism.

The Advaita teaching about the fundamental ontological unity of God, world and humanity is interpreted as promoting a reverence and value for nature that is conducive to sound environmental ethics. In the words of S. Cromwell Crawford, “The cosmic vision of Hinduism sees humans as an intrinsic part of nature. The fabric of life has many special strands, and human beings are special in their own rights by virtue of their moral character; but this does not place them outside nature or above nature. Distinction, not separation is the hallmark of the Hindu view of the position of human in nature. The unitive thinking of Hinduism aligns it with a “deep ecology” which places people in nature, as opposed to a “shallow ecology” which is anthropocentric and which ascribes Homo Sapiens a position of dominance and superiority over nature.”

This unitive view is understood as engendering respect for nature and excluding its heedless exploitation since the desacralization of nature and its destruction are related to seeing ourselves as separate and distinct from nature.

Supreme Lord, let there be peace in the sky and in the atmosphere. Let there be peace in the plant world and in the forests. Let the cosmic powers be peaceful. Let the Brahman, the true essence and source of life, be peaceful. Let there be undiluted and fulfilling peace everywhere.

Prayer from the Atharva Veda, one of Hinduism’s most sacred texts