Indian spiritual leaders go green
Alarming environmental problems like global warming, ozone depletion, lowering of water table, prevention of pollution, conservation of natural resources
etc. have created environmental challenge for future survival of life. Reformatory, commendable works are being done at
individual and organisational level in the country for restoration, conservation and protection of environmental. Indian spiritual
leaders are using their wide reach to promote green causes, using the fact that preservation of natural elements is at the country's spiritual core.
Akal Takht urges Sikhs to save the environment
Akal Takhat, the highest Sikh temporal body has embraced the save-the-environment mantra, telling Sikhs across the globe that is
their moral and religious duty to take care of nature. Akal Takhat Jathedar Gurbchan Singh gave a religious call to the community on
July 26, 2009, saying Sikhs should now focus on cleaning the natural water resources rather than spending more money on new gurudwaras.
"Wherever in the world you (Sikhs) may be, your focus should now be on cleaning the natural water resources reather than
building gurudwaras," he said in a function on the ninth
anniversary of the cleaning of Kali Bein, a polluted river in Kapurthala district. The Kali Bein, which flows through Sultanpur Lodhi, was
cleaned in an initiative by the Akal Tahhat jathedar through community participation.
Religious add "green" vow to consecrated life
Heads of Catholic Religious congregations in India have decided to
let environmental concerns shape their lifestyle and activities on Monday, October
01, 2009 They have resolved to examine the moral and religious imperatives in their
lifestyle including “insensitive use of natural resources” and a tendency to destroy habitable lands in the name of development.
Based on this, they will strive for “a more habitable earth for all species of nature.”
“Greening consecrated life is the most demanding theme, and it has to be
incorporated into every aspect of religious life,” the leaders said in a document issued on Oct. 1 by the Conference of Religious (CRI), the national
association of Religious major superiors.Some 550 general and provincial superiors attended CRI’s Sept. 27-Oct. 2
national assembly on the theme, “Toward harmonious India.” It cited soil contamination through non-degradable plastic and pesticides, air
pollution and deforestation as serious threats to the environment. Conversely, the need today is to search for
God dwelling “inside every reality of nature,” they continued. Therefore, people who dedicate their life to God
should be taught that religious activity includes environmental preservation and
conservation. “Ecological spirituality is religious spirituality,” the document asserts.
The Religious leaders pledged their support for government environmental
initiatives and their intention to get involved in projects such as reforestation.
They also want congregation members to reduce consumption of electricity, fuel
and water, start nature walks and nature meditations, and give eco-friendly gifts to friends and benefactors.
Another recommendation is for Religious to spread awareness by introducing
environmental studies in their schools ecological themes in camps and other special programs they run for students.
Spiritual head of Drukpa
padyatra to clean Himalayan villages
The 12th Gyalwang Drukpa, spiritual head of Drukpa lineage, embarked n padyatra with 750 monks, nuns and other disciples from Manali to Leh
to spread awareness about the hazards of non-
biodegradable waste and treatment of kerosene burns, a common domestic accident in Himalayan villages. The walk ended on July
1, 2009. The group crossed five Himalayan passes at an altitude of over 5,300 metres
The Drukpa and his disciples visited more than 30 villages educating and encouraging more than 1,50,000 villagers on environment
conservation and the need to ‘say no to plastic bags’ — a campaign
he launched during this yatra. "Pamphlets and canvas bags were distributed to the villagers along the way to discourage the use of
plastic," says Lynne Chiang from Malaysia who walked the distance. Along with the awareness drive, they cleaned the mountains they
crossed. A hefty yield of plastic bottles, chewing gum wrappers, carbonated drink cans, tobacco wrapping papers and washing soap
papers was the garbage collected.
The Drukpa also laid importance on sustainable livelihoods,
healthcare and conservation of heritage and education that balances the modern with traditional culture. The Drukpa’s was easily one of the biggest contingents ever attempting such a trek.
"Thirty-eight trekkers and cooks followed the group with 320 mules that carried the supplies, including oxygen tanks, medical tent, cooking
utensils, gas and backpacks," says Lynne.
The padyatra of this group that belongs to the Mahayana sect of Buddhism started on May 23 from Khardang
Monastery in Himachal Pradesh and ended with a feast offering ceremony at Hemis Monastry in Ladakh. The two-day celebration marked the birth anniversary of Buddhist guru
Padmasambhava, commemorating the victory of good overevil. A 400km walk in the Himalayas over six weeks to raise
awareness on environmental issues yielded a collection of 60,000 waste plastic bottles, 10,000 chewing-gum wrappers and 5,000 carbonated drink cans.
Campaign to clean the Ganga
Baba Ramdev is leading a campaign to clean the Ganga from its source in Gangotri to Ganga Sagar where it drains into the Bay of Bengal. He is working under the banner of Ganga Raksha
Manch. "The government has granted the Ganga national heritage status after our efforts for almost a year," the seer said.
Ramdev, along with representatives of at least 25 religious organisations, is also opposing
unplanned industrialisation along the river. The Ganga - the ninth longest river in the world - is
contaminated almost throughout its 2,500-km course. The campaign has managed to mobilise nearly 700,000 youths at the district level.
Protection of environment and mitigating the effects of global warming also tops the agenda of spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar of the Art of Living, which has a global following.
"The only way to check environment pollution is to spread awareness.
The seer, who hosted a national environment summit in his retreat in 2008, has been campaigning against global warming and
agri-pollution by promoting "organic farming", plantations and traditional farm technologies.Youngsters identify with the campaign, says the guru, whose Art of Living Foundation headquarters on the outskirts
of Bangalore is a model for sustainable ecological conservation and traditional farming.
Mystic and yoga expert Jaggi Vasudev, head of the Isha Foundation, a spiritual organisation in Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu, is known as a global tree planter.
His foundation entered the Guinness Book of World Records in 2006 for an eco-conservation campaign, "Project Greenhand",
which has planted 7.5 million trees in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Most of the foundation's members are young
Shankaracharya, Puri peeth, Swami Nischalanand Saraswati
participated in the special worshipping of Ganga organised by Ganga Mahasabha on the occasion, a special Dugdhabhishek
to pay tribute to the sacred river. Ganga Mahasabha also organised a meeting where senior scientists and environmentalists including Prof U K
Choudhary, coordinator of Ganga Research Centre, Banaras Hindu University, Prof Veerbhadra
Mishra, president, Sankat Mochan Foundation and noted environmentalist Prof G D Agrawal participated to share the woes of Ganga with Puri
Shankaracharya. The Ganga Research Centre, BHU, has also organised one-day national workshop on Critical-Mass concept for minimum flow in the river to mark its 24th annual day
Puri Shankaracharya asks Centre to do more to protect Ganga
on June 2, 2009 and threatened to launch an agitation if the Centre fails to act on time to protect river
Ganga. Speaking in a seminar at Varanasi to protect the holy river, Puri Shankaracharya
Swami Nishchalanand Saraswati warned the Centre that if it fails to act on time to protect river Ganga then Hindus would"come on roads"to force the
government to do more.