……the poet T. S. Eliot, “the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”
Indian consciousness is full of trees and forests. If you look, for example, in Greek literature, you will find only a few descriptions of trees and forests, whereas Indian literature such as Ramayana and Mahabharata is full of such description, as if people were always under the trees.
At the outset of the nineteenth century India was well-endowed with thick forest land. To meet the British Empire’s needs during the nineteenth century, the forests were gradually nationalized and the Indian Forestry Department set up to exploit them. From the beginning of the century large areas of virgin forest were felled, mainly to supply the expanding British shipbuilding industry. After the arrival of the railway in India in 1853, further vast amounts of timber were required for sleepers and for fueling locomotives. Later, when coal replaced timber as a fuel, the coalmines themselves needed large quantities of timber for their underground galleries. Exploitation continued, and even as late as the second World War, the war effort required the felling of 6,326 square miles of previously untouched Indian forest.
…..In essence, these laws took India’s forests out of the hands of local people. Villagers were denied rights to what had always been theirs. Because the basic connection between village and forest was brokem, the tradition of caring for trees, of respecting and even worshipping them, faded away.
The air is his breath, the trees are the hairs of his body,
The oceans his waist, the hills and mountains are his bones.
The rivers are the veins of the Cosmic person, his movements
are the passing of ages.
- Srimad Bhagavatam
The incessant search for material comforts and their multiplication is an evil. I make bold to say that the Europeans will have to remodel their outlook, if they are not to perish under the weight of the comforts to which they are becoming slaves.
- M. K. Gandhi, from Young India
Gandhi said that he was not against the idea of a machine as such; after all, the human body itself is the most delicate machine. ….. “What I object to,” he said,
…is the craze for what they call labor-saving machinery. Men go on “saving labor” till thousands are without work and thrown on the open streets to die of starvation. ……Today machinery merely helps a few to ride on the backs of all.
Excerpts from Thomas Macauley’s “Education Minute”
“[No Orientalist] could deny that a single shelf of a good European library is worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia….all the historical information which has been collected from all the books written in the Sanskrit language is less valuable than what may be found in the most paltry abridgements used at preparatory schools in England. The question now before us is simply whether, when it is in our power to teach the [English] language, we shall teach languages in which….there are no books on any subject which deserve to be compared to our own ….whether, when we can patronize sound philosophy and true history, we shall countenance at the public expense medical doctrines which would disgrace an English farrier, astronomy which would move laughter in girls at an English boarding school, history abounding with kings thirty feet high and reigns thirty thousand years long, and geography made up of seas of treacle and rivers of butter. The great object of the British government ought to be the promotion of English literature and science among the natives of India.”
Balbir Mathur …..he devised a list of basic conditions: the trees must give nutricious fruit; they must grow quickly and give fruit within one year; they must be easy to look after and grow in poor soil; and they must be able to fit in a confined space. To meet these conditions he came up with a shortlist of five trees: lemon, papaya, banana, drumstick and falsa.
The whole stretch of the Yamuna from Delhi to Agra, which includes Vrindavan, has now been declared unfit for drinking and bathing. This strikes at the heart of Vrindavan’s culture. Water from the Yamuna is used to bathe the deities of Krishna in the temples and is taken as a purifying drink
One should not cause urine, stool or mucus to enter water. Anything mixed with thes unholy substances, or with blood or poison, should never be thrown into water
The fact that Vrindavan is bounded on all sides by contaminated water – the Yamuna on one side and sewage on all others – is a deep injury to its well-being and its function as a place of purification and revitalization. ….How could this situation have come about? …..Satish Kumar points out …..that for nearly two hundred years Indians have been estranged from their own culture by English education. They have been encouraged to think in Western ways and to value the things that the West values. Their own traditional values have been marginalized. In many cases they no longer know what those values were or why they were held because those things are no longer taught.
One who is undisturbed by the flow of desires, as the ocean is unmoved by the incessant flow of rivers, finds peace.
- Bhagavad Gita