Friday, January 25, 2008

Voices From The Past: Prithvi and Pralaya

25 Jan 2008, SM BHASKER

"Vedic man looked on the natural environment as a world of spiritual reality. The earth and its creatures including trees and forests, rivers and oceans, rocks and mountains, and the world beyond the stars and the skies, all appeared to him as powerful and resonating with spirit."

The universal cataclysm, Maha-pralaya, is vividly described in the Vishnu Purana: "After a drought lasting many years, seven blazing suns will appear in the firmament; they will drink up all the waters. Then the wind-driven fire will sweep over the earth, consuming all things; penetrating to the nether world it will destroy what is there in a moment; it will burn up the universe..." The Bhagavata Purana says the "age of destruction is so horrible that there is no rainfall for one hundred years. People have no food to eat and are compelled to eat one another. Overpowered by what is wrought by time, men gradually lead themselves to utter destruction". Questions about nature involve questions about values. How exactly does one transform sustainable growth into a new global, holistic ethic? Whatever the outcome of current debates, it is clear that the past reverberates in the whole ecological and environmental discourse. In order to salvage the basis for ecological responsibility and to redeem our faith in humanity's own worth, we may once more be prepared to listen to and open our minds to voices from the past.

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