Hinduism is an incredibly diverse religion that expresses, through many of its texts the complex relationship between the environment and humanity. The base teaching that the earth is the physical body of the goddess Devi, and the idea of reincarnation, gives the Hindu a different perspective of what "life" is, and what respecting earth beneath us is accomplishing. Most importantly, they perceive that our treatment of the world directly affects our karma, the positive and negative forces that affect our future.
Hindu villages of the past did not see nature as disconnected from their everyday lives. Yet they actively protect it in keeping with an important Hindu concept, dharma, or as it is often translated, "duty" or "virtue". For example, Nelson (1998) explains that, “many Hindu villages have a sacred lake, and around it a grove of trees to catch rainfall and protect the banks from erosion. The lake and its grove store rainfall to irrigate surrounding fields and supply village wells with drinking water”. These villages are performing dharma, and are not making what we in the west would call an attempt at environmental preservation. They simply respect and care for the environment and believe that the environment will in return, respect and care for them.
Hindus respect the environment because they believe in rebirth and reincarnation. A human being can be reincarnated into any animal, plant, or any form of life. The idea of rebirth reinforces their choice of a vegetarian diet. Most Hindus are vegetarian because they do not like inflicting pain (the concept of ahimsa) on an animal. Hindus believe that all things have souls and that all things have a right to life. To kill another living species is to not respect their sacre...
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...e part of our very being and it makes up our very bodies.
Chapple, C. (n.d.). hinduism, Jainism, and Ecology. Patheos. Retrieved September 10, 2011, from www.patheos.com/resources/additinal-resources/hinduism-jainism-and-ecology
Chapple, C. K., & Tucker, M. E. (2000). Hinduism and ecology: the intersection of earth, sky, and water. Cambridge, MA: Distributed by Harvard University Press for the Center for the Study of World Religions, Harvard Divinity School.
Hinduism and Ecology. (n.d.). Religion and Ecology. Retrieved September 9, 2011, from http://hollys7.tripod.com/religionandecology
Kittler, P. G., & Sucher, K. (2000). Cultural foods: traditions and trends. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thompson Learning.
Nelson, L. E. (1998). Purifying the earthly body of God religion and ecology in Hindu India. Albany, New York: State University Of New York Press