“Samudra-Vasane Devi Parvata-Stana-Mannddale | Vishnu-Patni Namas-Tubhyam Paada-Sparsham Kshamasva-Me”, an ancient prayer, which has been taught to children to recite an early morning shloka before they step out of bed. The shloka venerates Mother Earth, describing her beauty, and asks for forgiveness, as one is about to tread on her. Such has been the Vedic consciousness that has pervaded Bharatvarsha since time immemorial. Today, we should know better than to throw that plastic bag or that bottle out of the car and pollute our precious mother.
Life originated on this beautiful planet millions of years ago, like a mother she incubated the first organisms, thanks to the protective layer of her atmosphere, nourishing them with her vast oceans. If one follows Lord Vishnu’s dashavatar, we can trace the evolution from Matsya, the fish through to the dwarf-man, Vamana and then ultimately the modern human being, who has been put on top of the pyramid by Mother Nature.
But what has man done in return? Indiscriminate deforestation and an astronomical increase in greenhouse gases have caused the temperature of the earth to shoot up faster than any other time in history. The threat of global warming looms especially large for island cities like Mumbai, with some reports citing that the prestigious southern parts could be submerged as early as 2050.
When the asura Hiranyakshya attacked Mother Earth and plunged her into the deep ocean, Lord Vishnu incarnated as the Varaha Avatar. In his man-boar form, Lord Vishnu destroyed the demon and then rescued Bhudevi, bringing her out on his tusks and restored the cosmic balance, allowing life to once again flourish. Today, as our Earth faces a serious threat from several modern demons, the chief of which is our own endless greed, it’s time to act!
Awareness has an amazing ability to transform, and becoming conscious citizens is what this change starts with. The good news is we can start small, minimise our use of single-use plastics, be more conscientious with our use of water, electricity, and fuel, and do your little bit by planting a tree or contributing to an environmental conservation group that can do that on your behalf. So as we celebrate World Environment Day tomorrow, let us seek inspiration from the beautiful Bhoomi Sukta (Atharva Veda) and pledge to protect our Earth-Mother, she who extends unimpeded freedom to us humans, through her mountains, slopes, and plains.