The Hindu society still survives despite having faced so many invasions and persistent onslaughts for centuries. When we go deeper into the reasons for our survival, we find that our lifestyle, cultural traditions, family samskars, values, thinking about the individual nature rooted in spiritual and religious moorings have been the major strength, which helped us in facing all the onslaughts. We have been taught that the God is omnipresent—He is in all the things around us. We regard this land as our mother, respect birds and animals, and revere trees, plants, etc. Majority of the persons born in this land—whether the educated or the illiterate—emulate these traditions without asking for any scientific logic.
We have recognised trees and plants as integral part of our life. That is why we worship them in different forms of God. The belief that Kalpvriksha grants one’s all wishes has been here for centuries. It basically connects us with the nature in its entirety. That is why there is no permission for cutting trees in our culture. We also teach our children not to touch trees or pluck flowers in the night, as we believe they also sleep in the night. This tradition is being followed from time immemorial and all such samskars are passed on from one generation to the other.
Similarly, we respect all living creatures in the universe. Naming all the living creatures Ramdas Swami writes in Dasbodh that the house we built for ourselves belongs to them (living creatures) also. The house we constructed for ourselves has different kinds of insects, creatures, etc. and we do not cause any harm to them. It is not our culture to kill them, instead our culture teaches us to protect us from them. Kamdhenu represents all living creatures. We don’t know whether there was any Kamdhenu or not, but everybody believes that Kamdhenu is the divine creature that grants all the wishes. We have an integral relation with Kamdhenu and Kalpvriksha. The samskars that we all should respect them are instilled into us through various festivals, traditions and customs of our culture.
We call the land our mother. When we call it mother, we have to ensure that it is not polluted. We regard all the big or small rivers as gods and goddesses and it is our bounden duty to keep their flow perenially clean. Even answering to the call of nature on the bank of a river is forbidden. People go for it in forests or fields. These traditions are followed by one and all. All the things belonging to the universe are parts of human life and are respected and worshipped because of their importance as well as the contribution in our life. Efforts are always made to keep these traditions alive.
Undoubtedly, the modern age influenced everything around us deviating a section from among us from such traditions. Since we could not cite the scientific logics behind all the beliefs we could not withstand the debates and finally many people not only renounced them but also started harming them. As the field of science grew, the damage to nature and living creatures increased manifold. This is the reason for the imbalance we witness today in the human life and nature. All our thinking was based on restrained consumption. Exploitation or causing any harm to soil was never the idea behind our farming activities. There are still many festivals that teach us how to protect soil, nature and animals and other living creatures. The festival known as Gopashtami is about revering the animals. In certain states, the oxen are still worshipped on a particular day. Farmers adorn them and pay reverence to them. An animal may not understand what adoration means, but it is our esteemed feeling towards them. Similarly, people have high regard for the cow. This reverence is still in their heart but practically they do not follow it. There is difference between preaching and following. This is the reason behind the present deplorable condition of the cow today.
In order to meet the foodgrain demands of the burgeoning population, we shifted from the concept of milking to exploitation. Everybody wants the maximum out of something, not as much as is required. It is the most unforgiving curse of the modern age. All the scientific researches resulted in more exploitation of nature. We crossed all limits in exploitation of the soil, nature and animals. We neglected animals and thought of becoming self-reliant with the help of science. We shifted from animal-based farming to the mechanised farming, which made the soil more contaminated and infertile. The progress that had been expected through the mechanised farming appears to have reached its saturation point and now it has started plummeting. The fertility of soil is decreasing and cost of production is increasing. Efforts are being made to keep the fertility of soil intact with the use of more chemical fertilizers. One could have understood it, if chemical fertilizers had the capacity to increase the fertility of soil permanently. But, the fact is that farmers need to increase the quantity of fertilizers every year and thus have deeply indulged in exploitation of soil. As a result, a large part of the farming land is on the verge of becoming barren. All the farmers using chemical fertilizers in states like Punjab now realise this, where water resources are disappearing. Chemical fertilizers not only killed soil’s fertility-friendly worms—but also brought down the ground water level. Water, which is available, too is polluted. The problem of drinking water is fast becoming a major challenge. The water we get for drinking is not potable.
There is an urgent need to educate the people on all these issues. Only then shall we be truly able to say Vande Mataram, or describe this land as sujalam sufalam. There is no reason to say that the time has gone out of hands. If we start moving back even today the imbalance can be rectified and the human life can become safe. It is beyond any argument that there should be sufficient foodgrains for the increasing population, as it is the minimum requirement of the people. Research should be conducted to increase it. We are not against modernity, but are against the mentality that is causing damage to our panch tatvas. The safety of all the five tatvas—fire, soil, water, sky and wind—is essential for the entire humankind. It is not the problem of Bharat alone, but of the whole world. It is good that people world over have started realising it.
Since the model of sustainable development has been developed and practically followed in India for centuries, only Bharat can lead the world in this mission. Hence, it is the duty of all the policymakers, scientists and the common man to return to their roots and start following the rich traditions of this land. This is the only way to come out of the present disastrous situation.
The discussion on rural development is not a new issue. But this discussion should not be garrulous but ought to bring out something cogent and perpetual. This dream has been seen by all our great personalities including Mahatma Gandhi and others. But this is also a fact that we ourselves overlooked their messages. We have invited many problems in the blind pursuit of materialistic and economic development. It is high time we kept ourselves away from that blind race and resolved to protect the soil. When we talk about protection of soil, we know that it is not possible without the protection of the cow. A limit has to be laid down for mechanised farming and for the use of chemical fertilizers. Our overall farming has today become paravalambi (dependent on others) and we are fast moving towards degradation. Scientists need to conduct earnest and intense studies to show the countrymen what damage the Green Revolution has done to the nation. We hope the scientists of the country will pay attention to it and will find solutions to the problems we are facing today. Only then shall we be able to present an apt example of sustainable farming based on the cow, water harvesting, and healthy relation with all living creatures, before the whole world. All the countrymen need to contribute in this endeavour as per their capacity.
(The writer is Sarkaryavah of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.)