NATURE IN HINDU-TTVA

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The Hindu view of nature is based upon the Vedas, Upanishads and Vedanta and their philosophical views, as well as Hindu devotional and ritualistic practices. According to Hindu thought, there is no separation between the Divine and the world of nature. They are the two aspects of the same reality. The cosmic reality is one like the ocean. Nature or the manifest world is like the waves on the surface of the sea. Brahman or the unmanifest Absolute is like the depths of the sea. But it is all water, all the same single ocean.

Ultimately for the Hindu as the Upanishads say, “Everything is Brahman,” Sarvam Khalvidam Brahma. This does not mean that the informed Hindu mindlessly worships the forces of nature on an outer level out of superstition and fear. The Hindu perceives a Divine and sacred presence working behind the forms of nature as their inner spirit, which is the real object of their adoration.

The sacred presence of Brahman, or the Supreme Divine Reality, is there in God, what is called Ishvara or the cosmic lord in Hindu thought. Yet it is also present in the soul or reincarnating entity, what is called the Jiva as our higher Self. And, it is present in the world of nature, Jagat. God, soul and the world are aspects of One Reality, but not in a limited way. Each shares the entirety of the underlying Reality. Each is sacred and holds the same deeper nature of Being, Consciousness and Bliss (Sat-chit-ananda). The Hindu Yogi can discern the same supreme Reality in the human being, a snake, a particle of dust or a distant star, as well as beyond all time and space!

In Hindu thought, there are also many sacred sites. But these are defined primarily in terms of nature, not human activity. Mt. Kailas is sacred as a mountain, for example, and as the abode of Shiva or the higher consciousness. Indeed all mountains are sacred because they afford us access to the higher realms of meditation.

The Ganga is sacred as a river. Indeed all rivers are sacred because they nourish and purify not only the body and mind but the inner being. The sacred nature of such places does not depend upon human activity, though it can be enhanced by human activity as ritual, mantra and meditation.

Similarly, Hindu thought defines the Divine not just in human terms but also in terms of nature. The Divine is not only the father, mother, brother, sister, lord and friend, but also takes form as the sacred animals, plants, rocks, planets and stars. Hindu temples contain not only human representations but also deities with animal heads and animal bodies. They contain sacred plants, flowers, rocks, fire and water as well.

This sense of the Divine in all of nature is the reason why Hindus find sacred places everywhere. The Hindus have sacred mountains and hills, sacred rivers and lakes, sacred trees and groves, sacred flowers and grasses. They can honor the Divine not only in the human form but in all the forms of nature. This Hindu devotional attitude is not mere primitive idolatry as the western religions would like to project. It is not a worship of nature externally. It is a recognition of the Divine reality within all things.

The Vedas, the most ancient Hindu scriptures, pray for peace from the Earth, Atmosphere, Heaven, Mountains, Rivers, Sun, Moon and Stars, from the entire universe. They see peace as a universal reality, not the result of human activity, not just a truce between warring armies. They show us how to access that universal peace that transcends all boundaries and limited identities.

Hinduism has a practical yogic ecology of linking us to the greater universe. If we bring Hindus practices into the modern world, we can not only heal the planet and heal ourselves; we can fulfill our highest goal as a species, the liberation of consciousness into the infinite.

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