“Verily, the whole world is the body of God.” Vishnu Purana 1.12.38
Earth, in which lie the sea, the river, and other waters,
in which food and cornfields have come to be,
in which live all that breathes and that moves,
may she confer on us the finest of her yield….
Set me, O Earth, amidst what is thy center and thy navel,
and vitalizing forces that emanate from thy body.
Purify us from all sides. Earth is my Mother; her son am I;
and Heaven my Father: may he fill us with plenty….
Atharva Veda 12.1
Sri Kamal Kumar Swami of Hindu Devalaya Parirakshana Samithi, Sri D. R Narendra of TTD Parirakshana Samithi, and Narra Munichandra and A. Subramnayam of Praja Front toured, studied and inspected the practice of plastics disposal on the Seven Hills of Tirumala, where the most sacred Lord Venkateshwara Temple is located. Following their inspection, realizing the damage the disposal of plastics is causing to the seven hills, earth, water, air, trees, health of the devotees and ecological imbalance, they submitted a ten-page report with all the details of their investigation to the Executive Officer of TTD along with a number of recommendations.
As a way of background we want to inform that about 4 years ago TTD has given a contract to Mohindra and Mohindra Company to dispose of all the plastics either by recycling certain types of plastics or dispose of all non-recyclable plastics in a manner that would not affect the ecology of Seven Hills. Also the company agreed to process the biodegradable items so that the manure can be used as fertilizers. According to the three NGOs mentioned above, the company employed hundreds of people to collect all the water bottled, plastic bags and other items going around the hills. According to the contract no payment will be made to the Company. The company did it as voluntary service to the Temple. The Company used to take all the plastics from all the hills and take them out without leaving any wastage on the hills. In fact they used incur loss in this operation.
After Sri Adikesavulu Naidu was appointed as Chairman of Trust Board of TTD, he cancelled the contract with Mohindra and Mohindra Company and gave it to one of his benefactor by the name Kiran Royal. Instead of employing people to collect all the plastics, Kiran Royal is using the TTD employees to collect the plastics making TTD to incur several lakhs of rupees every month. He also stopped collecting biodegradable items leaving them on the hills as an eyesore for the pilgrims. Further, instead of taking plastic wastage away from the hills and dispose them properly, he was piling up all the wastage on the hills. These NGO leaders also noticed the employees of TTD burning the plastic wastage on the hills causing thick smoke covering the hills area. They also felt the pungent smell of the burning of these plastics. During rainy season, the residues of the burned plastic waste are going to spread around and down the hills affecting the trees, plants, rivers and the water causing untold damage to the ecological serenity of the hills.
On February 4, 2011 the three NGOs submitted a detailed report to EO of TTD who was very sympathetic to their study and their recommendations to alleviate the disposal problem. He agreed with their assessment and promised to look into a permanent solution to the issue. Since the submission of the report, EO inspected the disposal practices to take proper action.
Below you will see the article published in the Hindu on February 8, 2011
Why should we care about it? What our Vedas say about the Ecology
All our scriptures such as Vedas, Upanishad, Puranas, and Itihasas including Bhagavad Gita emphasized the importance and significance of the ecological balance among the Maha Panchabhutas – the earth, the air, the fire, the water and the sky. In fact the whole universe is made up of these five elements. It means that every living and nonliving creature is made up of these elements. Upanishadic statement embodies this belief: sarvam khalvidam Brahmasi – Every thing in Brahman.
Hindus believe that there is divinity in every aspect of the universe. Nature itself is divine. All the components of the Nature are the manifestations of the Divine. One cannot separate one from the other. They are the two aspects of the Supreme. Hindus perceive divinity in the human being, animals, trees, rocks, mountains, water, snake, dust particle and every thing that is seen and unseen. Many Hindu temples have manifestations of the Divine in the form of Human forms, animal forms, both animal and human forms combined as well as formless.
Atharva Veda says that “The Earth is mother, the Heavens are father.” For Hindus Earth is sacred and call her Bhumata, Bhudevi – Goddess Mother. Hindus revere the Earth for her tolerance, forbearance, patience and serenity. The Vedic Hymn to the Earth, the Prithvi Sukta in Atharva Veda, is undeniably the most all-compassing holistic hymn ever written about the interdependence of the panchabhutas. The Vedic seer solemnly talked about the continuing, steady and balanced filial allegiance of humankind to Mother Earth: ‘Mata Bhumih Putroham Prithivyah: Earth is my mother, I am her son.’ Mother Earth is respected, revered and celebrated for all her storehouse of natural resources and particularly for her gifts of herbs and vegetation.
A provocative, enduring and everlasting hymn known Prithvi Sukti describing the Goddess Earth was found in Atharva Veda with 63 verses. She is described as Vasudha for possessing wealth, Hiranyavaksha for having gold bosom, Jagato Niveshini for being the abode of the whole universe, Visvambara being representative of the universe and others. She is described as providing food and prosperity; sustaining the animal world; proving space for lakes, rivers and oceans; and supporting the herbs, trees, and mountains. She is described as holding Agni, as geothermal field as well as geomagnetic field. One should refrain from any and all efforts to damage its natural environment and deplete the natural resources to bring the untold calamity to the cosmos.
In all the scripture Water is given a special place because it is believed to have spiritually cleansing powers. Water is considered the first element of Panchabhutas. Rig Veda says that “in the beginning, all was water, and there was darkness which engulfed it.” (Book X, Hymn 129, verse3). In fact Atharva Veda (XIX; hymn 2:1-2) gives very significant place to water:
“May the waters from the snowy mountains bring health and peace to all people. May the spring waters bring calm to you. May the swift current be pleasing to you; and may the rains be a source of tranquility to all. May the waters of oasis in desert be sweet to you; and so be the waters of ponds and lakes. May the waters from the wells dug by humans be good to them, and may the healing powers of water be available to all beings.”
All Hindus, especially rivers, consider water sacred and there are seven sacred rivers, namely the Ganges, Yamuna, Godavari, Saraswati, Narmada, Sindhu and Kaveri. In fact the river Ganges is personified as a goddess, while Saraswati River has been referred to as goddess in Vedas. Although Hinduism encompasses so many different beliefs among those that most Hindus do share is the importance of striving to attain purity and avoiding pollution. This relates to both physical cleanliness and spiritual well being.
The nature of water described is described in Rig-Veda as follows:
‘The waters which are from heaven
and which flow after being dug,
and even those that spring by themselves,
the bright pure waters which lead to the sea,
may those divine waters protect me here’.
Rig Veda also described different forms of water; rain water, natural spring, wells and canals, lakes and rivers. It is considered the source of healthy living and source of joy. Without water life cannot be sustained in human beings, animals, vegetation, insects, worms, and birds. Water is considered sacred and nectar. Water should remain pure and unpolluted if we have to get the benefit of medicinal, spiritual and cleansing value. The Padma Purana condemns the pollution of water by saying “the person who pollutes water ponds, wells or lakes goes to hell.”
Almost all the holy places are located on the banks of rivers, coasts, seashores and mountains. For Hindus, morning cleansing with water is a basic obligation. Water is used for all our worship services in the Temple including abhishekam. Water charged with chanting of Mantras is distributed as Teertha. Traditionally tarpana is offered back into the river reciting mantras. Every temple has a pond near it and devotees are supposed to take a bath or wash feet before entering the temple.
What Should TTD do to bring harmony among Panchabhutas?
Improper disposal of plastic waste is going to affect the natural resources on the seven hills, natural habitat, ravines and lakes, trees, herbal plants and animals. If the burning of the plastic waste is not discontinued, pollution of the hills will imbalance the panchabhutas thus creating health hazards to the pilgrims and damaging the serenity and sacredness of the Abode of Lord Venkateshwara. Ecological calamity will ensue if the nature is exploited and misused. For the sake of future generations and to maintain the ecological balance, TTD should take immediate steps to stop the dumping ad burning of plastic waste. There is a great danger that future generations will not know the natural habitat of animals; they may not know the forests and the animals, which we of this generation know to be in danger of extinction.
TTD should also take up a challenge to educate all Hindus about the need, importance and significance of the balancing the ecology. TTD should have world-class auditorium where people can learn about the history of the Temples, significance of the Temples and the need to preserve ecological balance to live a peaceful life. Centuries of total neglect in the transmission of knowledge about the significance of panchabhutas, lack of knowledge about the inter-relationship among them, paucity of appreciation for maintaining harmony among them, and the absence of governmental willingness to preserve the nature that supports the cosmos, are the main reasons for lack appreciation among the present day Hindus. Ecological principles and sacredness of Nature should be instilled among Hindus and others from the childhood at homes, schools, civic centers, Temples, religious organizations and NGOs. Once we protect the Nature, the Nature will protect the humanity. All of us have the responsibility of preserving the bounties of Earth, which harbor the plants, trees herbs, minerals, lakes, oceans, mountains, humans, and animals. They have coexisted for centuries.
Conduct Yagnas and Homas
TTD being the symbol of sacredness and spirituality, upholder of Dharmic way of life, preserver of Hindu customs and traditions, supporter of Hindu culture and arts, instiller of spirituality among Hindus, and propagator of Hindu faith across the globe should strive to establish harmony among all panchabhutas.
Need to devise a plan to conduct Maha Yagnas across the country to balance the panchabhutas, purify the atmosphere, clean the water, preserve the vegetation, and create positive vibrations among people.
Also Homas should be conducted at all TTD Kalyana Mandapams across India on a regular basis to purify the universe and sow the seeds of peace and joy.
Let us conclude with the following Shanti Mantra
We invoke and imbibe Aum, the primordial sound of
cosmic Harmony and pray for:
Peace and Harmony in Heaven;
Peace and Harmony in the Sky and on the Earth;
Peace and Harmony in the Waters;
Peace and Harmony in the Herbs, the Vegetation and the Forests;
Peace and Harmony among the
Peoples and the Rulers of the World;
Peace and Harmony in Spiritual Quest and Realization;
Peace and Harmony for one and all;
Peace and Harmony Everywhere and in Every Thing;
Peace, True and Real Peace,
Let that Peace repose in my inner space,
Peace of Peace, Everlasting Peace,
We pray for Peace.
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