Where Did We Go Wrong?

The Sanskrit hymn “Antarikhsha Shantih, Prithvih Shantih, Vanaspatayah Shantih ….” (Peace of the Universe, Peace of the Earth , Peace of Flora and Fauna) was recited at the beginning of every Indian ritual to invoke peace and harmony of the universe, the earth and the Botanical species. The philosophy behind it was the vision that no person on earth could lead a quiet and serene life without a balanced ecology. The Vedic Age was the first recorded age, when Peace of Nature was propagated. The visionaries could foresee it then itself, that there can be no peace prevailing in human life until there was harmony between nature and humans and until all the three ecologies were taken care of in their natural forms.  Nature was worshipped and regarded as religious entities in many cultures of the world  for the simple reason that people respected them and looked up to them in awe – which ensured that they were protected and taken care of, and if not, the men would be punished.

The Romantics like Wordsworth, Keats, Shelly and Byron changed the entire mood and tone of the history of the English Literature by propagating nature as the inspirer and a source of “Joy Forever “. They had their intuition telling them about the human dependence on nature for their own good, much before Science proved so.  They realised soon that the intrinsic nature of humans could be kept safe and sound only amidst the calm, external one.

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This proves that ancient men had abilities to foresee future and measures to safeguard their habitat even without the technological breakthrough, which the modern human species have failed, despite being helped by umpteen supports of scientific aids. Modern age, opposite to what was expected from it, in fact, collapsed the whole philosophy of preserving nature in disguise of growth and advancement. Modernism arrived with clearing greens for selfish interests, with focus only to the present and absolute negligence of future. Synthetic lifestyle became a status symbol and everything natural was replaced with artificial objects, for example, Polethene bags instead of jute, refrigerators instead of earthen pots, synthetic clothes in place of cotton-life moved away from everything natural; the consequence was obvious in terms of the Green House effect.

The common preaching of every religion is – “what you give is what you get”. People started disturbing nature by cutting jungles, filling oceans for high rise buildings and factories. The nature gave them back with interest – it gave back Tsunamis, global warming, fewer colds, new diseases every day, and much more. The realisation finally came to us and understanding the importance of “now or never”, we started celebrating Earth Hour and Earth Day to spread consciousness amongst the citizens of the world. But we also have to realise that a single day in a year is not enough to unwind our past mistakes. We must remember to take care of our planet every moment.

I am reminded of T.S. Eliot’s Wasteland today where he describes the chaos all around.  Critic Edmund Wilson said,“The terrible dreariness of the great modern cities is the atmosphere in which the Wasteland takes place”. An hour or a day of dedication to the Mother Earth is not enough. The consciousness must prolong for 365 days, 24×7.  The human species will have to rise above from selfish considerations and think about others for their own sake, to save this world from becoming a Wasteland!

Dr Tulika Mishra