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Environmentally Responsible Business; lessons from Indian Mythology

By

Dr. Tripti Sahu


Associate Professor

Abstract
Long term unplanned corporate development today demands a universal call for action. The role
of corporate sustainable practices should be to generate value for overall stakeholder’s, in a
manner to ensure positive ethical, social, cultural, economic and most importantly
environmental impact. Evolving world order engendered a greater concern for ecology. Whereas
in the race of materialism, sustainable development has just become an illusion. Sympathizing
sustainability issues necessitates human to think and appreciate the extended chains of cause
and effect relationship of human doings on his future, these doings can be intentional or
otherwise. The agenda of corporate sustainable development cannot be fulfilled until the greedy
creatures realize the importance of living in harmony with the nature.

The most ancient known literature in the world had already suggested the sustainable solutions
way back in about 1500 and 1000 BCE[3]. Indian mythology since ages is preaching and
practicing sustainability in all traits of life for establishment of a better society. The present
paper is an attempt to draw corporate sustainability lessons from Indian mythology literature
that projects natural resources as God and also device ways to please the almighty. The ancient
Indian literature (Vedas) encompasses several principles of sustainable development. Principles
relating to the unavoidability of facing consequences of one’s actions, the interconnectedness of
all living beings, the linkage between present and future, the integrity of the human family, the
necessity of harmony between humanity and the natural order and many others are equally apt
and can guide sustainable corporate growth. The lesson sums up in “vasudev kutumbakam” (all
belongs to one family) that needs to be engrossed in corporate strategies for a better tomorrow.
IIMS Pune

1. 20. Atharva Veda, Kanda 12, hym 1, verse 45, quoted in Christopher Key Chapple and
Mary Evelyn Tucker (ed.) Hinduism and Ecology: the intersection of earth, sky, and water
Cen¬tre for the Study of World Religions, Harvard Divinity School, Cambridge, Mass.,
2000. p..11.
2. Arindam (2009) Hindu concept of environmental protection at earth day
https://hindufocus.wordpress.com/2009/04/23/earth-day-hindu-concept-of-
environmental-protection/ (visited on 23, 7/2018)
3. Cristian Violatti, The Vedas, 08 May 2018, https://www.ancient.eu/The_Vedas/ (visited
ono 24,7,2018)
4. Dr.PankajJain ten key hindu environment teachings avialavle at
http://www.greenfaith.org/files/top-10-hindu-teachings-handout, (visited on 26,3,2017)
5. Razak, Ratna Roshida Ab and Zainal Abidin Sanusi , ‘The Concept of Sustainable
Development in Human Civilisation: An Introspective View’, KEMANUSIAAN: the
Asian Journal of Humanities 17 (2010), 19–36
6. www.scribd.com/doc/24708420/Global-Sustainability-From-Vedas accessed online on
Saturday, 16 November, (2013) (Visited on 7,5,2017)

ॐ ॐॐॐ ॐॐॐॐॐॐॐॐॐ ॐॐॐॐॐ ॐॐॐॐॐॐॐॐ ॐॐॐॐॐॐॐ ॐॐॐॐ ॐ


ॐॐॐ ॐॐॐॐॐॐॐॐ ॐॐॐॐॐॐॐॐ ॐॐ ॐॐॐॐ ॐॐॐॐॐॐॐॐॐॐॐॐॐॐ ॐॐ ॐ ॐॐ

Everything living or non-living that is there in the universe is controlled and belongs to the Lord.
One should therefore accept only those things necessary for himself, which are set aside as his
quota, and one must not accept other things, knowing well to whom they belong.

Sanskrit is the vehicle of civilization and culture of Bharatvarsha, i.e. India. Sanskrit has been
serving the human race from the time immemorial. The Vedas are treated to be the oldest literature
of the world. When the people of the other continents were in darkness(under developed) our vedic
seers contributed to science, Technology, Mathematics, Astrology, and high philosophical order
at all. They built the treasure house of India full of human wisdom, social welfare, unity, peace
and prosperity, instead of personal gain or internal prosperity at large. Therefore, from this point
of view the Vedic literature is of great utility to us and to the world society at large. Accordingly
if we study the environmental conditions of our society and the world, we shall be greatly
benefitted in our living and healthy life. We are crying for a better environment now and the Vedas
for the first time, teach us to take steps for the protection of our clean environment. Therefore the
study lays its significance on the need and The four Vedas i.e. Rigveda, Samaveda,
Yajurveda and Atharvaveda are full of hymns which explicitly advocate the supremacy of different
natural power. The Rigvedic hymns refer to many gods and goddesses that is just
the personification of natural entities like sun god, moon god, thunder, water god, rivers as mother,
rain, lightening, trees etc. They have been glorified and worshipped as givers of health,
wealth and prosperity4 .validity of India traditions on creating a friendly and healthy
environment at present era.

Indian Vedas are the most ancient literature known in the world. These Vedas teaches us the ways
of life. In Hindu religion there are mainly four Vedas with are the unprecedented laws needs to be
followed by each individual these are Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samveda and Atharved. There are 18
upnishads which are the smaller version of Vedas and contains preachings of Vedas in more
understandable and easy formats. Pandit X said in his book “Laws of nature that there are various
facts in life some can be tested through experimentations but some are there which we should
accept as they are written because it is beyond once capacity to experiment. Vedas are already
experimented facts, and if we try to examine it we will come to the same conclusions. Thus in
Indian mythology Vedas are follow blindly assuming that it represents facts.

Indian Mithology has always advocated the importance of nature and striking the right balance
between human and ecology. The five tatva of human existence i.e. agni, jal vayu, bhumi and
akash. The five elements been abundantly reflected in a variety of traditional practices, religious
beliefs, rituals, folklore, arts and crafts, and in the daily lives of the Indian people from time
immemorial. The present day global concerns for sustainable development and conservation of
natural resources spanning the two decades between the Stockholm Conference of Environment
in 1992 and the United Nations Conference on Human Environment and Development (Earth
Summit) at Rio de Janeiro in 1992 are of recent origin in comparison to the long tradition and
cultural ethos of nature conservation in India.

Some of the fundamental principles of ecology-the interrelationship and interdependence of all


life-were conceptualized in the Indian ethos and reflected in the ancient scriptural text, the
Isopanishad, over 2000 years ago. In Hinduism environment is not outside, it is very integral and
inseparable part of human existence The five elements (panch Mahabhutas) created a web of life
The Upanishads explain that from the creator of the world “Bramha” originated space, from space
air took its origin from air, fire was born and fire gave birth to water and earth is made from water
(As major portion of earth is water) these all super elements are interrelated and interdependent.
Indian mythology also suggest that Humans all five senses relates to these five elements i.e. eyes
(The sense of vision) related to fire, ears (the sense of hearing) related to space, Tounge (The sense
of taste) related to water, Skin (the sense of touch) related to air and nose (the sense of smell)
related to earth. A human body functions properly because of these five senses which belongs to
five super elements of nature and if an individual disturbs the balance of these five elements it
invariably disturbs its own functional balance results in his own loss.

For Hinduism, nature and the environment are not outside us, not alien or hostile to us. They are
an inseparable part of our existence, and they constitute our very bodies.
Ishavasyam– Divinity is omnipresent and takes infinite forms.Hindu texts such as the Bhagavad
Gita (7.19, 13.13) and the Bhagavad Purana(2.2.41, 2.2.45), contain many references to the
omnipresence of the Supreme divinity – including its presence throughout and within nature.
Hindus worship and accept the presence of God in nature. For example, many Hindus think of
India’s mighty rivers – such as the Ganges - as goddesses. In the Mahabharata, it is noted that the
universe and every object in it has been created as an abode of the Supreme God meant for the
benefit of all, implying that individual species should enjoy their role within a larger system, in
relationship with other species.

“iman jibebhyah paridhin dadhāmi meshaṇ nugādaparu arthametat.satan jibantu saradaḥ


puruchirantamṛstun dadhatan parvatena’’.tuje nastane parvatah santu svaitavo na virah.
panita aptyoada no vardhannah sansan naryoahistou’’.
(Rig-veda,5/81/9).
The fire and Sun play the most significant role in the purification of environment. Animals and
birds are part of nature and environment. The vedic seers have mentioned about their
characteristics and activities and have desired their welfare. Rig-vedic seers classifies them in three
groups sky animals like birds, forest animals and animals in human habitation—

“tasmat yajnat sarvahutah samvrtan pṛsadajyan


pasuntansakre vayabyanaranyan grāmyasca ye.”
(Rigveda,10/90/8)

All three types of living creatures found in the universe have different environments and every
living creatures has an environment of its own. But when we look from man’s perspective all of
them constitute his environment. There is a general feeling the vedic texts that animals should be
safe,protected and healthy—

“bhūrbhūvah svaḥ suprajabhih svasthya subese viraih suposah posaihnārya prajan me pāhi
saccshya paśunmepahyartharya pitun me pāhi tubhyamaranyaḥ paśabo mṛga vane hita haṇsa
suparnah śakuna vayansi tava yakṣa paṣupate apsantastubyan kṣaranti divyaabo vṛdhe”

(Yajurveda, 3/37)

Protection of birds, animals is a norm of Hindu religion. The Hindu mythology believes fourteen
avataras (births) of the god like Matsya, Kurma, Varaha, Nrisingha etc. signify the devine forms
in such animals and thereby making their life secure. The cobra is worshipped on the eve of
Nagpanchami and cowsare offered adoration on the occasion of the Balabhadrapuja.Killing of
certain animals and birds who acted as scavengers by feeding on carcasses and filth was religiously
banned according to the Vedas. It is need of the day to follow in the root steps of the ancient period-
--

“kincideva tu vipryāya dadyadasthimatan vadhe.Anasthanancaiva himsayah pranayamena


śudhyati.’’
(Manu -samhita-11/142)

From the above detailed discussion, some light is thrown on the awareness our ancient seers about
the environment, and its constituents. It is clear that the vedic vision to live in harmony
with environment was not merely physical but war far wider and much comprehensive. The Vedic
sages realized that the pure water, air etc. are the roots of to good health and happiness and hence
they considered all these as gods. The vedic people desired to live a life of hundred years-

“taccakṣurdevahitaṇ purastacchukamuccarat pasyema śaradah śatan jivema saradah śatan


śṛnuyam śaradah śatan prabravam śaradah śatamadinah śyāma śaradah śatan bhuyahca
śaradah śatāt.’’
(Yajurveda-36/24)

And this wish can be fulfilled only when environment will be unpolluted, clean and peaceful. Now
a days various types of environmental laws like Forest act 1972, Wildlife protection Act 1970,
Water protection and pollution act 1980, Environmental protection Act, 1986 have been enacted
for the protection and preservation of environment. But about 3000 years ago, the sages recited
the following verse--

“dyauḥ śāntirantarīkṣan śanti pṛithivī śāntirāpaḥ śāntiroṣadhayaḥ vanaspatayaḥ


śāntiviswadevah śāntibrahma śāntiḥ sarva śāntiḥ śāntireva śāntiḥ sā mā śntiredhi”

(Sukla yajurveda 36-17)

“Let there be balance in the space !


Let there be balance in the sky !
Let there be peace on the earth !
Let there be calmness Let there be !
Let there be growth in the plants !
Let there be growth in the tree !
Let there be grace in the Gods !
Let there be bliss in the Brahman !
Let there be balance in everything !
Let there be peace and peace !
Let such peace be with everyone of us ! ”

Serge Letauche in his article mentioned about strong sustainability and light sustainability
according to him, “light sustainability” means in fact that the market is the solution. In
consequence, humanity and the planet can perish, business not!” Developmentalism embodies the
very logic of economics. Within the economists’ paradigm there is room neither for the ecologists’
care for nature nor for the humanists’ respect for man. Development, it is claimed, is for real,
whereas alternatives (and particularly sustainable development) can only be illusory
mystifications. But development has always been and will continue to entail a cultural uprooting
and a lack of social autonomy.

“The Vedic philosophy of India has always emphasized the human connection with nature.
Vedism is a way of life based on scriptures called Aranyakas, or forest books, which were written
by sages who lived in the forest. The Mahabharata, Ramayana, Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavad
Gita, Puranas and Smriti contain some of the earliest messages on ecological balance and the need
for people’s ethical treatment of nature. They emphasize harmony with nature and recognize that
all natural elements hold divinity”.16

Scholars of the Vedas have identified various texts and rituals that extol the earth (bhu), the
atmosphere (Bhuvah), and sky (sva), as well as the goddess associated with the earth (Prthvi), and
the gods associated with water (Ap), fire and heat (Agni) and wind (Vayu).”19 The concept that
the Earth is the supporter of all life and that human action should be careful not to destroy the
balance is also a strong theme running through the Vedas. In the Atharva Veda, for instance, a
hymn goes, “May that Mother Earth, like a Cosmic Cow, give us the thousand fold prosperity
without any hesitation, without being outraged by our destructive actions.”20

Conclusion
Understanding sustainability issues requires people to think of long chains of relationships, of
cause and effect, intentional and otherwise. Often to explain how a particular lifestyle impacts
climate change, one needs to go into several such loops of actions and their consequences. The
Hindu method adopts not force and threats but suggestion and persuasion.”34 He goes on to say
that, “Hinduism is more a way of life than a form of thought. While it gives absolute liberty in the
world of thought it enjoins a strict code of practice.

We need to pour water on land and decorate it with trees, Nture will bless us Shri Aurobindo said
“Dharti par swarg Utaro” get heaven on earth meaning make it so naturally beautiful that we have
no desire to have heaven, it is right here.

19. Razak, Ratna Roshida Ab and Zainal Abidin Sanusi , ‘The Concept of Sustainable
Development in Human Civilisation: An Introspective View’, KEMANUSIAAN: the Asian
Journal of Humanities 17 (2010), 19–36

20. Atharva Veda, Kanda 12, hym 1, verse 45, quoted in Christopher Key Chapple and Mary
Evelyn Tucker (ed.) Hinduism and Ecology: the intersection of earth, sky, and water Centre for
the Study of World Religions, Harvard Divinity School, Cambridge, Mass., 2000. p..11.

4. www.scribd.com/doc/24708420/Global-Sustainability-
From-Vedas accessed online on Saturday, 16 November,
(2013)

5. Dr.PankajJain ten key hindu environment teachings avialavle at


http://www.greenfaith.org/files/top-10-hindu-teachings-handout, visited on 26th March 2017

Arindam (2009) Hindu concept of environmental protection at earth day


https://hindufocus.wordpress.com/2009/04/23/earth-day-hindu-concept-of-environmental-
protection/

According to Atharved Tree is a birth, it’s a result of karma (Doings) it is written in the “Satyarth
Prakash” 9th samullash. A person who performs sins like steeling or raping someone with his body.
He is punished by getting a life of the tree, it’s the consequence of wrong doings . Trees also live,
they also has a soul just like any other living being. Abirth from the same jeans s humarn race
takes birth from the same jeans so are the trees same type of trees takes frirth from a tree. Karama
(doings) is responsible for our present state of being (Happyness or sadness) if we consider that a
living being gets birth as per its doings in the last birth then taking birth in form of a tree is a
pathetic birth where a tree is half live or is in semi conscious state which feel happy sad and also
get jelous thus if one treet tree or a plant with love and care it grows faster and healthier. Marharshi
Manu has written that “Antatah sangya bhavnayete such dukh samanvitah”. Means trees internally
feels happiness and sorrow. They cannot see or hear but they feel the pain, They cannot react to
the external environment but get affected by it. It is gods arrangement to make a living being
realize and repercussions of ones doing that they have to take all paings without reacting. Trees
have life thus cutting tree is sin of killing.
The Mahabharat Period was the golden period of trees worship.Lord Krishan adovacted tree
worship instead of worshiping lord Vishnu because trees do favour without getting anythi8ng in
return.

Shrimad Bhagwat Puran says that “

Pashyatetanh Mahabhagana Pararthe kant ji vitan vat varsha tapshiman mahanto varyanti na”
which means we should understand the importance of these favouring trees which give us oxygen
and saves us from rain and sun. Kurm Puran has mentioned lodess irak who is the lodess of trees.
It is said in the Puran that various Indian gods lives in these trees Neem tree is home of “lodess
Sheetla”, In Mahua tree, lodress Maheshwari lives, Coconut tree is home of Godess Shridevi”,
Bilb is residence of godess laxmi , In bargad Lord Shiva lives, Peepal is home of lord Vishnu, Lord
karthik resides in kadamb and tulsi is home of godess vrunda etc.

Thus it can be concluded that if a human is doing something bad with his boy it has to take next
bith as a tree and if one has cut trees in past he or she has to bear the same paing which it has given
to some living tree in the past.

According to Dev Puran, the one who make pond, cannel, lake and other water bodies, It is also
written in Devi Puran that those water bodies which remains alive even during summers, the maker
of it gets haven after death. Thus making water ponds and keeping them clean and alive duing the
period when it is
Appendix-I
Lessons from Manu- Smriti for developing internal environment of the organization to conserve
natural environment

Level Preaching Present day Business


Organisations
Individual Even though the society, An employee is expected to depict
organisation and the legal systems moral behaviour even in absence
has defined the code of conduct, of set rules and norms. Individual
each individual has his/her own director is also in individual in this
interpretation about the ethical sense, thus they need to be moral
behaviour. In a long run it is while participating and guiding the
necessary the society should decisions of the organisation.
develop its own moral principles
under the guidance of the ruler of
the region.
Society The society has its set norms of The organisations need to ensure
behaviour with other members transparency in organisational
and also define the way to deal decision making and are in
with the societal concerns of agreement with the organisational
equality, justice, deprived lot and objectives. They should also give
human rights and animal rights. equal ear to all stakeholder’s voice
in a way that it does not harm any
being, living or non-living which
will breach the trust of any of the
parties interested in the
organisation.
Organisation It is the duty of the ruler’s selected The norms should be devised by
educator to educate people about the corporate governance body
the ethical behaviour norms of the which applies to all the decision
land. makers. Ethical practices need to
be preached and inculcated in the
working of the organisations and
trainings to nurture ethical
behaviour to be imparted to the
employees
Legal It is the collective responsibility of There is a legal binding on all
all decision-making authorities of corporate government laws.
the land to respect social values of
the land and rules that are
enforced by the law.
needed the most can give better results after death.