Volume 23, 2008
Philosophy of Environment
Environmental Holism in Hinduism
Holism in environmental ethics is concerned with a harmonious relationship between man and nature. Hinduism seeks to identify and evaluate the distinctive ecological attitudes, values and practices of human beings by making clear their relations with the intellectual and ethical thought within scripture, ritual, myth,
symbols, cosmology, and sacrament. In Hinduism the relation between man and nature is like the relationship between the microcosm (Pindānda) and the macrocosm (Brahmānda). The Panċamahābhuta in the Hindu tradition emphasizes that God is assigned to every bhutas, and human beings have no special
authority over the other nonhuman. Even the Yoga system of Pātanjali also tries to integrate environmental policies with the daily needs of human beings. Hindu philosophy believes that an animal killer is considered as a murderer and goes directly to the hell. This justifies the intrinsic value of the nonhuman species, which entail them to come under the purview of morality. On the basis of the various attitudes in Hinduism we can develop an ecological paradigm and strategy which is based on the concept of Vasudheiva Kutumbakam: every entity and organism is a part of one large extended family which is presided over by the eternal mother Earth. This position will help us to formulate a global environmental ethics by individuals, theologians, environmental philosophers and groups, scientists, politicians, economists, industrialists, and different government and non-governmental social organizations.