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Proceedings of the XXII World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 23, 2008

Philosophy of Environment

Abha Singh
Pages 139-145

Ecology and Indian Culture

Since time immemorial Indian culture has been upholding a symbiotic relationship between man and environment. It has led to the all round evolution of Indian culture as an integral whole. This assimilation has been possible due to the spiritual vision of Indian seers. Every Culture is based upon certain values. In India values are usually discussed in the context of the principal ends of human life (chatuspurusartha): dharma (moral value), artha (political and economic values), kama (sensual value) and moksha (spiritual value). Indian cultural tradition shaped human behaviour in accordance with these values, which impinged ecological issues as well. Again, Indian classification of value is based on two percepts. These are (1) the essential infinitude and divinity of all souls and (2) the essential oneness and solidarity of universe and all life. Supreme being resides in all; hence no area of life is alien to spiritual influence. It emphasizes the presence of an infinite knowledge, power, purity and bliss behind the body-mind complex of human beings, which is called Atman. Upanisads express this truth as Aham Brahmasmi (I am Brahman) or Ayam Atma Brahma (the individual soul is Brahman) or Tat Twam Asi (thou art that). Acceptance of the presence of God in everything led Indian culture to maintain and protect the natural harmonious relationship between human beings and nature. Moreover, Indians discovered the essential unity of all existence. The universe is holistic. Here at the deeper level of all pervading consciousness everything in the world is interconnected. Oneness of the entire reality is the basic presupposition and the guiding principle of the spiritualistic approach of Indian culture. The paper is an attempt to show that the holistic view of Indian culture is mirrored in the philosophy of ecology.

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