The intertwining of sacred beliefs, rituals, art, and myths within the cultural tapestry of India establishes a profound connection between religion and the preservation of the environment. These cultural elements shape collective memories and a sense of responsibility, fostering a commitment to safeguarding the natural order and its resources.


Guiding Principles for Environmental Stewardship:
The Hindu concept of Rta dharma and its parallels in Sikhism, Sufism, and indigenous traditions offer ethical guidelines to counter indiscriminate developmental actions. This is evident in how responsible management of natural resources is emphasized for global success.
Rta dharma, as articulated by Kapila Vatsyayan, underscores communities’ moral duty to sustain the cosmic natural order through responsible actions.
Guru Granth Sahib echoes this sentiment by advocating for environmental protection as an integrated aspect of life, with all elements originating from the divine and deserving safeguarding.
Islamic scholar Sigrid Nökel’s insights on fitra (natural order), tawhid (interconnectedness), and khilafa (trusteeship) further emphasize mankind’s role in preserving creation.

Traditional Wisdom and Mythical Narratives:
The myth of Krishna subduing the serpent Kaliya, who polluted the Yamuna River, reflects the traditional wisdom regarding ecological balance and the consequences of environmental degradation.
Vedic hymns and myths attribute significance to elements like earth, water, air, and fire, underscoring their essential roles in sustaining life.
Tribal communities’ efforts to protect sacred mountains in regions like Chhattisgarh and Odisha align with the symbolism of mountains as cosmic centers holding vital resources.

Contemporary Relevance and Community Involvement:
The protests in Chhattisgarh demonstrate the community’s ownership of environmental concerns, a principle that needs to be replicated across various regions.
The impending national water crisis is attributed to resource mismanagement rather than insufficient rainfall, reflecting the need to adhere to principles like Rta dharma for water conservation.
Rituals for purifying water bodies in Rajasthan and appeasing water spirits in Uttarakhand highlight the cultural reverence for water.
Neglecting the Vedic ethos of pure air (Vayu) results in air pollution, and disregard for vital ecosystems leads to negative energies (Tamas) according to Samkhya Hindu philosophy.


Cultural wisdom, expressed through religion, is a tapestry interwoven with the geographical context. It influences human behavior, livelihoods, and responses to the natural world. Ignoring this cultural heritage while addressing environmental challenges not only impacts ecosystems but also reshapes cultural dynamics. By integrating age-old principles and narratives into contemporary environmental discourse, India can forge a more sustainable future that respects both its cultural heritage and the natural order it seeks to preserve.

Legacy Editor Changed status to publish August 7, 2023