The Vedic Message: Vandana Shiva and Ayyappa Seva Samajam

published on November 12, 2010

Dr. Vijaya Rajiva

On Nov 04,2010 , Outlookindia published an edited version of Vandana Shiva’s speech in Sydney,Australia  ‘Time to End War Against The Earth’ and on Nov.9,2010, Haindava Keralam ran a report on the Ayyappa Seva Samajam’s  project to save mother earth:

‘An ambitious project from Ayyappa Seva Samajam to save mother earth’

Both articles carry essentially the same Vedic  message : sarve bhavantu sukinah (May all beings be happy), Om antaryamin shanti, prithvi shanti, vanaspatai shanti, sarvam shanti . . . . .

Peace to the inner self, peace to the earth, peace to the environment and peace to the entire universe.

While Dr. Shiva’s article analyses the structure of  the current war against the earth, the Ayyappa initiative is a practical local initiative which can be used all over Bharat and
indeed the entire planet. Think globally but act locally , the now forgotten maxim, is being revived by the Kerala temple movement originating from Sabarimala.

Dr. Vandana Shiva, physicist ,environmentalist and activist has been working for many
years on the problem of the corporate takeover of the earth, a condition which not only is a war against the planet but also against the peoples of the earth. The three wars she lists
are intertwined:

1.The  first is the violence against the earth ,which is expressed as the ecological crisis.
2.The second is the violence against people, which is expressed as poverty, destitution and displacement.
3.The third is the violence of war and conflict, as the powerful reach for the resources that lie in other communities and countries for their limitless

And while it used to be a moral and ethical imperative to save the planet, it is now a
question of survival.

The Ayyappan initiative is local in that it is an intitiative by the Sabarimala temple. Its impact though will be far reaching because it speaks to the existing Vedic traditions of practising Hindus. This is a language they understand, these are concepts from ancient times, and they are interlinked with their daily life and environment. This type of symbiosis is fast disappearing from many places on the planet. In Bharat it is still possible to revive it because the country has never fully departed from it.

Despite the widespread corruption in political and corporate life, the ongoing ethos is still Vedic and with social reform in areas such as caste discrimination which developed in the post Vedic era, possibly in the few centuries before the  Christian era (as scholars have theorized), the Sabarimala intiative may well be the start of a revival of Vedic wisdom. Ofcourse, in other parts of India, sants and sages have been calling for a return to the earth centred wisdom of the Veda. During the festivals, the people are advised to use natural products and to eschew plastic and use biodegradable material.

The  Vedic call upon all three powers in the universe, the terrestrial the atmospheric and
celestial, is further complemented by the ecstatic invocation of the terrestrial powers of the earth. Rivers, flora and fauna are hailed in the 1008 plus hymns of the Rig Veda. The deities are called upon to arrive on earth and be seated for celebration. The rituals are essentially celebratory events.

One sees this partially recreated in the Ayyappa initiative.

Pilgrims are requested to conserve the forests and plant trees and flowers and grow vegetables. Since 40 to 50 million devotees visit Sabarimala annually, even reaching
10 % of this population is a plus. The initiative has been undertaken in collaboration with the horticultural departments of the state. Pilgrims are given seeds and asked to plant them. Kerala has lost nearly two thirds of its forests to development and tourism. Vegetable and fruit produce have been heavily contaminated by the use of pesticides such as Endosulfan. So far, some 500 deaths have been reported from the use of this pesticide in Kerala.

The Sabarimala initiative could not come at a better time. If it succeeds, the resulting protection of the ecosystem is, ofcourse, the first beneficiary. The second and equally important one would be the improvement in the quality of life of Keralites who recently have been victims of corporate propaganda. At present,God’s own country can no longer be described as such. The picturesque beauty of the state and the attachment to earth which had been characteristics of the Kerala population have been left behind. These will be revived with the present initiative and Lord Ayyappan’s blessings.

Lord Ayyappan’s message is the age old wisdom of the Veda and must be heeded.

Sarve bhavantu sukhinah

(The writer is a Political Philosopher who taught at a Canadian university)

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