Hindu Faith on Climate Change

Priya Rajasekar
Stories from the GENII project
3 min readMay 7, 2019

Story by Alondra Gonzalez

A big proponent of the Hindu faith is protecting Mother Earth, one of their most sacred beings. Through their religion, we see many Hindu people getting involved with the fight against climate change. One of their biggest motions was the release of the Hindu Declaration on Climate Change, targeting audiences all over the world. They called on everyone, not only the Hindu people, to open up their consideration for the Earth instead of considering how their actions only affect them. In one of their prayers, the Prithvi Sukta, asks of Mother Earth to continue to provide for human kind. Prithvi, the name given to earth, is often depicted as a cow, because in their mythology the cow provided for the entire world. Cows are still greatly respected in India, a country that is primarily Hindu, showing how devoted they are not only to their faith but also the planet. The Ganges river is also another sacred part of the earth and their religion. Ma Ganga is the goddess who represents the Ganges River. Because the river is embodied by a goddess, many Hindu people feel a particular urgency towards action for the protection of the river.

The Hindu goddess Prithvi

Image credit: kidsbaps http://kids.baps.org/thingstoknow/hinduism/46.htm

The Ganges River, one of the largest rivers in India, is the 5th most populated river in the world according to a 2007 study. It is now polluted to the point where it is dangerous for people to even bathe in these waters not to mention drinking from it, which is one of the ways it is utilized. Devout Hindus use the river for drinking, bathing, and cleaning which makes this not only a climate change issue but a health risk for much of the population. The fact that these waters are sacred to the community in India has led many Hindu people to protest to increase awareness and push for more action from politicians. As a result, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has instituted a five-year plan to clean up the river by 2020 with a three million dollar budget. Recent figures on progress have not been released.

A local man cleaning the Ganges River lined with trash

Image credit: REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui https://www.businessinsider.com/photos-indias-ganges-river-pollution-2018-1

The Hindu faith has pushed the Hindu people worldwide to protest for more action to protect the environment. In the image below two members of ISKON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) are seen at the Environmental Convergence in Rome representing their Hindu faith and showing support for increased efforts to combat climate change.

Image credit: ISKON News https://iskconnews.org/iskcon-supports-hindu-declaration-on-climate-change,5245/

Traditionally, people tend to think that religion and science cannot be used to explain each other, however the Hindu marchers are proving that through the expression of their faith, they can spread awareness on climate change. The Hindu religion has many goddesses that are used to represent the environment. For this reason the Hindu faith states the importance of respecting the land they have been provided with. The image below also shows Hindu leaders celebrating the then recent release of the Hindu Declaration on Climate Change. One of the posters being held says “Faith and science are united on climate change” showing that the two terms can be used synonymously in the context of climate change.

Image credit: Hindu American Assosciation https://www.hafsite.org/hindu-leaders-celebrate-global-release-hindu-declaration-climate-change

Other links

https://thewire.in/religion/exploring-the-dharmic-way-to-think-about-climate-change

http://www.softschools.com/facts/rivers/ganges_river_facts/2128/

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-india-ganges/saving-a-river-pollution-in-indias-holy-ganges-makes-it-toxic-idUSKCN1PC0CT

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