Eco-friendly Religions - St. Francis Xavier Church , Panvel

Green Earth Movement
An E-Newsletter for the cause of Environment, Peace, Harmony and Justice
Remember - “you and I can decide the future”
Whether we are actively religious or
not, religious belief permeates the
very fabric of our existence. Namely,
it influences – if not directly shapes –
our legal systems; and therefore our
constitutions; and therefore our
nations‘ policy choices, both at home
and abroad.
It is then only logical to surmise that
Religion also influences how we -- individually and collectively -- view
our role with regards to protecting the environment.
To suggest that any one religion somehow cares more for the Earth
than the others would be foolish and simplistic, but within each belief
system there lie subtle differences that, many argue, give an indication
as to how we view our position in relation to it.
As Lynn White wrote in what many view as a
groundbreaking, yet controversial 1967 essay, "The Historical
Roots of Our Ecological Crisis," published in Science
magazine: "What people do about their ecology depends on
what they think about themselves in relation to things
around them. Human ecology is deeply conditioned by
beliefs about our nature and destiny -- that is, by religion.“
World's Leading Religions by Followers
• Christianity: 2.1 billion • Islam: 1.5 billion
• Hinduism: 900 million • Buddhism: 376
How each religion
treats environment?
Hinduism is a remarkably diverse religious and
Cultural phenomenon, with many local and regional
manifestations. Within this universe of beliefs, several
important themes emerge. The diverse theologies of
Hinduism suggest that:
• The earth can be seen as a manifestation of the goddess, and must be
treated with respect.
• The five elements -- space, air, fire, water and earth -- are the
foundation of an interconnected web of life.
• Dharma -- often translated as "duty" -- can be reinterpreted to include
our responsibility to care for the earth.
• Simple living is a model for the development of sustainable economies.
• Our treatment of nature directly affects our karma.
Gandhi exemplified many of these teachings, and his example continues
to inspire contemporary social, religious and environmental leaders in
their efforts to protect the planet.
Pancha Mahabhutas (The five great elements) create a web of life that is
shown forth in the structure and interconnectedness of the cosmos and the
human body. Hinduism teaches that the five great elements (space, air, fire,
water and earth) that constitute the environment are
all derived from prakriti, the primal energy. Each
of these elements has its own life and form; together
the elements are interconnected and
interdependent. The Upanishads explains the
interdependence of these elements in relation to
Brahman, the supreme reality, from which they arise:
"From Brahman arises space, from space arises air, from
air arises fire, from fire arises water, and from water arises earth.“ Hinduism
recognizes that the human body is composed of and related to these five
elements, and connects each of the elements to one of the five senses. The
human nose is related to earth, tongue to water, eyes to fire, skin to air and
ears to space. This bond between our senses and the elements is the
foundation of our human relationship with the natural world. For Hinduism,
nature and the environment are not outside us, not alien or hostile to us.
They are an inseparable part of our existence, and they constitute our very
Ishavasyam -- Divinity is omnipresent and takes infinite
forms. Hindu texts, such as the Bhagavad Gita (7.19, 13.13) and the
Bhagavad Purana (2.2.41, 2.2.45), contain many references to the
omnipresence of the Supreme divinity, including its presence
throughout and within nature. Hindus worship and accept the
presence of God in nature. For example, many Hindus think of India's
mighty rivers -- such as the Ganges -- as goddesses. In the
Mahabharata, it is noted that the universe and every object in it has
been created as an abode of the Supreme God meant for the benefit
of all, implying that individual species should enjoy their role within a
larger system, in relationship with other species.
Protecting the environment is part of Dharma.
Dharma, one of the most important Hindu concepts, has
been translated into English as duty, virtue, cosmic order
and religion. In Hinduism, protecting the environment is
an important expression of dharma. In past centuries,
Indian communities -- like other traditional communities
-- did not have an understanding of "the environment"
as separate from the other spheres of activity in their
A number of rural Hindu communities such as the Bishnois, Bhils and Swadhyaya
have maintained strong communal practices to protect local ecosystems such as
forests and water sources. These communities carry out these conservationoriented practices not as "environmental" acts but rather as expressions of
dharma. When Bishnois are protecting animals and trees, when Swadhyayis are
building Vrikshamandiras (tree temples) and Nirmal Nirs (water harvesting sites)
and when Bhils are practicing their rituals in sacred groves, they are simply
expressing their reverence for creation according to Hindu teachings, not
"restoring the environment." These traditional Indian groups do not see religion,
ecology and ethics as separate arenas of life. Instead, they understand it to be
part of their dharma to treat creation with respect.
Our environmental actions affect our
karma. Karma, a central Hindu
teaching, holds that each of our actions
creates consequences -- good and bad - which constitute our karma and
determine our future fate, including the
place we will assume when we are
reincarnated in our next life. Moral
behavior creates good karma, and our
behavior toward the environment has
karmic consequences. Because we have
free choice, even though we may have
harmed the environment in the past,
we can choose to protect the
environment in the future, replacing
environmentally destructive karmic
patterns with good ones.
The earth -- Devi -- is a goddess and our mother and deserves
our devotion and protection. Many Hindu rituals recognize that
human beings benefit from the earth, and offer gratitude and protection
in response. Many Hindus touch the floor before getting out of bed every
morning and ask Devi to forgive them for trampling on her body. Millions
of Hindus create kolams daily -- artwork consisting of bits of rice or other
food placed at their doorways in the morning. These kolams express
Hindu's desire to offer sustenance to the earth, just as the earth sustains
themselves. The Chipko movement -- made famous by Chipko women's
commitment to "hugging" trees in their community to protect them from
clear-cutting by outside interests -- represents a similar devotion to the
Gandhi is a role model for simple
Gandhi's entire life can be seen as an
Ecological treatise. This is one life in
which every minute act, emotion or
thought functioned much like an
ecosystem: his small meals of nuts and
fruits, his morning ablutions and everyday bodily practices,
his periodic observances of silence, his morning walks, his
cultivation of the small as much as of the big, his spinning
wheel, his abhorrence of waste, his resorting to basic Hindu
and Jain values of truth, nonviolence, celibacy and fasting.
The moralists, nonviolent activists, feminists, journalists, social
reformers, trade union leaders, peasants, prohibitionists,
nature-cure lovers, renouncers and environmentalists all
take their inspirations from Gandhi's life and writings.
Christianity," wrote White, "Not only
established a dualism of man and nature but
also insisted that it is God's will that man exploit
nature for his proper ends." The emergence of
Christianity, many, like White believe, marked
the moment humans broke away from
previously common held beliefs that all beings,
all forms of life -- including plants -- had spirits (or souls). "In antiquity
every tree, every spring, every stream, every hill had its own genius loci,
its guardian spirit," he wrote. And Christianity changed all that, he
believed. Man was created in God's image, Christians believed, and
notably Man was created at the end of creation and humans therefore
inherited the Earth. "By destroying pagan animism," White wrote.
"Christianity made it possible to exploit nature in a mood of
indifference to the feelings of natural objects.“
Many disagree -- and indeed are offended by -- the assertion that
Christians do not care for the Earth and all of its beings and have
dismissed White's conclusions. Marcia
Bunge in her 1994 essay, "Biblical Views
of Nature: Foundations for an
Environmental Ethic," published by
Chicago's Lutheran School of Theology's
journal "Care of the Earth," claimed the
Bible "contains ample grounds for
environmental responsibility.” Bunge
cited examples such as the story of
Noah as evidence that God's covenant was not just with humans but
with all creatures; that the name Adam stemming from the Hebrew
word 'adamah', meaning ground or earth implied "the connection
between human beings and the earth," and that, in the New
Testament, Paul's vision of redemption or liberation through Christ's
death did not just apply to humans but "of all creatures of nature".
See next - Pope’s have upheld our responsibility towards nature.
Pope Paul VI (1963-1978)
“While the horizon of man is thus being modified according
to the images that are chosen for him, another
transformation is making itself felt, one which is the
dramatic and unexpected consequence of human activity.
Man is suddenly becoming aware that by an ill-considered
exploitation of nature he risks destroying it and becoming
in his turn the victim of this degradation. Not only is the
material environment becoming a permanent menace pollution and refuse, new illness and absolute destructive
capacity - but the human framework is no longer under
man's control, thus creating an environment for tomorrow
which may well be intolerable. This is a wide-ranging social
problem which concerns the entire human family. The
Christian must turn to these new perceptions in order to
take on responsibility, together with the rest of men, for a
destiny which from now on is shared by all”. Octogesima
adveniens Apostolic Letter of Pope Paul VI
POPE JOHN PAUL II (1978-2005)
“When concern for economic and
technological progress is not
accompanied by concern for the
balance of the ecosystem, our
earth is inevitably exposed to serious
environmental damage, with consequent harm to human
beings. Blatant disrespect for the environment will continue
as long as the earth and its potential are seen merely as
objects of immediate use and consumption, to be
manipulated by an unbridled desire for profit. It is the duty
of Christians and of all who look to God as the Creator to
protect the environment by restoring a sense of reverence for
the whole of God's creation. It is the Creator's will that man
should treat nature not as a ruthless exploiter but as an
intelligent and responsible administrator”
“Protecting the natural environment in order to
build a world of peace is thus a duty incumbent
upon each and all. It is an urgent challenge, one to
be faced with renewed and concerted commitment;
it is also a providential opportunity to hand down to
coming generations the prospect of a better future
for all. May this be clear to world leaders and to
those at every level who are concerned for the
future of humanity: the protection of creation and
peacemaking are profoundly linked! For this reason,
I invite all believers to raise a fervent prayer to God,
the all-powerful Creator and the Father of mercies,
so that all men and women may take to heart the
urgent appeal: If you want to cultivate peace,
protect creation“
"You are called to care for
creation not only as responsible
citizens, but also as followers of
Christ! Respect for the
environment is more than simply
using eco-friendly products or
recycling. These are important aspects, but not enough. We need
to see, with the eyes of faith, the beauty of God's saving plan, the
link between the natural environment and the dignity of the
human person. The world is a "beautiful garden," which all of
humanity is tasked to protect. When we destroy our forests,
ravage our soil, and pollute our seas, we betray that noble calling,"
said the Pope, who has previously called the deforestation of a
rainforest a "sin.“
Responsible stewardship is a
Theme also shared by Muslims.
In "Environmental Protection in
Islam“ published by the
Meteorology and Environmental
Protection Administration of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,
Prophet Muhammad's stance on the environment is quite
"Created beings are the dependents of God, and the
creature dearest unto God is he who does most good to
God's dependents," it says. Humans' good deeds therefore,
"are not limited to the benefit of the human species but
rather extend to the benefit of all created beings.“
Quran 2:30 “…Your Lord said unto the angels: “Lo! I am about to place a
viceroy on the earth…,” and Quran 22:65 “Do you not see that God has made
subject to you (humans) all that is on the
In Islam, Muslims believe that man has been
given a responsibility by Allah (i.e., Arabic for
God) on this earth and that man will be
accountable to God for his actions and the
trust placed in him. Prophet Muhammad said,
”Everyone of you is a guardian and is Responsible for his charges. The ruler
who has authority over people is a guardian and is responsible for them”
(Sahih Bukhari 3.46.730). Islam has urged humanity to be kind to nature and
not to abuse the trust that has been placed on the shoulders of man. In fact,
to be kind to animals is an integral part of Islam for Muslims. There are two
primary sources defining Islam: The Quran (Muslim Holy Book) and the
Hadith (the example, sayings, and actions of Prophet Muhammad). Both
emphasize the accountability and responsibility of man toward the rest of
Prophet Muhammad announced the rewards of caring for
animals and the importance of avoiding cruelty to animals.
He urged kindness toward all living things. He recounted a
case of a women who was insensitive and cruel to her cat.
She had kept locked up until it died of hunger. So God
punished her for it on the Day of Judgement. “God said (to
the woman), ‘You neither fed it nor watered it when you
locked it up, nor did you set it free to eat the insects of the
earth.” (Sahih Bukhari). This was 1400 years ago — long
before it became fashionable or
“politically correct” to care about
“animal rights.” Yet even in this
barbaric time the Prophet had
banned forcing animals to fight for
human entertainment (Sunan Abu
Dawud #2556).
Nature and environment have always played
an important part in the lives of devout
Muslims. Muslims understand that God has not
created all this for nothing. In fact, Muslims
have been commanded to find the wonderful
signs of God around them so that they will only
increase them in their awe of their Rabb
(Cherisher and Sustainer). Behold! in the
creation of the heavens and the earth, and the
alternation of night and day- there are indeed
Signs for men of understanding men who
celebrate the praises of God, standing, sitting,
and lying down on their sides, and
contemplate the (wonders of) creation in the
heavens and the earth (with the thought):
“Our Lord! not for nothing have You created
(all) this! Glory to You! Give us salvation from
the penalty of the Fire Quran 3.190-1.
Lo! the squanderers were ever brothers of the devils, and the
devil was ever an ingrate to his Lord. Quran 17.27.
Muslims have been enjoined to avoid waste and ingratitude
to their Lord. Muslims strive to find the signs of God in nature
to glorify their Lord, to thank Him, and to order their world
in the manner in which their Rabb (Cherisher and Sustainer)
wishes it to be ordered. They do not disorder their world in
heedlessness of their Rabb in search of self-gratification,
greed, and waste and with ingratitude to their Lord.
Similar to the Jewish and Christian
faiths, human beings are seen in Islam
as stewards of the environment, but
more in line with Judaism, a principal
belief amongst Muslims is that, a
human is "only a manager of the
earth and not a proprietor." Therein
lies among Muslims an appreciation of
a profound duty to protect the Earth, many believe. But vitally,
the belief system is not just based on what humans do now, more
what they set up for humans to come. Continuing the theme of
stewardship, we are permitted to enjoy the fruits of the earth, but
Earth must not be ruined for our descendents: "Man should not
abuse, misuse, or distort the natural resources as each generation
is entitled to benefit from them but is not entitled to "own" them
in an absolute sense.“
Buddhism – with all its different subsets is
viewed by many as the most environmentally
friendly religion. In fact, Buddhism represents
the way of compassion. The Buddha
manifested a complete compassion and is
respectfully seen as the compassionate protector of all beings.
He taught that for those who wishes to follow his Path
should practice loving-kindness, not to harm the life of all
beings - not only to protect mankind, but also to protect
animals and vegetation. With his perfect wisdom, He saw all
beings in the universe were equal in nature, and in this
phenomenal world, lives of all human and animals were
inter-related, mutually developing, and inseparable.
Buddhism teaches to mankind live a contended life. Living in
contentment does not mean the elimination of desire of
knowledge and truth, but to live
in harmony with all beings and
with nature. On that basis, those
who understand the Buddha's
teaching will limit their selfishness,
to live in harmony with nature,
without harming the
environment. They will see what
should be explored and to what level, what should be
protected for future use by the next generations and other
beings. Excessive greed to possess everything for themselves,
or for their own group, has make men becoming blind.
For thousand years, the Buddhist forest monasteries have manifested a
harmonious living with nature, being established in the mountains, in
the forests. Tranquil life in the forest helped Buddhist practitioners to
improved their inner mind, and at the same time, they also worked for
the protection of animals living in the area. With loving and tolerant
heart, the Buddhists live with natural vegetation, wild animals in the
forest in harmony and for mutual survival.
Today, we can still see the landscape
of a number of temples and meditation
retreats in Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, ...
located in native forests, with green
vegetation, clean and refreshing ponds
and lakes, clean air, and a variety of
species living in peace. These are locations which attract people from
all directions coming to enjoy the nature, finding peace of mind,
getting away from noisy and polluted places.
The Sikh scripture, Guru Granth Sahib, declares that the purpose of
human beings is to achieve a blissful state and to be in harmony with
the earth and all of God's creation. The Sikh Gurus showed the world
the way to live in harmony with the environment and all their
constructions adhered to this principle. Guru Har Rai, the seventh Sikh
Guru developed Kiratpur Sahib as a town of parks and gardens.
Located on the banks of tributary of the Sutlej, he planted flowers and
fruit bearing trees all over the area. This created a salubrious
environment, attracting beautiful birds to the town and turning it into
an idyllic place to live in.
The Sikh Scriptures emphasis the importance of the elements in this
Shabad (hymn):
Air is the Guru, Water is the Father,
and Earth is the Great Mother of all.
Day and night are the two nurses, in
whose lap all the world is at play.
Good deeds and bad deeds-the record
is read out in the Presence of the Lord of
The importance of Air, Water and Earth to life are emphasised over
and over again in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib. The earth is referred to as
the mother and as such requires the our respect. Great care needs to
be taken to ensure that no damage occurs to it while the Sikh is going
about his or her daily life. The pollution of these 3 elements is against
the principles laid down by the Gurus.
Christians are not the only ones looking for guidance
in the Old Testament. But when drawing from Genesis,
the Jewish faith is not so much divided, many believe,
more to say appreciative of two opposing ideas that
can happily co-exist. As Daniel B. Fink's 1998 essay,
"Judaism and Ecology: A Theology of Creation",
published in "Earth Ethics", explains: "We are both a part of nature and apart from
it." Jews understand, Fink says, that the fact that Man was created at the end of the
sixth day could have two possible meanings: either humans are the "guest[s] of honor"
at a great feast, or, it's a reminder in case humans become too arrogant "that even
the gnats preceded them in the order of creation".
In that regard, the perception is that humans have a "unique" responsibility to "use
nature's bounty to our benefit" while also recognizing that "each part of God's
creation has its own intrinsic value". Humans, in the Jewish interpretation, are the
stewards of the Garden of Eden, but vitally, they are looking after it for God, not for
themselves. Underlying the Jewish ethic, Fink writes, is the belief that humans are
"only tenants on this earth. The land belongs to God. We are given permission to
enjoy the Creator's abundant gifts, but we must not waste or wantonly destroy
•God created the universe.
•God's Creation is good.
•Human beings are created in the
image of God.
•Humanity should view their place in Creation
with love and awe.
•The Sabbath and prayer help us to achieve
this state of mind.
•The Torah prohibits the wasteful consumption of anything.
•The Torah gives an obligation to save human life.
•The Torah prohibits the extinction of species and causing undo pain to
non-human creatures.
•Environmental Justice is a Jewish value.
•Tikkun Olam: The perfection/fixing of the world is in our hands.
Jainism ( जैनधर्म - Jainadharma) is
one of the most environmentally
Conscious religions in the world. The
religion is based on the principal of
non-violence towards all living
beings. The religion is thought to
have its roots in the Indus Valley Civilization and the
later Vedic Civilization, a period of intense philosophical
deliberations on the Indian subcontinent. Jainism was
firmly established in India between 9th and 6th century
BC. Today, there are over 4 million followers of Jainism in
India and around the world.
Jain Agams depict nature in a very
unique way as it says that five main
elements of nature; Prithvi (land, soil,
stones, etc), Jal (Water resources including
cloud), Agni (Fire), Vayu (Air) and
Aakash (Sky) are living creatures and
must be treated as living beings. These
five types of elements go on to form five
classes of beings such as vegetation, trees
and plants, fungi and animals. This
unique concept of Jainism restricts its
followers to harm any creature and
eventually leads to limited consumption
as well as help in protecting environment.
This educational PowerPoint Presentation (editable) is
prepared by GEM Team (courtesy: internet).
For other similar GEM PowerPoint Presentations on various
environmental issues see next slide.
These PPTs may be downloaded from our website
The GEM PPTs can be creatively used for various groups
like school/college students, NGOs, government officials,
Church groups, SCC groups, housing society members
and so on.
Zero Garbage
Solar Energy -(Darkness to
Junk Food
Twenty Tips To Save Nature
Plastic – a boon or bane?
Green Passion
Soft drink – A Health Hazard
Waste to energy
Rain Water Harvesting
Eco-friendly Religions
Happy Green Diwali
Climate Change
The future of Biodiversity
Genetically Modified Foods
Waste Water Treatment
Give thanks, Give Life (Body,
Organ, Tissue Donation)
Organic Farming
Waste to cooking gas
Reduce, Reuse. Recycle
Protect Mangroves
Say NO to Bottled water
Save Lakes and Ponds Forests
are green lungs
Coal Mining and Ecology
Sin of Food Waste
Climate change and Poverty
Stop Water Pollution

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