Ancient Indian Approach to Environmental Protection in India
Introduction :- India is one of the oldest countries of the world. It has been the cradle of some of the greatest civilizations in the world, some of the world's most ancient texts and codes have been written in India and since then have been in practise in both Indian culture & society. One of such practise is the environmental protection. Environment protection is nothing but the practice of protecting the environment, on individual, organizational or governmental level, for the benefit of the natural environment and (or) humans but for a layman its protecting our surrounding nature. Environmental protection is a newly emerging concept to the world but for India its an age old practice mentioned in Rig Veda (The Oldest Book in the world written in India).
Environmental Protection as mentioned in the texts :- As above stated the environmental protection has been given special status in the Indian vedas or religious texts. The genesis of such practices can be traced down to the fact that ancient Indian pantheon of Gods included Indra (God of Rain), Varuna (God of Seas), Agni (God of Fire), Usha (Goddess of Dawn) and Etc. The message hidden is simple that is the nature has been manifested in the form of Gods & Goddesses so that the humans may pay due respect to them and strive for their protection not only the natural forces such as air, water & fire are worshipped but the plants and animals are also woshipped. The plants such as Banyan trees, Peepal tress, Neem Trees, Tulsi plants and many more have been given divine status and are considered as the above of various gods. Plants such as above mentioned are proven scientifically to be beneficial for the human life are are known to be useful to promote longevity of human life. Animals are also given godly status as per Hindu mythology some of the instances are: Elephant is known to be the vehicle of God Indra, Garuda ie Eagle is known as the vehicle of God Vishnu and many more such examples can be cited, be that as it may, the message is to protect the plants and animals by provided a religious color to it so that it can be followed my as many of the persons in a given community.
Festivals and Fairs associated with Environmental Protection :- India is the land of many cultures and practices , it is not an exaggeration to say that India is a kalaeidoscope of cultures, many festivals and fairs in India are associated around the nature and protection of environment. The festivals like Vaisakhi, Bihu and Sankranti are celebrated as harvest festivals celebrating the harvest of new crops and thereby thanking the mother nature for the boons of the new crops. Certain festivals are so involved with nature protection that it includes all the components of nature with it for example the festival of Ugadi, which involves making of a delicacy involving all the herbs of different tastes namely sour, bitter, sweet and many more. The Hindu month of Kartik also witnesses the practise of vanabhojam which is having a sort of picnic amognst the woods. The festival of Ganesh Chautrthi is also a good example where people worship 21 sacred leaves mentioned under the religious texts. So one can infere that all the festivals in India are somehow associated with the environmental protection.
Legislations for Environmental Protection in India :- Indian law has a history of about 3000 years. Many legal systems came during the reign of many emperors but its a fact that all these rulers have strived in some or other manner to conserve the environment. Some of the greatest measures taken by the kings include that of during the reign of Chandragupta Maurya where it has been mentioned in Kautilya's arthashastra that : The state shall monitor the use of forest and forest produce, One is required to pay taxes for utilising the forests, certain officers were entrusted to look after the forests, certain forests were demarcated as the reserves for the animals and some were even prohibited against hunting. While discussing the contributions of king Chandragupta one must not forget the contribution of emperor Ashoka (Devanampiya Piyyadassi) who after converting to buddhism paid a great concentration towards environmental protection some of his inscriptions were 5th Pillar Edicts which mentiones that some animals were not to be killed, Nursing animals with their young ones should not be killed, animals were not to be fed upon the other animals, fish turtles were not to caught or eaten during certain lunar periods and law banning the burning of forests. Their message is simple i.e. to protect the environment subsequently there were certain regulations imposed during the times of later rulers but their effectivity was not as that of during the reign of the above metnioned kings. The main legislations which are formulated in Independent India re the Enviroment Act, The Forest Act, The Air Act, The Water Act, The Noise Pollution rules and many more the recent being the National Green Tribunal Act 2010. The Indian courts have paid much attention to the environmental concerns came before it and also brought out many new and effective principles.
Conclusion: The environmental Protection is the need of the hour and one should srtive to protect it . Our ancestors have tried their best and were succesful in conservation. To protect the environment means to achive sustainable development. It is the duty of every human being on the earth to strive to reach the goal of sustainable development. India since its inception of civilizations tried to conserve the enviroment right from the Vedas to the modern legislations the focus is laid on sustainable development, We must remember that this earth is borrowed from our future generations with a repairing lease, we must not destroy it because the planest's destruction is our destruction.