Rooted in Nature
Image above is a vintage print of Bhumi Devi sitting on the Earth. Below are excerpts from three resources on Hinduism's basis in Nature.
1) From The American Institute of Vedic Studies:
Hindu thought defines the Divine not just in human terms but also in terms of nature. The Divine is not only the father, mother, brother, sister, lord and friend, but also takes form as the sacred animals, plants, rocks, planets and stars. Hindu temples contain not only human representations but also deities with animal heads and animal bodies. They contain sacred plants, flowers, rocks, fire and water as well.
This sense of the Divine in all of nature is the reason why Hindus find sacred places everywhere. The Hindus have sacred mountains and hills, sacred rivers and lakes, sacred trees and groves, sacred flowers and grasses. They can honor the Divine not only in the human form but in all the forms of nature. This Hindu devotional attitude is not mere primitive idolatry as the western religions would like to project. It is not a worship of nature externally. It is a recognition of the Divine reality within all things.
Hindus honor all the forms of the Divine but also recognize the formless Divine even beyond the Creator, extending to the Absolute. Vedanta teaches us that this Absolute or Brahman is the being, self and soul of everything animate and inanimate. It says our very Self is the entire universe and the entire universe dwells within us. To honor nature is to honor ourselves. To honor ourselves, one should honor all of nature.
For the Hindus the Earth is sacred as the very manifestation of the Divine Mother. She is Bhumi Devi, the Earth Goddess. One of the reasons that Hindus honor cows is that the cow represents the energies and qualities of the Earth, selfless caring, sharing and the providing of nourishment to all.
2) From Sanskriti Magazine:
The 330 million gods in Hinduism permeate the entire unlimited world of nature (regardless of geographical frontiers), underlining its fundamental doctrine that God exists in the heart of all beings. Hence, India has a vas t network of holy shrines – seven holy rivers, seven holy mountains, several sacred cities, sacred plants and trees – a pervasive divine presence is what Hinduism emphasizes on across its religious texts, be it Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas, Smriti, Bhagavad Gita, Ramayana or Mahabharata.
The much adored Hindu deity Lord Krishna in Bhagavad Gita makes various mentions of His oneness with Nature. For instance, the sloka 20 of Chapter 10 reads,
“I am the Self seated in the heart of all creatures. I am the beginning, the middle and the very end of all beings. All beings have, therefore, to be treated alike.”
No other religion perhaps places as much emphasis on nature worship as Hinduism. The philosophy is designed to inculcate a very strong environmental conscience, rendering Hinduism a leading contender for being the most environment-friendly religion in the world.
The basic premise of the religion is that man co-exists with other forms of beings in a system where everything is interdependent and flow of energy is cyclic. It upholds the Earth as Divine Mother and all livings beings are her “equal” offspring.
3) From Hindu Wisdom:
Throughout the long history of India, Hindus have shared a fascination with, and respect for, Nature and animals.
This attitude went beyond the usefulness. It had to do with reverence for all of God's creation. Our ancestors worshipped trees, rivers, birds and stones and connected to the universal principle through Shiva. As we are growing more materialistic, we are losing this connection. Our ancestors saw Nature as being a manifestation of God. There was, therefore, a gratitude towards nature.
The rishis of the past have always had a great respect for nature. Theirs was not a superstitious primitive theology. They perceived that all material manifestations are a shadow of the spiritual. The Bhagavad Gita advises us not to try to change the environment, improve it, or wrestle with it. If it seems hostile at times tolerate it. Ecology is an inherent part of a spiritual world view in Hinduism.
Hindu philosophy has always had a humane and dignified view of the sacredness of all life, and that humans are but one link in the symbiotic chain of life and consciousness.
Hinduism contains numerous references to the worship of the divine in nature in its Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas, Sutras, and its other sacred texts. Millions of Hindus recite Sanskrit mantras daily to revere their rivers, mountains, trees, animals, and the earth.
Editor's note: This segment comes from the book, "A Tribute to Hinduism". Check out the book via the master link above or by clicking through these sections: