Sacred Ecology and Transformative Consciousness in Hinduism

  1. Introduction

There exists a state of order and unity in the whole world, referred as cosmos that “includes the invisible spirit as well as the tangible earth and skies” (Oates 1989: 1). Together with the physical order exists an invisible principle of order linking human soul to the earth and further up to stars. This way one can propose micro-, meso- and macro- cosmos. The harmonic integrity in Cosmos-Spirit-Man has been a major issue of debate in the ancient mythologies, however through the stigma of religion the basic meanings were misunderstood in many ways under the purview of anthropocentrism. But it does not mean that theology and religion have played a negative role. Historian of Science Lynn White (1967: 1207) argues:

“What we do about ecology depends on our ideas of man-nature relationship. More science and more technology are not going to get us out of the present ecological crisis until we find a new religion, or rethink of old one.”

From the viewpoint of practice and thought ecology is generally grouped into two divisions: Deep Ecology, referring to feelings, emotions and sensuous activities, and Shallow Ecology, explaining the experimental observations. Individuals do not exist in isolation, but in relationship to the community, and their functioning is operated by a tradition, thought, belief systems ―all shaped in the long run of time. Here comes Deep ecology to be narrated better in cosmological thinking for searching harmony while seeking ground for humans’ psychic relation to the cosmos.

For India, where there is a long history of deep faith in human psychic development, which is still accessed through sacred performances, I propose that we also use the concept of Sacred Ecology. It is not identical, but very close, to deep ecology and ecospirituality. When an order of divine manifestation is realised, it turns to sacralisation. Hindu mythology describes the Sky as father and the Earth as mother, that is how whole world is a family and we all are brothers and sisters, as said in Mahā Upanishad (6.72): “For those who live magnanimously the entire world constitutes but a family” (Udāracharitānām Vasudhaiva kutuṁbakam), and further elaborated in the Hitopadesha (1.3.71). Within this context, I offer some of the viewpoints for us to understand the transformative consciousness of Hinduism.

  1. Primordial Frame of Evolution and Unity

The first reference of cosmic evolution is given in the Purushasukta of the Rig Veda (10.129), which is considered to be the earliest description of the mystery of the cosmos (Balslev 1990: 48). According to this hymn:

At first there was only darkness wrapped in darkness.

All this was only unilluminated water.

That One which came to be, enclosed in nothing,

arose at last, born of power of heat.

(Rig Veda, 10.129.3)Fig. 1.The Triad of Oṁkāra.

Source: Singh 2009a: p. 28.

The Rig Veda (RV) explains that, in the beginning, there was the golden germ (hiraṇyagarbha), i.e. the primal seed (RV 10.121.1). Other Vedic sources stae that the first seed was the sound, known as Oṁkāra ― a combination of A, U, M ― the primeval sound from which the world and other planets came into existence (cf. Fig. 1). The three basic sound alphabets (A, U, M) represent the three Vedas ― Rig, Yajura, and Soma ― symbolising the three states: waking, dream, and sleep. Parallel to this in the Bhagavada Gītā (17. 23), there is threefold symbol of the absolute reality, described as supremacy (aum), universality (tat) and reality (sat). This mystical idea is similar to Big Bang theory, which deals with the expanding universe and is the root cause of evolution (cf. Radhakrishna Rao 1982: 79).

Table 1. Indian Cosmic Time Cycle

Yuga / time epoch Divine Year (length), DY Human Year (HY),

HY = DY x 360

Satya/ Krita 4,800 1,728,000
Tretā 3,600 1,296,000
Dvāpara 2,400 864,000
Kali 1,200 432,000
Mahāyuga/ Divyayuga 12,000 4,320,000
Manvantara (71 Mahāyuga) 852,000 306,720,000
A day of Brahmā, a Kalpa 12,000,000 4,320,000,000
A day-night of Brahmā, 2 Kalpa 24,000,000 8,640,000,000

 

(Source : Mahābhārata 3.12.826).

Following Edwin Hubble’s law (1929, 1931) it was believed that the universe came into being about 10,000 million years ago (Capra 1991: 197). However, the recent researches of Planck Collaboration re-examining the Big Bang model, it is estimated that the universe came into existence almost 13,799 million years ago (Ade, et al 2016). According to Hindu cosmology, it began 8,640 million years, equivalent to Brahmā’s day (a kalpa) and night (a kalpa). The kalpa is an unimaginable time span between the beginning and end of one creation. Indian time is divided into four epochs (yugas), first defined as multiples of 4:3:2:1 of a Kali Yuga of 1,200 human years. Later they were explained by the device of replacing human years by divine years of 360 human years (Thompson 2000: 228). One cycle of the four yugas is called as Mahāyuga (cf. Table 1). Thousand such Mahāyugas known as a kalpa, i.e. 4,320 million human years (cf. Eliade 1991: 114). Physicist Fritjof Capra writes (1991: 198): “Experiencing the universe as an organic and rhythmically moving cosmos, the Hindus were able to develop evolutionary cosmologies which come very close to our modem scientific models”.

The idea of endless cycles is described as līlā, the divine play of the Absolute Brahman: “the One becoming the many and the many returning into One.” The Bhagavada Gītā (9.7) says: “All beings pass into nature which is My own at the end of the cycle; and the beginning of the next cycle, I send them forth”. The Vedic cosmology describes the universe with respect to three vertical levels: heaven, atmosphere, and earth (RV 10.90.11-14). Being associated to the top of the human body, the head, and earth is associated to its bottom, the feet (Lincoln 1986: 5). The description goes on as to how from the Absolute Brahman, the first man was created and in a process of self-transformation, the various forms of microcosmic body and macroscopic universe came into being (Lincoln 1986: 32). However, on the other end, the unified form of cosmos is also perceived; says the Bhagavada Gītā (11.7): Here today, behold the whole universe, moving and unmoving and whatever else thou desirest to see, all united in My body”.

The vision of all in One is comparable to the quantum theory which “abolished the notion of fundamentally separated objects” and forces to see “the universe as an interconnected web of physical and mental relations whose parts are only defined through their connections to the whole” (Capra 1991: 142). Nature (as cosmic soul) is the mother and God is the father of all living forms (cf. Gītā 14.4). ‘As Nature is also the nature of God, God is the father and mother of the universe’ (Radhakrishnan 1970: 315316). Nature springs from the Divine and the entire activity of the world is traceable to it (ibid.: 137).

At the outermost reaches of human consciousness, Indian mystics experienced the universal unity between microcosmic man and macrocosmic planetary system. Says philosopher Sri Aurobindo (1957: 993):

 We have to see all becomings as developments of the movement in our true self and this self as one inhabiting all bodies and not our body only. We also to be consciously, in our relationships with this world, what we really are – this one self becoming everything that we observe. All the movement, all energies, all forms, all happenings we must see as those of our one and real self in many existence.

Similarly, physicist Albert Einstein (Feb. 12, 1950, as in Calaprice 2005: 206) also expressed:

A human being is a part of the whole, called by us “Universe” ― a part limited in time and space. He, experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest ― a kind of optical delusion of consciousness.

The unity and mutual interrelation of all things is central to Hindu tradition. The Gītā (10.20) mentions: “The world is a living whole, a vast interconnectedness, a cosmic harmony inspired and sustained by the One Supreme”. This is comparable to Bell’s theorem demonstrating that the universe is fundamentally interconnected, interdependent, and inseparable (Capra 1991: 313). The picture of an interconnected cosmic web is portrayed by modern atomic physics, also existed in the ancient past, as Hindu mystics experienced a similar reality. Says the Muṇḍaka Upanishad (2.2.5): “He on whom the sky, the earth, and the atmosphere are woven, and the wind, together with all life breaths, Him alone know as the one Soul”.

The philosophic dialogues from the Vedic to Upanishadic ages explain religion as a sense of transformative consciousness that refers to connectedness to the cosmos as a whole, and further a quest and way to understand this concept. This idea is similar to the modern idea in particle physics (cf. Capra and SteindlRast 1991: 14, 15). It is now affirmed that “religious faith addresses the whole human beings, as a human being, in the context of other human beings and the whole cosmos” (ibid.: 25). It seems “certain that the physical realities of the earth, as well as the psychological and spiritual needs of its human inhabitants, will guarantee an interacting and creative future for the worldview of ecology” (Oates 1989: 208). One of the symbols and deep thoughts involved therein can be explained with the help of ‘triad’.

  1. The Triad and Chakras

The origin and unity of organic life in Nature are perceived as the product of Purusha (male energy; yang) and Prakriti (female energy; yin), each represented by a triangle: one with its apex up, and the other with its apex down. Together these two triangles make a hexagon which symbolises the continuity of creation and existence (cf. Singh 1992: 141).

The symbol of triad, or triangle, is a reduced form of the upper layer (transmental) of the Chakras as described in the Kuṇḍalini Yoga. The seven Chakras system “is probably the most archetypal paradigm of existence ever devised” (Wilber 1990: 162). According to the Chakras system the life energy is activated in seven layers arranged systematically in the human body (Table 2, Figure 2).

Table 2. Chakras System and Associated Elements (see Figure 2)

Chakra

Sanskrit name

Associative Organ Plexus Element colour Conscious-ness Lotus petal symbol
7. top of head Brahmarandhra pineal gland brain Supreme light spirituality 1000
6. brow 

   Ājñākhya

pituitary gland medulla Great tattva white thinking 2
5. throat Vishuddākya thyroid carotid sky /space smoky will, commu-nication 16
4. heart

    Anāhata

thymus gland cardiac air red love, compassion 12
3. Solar plexus Maṇipūraka pancreas epigastric fire blue assertion, community 10
2. chi Svadhishthāna spleen hypo gastric water vermi lion creativity, emotion 6
1. spinal base/ Kuṇḍalini Mulādhāra Sexual

glands

pelvic earth bloody power, and pleasure 4

Source: Singh 2009a: p. 34.

Figure 2. The Seven Chakras: (a) Iconographic-symbol, (b) Body symbol.

Source: Singh 2009a: p. 35.

Among the seven Chakras, the lower four (1, 2, 3, 4) are considered as the premental state, while the higher three (5, 6, 7) represent transmental state. The upper three states sequentially represent matter (5), mind (6) and spirit (7), comparable respectively to the three stages of human consciousness, i.e., subconsciousness (instinct), selfconsciousness (reason), and super-consciousness (intuition), in other words sensibilia, intelligibilia, and transcendelia. According to transpersonal psychology, “each higher level cannot be fully explained in terms of a lower level. .... All the lower is in the higher but not all the higher is in the lower. A three-dimensional cube contains two-dimensional squares, but not vice versa” (Wilber 1990: 163).

Those three states are identically parallel to gross-realm, animic-realm, and causal-realm (cf. Fig. 3). The interaction of these states forms five levels of simple sensory-material perception. The number five refers to five fundamental organic elements of Nature (Mahābhūtas, or Mahātattvas). The Mahābhārata (12.182.14-19) states that the Supreme God created Primordial Man who first made sky; from sky water is made and from the seed of water fire and air ― these latter two together made the earth. Hence, in a metaphysical sense, these elements are not separated from each other (cf. Singh 2009a: 35).

Fig. 3. The triad association of Spirit, Matter and Mind. Source: Singh 2009a: p. 35.

The triad phenomenon is described in the Bhagavada Gītā (17.1-28), in various contexts, such as faith, food, sacrifice, penance, gifts, mystical utterance, knowledge, work, action, understanding steadiness and happiness (Gītā 18. 20-39). The trio-state of low-middle-high is considered in describing various qualities and their associated characteristics. And there is the trinity of Hindu gods – Brahmā (the creator), Vishṇu (the protector) and Shiva (the destroyer), who together, in symbolic form, make up the trimurti, or three situations of the cosmos – evolution, existence, and involution (cf. Singh 1992: 141).

The apex-up triangle (as phallus), and apex-down triangle (as vulva) together make a cosmic-design (yantra) of creation (cf. Fig. 3 c). This design is frequently used, in advanced form, in the Tantric tradition, for explaining the creative energy, the mystery of the universe and several associated myths and symbols. Popularly, this is perceived as the symbol of mother goddess (Ādi Shakti Devī).

According to the mystic philosophy of the Upanishads, the human drama is basically an interaction between matter (Prakriti) and spirit (Purusha). But both are regulated by a mix-up of the two, known as māyā  –  a central mystery of life, parallel to Mind. Māyā ‘is derived from the root, , to form, to build, and originally meant the capacity to produce forms’ (Radhakrishnan 1991: 40-41). The creative power of the Supreme Lord is  (identified to yoga). ‘Māyā is the power which enables Him to produce mutable nature. It is shakti or the energy of Ishvara’ (ibid.: 42). This is the cosmic aspect of māyā, worshipped in Hinduism as divine mother. Says Easwaran (1989: 31): “It is a feminine face of the Godhead, ever creating, sustaining, destroying, and recreating the endless web of life.”

  1. Earth and Mother Goddess

Hinduism is not a well-defined religion. It is instead a very large and complex socio-religious-organic-belief systems, having many practices, sects, performances, and countless gods and goddesses. The most popular way to approach the Divine is to worship one or many forms of a god or goddess, although Shiva, Vishnu and Divine Mother (Devī) are most worshipped. The idea of female divinity has its roots in the ancient times, when goddess Earth (Bhū-Devī/ Mā Prithvī) was perceived as the mother and nourisher of life and the receiver of the dead for rebirth. This natural/ biological aspect developed into transcendental/ mystical forms over the course of time.

The image of Father-Sky and the Mother-Earth is a very old and serves as a model for human behaviour. “That is why human marriage is regarded as an imitation of the cosmic hierogamy. “I am Heaven”, the husband proclaims in the Brihadāraṇyaka Upanishad (6.4, 20), “thou art Earth” (Eliade 1959: 146). As early as in the Atharva Veda (12.1, 63), the Earth is vividly prayed as mother goddess:

1:  Truth, greatness, Universal Order (rita), strength, consecration, creative fervour (tapas), spiritual exaltation (brahman), the sacrifice, support the Earth. May this Earth, the mistress of that which was and shall be, prepare for us a broad domain!

63: O mother Earth, kindly set me down upon a well-founded place! With (father) Heaven cooperating, O thou wise one, do thou place me into happiness and prosperity!

Following the view that the earth is life support entity made up of the biosphere and its atmosphere capable of maintaining stability (homeostasis), atmospheric chemist James Lovelock (1991) proposed the Gaia hypothesis (Gaia being the Greek goddess of the Earth); and the novelist William Golding suggested the name to call earth goddess in its above form as Gaia. However, this view has even more ancient links to the early Vedic period (c. 2000 BCE). In Hindu mythology the Earth (Prithvī) is eulogised as the mother of all the divinities, in the form of integrative energy between the sky and earth, which is how the Earth came to be seen as ‘the first creation’.  In more common imagery, the Earth is symbolised as Gai (“cow”) ― a witness of the universal order (rita) and truthful action (satya), as well as nourisher of life form (pālak).

Ecosystem ethics and ecosphere (or Gaian) ethics are often referred to “as ethical holism since they are seen as emphasising the value of entities that are generally perceived as wholes” (Fox 1990: 177). This idea of wholeness is vividly described in the Upanishads. Among the five fundamental organic elements of Nature (Mahātattvas, i.e. earth, water, fire, air, and ether), water serves as a unifying fluid between sky/heaven and earth (RV 10.90.11-14). As Capra (1982: 285) reminds us: “the new vision of reality... is based on awareness of essential interrelatedness and interdependence of all phenomena ― physical, biological, psychological, social and cultural” . One may call it the Gaia, Gai, or Prithvī, but the idea of wholeness and unity always exists.

The exterminating aspect of the Mother of the World is represented in the Great Goddess Kālī as eulogised in the Devī-Mahātmya of the Mārkaṇḍeya Purāṇa (81-93). She (Devī, the Great Goddess) “is described as an unconquerable, sublime warrior-maid, who came into being out of the combined wraths of all the gods gathered in council” (Zimmer 1993: 190). “For her the whole course of this universe, including her own apparition in the role of its rescuer, is but part of a cosmic dream. It is only a feature of the universal display of Māyā” (ibid.: 196-197).

Fig. 4. The Great Goddess Kālī of Hinduism. Source: Singh 1993: p. 121.

Kālī (Fig. 4) is the symbol for the infinite diversity of experience, and represents entire physical plane. For Kālī  is “usually pictured with all the old symbols of the devouring Great Mother ― sacrificial knife, skulls, blood, the serpent ― but in her worship by the true saints and sages (e.g. Ramakrishna) and in her pure metaphysical form, she was always the Great Goddess, never demanding human blood sacrifice but always calling for the interior sacrifice of the separate-self sense” (Wilber 1986: 188). Moreover, “the old and terrifying imagery of the devouring Great ‘Mother is retained as a reminder that the life of the separate self is indeed surrounded by pain, suffering, and ultimately death, and that one must transcend the self to transcend that anguish. Kālī, then, is the perfect Great Goddess: she preserves but transcends the Great Mother, and thereby integrates the lower with the higher” (ibid. 188-189).

There are innumerable characteristics, metaphors and myths related to Kālī. Science writer Gary Zukav (1979: 315) feels that “these powerful metaphors have application to the developing drama of physics. Although most physicists have little patience (professionally) with metaphors, physics itself has become a powerful metaphor.” Moreover, “the Wu Li Masters know that physicists are doing more that “discovering the endless diversity of nature.” They are dancing with Kālī, the Divine Mother of Hindu mythology.”

The prominent colour symbols involved in Kālī-image are red and black. Red represents creation, a form of primordial energy, planning and producing the evolution of the universe. Her face is black showing death ― the ultimate drama of time. Her skull-garland contains 51 pieces, symbolising the integration of a triangle, of which each axis contains 16 letters, thus, in total it comes to 48. And, adding the three intersecting points (symbolising light, sound and time) it reaches to 51. The number 51 denotes the total Sanskrit (Devanāgirī) alphabets, and also 51 Shakti Pīṭhas (holy sites associated to the different parts of the body of Great Goddess), which are in turn associated with 51 different places in Indian Subcontinent (cf. Singh 2013: 135-138). This way, the garland identifies unity and wholeness of cosmos and nature (in the form of spatial manifestation).

Fig. 5.  Shri Yantra. Source: Singh 2009a: p. 41.

The triad symbol ultimately emerges into a circle and its centre is identified as the primordial seed (bīja). The most dynamic symbol of the interconnectedness and wholeness is the mystic design, called Shri Yantra ― summarising in a glance the whole sense of the Hindu world of myth and symbol (Zimmer 1993: 140; Fig. 5). There are three structural elements in the Yantra: (1) a squared outer frame, composed of two straight lines turned according to a regular pattern, (2) an enclose arrangement of four concentric circles and two stylised lotus petals (16, and 8), and (3) a concentric composition of nine intersecting triangles converging to form 45 smaller triangles in three series (cf. Fig. 5). The Yantra therefore is a symbolic design conveying a sense of energy through its complexity.

Fig. 6. Three Forms of the Surya (Sun) Yantra. Source: Singh 2009a: p. 42.

The convergence of 45 triangles into three series unifies the concepts of symmetry and asymmetry. According to the Shiva Purāṇa (dated c. CE 9th century) the Surya Yantra (Sun-Yantra) has the highest religious merit. It is similar to the Chinese magic square of three, which is based on asymmetrical proportions of 7: 5: 3; where, from any straight-side, the total comes to 15, and, thus, finally 45 (Fig. 6). In Taoism the proportion 7: 5: 3 is a magic square provides an image that illustrates the harmony of the universe, around which royal buildings and landscape environments were oriented (cf. Johnson 1991: 179; also Cammanan 1961). There is much possibility that either Brahmanic cosmology went to China during the dispersal of Buddhism, or, in course of time it might have arrived India from China and merged into the Brahmanic thought. In general, these mystical designs as cosmograms, are soteriological ― seeing the universe as a network and stage for the drama of salvation.

 Deity, Direction and Cosmic Unity

If, for the archaic mentality, reality manifests itself as force, effectiveness, and duration, the varieties of symbols and forms to be assumed as representation of various characteristics. According to the Vedic tradition there are 33 koti (groups) of supreme divine beings in ancient Sanātana Dharma (Hinduism), viz. – 12 Adityas (Mitra, Aryaman, Bhaga, Varuṇa, Dakṣa, Aṃśa, Tvāṣṭṛ, Pūṣan, Vivasvat, Savitṛ, Indra (Śakra), Vishnu; 11 Rudas (5 abstractions, 5 names-rūpa of Shiva, and 1 “Atma’- self); 8 Vasus (deities of material elements) – Pṛthivī “Earth”, Agni “Fire”, Antarikṣa “Atmosphere” or “Space”, Jal “Water”, Vāyu “Wind”, Dyauṣ “Sky”, Sūrya “Sun”, Nakṣatra “Stars”, Soma “Moon”; and 2 Aśvins (or Nāsatyas), twin solar deities, or 2 Heaven and Earth. According to folk tale metaphorically refereed to 330 millions of divinities in Hinduism (Singh 1993: 123). Following the mythic tradition of ancient India, the deities are placed as controller of different directions (dikpālas). With their manifestive power they look after the well being of humankind and the organic world in the rhythm of space and time. The earliest reference to dikpālas is found in the CE 1st century, but it only by the 8th or 9th centuries they were described in complex forms.

The Agni Purāṇa (51, 56, 96) and the Matsya Purāṇa (260-261) mention eight directional regents, which are an advanced form in the development of these guardians. The earliest reference of directional protectors (lokapāla) is narrated in the Mahābhārata (8.45.31), the Rāmāyaṇa (6.131.64), the Atharva Veda (1.31), the Taittirīya Saṁhitā (5.5-10) and the Manu Smriti (5.96) [see Table 3; and Figs. 7 and 8].

Table 3. Directional Deities and their associated symbols (see Fig. 7 and 8)

 

Direction Dikpala Divine- character vehicle weapon Divine realm and function
East Indra storm-god elephant Vajra (thunderbolt) lord of heaven, storm, lightening
Southeast Agni fire-god ram Danda

(a staff)

head of ancestors
South Yama death-god buffalo Gada

(a club)

sovereign of the infernal regions
Southwest Nirutti evil-god witch/ female Gada

(a club)

leader of elves, (nairritas)
West Varuna ocean-god fish Pasha

(a noose)

living in terrestrial ocean & watching demons
Northwest Vāyu wind-god deer Pattaka

(a flag)

destruction god of violent desires
North Kubera wealth-god horse sword lord of richness, & metal stored inside the earth
Northeast Ishāna purifier-god bull Trishula

(a trident)

a particular aspect of Shiva, the embodiment of air

Source: Singh 1993: p. 125.

 

Fig. 7. Directional deities (Dikpālas). Source: Singh 1993: p. 123.

Hindu temple manifests the concept of sacred space, directions and associated divinities. According to Hindu architecture, the ground plan of a place of worship place is made in a square pattern, with nine outer grids on each side, including four open grids, with cardinal gates and the inner portion divided into nine grids. Thus, altogether, there exist 41 grids, each representing a part of the body of the divine image. ‘My temple is considered here as Human Body’, states the Vāstu Purusha Maṇḍala (see Fig. 9). Sometimes, the Sun-god (Surya), the source of light and warmth, and the Moon-god (Chandra), essence of life and immortality, are also described. In fact, the plan represents the symbolic merger of body, space and cosmos (cf. Singh 1988: 445).

Fig. 8. Images and temple affiliation of Directional guardians. Source: Singh 1993: p. 124.

Fig. 9. Vāstu Purusha Maṇḍala (The Temple as Human-body).

Full knowledge of the whole is certainly impossible, yet it is only with this “whole-sense” that any part is comprehensible. The transformative aspect of supreme lord is described in the Bhagavada Gītā (11.5) as “Behold, My forms, a hundred-fold, a thousand-fold, various in kind, divine, of various colours and shapes”. However (Gītā 11: 8), “But thou canst not behold Me with this (human) eye of yours; I will bestow on thee the supernatural eye. Behold My divine power”. Afterwards the great lord of Yoga, Krishna, revealed His Supreme and Divine Form (Gītā 11.9).

Radhakrishnan (1972: 273) notes that “this is Krishna’s transfiguration where Arjun sees all the creatures in heaven and earth in the Divine Form.” This is the overall form of the universe (Vishvarūpa). The similar myth of Vishvarūpa is described in the Rig Veda and the later epics and mythologies (see Maxwell 1973). The Vishvarūpa icon is “a theological statement in the sense that it is a cosmograph to which is lent the powerful dynamics of the Vishvarūpa (archaic) – myth become (classical) legend, the element which distinguishes it from a mere cosmic yantra. Its purpose is not instruction, but revelation” (ibid.: 65; Fig. 10). This revelation, in fact, is the “sacred unity of the biosphere” what anthropologist Gregory Bateson (1979: 17) calls as earth-oriented affirmation of the innate goodness of life.

 

Fig. 10. Vishvarūpa (archaic) image (after Maxwell 1973: 65).

  1. Transformative Consciousness: Harmony with Nature

The whole of human life, says Nobel-laureate Ernst Schumacher (1973), is a dialogue between humans and the environment, a sequence of questions and responses. We threat the universe by our action and progress, and, in consequence, universe reacts in an effort to harmonise the cosmic order with its law, or even violate them (Chaitanya 1983: 131). If, in spite of repeated warnings, we continue out threats, the consequences lead to loss of order, resulting to disharmony. Presently we are facing this situation.

Inner vision sees us as a manifestation of the divine being, representing the totality of cosmos. Says the Shvetāshvatara Upanishad (3.12): “That person indeed is the great lord, the impeller of the highest being. (He has the power of) reaching the purest attainment, the imperishable light.” Similarly Sri Aurobindo (1979: 14) writes that “if nothing in all the universe is frail as man, nothing likewise is so divine as he!”  Commenting on the ecological crisis and its historical root, Lynn White (1967: 1207) remarks: “Since the roots of our trouble are so largely religious, the remedy must also be essentially religious, whether we call it that or not. We must rethink and refeel our nature and destiny.” The father of ‘deep ecology’, philosopher Arne Naess (1989: 212) closes his book, Ecology, Community and Lifestyle, with a message of transformative consciousness hoping for an ordered and harmonic unity between humans and nature in the coming future:

It is my hope that beings endowed with a brain like ours, developed through hundreds of millions of years in close interaction with all kinds of life will inevitably support a way of life not only narrowly favourable to this species, but favourable to the whole ecosphere in all its diversity and complexity. A uniquely endowed part of this ecosphere will not turn into its eternal enemy.

  1. Closing Down

The Sky above: Father.

The Earth below: Mother.

The mind above, matter below,

Spirit transforms together with consciousness.

Cosmos: Order and Unity ― the elixir of life.

Sacred Geography― as a Sacred Ecology.

Cosmos―Theos―Anthropos―/

Let us re-interpret, re-orient and re-appraise the deep issues of Indian thought, so as to make the prophecy a reality – as computer engineer and Indianist Subhash Kak (2002: 105) saw:

“There are several reasons for us to believe that India will be a key player in the events of the 21st century. This will be due partly to the economic power that India will wield in world affairs. But more than this India’s unique role will be address humankind’s yearning for knowledge of self. The idea that knowledge is everyone’s basic right will let people from all over the world recognize that all are equal citizens of the global village.”

The ‘spirit’ is a blessing from the Mother Earth/ Mother Nature that the Brihadāraṇyaka Upanishad, 1. 3. 27-28) commands us to ‘Proceed from darkness to Light, from falseness to the Truth, and from death to Immortality’ (“Tamso mā jyotir gamaya, Asato mā Sad gamaya, Mritur mā Amritya gamaya” … Let us keep this spirit always awakened and pray the Mother to always direct us on the right path. Think cosmically, see globally, behave regionally, act locally but insightfully. This is an appeal to walk on the path of transformative consciousness.

Postscript

 Let me close this essay with an envisioned thought of Self-realization, what Tsujimura and Katayama (2017: 71) provoked their voice of ‘Think Cosmically, Act Globally’: “We hope someday we will enjoy more diverse and delicious dishes, drinks and marvellous music, films, poems, speeches, dances with a cosmic sense. That’s the cosmic feast — the gathering of the joys and sorrows of living in the cosmos. Our species is not eternal as well as each of us. Not forgetting our nonhuman friends, we just want to spend a happy time together during a short life of human species in a long, long life of the universe.”

Let us awaken our conscience making an eternal march from realization (anubhava) to revelation (anubhūti). Said Okamoto (1993: 195-202), ‘To recover true humanity, one needs to open his/herself to the universe, respect what s/he really wants to do, and celebrate his/her own life moment by moment. He essentially calls such pure, free and honest attitudes ‘art’, not ‘making artworks’. He rejects the use of people merely as tools. This is a declaration of the dignity of human life’ (as cited in Tsujimura and Katayama (2017: 60). This would be treated as ‘Art of Living’ (mānava jīvan kalā), which will be flowered of peace, purity and piousness where harmonious happiness is the cosmic order.

The warning and the challenges of the present era of cybernetics is rightly envisioned and provoked further the living 21st century Indian sage Prof. Subhash Kak (2016 a: 218):

“Seventy years after the end of the Second World War, the consensus that led to scientific and economic progress has lost its hold on many people. We like it that machines are taking on more of our tedious tasks, but where will this stop, if at all? Will the future be a world with real freedom for just a few at the very top of the pyramid, with the rest encouraged to live in imagined spaces aided by virtual reality and addictions of different kinds? Or will mankind choose a new path of wisdom and compassion that makes it possible for all to achieve their creative potential? This latter path will require an understanding of the mystery of consciousness.”

Using analogy, Subhash Kak (2017), narrates the message of understanding and hope what an Indian sage explained, i.e. when Yudhishthira asks sage Narada, “What is a good person to do in his or her life?” Narada says, “Firstly, be a good human being. Have compassion. Do good work. And whatever your sphere of activity in your life might be, do that to the fullest.”

As we become good human being, we will make this world good; this is provoked by the Upanishads (Hindu philosophic text of 3-5th centuries CE): Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram (“The Truth, the Good, and the Beautiful”) (Singh 2009b: 89-90). Devereux (1990: 23) notes: “How to give our spirituality a place in the landscape is also a problem as yet barely addressed by today’s ecological activists”. Big History is a march of awakening and call of the time, as captured in its definition by the IBHA (International Big History Association): “Big history seeks to understand the integrated history of the cosmos, Earth, life and humanity, using the best available empirical evidence and scholarly methods” (Rodrigue 2017: 24).

Let me close down this essay through the message of a poem “Awakening” by Subhash Kak (2016 b: 42):

When the first light

Opened my eyes to pulsating life

I felt around

And felt the force of form.

Curled up and protected

I looked out

And aped: so learnt.

 

I wove strange patterns for creation

Ruled by mysterious forces.

But of the symbols of my world

None acted as I expected

Until I knew their secret.

Amongst the living too

I saw an order

Governed by a vision,

Secret password to sensibility.

Acknowledgement

 I feel obliged and grateful to our fellow co-pilgrim and friend Prof. Barry H. Rodrigue (Eurasian Centre for Megahistory & System Forecasting, Russia, and now at Pune), for getting me joined his companionship on the multivese path of “Big History”, and at this stage for being kind enough to meticulously and critically editing the paper that makes it more implicit and expressible. I also express my thanks to my friend Ms. Dr. Orla O’Reilly Hazra (Mumbai, India) for her encouragement and support while walking together on the path of BgH.

My special thanks to ‘a person unparalleled genius’ - unice delectabat, tanto ingenio hominem ‘Padmashri’ Prof. Subhash Kak (Regent Professor of Computer Engineering, Oklahoma State University, U.S.A.), who has constantly been an invisible inspiring spirit to me like so many of us - whose writings and inspiring messages always kept me on the right path of understanding beyond the cages and boundaries of disciplines and turnings; in fact, this essay is a small token of tribute to him – as through him I learnt the cosmological and cosmogonic framing of the roots of ancient Indian Geography and their contexts today. Salute to this great Soul of Bharat (India).

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(Reproduced with Author's Permission from [483.17]. Singh, Rana P.B. 2017. Sacred Ecology and Transformative Consciousness in Hinduism.  IJTC, International Journal for the Transformation of Consciousness (GIT, Chethimattom, Pala, Kerala, India), vol. 3 (1), January-June [special issue on “Our Place in the Cosmos: Big History and Universal Consciousness”, ed. Barry H. Rodrigue]: pp. 209-233. ISBN: KERENG/2015/69416. [My ref. 483.17].  <with addition of Postscript>. © the author.

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