Can Prahlad’s teaching save earth from science driven environmental disaster?


Today scientific outlook and capitalism are guiding principles of human civilization. These two things becomes context of ethics, morality and virtues. Science stands of libration from tentacles of ignorance and irrational beliefs and capitalism means supremacy of endeavor, liberalism and utilitarianism. Though impressive it appears it is not without grave danger.

The most critical of them is narrow, anthropocentric and materialist bias which is leading us towards enviornmental disaster. Dharmic ethical values provide an alternative. In fact it is the most fundamental thought of India that makes it different from the rest of world, including other eastern cultures.
The story of Hiranayaksha-of Srimad Bhagvata Mahapurana provides us the answer.

The life and teachings of as narrated in Srimad Bhagvatam is one of the most sublime part of Sanatana dharma.  His teachings are recorded in Prahladopakhyana. Bhakta Prahlad is one of most cherished character of Puranic literature and his life and teachings gives us a nice overview of dharmic value universe vis-à-vis  others. Prahlad personifies ideals of devotion and Varnasharama duties.

Mighty Hirany-aksha (meaning one who eyes on gold and riches) assaulted earth and took her to the nether region. Gods and sages prayed to Bhagwan Vishnu to save Earth. Vishnu assumed Varaha (Boar) Avatar and liberated the Bhudevi (the earth goddess) killing Hiranyaksha. Hiranyakashipu, his younger brother performed severe penances and acquired great powers from Brahma. As a king he became proud and greedy.

He forcefully snatched the Havis meant for Gods and other deities. Prahlad was son of Hiranyakashipu. He had got Pradesha from Narada Muni while he was in mother’s womb. Prahalad developed divine qualities detested all Aasuric values.In the story Prahlad was sent to Guru. The King wanted his son to accept ‘materialist’ values. At the Gurukula on being coaxed to tell his mind, Prahlad replies to Shandaamarka, disciples of Guru Shukracharya’s :

Those men whose mind remain attached to worldly possessions are affected by Maya the delusional power of Bhagwan and they wrongly see things as ‘mine’ and ‘others’; I bow to that Bhagwan who is the lord of Maya. When such Bhagwan bestows grace, the minds of men are purged of those animal instincts which creates false distinction as this is I and that is different from I. That Parmatman (supreme soul) is this Atman (individual soul) and deluded people distinguishing in ‘mine’ and ‘others’ expound That only.

When Hiranyakashipu came to know of his son’s devotion to his enemy Vishnu, he devised many plans to kill Prahlad. During all tribulations Prahlad remains equanimous and steadfast in his conviction.  Vishnu assumed form of Narsimha (half lion and half man) and killed the Aasura king. When Bhagwan asks Prahlad for boon, he says –‘Grant me that intense love, O Lord, which the ignorant bear to worldly things, may I have the same love for Thee; May I have the same intensity of love for Thee, but only for love's sake!

Dharmic tradition sees man as a part (just like any other living being) of ecology. There is sacredness associated with existence, the nature by origin is divine (preside by Gods) and there is a constant transaction between man and nature a Yajna is in happening; all this is happening within Brahman. So there is a live relationship between human acts and nature, a mutual give and take.

This grand orderly cosmic interrelatedness, the rta is inviolable. Being most fundamental to Indian tradition it constitutes the ethical and moral force of our being and constitutes our characteristic distinctness.  Despite terrible omissions traces of these values are still visible in lives of common people even today:

For example:
1) Even today in villages many farmers following don’t carry more than certain quantity of load on bullock-cart.

2) Animals rendered useless owing to age or ailments are not sold, lest they go to the butcher.

3) Women while cooking food prepare bread for fire, cow-ox and dog.

4)  Majority of dharmic people avoid cutting sacred trees and killing of animals.

This allegorical story of Aasuric greed perfectly summarizes the state of amoral scientific-capitalist order of the day. It exposes effects of greed and on earth and environment. Though the West requires education for environmental protection it is innate to Indian. Even uneducated people see the Aasuric nature of wealth which is accumulated by greed and selfishness.

The traditional Sanatani mind without least hesitation identifies the scientific and economic development and resultant prosperity to prosperity of Aasura kings. A few years ago University of California Astrophysicist Greg Laughlin came up with a formula to calculate the worth of Earth. He calculated financial worth of earth around 3000 trillion pounds. This very idea to measure economic worth of earth reveals the asuric ethical base of the scientific age.

Comparing this with Indian thought that sees earth as a mother nay mother goddess herself clears all the mist. The contrast of sacredness of life and profaneness of knowledge come to fore like never before. Needless to say these Bhagvata doesn’t understand such science and history and the modern states does not acknowledge existence of such value order!

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