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Hinduism and Nature by [Nanditha Krishna]

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Hinduism and Nature Kindle Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 37 ratings

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About the Author

A historian, environmentalist and writer based in Chennai, Nanditha Krishna has a PhD in Ancient Indian Culture from Bombay University. She has been a professor and research guide for the PhD programme of C.P.R. Institute of Indological Research, affiliated to the University of Madras. She was the honorary director from 1981 of the C. P. Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation and was elected president in 2013. She is the founder-director of its constituents, including C.P.R. Institute of Indological Research, C.P.R. Environmental Education Centre, C.P. Art Centre and Kanchi Museum of Folk Art. She is the author of several books, including Sacred Plants of India, Sacred Animals of India, Book of Demons and Book of Vishnu (Penguin India); Madras Then, Chennai Now, Balaji Venkateshwara, Ganesha, Painted Manuscripts of the Sarasvati Mahal Library; The Arts and Crafts of Tamilnadu and The Art and Iconography of Vishnu-Narayana, among many others, besides numerous research papers and newspaper articles. --This text refers to the paperback edition.

Product details

  • ASIN : B0798KX6F3
  • Publisher : Penguin (26 December 2017)
  • Language : English
  • File size : 4638 KB
  • Text-to-Speech : Enabled
  • Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
  • X-Ray : Not Enabled
  • Word Wise : Not Enabled
  • Print length : 241 pages
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.4 out of 5 stars 37 ratings

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4.4 out of 5 stars
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Reviewed in India on 31 July 2020
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Reviewed in India on 10 October 2018
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Reviewed in India on 6 February 2018
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4.0 out of 5 stars A voice from the other side...
By Anand Kumar on 6 February 2018
Where is the voice from the other side? When we think of reading on Hinduism, why we get either books that were written a few centuries back or we get an outsiders point of view? This was something I thought about until recent years. And then slowly I started seeing new books on bookshelves. This time they were not written with a single agenda of creating a sensation, with the aim to sell more and more copies. Quite a few of these were genuine attempts to understand what this centuries-old religion was all about.

Initially, the authors were not scholars on religion, they wrote on what was everyday practice around them. So when I picked up “Hinduism and Nature” my doubt was – whether it would have references from the scriptures? What it might be about, based on beliefs, or based on documented evidence? Thankfully the book had more direct references to original texts than I ever expected. Knowing I could cross check what is being written gives a lot more confidence in the author.

Author, Nandita Krishnan holds a Ph.D. in ancient Indian culture and is associated with C.P.R. Environmental Education Center which definitely gives her an added advantage of knowing the questions beforehand. It must have been easier for her to guess what the next question her reader might have. This probably also helps her, in keeping her writing simple enough for an average Indian English reader. The book is lucid and not in a very scholarly language.

Not counting the Introduction and Conclusion, the book is divided into five chapters each spanning thirty to fifty pages. As forests and man-made groves both find numerous references in Hindu scriptures the initial chapter on groves, forests, and gardens is little longer. Since water bodies are considered equally sacred in Hinduism, they find a mention in the second chapter. As some might want to believe, Hinduism might have started as nature worship.

Reading through this book raises a new question. There can’t be a sustainable development until equilibrium with nature is maintained. So what might have been the reason for nature worship in Hinduism? Was it because this is how religions start or was it adopted by seers of old ages to make the development sustainable. Was this one of the reasons for surviving so long when all others failed over centuries? The book raises and answers similar questions for its readers.

It not just provides insights on the names and how they came from some older Sanskrit names but also provides information on how plants were considered not the only abode of gods. They were shelters for objects of worship, fetish, and even weapons. Trees are not only present on Saraswati river basin seals, they are used in philosophical metaphors too. Vedas refer to the ‘cosmic tree’ embracing the universe. Bhagwad-Gita compares the world to an inverted tree. Of course, planting trees is considered among one of the most pious deeds in Hinduism.

For animals, the instruction of not killing helpful animals comes directly from Vedas. A preference for vegans, and not killing even for food finds a mention in the book. Tamil literature, which is often ignored in references to Hinduism, do find a place in this book. This adds to the advantage of non-Tamil readers. Not only the reader gets to know what is written, and where to find further information on it, this also helps to understand the unity that is visible in Indian diversity.

There’s a long list of animals is there which are considered to be vehicles of gods and goddesses and revered across India. Even rats are often not poisoned or killed in India as they are treated as the vehicle of Lord Ganesha. A gentle reminder of such facts, which reiterate how Indian values are in congruence with nature surely makes one feel good about Hinduism. The best part is that it not only tells about ancient Hinduism, it continues till religious gurus like Guru Jamboji (death 1536). So not only ancient is covered recent views of Hinduism towards nature is also touched.

The last part of the book goes towards mountains. Only in recent times, activists became aware of how mountains support ecological balance. Not much was done to save mountains until a few decades ago. Mountains were becoming barren or unchecked mining challenging the very existence of a hill, never made the news. Somehow Hinduism was so connected to nature that not only unknown “Meru” or “Sumeru” are well engraved on coins, known peaks and ranges are also pilgrimages. Saving and betterment of such places find a place in Hinduism.

To sum up, even Indian agriculture keeps in mind to not savor all the exploits of nature alone. Festival marks the abundance which has been provided by nature. Among things that interested me were the name of mountains considered sacred in every state of India (I knew of just Kailash in Himalaya and Vindhya ranges). A small thing which might be made better would be the size of photographs in the book, larger illustrations would have been better. In the end, I would say it’s essentially recommended to youth, and in most cases, even the elderly would learn from this wonderful work of Nanditha Krishna.
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Reviewed in India on 15 July 2018
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Reviewed in India on 26 March 2018
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Reviewed in India on 16 August 2018
2 people found this helpful
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