By ISKCON Vaishnava Research Forum
There was a wealth of interest generated in the recent Vedic Ecology Convention held by the ISKCON Vaishnava Research Forum at the University of Kwa Zulu Natal, in Durban, South Africa. The event was attended by about 200 delegates and everyone was enthused by the brilliant presentations on the Vedic culture which reflected various ecological processes of ancient India. A sumptuous breakfast, mid-morning snack and closing lunch added to the great atmosphere.
Some of the presentations also suggested ways in which these processes could be applied to modern times, in order to alleviate many of the current environmental problems . All presentations were based on the teachings of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, who advocated simple living and high thinking. In a letter in 1975, Srila Prabhupada said, “Our cows are happy, therefore they give plenty of milk. Vedic civilization gives protection to all the living creatures, especially the cows, because they render such valuable service to the human society in the shape of milk, without which no one can become healthy and strong”. Many of such verses and quotes were emphasized at the convention followed by stimulating and interactive question and answer sessions. Indian village life and the devastating effects of the migration of villagers into the cities were also highlighted.
The Vedic culture advocates love and reverence for nature. In the Vedic literature, natural elements such as rivers and mountains are personified and revered as great personalities. The Ganges River, for example, is personalized as Mother Ganga and the Govardhan Mountain in Vrindavan, India is accepted as being non-different from Lord Krishna. When Mother Nature is de- personalized by mankind, it results in her exploitation as reflected by the current climatic changes. This was the primary focus of the discussions at the Convention.
A wide spectrum of topics on cow protection, village culture, sustainable farm communities and environmental education from a spiritual perspective were also highlighted. Papers were expertly presented by senior devotees of ISKCON, who have researched and studied the field of Vedic Ecology over many years. The Convention is also a culmination of a series of lectures and discussions on Vedic Ecology that were held over the past weeks preceding the convention. These were also based on the teachings and literature of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, ,who advocated “simple living and high thinking”.
In a letter in 1974, Srila Prabhupada said “Our farm projects are an extremely important part of our Movement. We must become self- sufficient by growing our own grains and producing our own milk, then there will be no question of poverty. So develop these farm communities as far as possible.” Relevant environmental phenomena such as ozone depletion and global warming also formed part of the discussions. Presenters also suggested practical ways in which the concept of Vedic Ecology could be taken forward. The ISKCON Vaishnava Research Forum holds forum lectures every alternate Wednesdays at the Sri Sri Radha Radhanath Temple (Hare Krishna Temple) in Chatsworth, Durban. In order to receive notification of the lectures, please send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org