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The Hindu idea is that this whole world is a forest. To keep this world as it is we have to keep the world-forest intact. Hinduism describes everything in terms of divinity and in relation to the Ultimate Reality. The different aspects of this Ultimate Reality are all to be found in the various forms of the physical world. 

Lord Krishna brought forward the cows and played on His flute through the forest of Vrindavan, which was full of flowers, vegetables, and pasturing grass. The Vrindavan forest was as sanctified as the clear mind of a devotee.

Refer to Hinduism and Ecology: Seeds of Truth - By Ranchor Prime.


In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna compares the world to a single banyan tree with unlimited branches in which all the species of animals, humans and demigods wander. Indian consciousness is full of trees and forests. If you look, for example, in Greek literature, you will find only a few descriptions of trees and forests, whereas Indian literature such as Ramayana and Mahabharata is full of such descriptions, as if the people were always under a tree. The bond between Indian people and trees is very strong.  

Hindu tradition describes three basic categories of forest. One is shrivan, the forest which provides you prosperity. Then there is tapovan, where you can contemplate as the sages did and seek after truth. The third is mahavana – the great natural forest where all species of life find shelter. Each of these categories must be preserved. 

(source:  Hinduism and Ecology: Seeds of Truth - By Ranchor Prime   p. 10). Refer to Christian The ‘Saint’ Who Chopped Down Thor’s Sacred Tree -

Refer to Eating of Meat and Beef in the Hindu Tradition - By David Frawley -  Also refer to Killing Calderon Dolphins in Denmark

Refer to Fight Global Warming by Going Vegetarian - 

Refer to Outrageous Disgrace – Animal experiments - Conservatively speaking, approximately 100 million vertebrates in the world are experimented upon annually by the animal research industry of which approximately 22 million animals belong to the United States . Most of the animals are killed after research. (source: The Day of the Bullies - By David Irving).

Forests and groves were considered sacred, and flowering trees received special reverence. Just as various animals were associated with gods and goddesses, different trees and plants were also associated in the Hindu pantheon. The Mahabharata says that ‘even if there is only one tree full of flowers and fruits in the village, that place becomes worthy of worship and respect.’ 

Hindus see divinity in all living creatures.  Animal deities therefore, occupy an important place in Hindu dharma.  Animals, for example, are very common as form of transport for various Gods and Goddesses. The entire clan of Shiva is replete with ecological symbolism. Shiva’s consort Parvati is considered the daughter of the mountain. She is the personification of Mother Earth. In Hindu stories and iconography, there is a close relationship between the various deities, and their animal or bird mounts. Each divinity is associated with a particular animal or bird, and this lends a special dimension to the animal kingdom. 

As the sheep is to Christianity, the cow is to Hinduism. Lord Krishna was a cowherd, and the bull is depicted as the vehicle of Lord Shiva. Today the cow has almost become a symbol of Hinduism. As opposed to the West, where the cow is widely considered as nothing better than walking hamburgers, in India, the cow is believed to be a symbol of the earth - because it gives so much yet asks nothing in return. Because of its great economic importance, it makes good sense to protect the cow. 

It is said Mahatma Gandhi became a vegetarian because he felt cows were ill-treated. Such is the respect for the cow, notes scholar Jeaneane Fowler, that Indians had offered to take in millions of cows waiting for slaughter in Britain as a result of the crisis in beef production in 1996.

Snakes are a symbol of healing and primal energy. In art, the Naginis are figures of beauty.Vishnu reclines on the serpent Ananta eternally. In Kerala, snakes are worshipped as guardians of the home; and it is said that when a snake enters your life, there will be a new birth of creativity and wisdom. In Bengal, the goddess Manasa, a divine nagini, is worshipped for her powers to vanquish illness.  Dogs have always been man's faithful friends, loyal and loving. Yudhishthira refused to enter heaven without his dog. After the Pandavas crossed over to the celestial zones, Yudhishthira's dog became dharma personified. He told Indra, ``This dog, O Lord, is highly devoted to me. He should go with me. My heart is full of compassion for him''.

Nag Panchami is observed on the 5th day of the bright half of Shravan (July-August). On this day nag, cobras and snakes are worshipped with milk, sweets, flowers, lamps and even sacrifice. The image of Nag deities made of silver; stone, wood are first bathed with water and milk, and then worshipped with the reciting of the following mantras:

        Nagah preeta bhavantih shantimapnoti vai vibhoh,
        Sashanti lok ma sadhya modate shashttih samah.  

Nagaraja: Snakes and cobras are held in awe and reverence in India. They are worshipped and offered prayers on the Nag Panchami day.

Refer to Killing Calderon Dolphins in Denmark and The Global Meat Industry - Depths Of Depravity - by Radha Rajan and Paying a Price for Loving Red Meat - and Boss Hog - and How “The NAFTA Flu” Exploded - By Al Giordano


Snakes and cobras are held in awe and reverence in India. They are worshipped and offered prayers on the Nag Panchami day. Fast is observed and Brahmins are fed on this day. The piety observed on this day is considered a sure protection against the fear of snake-bite. At many places real cobras and snakes worshipped and fairs held. On this day digging the earth is prohibited, because the serpents live under the earth or in nether world and digging may hurt or annoy them. The various purans like Agni Puran, Skanda Puran, Narad Puran, etc. They roam about the land wearing lustrous jewels and ornaments. The thousand-hooded Shesh Nag or Anant is the most earth like a chaplet on his crown. When he nods or yawns, the earth with its oceans and mountains, begin to tremble. A small village near Sangli, Battis Shirale, is famous for its snake catchers, and people throng the streets to watch the thrilling performances of expert snake charmers.

Pola Festival - Expressing Gratitude for animals


Cattle are bathed, colorfully decorated and taken out in processions across the village, accompanied by the music of drumbeats in Central India. 

Pola brings out an important facet of Hindu culture, which does not look upon cattle as mere beasts of burden, but treats them with dignity and gratitude.

(image source: Webmaster's own collection from Maharashtra, India).

Refer to The Global Meat Industry - Depths Of Depravity - by Radha Rajan and Paying a Price for Loving Red Meat - and Boss Hog - and How “The NAFTA Flu” Exploded - By Al Giordano


The harvest festival is celebrated by farmers all over Maharashtra. On this day bullocks, which are an integral part of the agricultural chores and consequently the village economy, are honored. They are bathed, colorfully decorated and taken out in processions across the village, accompanied by the music of drumbeats and lezhim (a musical instrument made of a wooden rod and an iron chain full of metallic pieces). Pola brings out an important facet of Hindu culture, which does not look upon cattle as mere beasts of burden, but treats them with dignity and gratitude.

On the new moon day of Shravan, farmers celebrate the feast of the bull. Man is part of nature. There is a strong bond between man and everything round him. The bull is a farmer’s inseparable partner. The whole year round the bull renders him invaluable service. On Pola’s Day the farmer wants to show his appreciation to the bull. On this day the bulls are washed and decorated. Their horns are colourfully painted. They are not given any work. They are given special food, taken in procession and worshipped. In some places the camel is considered more important than the bull. For some people the horse, or the donkey, or sheep are more important. The importance of an animal is related to its utility to man.

(source: and Refer to Killing Calderon Dolphins in Denmark

Vegetarianism in Hinduism

There is evidence of vegetarianism in the Vedas, Upanishads, Dharma Shastras, Yoga Sutras and most sacred texts of Hindus. These scriptures unambiguously support the meatless diet. This was observed by the ancient travelers like Megasthenes and  Fa-Hsien, a Chinese Buddhist monk who, in the fifth century, traveled to India in order to obtain authentic copies of the scriptures.

"The purchaser of flesh performs himsa (violence) by his wealth; he who eats flesh does so by enjoying its taste; the killer does himsa by actually tying and killing the animal. Thus, there are three forms of killing: he who brings flesh or sends for it, he who cuts off the limbs of an animal, and he who purchases, sells or cooks flesh and eats it - all of these are to be considered meat-eaters." 

                                   - Mahabharata

In the Tirukural, a Tamil scripture written over 2,000 years ago, abstaining from a diet consisting of flesh is clearly stated as a virtue.

"Greater than a thousand ghee offerings consumed in sacrificial fires is to not sacrifice and consume any living creature..." 

                          - Tirukural

Today India has the highest population of vegetarians in the world. According to reports 20% of India’s population is vegetarian.

Indians have been behind some of the greatest discoveries and ideas in the world. From mathematics, to astronomy to literature, the Indian mind has always been able to give form to abstract ideas and concepts. Vegetarianism is just one more thing that we should thank India for fostering.

Survey of Vegetarianism: The Journey of an Idea - By Leah Renault - Refer to Global Meat Industry - Depths of Depravity - By Radha Rajan

Refer to Eating of Meat and Beef in the Hindu Tradition - By David Frawley -

Vat Savitiri - The Worship Of A Sacred Tree

The Savitri festival falls on the full moon day of the month of Jyeshtha, around June. On this day, women fast and worship the Vat tree to pray for the growth and strength of their families, like the sprawling tree which lives for centuries. Newly married women visit a nearby Vat tree and worship it by tying red threads of love around it. They offer flowers and sweets to the tree. When the moon rises full and resplendent on the horizon, special feasts are shared by families.

Almost every woman in India knows the Puranic legend of Savitri, one of the most venerated women of Indian mythology. Savitri was a princess, born by the blessing of the sun god to King Ashwapati. A lustrous woman of great beauty, she was sent to the forest ashrams of sages to look for a suitable bridegroom for herself. Eventually, she met Satyawan, a prince living in the forest because his blind father had been banished from his empire. When Savitri revealed to her parents her determination to marry Satyawan, the court astrologers tried to stop her. They said that the prince's lifeline clearly showed that he would die within a year. Savitri had however, accepted him as her husband and would not be deterred from her resolve. She married him and went to the forest ashram to live with him and his parents.

On the full moon night of jyeshtha, the couple went into the jungle to collect firewood. As Satyawan rested under a Vat tree, Yama, the god of death came to snatch away his life. Savitri, seeing Yama take away her husband's breath, followed, pleading with him to return her husband's life. At each milestone, going from earth to heaven, Yama tried to persuade the determined princess to return home and accept the destiny of her husband as unchangeable. In the face of her resolve to conquer what appeared to be insurmountable obstacles, all his efforts were in vain. Then, to persuade her more effectively, he offered her three boons, excluding the life of her dead husband.

Savitri, a woman of great intelligence, couched her requests in such a manner that she got back everything that her family had lost. First, she asked for the lost sight of her blind father-in-law. Next, she asked for their lost empire and prosperity. And finally she asked for worthy progeny. When Yama had granted her the boon of progeny, she reminded him that his boon could not be fulfilled without Satyawan. Yama, defeated by her strength and faith, had to surrender the life force of Satyawan to her, and bless her with an immortal place in the hearts of her people.

Today, Savitri's power and her tenacity to overcome insurmountable problems remains an inspiration for every woman. She is venerated on the jyeshtha full moon day which is named after her and the tree under which this legend unfolded.Nag Panchami

(source: Nag Panchami and Vat Savitri - The Worship of Sacred Trees).

Even e Lord Krishna always wore a peacock feather in his crown.

Ganesha, the son of Shiva, is a combination of elephant and man. The elephant is worshipped in this country and even today forms an integral part of many temples and festivals. Muruka or Subramanyan, another son of Shiva, also with the trident as his favorite weapon, and the peacock as his vehicle, is a deity of woods and mountains in South India. Animals also appear as independent divine creatures.

Sacred Groves and Trees

The pipal tree or asvatta (Ficus religiosa) has had a conspicuous position in the cultural landscape of north India and human collective memory for more than 5,000 years. It was depicted even on Mohenjo Daro seals. Buddha himself found enlightenment under a pipal tree (Mansberger, 1988). Buddha is reported to have been born in a sacred grove, Lumbinivana, full of sal trees (Gadgil, 1985).

For Hindus the bel tree, Aegle marmelos, is associated with Shiva, tulasi with Vishnu, and fig (Ficus glomerata) with Dattatreya, the son of Trimurty.

Nakeera, the Tamil poet of the Sangam period, states that Lord Muruka could be found in the forest, in a place surrounded by water, rivers, tanks, meeting places under trees, new-grown groves, etc. The kadampa tree is likened to Lord Muruka himself. Sangam tradition holds that he is the owner of all the hilly tracts with rich groves (Ramachandran, 1990). Ayyappa, Aiyanar and Sasta (all considered to be the same) of south India is essentially a deity of the woods, whose province is to guard the fields, crops and herds of the peasantry and to drive away their enemies.

No temples existed in India during the Vedic period. They were not to be found in the pre-Buddhist period except for wooden ones. The ancient Buddhist sacred place was the stupa (Hastings, ed., 1934). The various gods and goddesses whom the indigenous population of peninsular India worshipped were not accustomed to dwell in the secluded atmosphere of temples; they loved the open air. Even today, for the gramadevata (village goddess) of south India there are no temples in many villages. The deity may be in the shadow of a big tree. Generally they are lodged in small shrines. In a good number of villages no object is placed to represent the deity and the tree itself is regarded as the embodiment of the deity.

An interesting stage in the transformation of the sacred tree into the anthropomorphic form was observed by the Italian traveller Della Valle, who visited India in 1623–25. He found in Surat the worship of Parvati in the form of a tree. Her face was painted on the tree and offerings were of vegetable origin (Wheller and Macmillan, 1956).

In the personification of Lord Shiva, for instance, we may observe the evolution of Indian traditional thought of living in partnership with nature. He is as old as Indian thought and his origin probably merges with oblivion in the Indus Valley culture. He has mountains and wild places as his abode. His entangled hair symbolizes the primeval untamed forest. The Ganga originating from his tress depicts the watershed function of sacred groves. Serpents coiled around his neck symbolize coexistence with the denizens of the ecosystem. By his trident and leopard skin attire he brings to our mind the picture of the hunter-gatherer. This destruction is followed by creation; incorporating the elements (bhutas) from Mother Earth sprouts crops and grasses and once again forests. The sacred grove, on the other hand, was aboriginal forest which enhanced overall landscape heterogeneity and thereby greater plant and animal diversity. The necklace of rudraksha (Elaeocarpus spp.) adorning Shiva’s neck also highlights his links with the forest.

Various trees, fruits and plants have special significance in Hindu ritual. Hindu religious scripts, stories, and rituals have attempted to drive home the importance of preserving nature by deifying it through the centuries. Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita (9.26): 

Patram Pushpam phalam toyam, yo mey bhaktya prayachchati Tadaham bhakt yupahrutam asnaami prayataatmanaha

I accept a leaf, flower, fruit or water Or whatever is offered with devotion.

The neem tree is sacred and its flower is offered to God and eaten on New Years day although it is sour. The bilva tree, its flowers and fruits are very sacred for Shiva worship. The tulsi (sage) plant is regarded as the abode of Krishna and is important in all pujas. Sandal wood, its paste and oil are important in worship of gods.

All plants and flowers have medicinal value in the Hindu system of medicine (ayurveda) brought by the divine medicine man Dhanvantari during Samudra mathana (churning of oceans).

The coconut tree and the coconut are sacred and are offered to God during worship. Mango leaves are used as festoons during pujas and auspicious events. All flowers and leaves of plants are used during worship for pushpa puja and patra puja. The lotus is a sacred flower and plant for Hindus. The banana plant and leaves are used for ornamentation and worship.

The 'tulsi' plant or Indian basil is an important symbol in the Hindu religious tradition. The name 'tulsi' connotes "the incomparable one". Tulsi is a venerated plant and Hindus worship it in the morning and evening. Tulsi grows wild in the tropics and warm regions. Dark or Shyama tulsi and light or Rama tulsi are the two main varieties of basil, the former possessing greater medicinal value. Of the many varieties, the Krishna or Shyama tulsi is commonly used for worship.

Tulsi As A Deity

The presence of tulsi plant symbolizes the religious bent of a Hindu family. A Hindu household is considered incomplete if it doesn't have a tulsi plant in the courtyard. Many families have the tulsi planted in a specially built structure, which has images of deities installed on all four sides, and an alcove for a small earthen oil lamp. Some households can even have up to a dozen tulsi plants on the verandah or in the garden forming a "tulsi-van" or "tulsivrindavan" - a miniature basil forest.

Vaishavites or believers of Lord Vishnu worship the tulsi leaf because it's the one that pleases Lord Vishnu the most. They also wear beaded necklaces made of tulsi stems. The manufacture of these tulsi necklaces is a cottage industry in pilgrimages and temple towns.

Tulsi As An Elixir: Apart from its religious significance it is of great medicinal significance, and is a prime herb in Ayurvedic treatment. Marked by its strong aroma and a stringent taste, tusli is a kind of "the elixir of life" as it promotes longevity. The plant's extracts can be used to prevent and cure many illnesses and common ailments like common cold, headaches, stomach disorders, inflammation, heart disease, various forms of poisoning and malaria. Essential oil extracted from karpoora tulsi is mostly used for medicinal purposes though of late it is used in the manufacture of herbal toiletry.

According to Jeevan Kulkarni, author of Historical Truths & Untruths Exposed, when Hindu women worship tulsi, they in effect pray for "less and less carbonic acid and more and more oxygen - a perfect object lesson in sanitation, art and religion". The tulsi plant is even known to purify or de-pollute the atmosphere and also works as a repellent to mosquitoes, flies and other harmful insects. Tulsi used to be a universal remedy in cases of malverdana fever. Prof Shrinivas Tilak, who teaches Religion at Concordia University, Montreal has made this historical citation: In a letter written to The Times, London, dated May 2, 1903 Dr George Birdwood, Professor of Anatomy, Grant Medical College, Bombay said, "When the Victoria Gardens were established in Bombay, the men employed on those works were pestered by mosquitoes. At the recommendation of the Hindu managers, the whole boundary of the gardens was planted with holy basil, on which the plague of mosquitos was at once abated, and fever altogether disappeared from among the resident gardners."

Tulsi In Legends: According to one legend, Tulsi is also mentioned in the stories of Meera and of Radha immortalised in Jayadev's Gita Govinda. The story of Lord Krishna has it that when Krishna was weighed in gold, not even all the ornaments of Satyabhama could outweigh him. But a single tulsi leaf placed by Rukmani on the pan tilted the scale. In the Hindu stories, tulsi is very dear to Lord Vishnu. Tulsi is ceremonially married to Lord Vishnu annually on the 11th bright day of the month of Karttika in the lunar calendar. This festival continues for five days and concludes on the full moon day, which falls in mid October. This ritual, called the 'Tulsi Vivaha' inaugurates the annual marriage season in India. 


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