Extract of a speech by an Ashram resident at the Bhumi Shakti Conference
Speaking about environmental issues, Swami pointed out that “human beings’ wrong policies, especially when it comes to pollution and environmental degradation, not only affect humanity badly, but also the animals and plants of this planet,” even though they carry no own responsibility for this. He said that, “human beings have to understand that it’s time to take action and to come to a common understanding to save the world and make way for better world policies.”
Speaking of the ideas we have about animals, he said, “In today’s world people consider that all other beings have lives that are inferior to their own”. But, “All lives are equal and created by God. The real owner of all lives is God. So the duty of a human being is to let all animals live freely and not to disturb their natural way of living.”
And he was very clear about vegetarianism. He taught us by his example and by giving us experiences. “Therefore I recommend and emphasize a vegetarian diet which makes the atma pure and helps you to receive God’s grace easily. All living beings should be respected equally.”
Finally, he also spoke about our connection with Mother Earth: “Though Mother Earth is a very patient and tolerant planet, she too has her limitations. Mother Earth is now full of anger. You have destroyed her children. Many species are now extinct thanks to the selfishness of man.” He also went on to say that natural disasters are linked to our behaviour. Service to one’s brothers and sisters, and putting right the wrongs to the environment, prevent and reduce natural disasters.
This is, in short, the Dharma, the duty of humankind.
Swamiji’s example and the practice in the Ashram
Just as he did, Swamiji urged us to reduce our wants, to concentrate on the Divine and help the needy.
Swamiji built his Ashram in a rural area and his wish was that it should have a rich biodiversity with many trees, plants and flowers. He told us to reuse plant material as food for the soil and plants. He wanted us to grow herbs and produce truly natural products.
Swamiji was of course completely vegetarian and did not allow meat, fish or eggs to be eaten on Ashram premises.
He could speak to the natural world and invited all kinds of birds to come to the Ashram, which has definitely happened.
Over the years the Ashram has developed an environment rich in biodiversity, where human aims and structures co-exist with natural developments.