India and Nature
He alone sees truly who sees the Lord the same in every creature…seeing the same Lord everywhere, he does not harm himself or others. Bhagavad Gita
Two major factors come to my mind when thinking of our recent trip to India. One is that there is a population of over 1 Billion, a lot of mouths to feed. The second is that over 30% of this enormous population are vegetarians. There was a large scale shift in consciousness regarding the animal population, seeing them as part of the same family.
In a discussion with a rural development officer in the holy city of Vrindavan we talked about how the cow situation can be solved effectively not only in the UK but also in India, where many bulls are often taken to slaughter houses in the dairy industry. The officers views were that until people take more responsibility to set up small hold farms themselves and keep cows, then ultimately Gaushalla’s and Farmers will struggle to care for the number of cows that are born each year.
This maybe a far stretch from modern reality, where the aspirations of youth are far from a rural lifestyle but it does raise an important question. Is it intelligent to allow the food for 95% of the population to be produced by 5% of the people? With food inflation rapidly rising, land values are making it difficult for farmers not to sell to the developers, soil degradation is also a major concern with farmers using cheap fertilizers and pesticides to meet demand.
Cows have played a long role in our agricultural history and in no other country are they as respected as they are in India. So what can we do now? Maybe it is not pragmatic to expect everybody to start farming overnight but what can be done is for people to become aware of the predicament. A switch to supporting the organic industry, growing something in your garden, educating oneself as to the differences between conventional and organic farming methods is a start.
Recognising our interconnectedness with nature is essential not only for our health but for inner peace. The respect for nature, for cows, other animals and the earth itself will allow us to have true respect for each other and ourselves.
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