The Hindu tradition understands that man is not separate from nature, that we are linked by spiritual, psychological and physical bonds with the elements around us. Knowing that the Divine is present everywhere and in all things, Hindus strive to do no harm. We hold a deep reverence for life and an awareness that the great forces of nature - the earth, the water, the fire, the air and space - as well as all the various orders of life, including plants and trees, forests and animals, are bound to each other within life’s cosmic web.
Our beloved Earth, so touchingly looked upon as the Universal Mother, has nurtured mankind through millions of years of growth and evolution. Now centuries of rapacious exploitation of the planet have caught up with us, and a radical change in our relationship with nature is no longer an option. It is a matter of survival. We cannot continue to destroy nature without also destroying ourselves. The dire problems besetting our world - war, disease, poverty and hunger - will all be magnified many fold by the predicted impacts of climate change.
The nations of the world have yet to agree upon a plan to ameliorate man’s contribution to this complex change. This is largely due to powerful forces in some nations which oppose any such attempt, challenging the very concept that unnatural climate change is occurring. Hindus everywhere should work toward an international consensus. Humanity’s very survival depends upon our capacity to make a major transition of consciousness, equal in significance to earlier transitions from nomadic to agricultural, agricultural to industrial and industrial to technological. We must transit to complementarity in place of competition, convergence in place of conflict, holism in place of hedonism, optimization in place of maximization. We must, in short, move rapidly toward a global consciousness that replaces the present fractured and fragmented consciousness of the human race.
Mahatma Gandhi urged, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” If alive today, he would call upon Hindus to set the example, to change our lifestyle, to simplify our needs and restrain our desires. As one sixth of the human family, Hindus can have a tremendous impact. We can and should take the lead in Earth-friendly living, personal frugality, lower power consumption, alternative energy, sustainable food production and vegetarianism, as well as in evolving technologies that positively address our shared plight.
Hindus recognize that it may be too late to avert drastic climate change. Thus, in the spirit of vasudhaiva kutumbakam, “the whole world is one family,” Hindus encourage the world to be prepared to respond with compassion to such calamitous challenges as population displacement, food and water shortage, catastrophic weather and rampant disease.
*****The Hindu Declaration on Climate Change was adopted 8 Dec 09 at the Parliament of the World’s Religions, by a convocation of spiritual leaders including Dada Vaswani, Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati, Swami Avdheshanand Giri Ji Maharaj, Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami, Sri Swami Mayatitananda Saraswati, Sri Karunamayi Vijayeswari Devi, Dadi Janki, Sri Paramahamsa Prajnanananda Giri, Swami Amarananda, Sri Chinna Jeeyar Swamiji, Yogini Sri Chandra Kali Prasada Mataji, Swami Sandeep Chaitanya and others. The editor of Hinduism Today, Paramacharya Palaniswami, was called to the dais to read the statement. At the end he invited all present, if they concurred with the principles embodied in the declaration, to chant Om together three times. A resounding Om filled the room, an informal ratification of the declaration which will now go into a second stage of editing toward a final statement. Comments and suggestions from Hindu leaders around the world are welcome to further refine the statement and may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.