Indian Eco Theology: Theory and Practice

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Indian Eco Theology: Theory and Practice
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Nature and human beings are close to each other for mutual existence and sustenance. The mutual interdependence, relationship between nature, humans, plants and animals has always been discussed in the history of human civilization at different periods, in different religions of the world. This book is about the interaction and interdependence between man and nature which is reflected through different religious practices followed in India. The religions like Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism through the interpretation of their ancient texts and Agamas all are agreed at a point that eco-theology are coterminous and synonymous. The spirit of humility and prayers are the two ways in which human beings can become part of nature and respect others. It is the duty of human being to protect, preserve and promote nature. In all religions, the life of the Gurus and saints are closely linked with nature and many rules and percepts are meant for the purpose of protecting and conserving the environment. All religions discussed how one could protect the environment and save oneself, nations, society and all creatures from natural disasters. This book attempts to illuminote how these Indian religions have addressed questions of ecology and environment and created a consciousness regarding the interconnectedness and interdependence of all natural systems. Thus, show the path of tranquillity, peace and bliss in human life.

 

About the Author

Namrata Kothari, has completed her postdoctoral fellowship from Ramkrishna Mission Institute of Culture in 2021. And awarded the Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Calcutta in the copacity of Senior Research Fellow. She has done her post- graduation degree in Political Science from University of Calcutta and post-graduation in Jainology from Jain Vishwa Bharati, Lodnun. Currently, employed as Assistant Professor, HOD in the department of Political Science, South Calcutta Girls' College.

She has delivered lectures in different colleges of Kolkata. As an invited faculty at the University level, delivered lectures in Jadavpur University, Mahatma Gandhi Hindi Antarrashtriya Vishwavidyalaya, Central University, JIS University and Kolkata Police Law Institute. She has also got the privilege to teach German to the Sramanis of Jain sects.

She has also participated and presented research papers in different conferences and seminars in India and abroad. Like in Poland (as discussant and paper presenter), in Philippines(as Moderator and paper presenter) in Brunei and in China(appreciated for her exceptional presentation) and Bangladesh. She was also invited to deliver lectures in India and abroad (Suffolk University, Boston and American University of Paris, Paris).

Her works were published in books and journals of national and international repute. She also appeared in national TV channels as political analyst(CNN, India News, Republic Bharat, R.TV, Sahara TV, Doordarshan). Her important published books are-

1. Jainism: Emergence and Socio-Political Values, Mark Books, New 2013 Delhi, Jan,

2. Raja Rammohun Roy: The First Awaken Soul of Modern India, Institute of Social and Cultural Studies, Kolkata, May, 2018 3. Santhara: A Jain ritual of fast unto death: Motilal Banarsidass Publication, New Delhi, Jan,2022.

 

Preface

My interest in religion, particularly Jainism, has been rather varied. After my initial research on Jainism from a social political angle, I moved on to write about different themes of Jainism including human rights, peace, ahimsa, and death. I expressed many of my ideas about Jainism as a religion as well as the way of life in my book on "Jainism: An inquiry into its emergence, background and social political values in it". Shortly after that book was published, I engaged myself in teaching. researching and writing on various aspects of Jainism.

Suddenly one day I came across a book on sallekhana which was not read by me. I turned on its pages first, got curious, and soon riveted. Then I started my postdoctoral work on Sallekhana: A Jain ritual of fast unto death, a work which has not been done and thought by many. As I delved into it I was especially interested in the ideas related to Jain death with a sense of detachment, the relation between body and soul, conversant with the nature of life, and also in the manner in which these ideas are different from suicide and Euthanasia.

This book represents an expansion of those ideas, initial inquiries drawing on many other religious sources, situated within a continuous and comparative historical framework, in order to set large arguments. While I had, over the years, acquired experiences dealing with Jain Agamas and other secondary sources, editing this book gave me the opportunity to become acquainted with the concept of ecology embedded in the other religions like Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, as also in Jainism. This made editing this book a wonderful voyage of discovery.

My interest in comparative religion was accompanied by another realization of the need of the hour, that is how religion helps in the promotion, preservation and protection of ecology that look beyond a certain boundary. This wider spectrum makes it possible to place ecological thought with a comparative context, enabling us to recognise ecological connectivity of different religions of the world.

These ideas on religion and ecology require crossing not only spatial boundaries but also temporal ones. This book begins with explaining the conception of eco-theology and why it is so important for us today. The fact that ancient religious ideas and teachings continue to be invoked in modern India makes a new understanding of those ideas and teachings extremely relevant, indeed essential. Another reason for pondering on the connection between religion and ecology as present in different religious texts with the hope that it can perhaps help us to reflect on the escalating ecological violence in the world today.

I am indebted to those who have contributed a chapter in this book. Several people helped me in editing this book. My friends and teachers have been constant companions and sources of encouragement during highs and lows of editing this book, My husband and son, Vishal and Tej Veer, have been sensitive supporters throughout the process.

Finally, I would like to thank Motilal Banarsidass Publisher for the constant support, and cooperation, the entire team of Motilal Banarsidass publisher for their support, and efficiency, resulting to the publication of this book.

 

Introduction

Eco-theology, as defined here, is that reflection on different facets of theology as much as they take their bearings from cultural concerns about the environment and humanity's relationship with the natural world. It is, broadly speaking, a particular expression of contextual theology that emerges in the particular contemporary context of environmental awareness that has characterized the late twentieth century and early twenty-first centuries. Given the widespread secular engagement with environmental issues at global, national and local levels, such expressions of theology are highly significant. This development is not simply the concern of minority interest groups, but we reach out to include all those who are aware of global and local environmental problems.

In other words, it is hard to talk meaningfully about ecology in such a context, without also speaking about religion and theology as well. Ecology here means the broader context of ecological concerns, as well as that described by ecological science as such. In the loose sense, eco-theology is postmodern in that it takes context as its starting point and challenges the presupposition of much theology emerging in the so-called modern period. In the main, eco-theology turns against the tide of radical postmodern relativism for a confessional encounter reaction in that it accepts that environmental problems have a substantial and reasonable basis in reality.

At their best, postmodern critics show the limitations of scientific analysis and theological dogmas. Eco-theology can survive such criticism by also challenging the secular idea that the sciences are sufficient to solve environmental problems. Overall, eco-theology seeks to uncover the theoretical basis for a proper relationship between God, humanity and the cosmos. Humans are understood in Christian traditions to be created, but alienated from the natural world through their own tendency towards domination. Many approaches to eco-theology are those that seek to recover our sense of place on the earth, a reminder that the Earth is our common home, that the story of earth and that of humans are one. Theology is the study of religion. The word "theo" means God in Greek and logy means "the study of". Therefore, we expand it to mean the study of religion. It derived from the Greek word "theologia"-which means God and logic means utterance, sayings. Theology is defined as a collection of assembled religious beliefs, for the study of God and religion. According to Merriam Webster dictionary theology is the study of religious faith, practice and experience.

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