Krishna and Ecology Values
Note: this passage is excerpted from the longer paper “The Ecotheology of Our Tradition,” written by team member Krishna Kishore das.
Care for the Earth and Krishna consciousness go naturally together. Lord Krishna explains in the Bhagavad-gita that He the is the proprietor and enjoyer of the entire creation. Thus, it’s important for ISKCON devotees to protect and care for the earth and all her creatures, knowing well, as the Sri Isopanishad explains, “to whom they belong.”
Yet, just as we tend to forget the Lord’s supreme position, we sometimes forget to care for His property—His energies. Some devotees may think we don’t need to worry about “material things.” Or, we may think that being vegetarian is enough of a contribution towards protecting the Earth and other species, and no other actions should be required of us.
However, the very concept of Krishna consciousness means to be conscious of the Lord and His energies in all that we do. Just as we are conscious of what we eat or don’t eat, we should be conscious of how we purchase, prepare, and store the food, or bhoga, that we offer to the Lord. We need to be conscious, or Krishna conscious, in how we conserve the water he has gifted us. We need to be conscious in treating waste products so as to replenish, and not harm, our surroundings. We also need to be conscious to minimize the energies we use, remembering whose energies we are consuming. Srila Prabhupada set the example for us – by walking out of his way to turn off water faucets, instructing disciples to turn off unnecessary lights and fans, etc.
All around us exploitation of the Earth is having drastic and harmful effects. Air pollution in many cities, including New Delhi, regularly measures “hazardous” for days and weeks on end. Climate change and global warming have contributed to historically destructive wildfires in Australia and North America. Polar ice caps are melting. Hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, tsunamis, and other natural disasters are more frequent and more intense across the globe. Some island nations and coastal regions face submersion in the rising oceans. Without significant change, young people today will face drastic impact in the quality of their lives.
“Simple living and high thinking,” a profound form of sustainability, has always been part of Krishna Conscious philosophy. In recent years “sustainability” has become a guiding principle for many individuals and governments. As servants of Lord Krishna, it’s important that we act in alignment with our principles of caring about the Lord’s property. What is more, for our Krishna consciousness message to be taken seriously by society-at-large we must act with integrity. As ISKCON members we are called to teach and preach, but we must also be examples of living conscious, caring lives while offering our hearts to the Lord in a holistic way.