FOREST SPLENDOR

Seeing Radha-Krishna in Everything

Seeing Radha-Krishna in everything is based on the Vedic ecological concept of forest splendor. Ranchor Prime in Vedic Ecology said it well: "The splendor of the moon, the stars, the rising sun, the winds, the sky, the vegetation, the animals, birds, rivers, trees, oceans and mountains together forms the beauty of the natural creation in its entirety." In Sanskrit this is called vana vaibhava or forest splendor. As being part of this forest splendor, humans need to respect what trees and eco-systems contribute to every living being on the planet.

Hindus all over the globe are implementing projects and practices which enhance the eco-systems of planet Earth. Some are protecting and planting trees. Some are instituting green practices and policies in their mandirs and during festivals. Some are using green building designs and energy systems in their mandirs. Some are using green cleaning supplies which promote health and are more cost effective than chemical-based products. For Earth day this year I encourage all Hindus to implement at least one new practice which will promote the idea of forest splendor.

In Vrindavan an ecological project was developed by the World Wide Fund for Nature and concerned devotees called Friends of Vrindavan. Radha-Krishna's forests had been seriously deforrested and water quality and trash problems existed near the Yamuna River. Appropriate trees, bushes and herbs were planted. The community was educated and trash was removed. The water quality issue is also being worked on. As many Hindus remember Krishna defeated Kaliya, who was a serpent who had poisoned the water, cattle and people. Krishna restored the river to its former greatness. We must be like Krishna in restoring the health of our rivers and lakes all over the world.

Devi Mandir in Ontario, Canada conducted a green audit of their mandir. They installed solar panels and started recycling. They recently won a green award for their on-going efforts. Many church communities keep their recycling in the kitchen, or they build a special-colored bind which separates different items. Mandirs can usually reduce their trash bill when they recycle, too.

One project I would like to encourage is the use of green cleaning supplies. Borax, Bon Ami, baking soda, lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil are often more economical than chemical products. The University of Minnesota did a research study on hot water, soap and chemical products. Hot water killed the germs the best, followed by the soap. Chemical products came in last. Essential oils and water can be used in a spray bottle, also. Food coops and natural food stores also have other green products. This is also a wonderful opportunity for the Hindu Community to promote and start their own green businesses.

A return to natural, traditional colors at Holi, which mandirs in NY and India are implementing, such as using dried flowers which are boiled, is one of those practices. Many of the modern materials are made of chemicals and heavy metals. Scientists have tested and analyzed some of these materials. Lead Oxide, Copper Sulphate, Chromium Iodide, Aluminium Bromide and Mercury Sulphite cause a myriad of health effects: renal failure, learning disabilities, allergies, asthma, chemical sensitivity, cancer and vision problems. Scientists found these substances in the Holi materials. Thousands of children are chemically injured every year at Holi. Some adults can not participate because these products make them sick. Traditionally, these colors were made by using flowers of the season. Alex Steffen wrote this in the article called "A Greener & Healthier Holi": "Many groups in India are now pushing for a return to the traditional pattern, arguing not only that it is healthier, but that encouraging a market for natural colors will help support hard-pressed Indian farmers and biodiversity in a conservation economy symbiosis." Wherever Hindus live this promotes the idea of green Hindu businesses and families making their own natural colors together. Here is a sample recipe developed for Holi by the Kalpavriksh Environmental Group and the women of Malnad Seed Exchange. *Mix haldi powder with besan for a lovely yellow. *Slice a beet root and soak in water for a deep pink. *Boil Marigold or Tesu flowers in water for yellow colour. The other easy way to get a yellow liquid colour is to soak peels of pomegrante (Anar) over night. *For an orange paste, henna leaves (mehndi) can be dried, powdered and mixed with water. This article was found on www.worldchanging.com. On www.envis.maharastra.gov.in, there is another article on a green Holi with other suggestions.

There are many more possiblities for Earth Day projects and for green projects all year round. Start small and add a new practice/policy every year. You can plant trees, fruits and flowers around your mandir or house. Some mandirs have gone back to using ceramic plates and using dish washers. Some use dyers instead of paper towels in the restrooms. I encourage all good efforts towards forest splendor. I just keep thinking how wonderful it was centuries ago when Radha, Krishna and the Gopis were enjoying the forests of Vrindavan. It's time to create some of our own Vrindavan forests! Have a great spring! Happy Earth Day!

JAI SHRI FOREST SPLENDOR!

Radhapriestess

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