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Updated on November 15, 2010

Start the Greening of Mandirs

In the Vedas, Puranas and the Gita, ecological wisdom is praised and promoted. In the hymns to the goddess of the Earth, Bhumi, in the Bhumi Shukta in the Vedas these great ecological concepts are extolled. We perform a Bhumi Puja before we construct a building. This is done to receive Bhumi's permission to build on the Earth. Every day we walk on our great Mother, Bhumi. In the Gita "ether, air, fire, water, earth, planets, all creatures, directions, trees and plants, rivers, and seas, they all are organs of God's body; remembering this a devotee respects all species."

Yet for all the ecological wisdom of our ancient scriptures, which promoted these truths for thousands of years before other spiritual traditions did so, there are many unecological practices in mandirs of North and South America. There are noteable exceptions like Devi Mandir in Canada and some New York and Canadian mandirs and ashrams which promote ecological practices. Yet, if you go into many mandirs you will notice some very obvious unecological practices.

Christianity is not known as an ecological tradition, yet when you enter a number of Christian churches today you will find a number of good ecological practices such as recycling, use of ceramic plates, glasses and silveware instead of paper and plastic plates, use of hand dryers instead of paper towels, use of more ecological LED lighting and even use of geothermal heating and cooling through use of a heat pump using heat from the Earth herself. Energy costs can be greatly reduced by the use of geothermal. Solar lighting is used in some congregations for the parking lot and entrances. Environmental cleaning supplies are even used in a number of congregations. Water is served in pitchers instead of bottles. Pop is not a beverage that you would likely see available to drink. Any one who knows any thing about health knows how unhealthy pop and kool aid are for you to drink. Pop has a high sugar content which leaches out minerals from your body and it also promotes dental cavities. Diet pop and kool aid contain additives and preservatives which are considered to be toxins. These drinks can cause allergic reactions and ADHD in children. This is why schools have banned them in vending machines in a number of places.

Unfortunately, when you walk into mandirs in many locations, you will not find much evidence of the ancient practices of ecological wisdom of the great scriptures of Hinduism. You see a real lack of recycling, liberal use of paper and plastic plates and utensils, use of paper towels in the bathroom instead of hand dryers and a lack of LED lighting. You will see chemical cleaning products used all over the place. These are very common in many mandirs. You will see pop as the beverage of choice instead of water, juice, milk, tea and coffee. Other ritual practices have more priorities, yet many young people are interested in changing these unecological practices. Ecology is a hot topic on the face book pages among youth. Teaching youth Hindi, Sanskrit and music is good, but Vedic Ecology courses and kathas may actually serve them even more in the future. They are going to be the future leaders and will be the ones to change most of these unecological practices by understanding and living the ancient practices which made India the greatest ancient civilization. I encourage the elders to change these practices now, too. A great intergenerational interaction could be created when the youth and elders do this together.

Few pandits talk about ecology and the ancient ecological practices and wisdom which could serve us today. Ecological wisdom is one of our greatest treasures. There are some young priests who do try to do this like Pandit Rajin Balgobind, Pandit Tootaram Doobay and Pandit Munelal Maharaj, but we need more priests and teachers doing this. Vedic Ecology and Ayurvedic Medicine should be taught at every mandir and by every teacher and priest. From a very practical view point, this wisdom is very needed today to solve the global warming crisis. Even US citizens are learning yoga, Vedic Ecology and are starting to go to Ayurvedic Medicine Doctors because of the failure of modern, Western Medicine in treating chronic health problems. We say we value the youth. Why not get them involved in these ecological projects? It is very revelant to the times and upholds our ancient wisdom. Some older leaders see that by doing so we will not only save money by being more ecological, but the youth will be engaged and interested in promoting great ancient practices. I honor those intelligent souls who see that Vedic Ecology will be what saves the West and the East.

There are every day practices we need to change in our own personal lives, too. This could be a family and personal project every year. Pick one unecological practice every year you wish to change. Research it and discuss it with your family and implement it. I encourage mandirs to do this, also. Often our mandirs are used on Sundays and for Yagnas, but they could be an educational center for Hindus and the whole community at large. We could also do interfaith projects with Christians, Muslims, Jews and Buddhists concerning ecology, poverty and world peace. Krishna loved trees and the ecology of Vrindavan. He is our inspiration in so many ways. Way before St. Francis of Assisi promoted ecology, Krishna, Sita and the ancient sages lived and taught ecology for future ages. If you look at the Vedas and the Puranas, you will notice how much they read like modern scientific text books on ecology. It is time we reclaim and live our hertiage. The living of this hertiage will help solve global warming and make the world a better place. For more information and ideas on greening your mandir, go to There are case studies on the greening of sacred sacred spaces at the website.





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