Plastic Earth: The new avatar of Bhu Mata
by Jayasree Saranathan on 31 Oct 2018 7 Comments

Human beings have made epoch-making changes to the world, in the true sense of the term. An epoch is defined as a sub-division in the geological time-scale and it has always happened naturally by Nature’s work. But in the past half a century or so, the very texture of the land or rather the geology of the upper crust of the earth has undergone transformation, mostly due to human action. The amount of plastic discards that are being dumped into the ground is phenomenal all around the globe.


Advanced nations dump more than the rest and their contribution to the earth’s soil includes more advanced and even lethal components of radioactive material and electronic goods. The ever increasing dumping of these man made items into the earth’s crust has given rise to the thought to name the current epoch as Anthropocene - the new age of Man formed by his own actions.


Though the new name suggested has yet to be accepted globally, scholars have come to accept as fact the irreversible change to earth’s geology by human action. Addressing international Anthropocene Working Group, Prof. Zalasiewicz said,

“Our research suggests changes to the Earth have resulted in strata that are distinctive and rich in geological detail through including such things as artificial radionuclides, plastics, fly ash, metals such as aluminum, pesticides and concrete. And, while the term does reflect change of significance to human society, and may be used in social and political discussions, it is based upon an independent reality.”


This reality of earth which is going to stay more vigorously and rigorously in the coming decades and centuries reminds me of some of the finest ideas of Vedic society on Earth as Bhu Mata or Prithvi.


Two entities take the beating whenever there is degradation and destruction in human values – the Cow and the Earth. Both are held sacred and divine as they are the life givers. When there is degradation of Dharma and value system, the cow is personified as having got its legs cut and the Bhumi or Earth is said to have vanished or got lost. The Age in which this happens is Kali. Deep into the age of Kali, we are now witnessing in real and painful terms the suffering heaped on these two soft entities.


Of these two, scholars around the earth have come to recognize the assault on the Earth but nothing has been done to stop this change of texture to the crust of the earth or to preserve the original texture of the earth.


It is an offence to hit or kick the earth in our ancient Vedic culture. Even for digging the earth for laying a foundation, special pujas have to be done, as if taking permission from the earth to dig.


When King Prithu for the first time in the history of Bharat introduced cultivation, which required digging the earth, it was accepted as it amounted to extracting wealth from the earth. Earth is called Bhumi because it is rich in all kinds of wealth, so says Bhu Sooktham. What is entrenched inside Earth is so borne by the Earth for the sake of her children – mankind. Earth is ready to give and has always borne any assault on her by mankind which is out to extract maximum benefits from her. But today we are forcing all sorts of unwanted things into her belly which is poisoning her very nature. A poisoned earth cannot give back any wealth to us.


There had been difficult times for the Earth in the past too, on which occasions she was said to have gone into hiding under water. After many epochs, she was retrieved from water to be able to give place for people to live. The avatar of Varaha is a personification of the times when she was uplifted from water, pure and full of nourishment for all living beings, including mankind, to survive.


It appears the present age of Anthropocene that is out to spoil the earth due to foolishness, greed and lack of foresight on the part of mankind, could end only when touched by water. That means only a Pralaya can put a stop to this age of Anthropocene.


Pralaya could wash out life, but at the same time it is also true that water purifies. Perhaps a massive and prolonged inundation of the spoiled lands can cleanse the land of all its poisons and dirts. And then will come a time when the land surges up from the waters which we call an act of Varaha; Aswins would do the healing by spreading herbs; and Vishnu would sustain life in the new lands. In short, the Earth would have passed through recycling to enrich life once again.


But the wisdom of sages as understood from the hymn of Atharva Veda on Prithvi (Chapter 12-1) shows that only those who abuse Earth would stand to suffer. The concluding verse seeks blessings of Earth to give us a secure place. What we get, we have to give back. So the society that keeps Earth secure would in turn find her give a secure place for them to live. Will this country of Vedic seers realize that keeping Prithvi unharmed is equally important as keeping cows unharmed?

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