The Atharva Veda 12.1 describes the relationship with Earth and the care and obligations we have towards Earth. Even the United Nations has set out “World Environment Day” as a conscious effort towards the earth and environment.
The Vedas outline our relationship with nature and with the Earth. There are 63 Verses of the Atharva Veda that specify the creation of the Earth and its due maintenance by its inhabitants. Earth is not viewed scripturally as an inanimate or non-living thing, instead the Vedas specify the Earth as a living entity, that is, it is efficient, effective and self-sustaining – that is, except for the impact we have on the earth.
The Vedas also recognize that some of the impacts we have on the earth can be corrected and righted, thus, even the rituals like Agnihotra and havan includes the personal efforts towards righting what wrongs we commit. However, there are also things that are not easily corrected – or cannot be corrected at all. The Scriptures instruct us to desist from such harmful activities.
Earth is viewed as mother; and without a mother, creation and procreation comes to a standstill. And, as a mother, the earth provides us with the seasons, the fruits and other foods, the medicines, the air and atmosphere and so many other necessities of life All life is only possible because of the Earth. Even the sun would be of no real value to us if it were not for the Earth and its ability to absorb and to use the sunlight for our benefit.
These verses provide a great insight into the care that is due to the earth. These verses teach us to care and love the earth; to protect the earth and, in these verses, we also pray for the preservation of the earth.
सत्यं बृहदृतमुग्रं दीक्षा तपो ब्रह्म यज्ञः पृथिवीं धारयन्ति ।
सा नो भूतस्य भव्यस्य पत्न्युरुं लोकं पृथिवी नः कृणोतु ॥
(अथर्ववेद १२.१.१ )
Satyam brihad-ritam-ugram deekshaa
tapo brahma yagyah prthiveem dhaarayanti.
Saa no bhootasya bhavayasya patni-urum
lokam prthivee nah krinotu.
(Atharva Veda 12.1.1)
This warm, welcoming, formidable, yet accommodating Earth has been created by the Almighty as the repository of the basis of life. It has been in existence and will continue to be in existence to sustain life so long as we maintain truth and develop superior intellect to perform such acts as to sustain the Earth. Let us maintain our devotion, penances and other good acts to ensure its preservation.
सत्यं satyam – truth बृहदृतमुग्रं brihat – reservoir, place with water ritam law, superior intellect ugra noble, high, formidable दीक्षा deekshaa nitiation, initiator तपो tapas austerity, penance ब्रह्म supreme यज्ञः sacrifice, worship, devotion पृथिवीं earth धारयन्ति dhaarayan containing, holding, disguised सा she/he नो us भूतस्य of past भव्यस्य bhavya of future grand, adequate, true पत्न्युरुं accommodative and welcoming wide space, large, spacious (patni, like consort, uroom spacious, welcoming) लोकं world पृथिवी earth कृणोतु to do, to be done.