Written by Hindu Press International
Edited by Dhanisha Patel, Sewa Co-ordinator

With the world’s attention and optimism focus on Copenhagen for the next two weeks, Hindu Press International has made a special Announcement.

Hindus have shown unity and extraordinary leadership releasing the Hindu Declaration on Climate Change, marking a definitive stance of Hinduism as a religion that is aware of humankind’s role and responsibilities in Earth’s ecosystem.

Earth, in which the seas, the rivers and many waters lie, from which arise foods and fields of grain, abode to all that breathes and moves, may She confer on us Her finest yield. (Bhumi Suktam, Atharva Veda xii.1.3)
The Hindu tradition understands that man is not separate from nature, that we are linked by spiritual, psychological and physical bonds with the elements around us. Knowing that the Divine is present everywhere and in all things, Hindus strive to do no harm. We hold a deep reverence for life and
an awareness that the great forces of nature-the earth, the water, the fire, the air and space-as well as all the various orders of life, including plants and trees, forests and animals, are bound to each other within life’s cosmic web.

Our beloved Earth, so touchingly looked upon as the Universal Mother, has nurtured mankind through millions of years of growth and evolution. Now centuries of rapacious exploitation of the planet have caught up with us, and a radical change in our relationship with nature is no longer an option.
It is a matter of survival. We cannot continue to destroy nature without also destroying ourselves. The dire problems besetting our world-war, disease, poverty and hunger-will all be magnified many fold by the predicted impacts of climate change.

The Declaration was read out In Melbourne, Australia on December 8th, at the finale of the Convocation of Hindu Spiritual Leaders Parliament of the World’s Religions, a meeting of Hindu Leaders open to the public. The Hindu Convocation was the first of its kind. All present chanted AUM to acknowledge their assent.

The room resonated with the oldest of all mantras echoing in support of the Declaration. It was as a historic moment, a meeting of globalization and tradition, a confluence of Hinduism’s timeless reverence and gratitude for the environment merging into a new global awareness.

Leaders Present Included Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati, Swami Avdheshanand Giri Ji Maharaj, Sri Karunamayi Vijayeswari Devi, Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami, Dadi Janki, Sri Paramahamsa Prajnanananda Giri, Swami Amarananda, Sri Chinna Jeeyar Swamiji, Yogini Sri Chandra Kali Prasada
Mataji, Sri Swami Mayatitananda Saraswati, Swami Sandeep Chaitanya and others. Karan Singh, who was not present, also endorsed the Declaration and participated in its creation.

The nations of the world have yet to agree upon a plan to ameliorate man’s contribution to this complex change. This is largely due to powerful forces in some nations which oppose any such attempt, challenging the very concept that unnatural climate change is occurring. Hindus everywhere should work toward an international consensus. Humanity’s very survival depends upon our capacity to make a major transition of consciousness, equal in significance to earlier transitions from nomadic to agricultural, agricultural to industrial and industrial to technological. We must transit to complementarily in place of competition, convergence in place of conflict, holism in place of hedonism, optimization in place of maximization. We must, in short, move rapidly toward a global consciousness that replaces the present fractured and fragmented consciousness of the human race.

Mahatma Gandhi urged, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” If alive today, he would call upon Hindus to set the example, to change our lifestyle, to simplify our needs and restrain our desires. As one sixth of the human family, Hindus can have a tremendous impact. We can and should
take the lead in Earth-friendly living, personal frugality, lower power consumption, alternative energy, sustainable food production and vegetarianism, as well as in evolving technologies that positively address our shared plight.

Hindus recognize that it may be too late to avert drastic climate change. Thus, in the spirit of vasudhaiva kutumbakam, “the whole world is one family,” Hindus encourage the world to be prepared to respond with compassion to such calamitous challenges as population displacement, food and water shortage, catastrophic weather and rampant disease.