Scientific Proof Shiva Is an Environmentalist?

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Shiva-Murudeshwar: HDR (Photo by varun suresh available on Flickr)

The Hindu god Shiva, known as the destroyer, is a great environmentalist according to a paper presented by Dr. Akhilesh Kumar Pandey, chairman of the Madhya Pradesh Private University Regulatory Commission. Although it may be surprising that “the destroyer” cared about protecting nature, there is ample evidence in ancient texts that Shiva is an environmentalist.

But does that mean a botanist should be presenting a paper on this topic at the 103rd Indian Science Conference?

The Destroyer as a Preserver

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that Indians treat nature as God perhaps because so many Hindu gods have ties to natural objects. Shiva is no exception. In an interview with Rediff.com, Pandey explained why he thinks the god is a great environmentalist.

“Lord Shiva stopped the flow of the Ganga,” he said. “When King Bhagirath called Lord Shiva from earth, the flow of the Ganga river was so fast that in order to stop it, Lord Shiva took the river on his head and he allowed only that much water to flow from his hair that was needed for earth. This is the concept of water conservation. This was the message. He emphasized that water must not be wasted.”

Pandey also referenced the animals Hindu deities are depicted with — Ganesha and the mouse; Kartikeya and the peacock; Nandi and the bull; Durga and the tiger; and Shiva and the snake. The close relationship the gods have with animals encourages Hindus to remember that every living thing is important. We are all one family.

Religion as a Science

While there is evidence Shiva cares about the environment, the evidence isn’t the type normally presented at scientific conferences. Unfortunately, the Indian Science Conference is getting a reputation for broadly defining science and allowing papers like Pandey’s to be presented.

Last year, a session titled “Ancient Sciences Through Sanskrit” focused on aviation technologies in Maharshi Bharadwaja’s Vaimanika Shastra. Speakers presenting the paper at the conference described how Indians flew planes before the Wright brothers did. Needless to say, science wasn’t a big part of the paper or the presentation.

This year, Pandey’s paper wasn’t the only submission that had scientists scratching their heads. Rajeev Sharma presented a paper about how blowing a conch, a sacred Hindu object, can help people achieve health and wellness. “Blowing of shankh [conch] is the best preventive measure for psycho-somatic disorders as it accounts for both physical and mental aspects of a performer,” he told Mumbai Mirror.

Attendees were not impressed. “I attended one day (of an earlier congress) and very little science was discussed. It was a circus. I will never attend a science congress again in my life,” Nobel laureate Venkatraman Ramajrishnan told The Times of India.

Good Message Told the Wrong Way

It is wonderful that people are looking at Shiva’s ties to nature, but it is always worrisome when the lines between science and religion are blurred.

Religious leaders should accept science and scientists should be inspired by religion. The two should exist together as complimentary pursuits. Religion is a part of humanity’s culture, a link to the traditions and morals that have defined a people for years. Science is separate from culture; it is supposed to exist outside the biases, assumptions, and mythologies we have always relied on and challenge us to see the universe through fresh eyes.

Hindus may have a long revered nature and environmentalism may be part of their culture. However, this is not relevant to a scientific conference. Instead of looking at Shiva’s impact on the Ganges, presenters should look at climate change and waste discharge’s impacts.

With fresh information we can do more to protect the rivers without Shiva’s help.

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About the Author

I’m an organic-eating, energy-saving naturalist who composts and tree hugs in her spare time. I have a background in environmental law, lobbying, and field work. I believe in God; however, I do not call myself a Christian or a Jew or a member of any religion. I am merely someone who finds a spiritual connection to all humans and the environment. You can find me on Twitter, Facebook, and .

  • Ravikumar Kakde

    Hi Eden,
    Nice summary about the Shiva being Environmentalist. Its a good try to connect religion and gods with environmental awareness.
    You said that ‘Religion’ and ‘Science’ has to be separate from one another. But I am not agreed to this, because there was only science in Hindu religion at the start, long lost and became blind faith later. I say

    “In ancient India, science was religion, religion got transformed into blind faith and now it has to transform back into science.”

    Why am I talking like this? Its because, Shiva is my subject and Dr. Akhilesh Kumar Pandey has his own theory, Shiva being Environmentalist and I have mine.
    I know exactly who or what is Shiva. The lost link between the ancient knowledge and science has been found. Yes, I have a theory on Shiva, more profound and scientific in nature. It also explains the following unanswered questions, like:

    *) Why Shiva is worshiped through Shivlinga? How Shivalinga represents lord Shiva?
    *) Why Shiva is having third eye?
    *) Why Shiva is holding river Ganga in his hair? Is it real?
    *) Why Shiva wears Snake around his neck?
    *) Why Nandi is Shiva’s vehicle?
    *) Why we can not find Shiva at mound Kailash? Where does he lives?
    *) Why Shiva is called eternal Yogi?
    *) Why Shiva is called Vastospati, lord of Vastu (structure) and Pasupati, lord of animals or living beings?
    *) Why Shiva is called Destructor? How he is responsible for creation?
    *) Explanation of Nataraja as destructive cosmic dance of Shiva.
    *) Birth and death of lord Shiva and much more…

    Yes, I know the real Shiva. I have published a book on same topic:

    “Brahma Gyan – The science behind Shiva” by Ravikumar Kakde

    Available on amazon at:
    USA: http://www.amazon.com/Brahma-Gyan-science-behind-Shiva-ebook/dp/B01LY6RDQF
    INDIA: http://www.amazon.in/Brahma-Gyan-science-behind-Shiva/dp/9352672852

    Share your views about the same

    Thanks and Regards
    Ravikumar Kakde (Author: Brahma Gyan – The science behind Shiva)