Courtesy: Pankaj Saxena
The most glaring difference between dharmic sects like Hindu dharma & monotheistic sects like Christianity is the sense of ecology. Dharmic sects have an inbuilt ecological compass; monotheistic sects are anti-ecological.
Ram Swarup says that modern materialist thinking puts man at the centre of the Universe where all parts of Nature and ecology are for his use and exploitation. This anthropocentric view is not new but originates in the Bible which declares that Nature exists to serve man.
“The ethical thinking of Sanātana dharma derives from this larger conception of man. Man belongs to a great community and many forces, mostly invisible. He is a meeting point of many influences; he derives his sustenance and even his being from many planes, many sources.”
In this Sanātana view, as Shri Ram Swarup says, man is part of a great web of interconnections & physically he is only a small cog in the great machinery. He is made to feel his humble position and his obligation to Nature through customs and rituals, & the concept of ṛṇa.
Shri Ram Swarup says: “He belongs to a whole universe of interconnections; he is part of a common and larger biosphere, and beyond that of a larger psychosphere, a larger cosmic moral and spiritual order (ṛta). Man is more than ecologic; he is cosmic in his being.”In Hindu universe too, man is elevated. But this elevation is not physical but spiritual. Physically man is part of the larger universe, but spiritually he alone has to capacity to reflect upon the cosmic rhythms and realize greater truths through meditation.
It is in this alone that he is special and nothing else. In this way Sanātana dharma achieves two great goals. On one hand, it humbles man in the physical world by making him realize with utmost humility his small place in the greater scheme of things.
On the other hand man’s humble place in the universe does not mean a slide into depression arising from meaninglessness and sense of smallness. So man is elevated, spiritually, by finding great meaning in life. Nature is to be respected physically, & transcended spiritually.
That is why, the mandate of a Hindu artist, as Coomaraswamy attests, is not to imitate Nature, like the Western artist in the past. Goal of the Hindu artist is to elevate the onlooker spiritually to an elevated plane of consciousness. It is to ‘transcend’ Nature spiritually.
Shri Swarup says: “Sanātana dharma teaches that there is an interchange going on between Gods and men, between heaven and earth, between men and men, between the past, the present, the future, and they each owe one to the other.”
“Sanātana dharma thinks of life as a yajña, an interchange, between different forms and modes, and transformation.” It is this cosmic view of life, that both grounds and elevates man at the same time, something only Sanātana dharma can do.