Environmental Messages of Mahatma Gandhi

Embark on a journey of introspection with profound environmental insights of Mahatma Gandhi that resonate through time. This post critically reflects on Gandhiji's timeless messages, emphasizing the urgency of embracing simplicity, non-violence, and ethical choices in our modern world. Explore Gandhi's vision for a harmonious relationship with nature and the pressing need for global adherence to these principles.

Smt. Rama Rauta

11/26/20234 min read

a statue of a man sitting on a stone bench in a park
a statue of a man sitting on a stone bench in a park

Dear friends,

Let us critically reflect on the following invaluable environmental messages of Mahatma Gandhi.

"When there is both inner and outer cleanliness, it approaches to Godliness."

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated."

"We can't have ecological movement designed to prevent violence to nature unless the principle of non-violence becomes central to the ethics of human culture... A society can be judged by the way it treats its animals. It is arrogant to say that human beings are the Lords of and masters of the lower creatures. On the contrary, being endowed with great things in life, they are the trustees of the lower animal kingdom." (T.N. Khoshoo, Mahatma Gandhi: An Apostle of Applied Human Ecology, Teri, New Delhi, 2002, pp.65-66.)

"What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another."

"The Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs, but not every man's greed."

Gandhiji was once asked if he expected Independent India to attain the same standard of living as Britain. Gandhiji replied, "It took Britain half the resources of the present to achieve this prosperity. How many planets will a country like India require!"

"It would be said for India if it has to inherit the English tastes so utterly unsuitable to the Indian environment."

"God forbid that India should ever take to industrialism after that manner of the West. The economic imperialism of a single tiny island kingdom (England) today is keeping the world in chains. If an entire nation of 300 million took to similar exploitation, it would strip the world bare like locusts." (Harijan, 20-12-1928)

"I don't believe that multiplication of wants and machinery contrived to supply them is taking the world a single step nearer to its goal. I would wholeheartedly detest this mad desire to destroy distance and time, to increase animal appetites and to go to the end of the earth in search of their satisfaction. If modern civilisation stands for all this, and I have understood it to do so, I call it Satanic." ( M.K. Gandhi, The Voice of Truth, pp.326-327.)

" Man's happiness lies in contentment. He who is discontented, however much he possesses, becomes a slave of his desires. .... The incessant search for material comforts and their multiplication is an evil. I make bold to say that the Europeans will have to remodel their outlook if they are not to perish under the weight of the comforts to which they are becoming slaves. A time is coming when those who are in a mad rush today to multiply their wants, will retrace steps and say; what we have done. A certain degree of physical harmony and comfort is necessary, but above a certain level, it becomes a hindrance instead of a help. Therefore the ideal of creating an unlimited number of wants and satisfying them seems to be a delusion and snare." ( T.N. Khoshoo, Mahatma Gandhi: An Apostle of Applied Human Ecology, pp.68-69)

"That you cannot serve God and Mammon is an economic truth of the highest value. We have to make our own choice. Western nations are today groaning under the heels of materialism. Their moral growth has become stunted. ...Let us seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and the irrevocable promise is that everything will be added unto us. These are Real Economics. May you and I treasure them and enforce them in our daily life." ( M.K.Gandhi, The Voice of Truth, P..328)

"I feel and I have felt the during the whole of my public life that we need, but we perhaps all the nations of the world need just now, is nothing else and nothing less than character building."

Mahatma Gandhi sees clearly that the present culture of development of modern civilization has two choices: "First it can wait until catastrophic failures expose systematic deficiencies, distortion and self-deception. Secondly, a culture can provide social checks and balances to correct for systematic distortion before catastrophic failures." (T.N. Khoshoo, Mahatma Gandhi, An Apostle of Applied Human Ecology, Teri, New Delhi, 2002, p.34)

If we don't listen to the present ecological warmings of Nature, its ruthless worth will slowly but surely come.

Mahatma Gandhi rightly considers Modern Civilization's present culture of having unlimited desires based on lust for pleasures/luxuries and greed for wealth and going to the ends of the Earth with the help of science and technology for their satisfaction, even at the cost of causing greater and greater harm to the life-and-health sustaining natural Eco-systems of mother Nature, to be highly unspiritual, satanic and a nine days wonder only. It has caused the disappearance of tens of thousands of plant and animal species and continues to cause greater and greater violence to the life and health-sustaining natural eco-systems of Mother Earth through the unethical use of science and technology, which has catastrophic consequences for our masses, future generations and the dumb-and-deaf life world. We must know that the fundamentally ethics-based, Eco-friendly, village-friendly, agro-friendly, just, sustainable, loving and caring Gandhian nonviolent culture of decentralised industrialisation and urbanization is the only surest rational permanent solution available to us for avoiding the impending catastrophic consequences of the present very grave global environmental crises, including the crisis of global warming and climate change, along with with the present deep-rooted, all-pervasive global moral and spiritual crises. It is based on the basic ethics of all great religions as well as of our great living ancient civilization in the context of our present age of science and technology with Village Swaraj constituting the core of the Gandhian solution.

Let all like-minded noble persons sincerely try through a mass Satyagraha to create such a culture of development in India and save India and through it the world at large from the present very grave global environmental crises which has catastrophic consequences for the masses future generations and the dumb and deaf life-world. Surely our great living ancient Indian civilization has the moral and spiritual resources to create such a culture of development in our mother country and save her and through it the world at large from the present very grave global environmental crises, including the crisis of global warming and climate change along with the present all-pervasive deep-rooted global moral and spiritual crises. Surely with the easy global communications and transport available or possible with the help of science and technology, we can create a morally and spiritually enlightened/rational kingdom of righteousness/goodness (kingdom of God / Rama Rajya) on Mother Earth both locally as well as globally. Mahatma Gandhi, the apostle of Truth and non-violence of our age, shows us the right way.

With goodwill, love and prayers,

Smt. Rama Rauta