In the recent past, someone was wondering how on earth this Earth Day should be celebrated. I chucked to myself. We are not the passengers after all, but the crew of this spaceship called the Earth. More so, the responsibility lies on us to run this ship with due care and great aplomb. Haven’t we inherited the planet from our elders, not merely the farms, houses or other personal effects? In fact, we own a trust property that is the entire earth, sans a written deed. That way we should feel we are luckily rich, not speaking all the gold and petroleum under basement. Hence we are duty bound to handover this property in one piece to the posterity, without damaging its environment including its surface, core, products and byproducts. Ironically said, we do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children. I wonder how true when Sir Wilfred Grenfell said, ‘The service we render to others is really the rent we pay for our room on this earth.’
Again, that someone I said earlier, wondered how the tributes should to be said to our mother earth. Of course, we can say them with some pride, like proclaiming-- we walk on the same earth Jesus walked or we are sharing the same earth visited by Buddha, Gandhi, Einstein and Martin Luther King, or for that matter Elvis Presley, M.S. Subbalakshmi, et al. Saying thanks to the earth is nothing new. Won’t we see some artistes and sportspersons touching the ground with reverence just before entering the arena or stage? While approaching a temple, devotees touch the base of temple threshold reverently. It is only to seek the permission of the Lord or Lordess concerned-- akin to ringing a doorbell before calling on someone at his or her house. Some touch the ground near the feet of holy men as though they fear to touch their feet. The soil treaded on by the great people gets enriched or is absolved even, if the same has been stepped on by sinners, if any.
In India, the earth on the floor of a traditional house is smeared with cow dung and or water colored with turmeric. In such beliefs there is more to it than meets the eye, such as marble slabs or tarmac paving. Tributes to our holy earth can be paid in many ways, such as in the tree plantation, construction of homes for the poor besides temples, of course. Indirectly we can pay our respects to Mother Earth by showing due concern to the flora and fauna which have no voice of their own despite being our fellow beings.
In Indian mythology Mother Earth has a significant role. To cite examples: Sita, Rama’s consort, is borne to Goddess of Earth and the Earth Mother takes her child back upon the former’s request. Likewise Parvathi, the equal half of Shiva is borne to the king of mountains. I wondered how closer to earth our hearts are from the times immemorial but we ignore the ground realities in due course, except its price in real estate market, i.e. realties.
In my childhood we used to sit on the floor and eat, that was staying closer to the source of food. Later we rose in comfort a notch above, and started eating at dining table. Many of our colleagues on this spaceship called Earth, considering ourselves as crew, are still sleeping on the cold floor. It is not as if they heard the quote, ‘A loaf of bread and bare earth for a bed in the company of the beloved is full happiness’. But many of them are very poor, living in slums, and their number is on the raise in the times of growing urbanization. They have no room to accommodate the cots, or can’t afford to buy one. Wherever we are on the earth, when leaving here we all start our final journey from Ground level.
We hear people say proudly that they are down to earth. To be realistic or earthy, I wonder, what on earth they speak; were they realistic they wouldn’t say it aloud. Though He owns the Heaven, God loves to be down on earth incognito in some ‘x’ or ‘y’ of us, the reason being he loves us most.