Grameena Vikas Samithi, TIRUPATi-India


The Vedic way to preserving environment

June 5, 2011 was decided to be celebrated as World Environment Day by the United Nations General Assembly in 1972. And the number of NGOs and private organisations working for the cause of environment protection has dramatically increased in India too in the last two decades. With all these positive signs of awareness, let us examine our old cultures too.

India is the home of Vedic culture, which is over 5,000 years old and the Panchamahayajna (the five great sacrifices), has been a vital part of this culture. The Panchamahayajna are Brahmayajna, Devayajna, Pitrayajna, Atithiyajna and Balivaishyadevayajna.

1. Brahmayajna relates to daily prayer to the Almighty, study of the Vedas and other spiritual scriptures. In today's context even if you're an atheist still finding some time for meditation on, say, the breath (which does not need any more proof of existence) and reading some positive, motivational scriptures can do a lot of good to the mental environment called mind.

2. Devayajna is about performing sacrifices to devas, in ancient terms it is called havan. Though this might sound like purely religious and pertaining to Hinduism, the positive effect of such havans on atmosphere and society in general is ample. Agnihotra is one such devayajnawhich has now come to the limelight of scientists and various studies regarding its effect on atmosphere and the vegetation around is in progress. In short, devayajnas promised the purity of one's intellect, mind, body and most importantly the atmosphere.

3. Pitryajna is nothing but giving due respect and taking adequate care of one's parents and elders of the family. This also includes proper upbringing of one's progeny. Had this culture been upheld properly, then there would have been no old-age homes and orphanages in India.

4. Atithiyajna, as the name suggests, pertains to respecting and serving one's visitors. The Vedic list of visitors included any truthful, pious soul. All saints, sages and learned people fell under this category. Forget the learned souls, today we have degraded ourselves so much that Amir Khan along with ‘Incredible India' has to occasionally remind us about the slogan ‘Athithi devo bhava' and that our tourist visitors are a cause for huge income.

5.Balivaishyadevayajna requires that one be compassionate and responsible to all other fellow species. If we humans had executed this yajna dutifully then, words like extinct species and endangered species would not have entered our lexicon.

Speak of protecting the environment and the Vedic culture has listed five yajnas (sacrifices) which is to be performed dutifully and the result is enrichment of the absolute environment including one's mind, body, society, atmosphere, relationships and the fellow species. As Indians, we should always keep these five principles in our mind and mould our children such that they understand its importance, our culture and perform these five major duties without fail.

The true celebration of the world environment day would be when the old-age homes, orphanages and welfare associations are shut down having no need to exist.

In conclusion, I would like to remind you of Dr. Abdul Kalam's words: “Ancient Indiawas a knowledge society that contributed a great deal to civilization. We need to recover the status and become a knowledge power. Spirituality must be integrated with education. We should ignite our dormant inner energy and let it guide our lives. The radiance of such minds embarked on constructive endeavour will bring peace, prosperity, and bliss to the nation.”

Keywords: World Environment DayVedic culturePanchamahayajnafive great sacrifices.


Source:, published in The Hindu dated 05th (Sunday) June 2011.


Definition of Environment:

“The sum total of all conditions and influences that affects the development and life of organisms”.

(Source: Intensive Agriculture journal of ICAR, New Delhi.)