Jaipur, India – Wearing masks and depriving ourselves of deep fresh breath, rhythm and science of which has been taught by Indian Yogis since centuries, we are also missing exposure to Sunlight as we avoid stepping out more often. With this, most of us are realizing how we have mistreated nature and mishandled a great opportunity – that is Life. We can now relate to suffocation and strangling of other creatures caused by us as cruel rulers and plunderers of the Earth. A recent study reveals that more than a third of the world’s forests died between 1900 and 2015 and we have wiped out 60 percent of the animal population in the past 40-50 years. This is how we have used the gift of our intelligence.
Even when we have always known that we survive on our abundant share of greenery, water, sunlight, warmth of loved ones, fair treatment to all living beings, we must count ourselves as one of those countless species that inhabit the planet. With this realization, if at all, we could hardly manage to make it a fair and fantastic world. In Indian subcontinent, ignoring and obliterating the treasure of advanced civilization, history, science, diverse culture, food, art, legacy of great educational institutions, medicines, healing herbs, traditional wisdom, brilliant brains, vast repository of knowledge in Vedas and Upanishadas and deep ecology, we aped a world which was evidently self-destructing. As imitators of consumerist culture, we forced ourselves into a reality where 70-90 percent of Indians are Vitamin-D deficient and one in every 10 asthma patients is in India, majorly because of environmental allergies and bad air. As if, we could survive without Sun and fresh air.
In current Covid-crisis, climatically, restrictive human interference is a respite for water bodies, ozone layer and plant world and socially, purdah (veil)/burqu or head cover worn by village women/men seen by racist world as relics of backwardness, have found a new meaning as protective gears.
And drawing from famous cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead, we are witnessing how successful we have been as a civilization on the measure of the contributions an individual is making to her or his fellow human beings. In India, Sikh community and RSS (Rashtrya Swayam Sewak) volunteers and uncountable-nameless youth groups have won hearts of all by feeding millions of empty stomachs and serving displaced families whose earning members have lost work in lockdown. These footprints of humanity need to remain etched in mainstream national culture.
In fact, we can all treat ourselves as ‘walking plants’ now, that are uprooted and looking for nourishing soil and sunshine. Possibility is, we may either adapt to a new environment or may remain as unruly as ever to be rejected by survival forces of our existence. Choices and efforts need to be made. Pinning our hopes on Science and Spirituality, we may recall how one Indian Scientist had announced to the world that trees also feel.
Sir Jagdish Chandra Bose, physicist, biologist and botanist of eminence had studied in Cambridge and University College London and is credited with predicting the use of N-type and P-type semiconductors which is the heart of the whole branch of electronics. He had demonstrated that plants feel just like humans do through his instrument Crescograph. But this genius was harassed by the Royal Society of London and the Plagiarists, just as the greatest inventor of all time, a Serbian, Nikola Tesla faced it all at the hands of Thomas Alva Edison and more business minds in America.
When Bose’s original research article ‘Plant Response’ was published by another scientist in his name and his invention of Radio waves and transmission was patented by Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi, this de-spirited Indian scientist wanted to return to his motherland.
And here in India, it was the spiritual and intellectual force of Sister Nivedita, an Irish devotee of Swami Vivekananda, who supported, funded and mentored him to rise to global fame. Those social and spiritual leaders were well aware of human potential and possibilities and they remained guiding light for many artists, scientists, educationists, entrepreneurs and social-political leaders to direct their efforts for larger welfare of the nation. India is waiting for this synchronic motion on part of leaders and followers to lead with the best of examples on the fronts of policy and integrity, as one without the other will never work.
India in this time is hell-bent on handling health and economic crisis in its own way and ‘vocal for local’ and ‘Atmnirbhar Bharat’ (self-reliant India) have been another set of slogans floated by Modi with Rs 20 trillion stimulus package and framework to combat economic slowdown. India has its own legacy of scientists and spiritual leaders who have demonstrated utmost grit and audacity amid all odds. And, much of it was all about development keeping national ethos, human dignity and respect for nature intact.
Bose was also inspired to launch his own Research Institute, publish his own books and researches and through this he contributed immensely to the world of science. His work ranged between physics and physiology, and this remains the core focus area to work deeply and directionally for today’s world of science also after almost a century of Bose leaving a strong legacy of work. Rather, the world is more dependent on bio-scientists as we are constantly under attack by Nature’s fury and climate change impacts. Viruses, locusts, earthquakes, tsunami or storms and more unseen threats ahead need seriousness in our efforts to deal with it all.
Today, the whole global population, breathless with multi-layer masks, realises the healing power of proper breathing and keeping safe distance with humans but close connection with nature. We need to recall that whatever we do now, the world ultimately is dying to see an ‘unmasked’ society, metaphorically and literally.
So, let us lift up each other and be rooted again to start pulsating like a sapling, meditative and mindful.