Biodiversity is defined as variety and variability in living organisms. From our immediate environment to the whole world, the flora and fauna are intensely diverse.
How many amazing varieties of lives we encounter in our life, from insects, to animals, to plants. Each ecosystem brings with it its own set of creatures, who are dependent on each other.
Every life is dependent on the other for its survival, and are part of the food chain. And, even if one life becomes extinct, then the whole food chain is affected.
Thus understanding of the Ecology of living creature, will help us to understand how vital it is to preserve the Biodiversity.
Biodiversity in India
India has been a richly biodiverse civilization from ancient times, partly because of its diverse terrain. From the Himalayas in the north to the Indian Ocean in the south to the Thar Desert in North West, to peninsular plateau, India is a home to a variety of ecosystems.
Ecology and Biodiversity are integral to the ethos of this land.
This diversity is echoed in our Upanishad, which has the sloka, “Ekoham Bahushyam, meaning, “I am One. I shall become many.” Thus Divinity divided Himself into infinite lives, through the universe.
The concept of Biodiversity and food chain is beautifully depicted through Shiva Parivar, Shiva’s Family.
Shiva has Nandi, bull for his Vahana, vehicle and wears a snake. Parvathi has a lion, Ganesha has a mouse and Karthikeya a peacock. In real world, the lion considers bull as its prey and the bull fears the lion. Similarly, snake preys on the mouse and a peacock preys on snake. Here we see that the family members of Shiva have Vahana that are by nature antagonistic to each other. This is symbolic of Biodiversity and food chain that are the very nature of Nature.
4 types of Creatures
In the Mahabharata, Chapter-5, Sanjaya describes to Dhrtharashtra, the types of life, immobile and mobile.
Sanjaya describing to Dhrtharashtra
Three Categories of animals
Similarly, animals were categorized into three.
- Vayavya – those of the air
- Aranya – those of the wild
- Gramya – Those of the village
Ramayana speaks of the biodiverse nature of the forests.
At the time when Rama was leaving for exile, Kaushalya, His mother expressed her fear about His safety, wherein she says,
“May the huge elephants not harm you my dear son, nor the lions, tigers, bears, boars or ferocious horned buffalo.”
At another place, Sita expresses her delight in witnessing the forest, where she refers to lotus ponds, herds of deer, geese and ducks.
Ayurveda, the Indian science of medicine, consists of profound knowledge of Biodiversity. Ayur means life and Veda, knowledge. Ayurveda is the knowledge about life. In Ayurveda, the inter-relationship between living creature and their habitat was establish.
Vriksha Ayurveda, is a branch of Ayurveda that studies the science of flora. In it, various aspects of plant life and forest ecosystems are dealt with. It also describes varieties of plants that have medicinal properties, and are widely used in treatment.
Chanakya’s Arthasastra, gave importance to preservation of Biodiversity.
The Arthasastra divides the environment into several regions like,
- Aranya – Forest Areas
- Parvata – Mountains
- Audaka – Wet and humid regions
- Bhauma – Drylands
- Sama – Plains
- Visava – Uneven lands
Protection of each of these ecosystems, as well as the creature are given prominence in Arthasastra, which specifies penalties and punishments for injuring living creatures.
Jungles to Concrete Jungles
Today, in the name of progress and prosperity, buildings replace trees in most major cities. Water bodies disappear to make way for residential and business complexes. Jungles are slowly giving way for concrete jungles. This has greatly affected the Biodiversity of our planet.
Humans are the Cancer of this planet
A thought-provoking quote from the Hollywood movie, Matrix states:
“Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply… until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern.
Do you know what it is?
Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet”.
International Day for Biodiversity
International Day for Biodiversity is a UN instituted day observed every year on May 22nd to raise awareness on preservation of Biodiversity.
Only preservation of this diversity can save us from the adversity that our planet is facing these days.