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Planet, Plants and Animals (Ecological Paradigms in Buddhism)

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Item Code: NAS425
Author: Anand Singh
Publisher: Primus Books, Delhi
Language: English
Edition: 2019
ISBN: 9789352902262
Pages: 296 (5 B/W Illustrations and 2 Map)
Other Details 9.50 X 6.50 inch
Weight 500 gm
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Book Description
About the Book

This book is a modest attempt to look at and examine the beginnings of ecological concerns in the Buddhist religious traditions, based on a meticulous examination of diverse narratives pointing towards a correlation between Buddhism and environmental issues. By examining the seminal teachings of the Buddha through the concepts of Paticcasamuppada, Kamma (Karmat), the eightfold path, ahimsa, Pancasila and in literature, like the Jatakas, Therigatha and Theragatha in relation to animals, population dynamics, yajfias and animal sacrifices as well as flora and fauna associated with the Buddha, this book attempts to discover the inescapable connection between the individual’s well-being and Nature.

About the Author

Anand Singh is Professor in the School of Buddhist Studies, Philosophy and Comparative Religions, Nalanda University. He has authored Buddhism at Sarnath (2014), Tourism in Ancient India (2005) and Pracheen Bhartiya Dharma (2010) and edited Dana: Reciprocity and Patronage in Buddhism (2017) which has received the ‘Outstanding Academic Book on Buddhism’ award by the _ Dhammachai International Research Institute, New Zealand. Recipient of the Dr. LG. Khan Memorial Prize, by the Indian History Congress in 2008 and 2010, Anand has published 25 research papers and articles in international and national journals.


Human beings since early age persistently enquire about habitable planet and their relationship with it. Sometimes thinking about divinity, man explores that the Earth as a conducive habitation for human and other animate beings, are purposefully created. The natural phenomenon like climate, rains, forests, and rivers influence the moral and socio-economic compositions of human beings or the humans have inadvertently induced the nature of physical environment. Till a few decades ago, the notion that human societies can change the structure of climatic conditions received relatively little systematic attention. When human impact on natural environment was examined, it was found that major transformation in nature has been done by their anthropogenic actions. Such contesting roles of humans are under scrutiny not only by geologists, geographers, and other scientists but also by the philosophers and scholars of religious studies.

Buddhism as a non-theistic religion seeks to explore the cause and cure of human suffering. The fundamental Buddhist teachings centred on interdependence, non-violence, and conditionality contribute to both practice and perception that augment and honour the ecological paradigms. The relationship between Buddhism and environmentalism unquestionably emerged as a subset of the correlation between religion and science. The scientific ideas are liable to produce disagreement with religious opinions and practices, predominantly when they challenged the philosophical notions derived from religious traditions. Secular hostility to religious worldviews and particularly to ancient ethical approaches, traditions, and practices continues to be voiced. Regarding the environment, the scholarly benchmark of a view hostile to religion is given by the scholars who were experts in neither religion nor the environment. The antagonism between science and religion is historic and well-known, but it is also multifaceted, increasingly challenging, and contested. A motivating development is a growing rapprochement between organized religions, especially Buddhism and studies in the field of environmentalism. The notion that Buddhism is influential enough to mould people more environmentally benign and sustainable, might seem whimsical but it can bring significant success to such an effort.

The domain of study of Buddhism and environmentalism show complexity of reactions to climate change. Such investigations can identify, outline, and document the main ethics of Buddhism to revitalize, preserve, and sustain essential planetary conditions. Buddhism sees its worldview as a rejection of hierarchical dominance of humans over nature and encourages empathetic compassion which respects biodiversity. There has been significant progress in this exchange and substantial research has emerged since the 1970s. This book has explored the possibilities for Buddhism to endorse ideas that address anthropogenic climate change. Many scholars have demonstrated to be savvy in their countering of religion-based environmentalism, drawing on invented stories, and the scientific publications that carefully promote a distrust in man-made climate change. It is especially risky to assume that greening of Buddhism represents an inclination in religion based reactions to climate change. Although for many scholars the compassionate purpose of Buddhism in relation to their environmental concerns seems unproblematic and apparently, closer readings of Buddhist texts and more historically and philosophically informed explanations of traditional Buddhist thought have led to a great length of discussion and critique. There is a clear need for sustained research by all religions to examine and endorse non-anthropocentric climate policies. It is imperative that a range of religious perspectives are carefully considered and included within climate studies.

Buddhist practices revolve around the notion of Dhamma, which means attainment of precise knowledge and removal of suffering. It teaches that people are accountable for their actions and go through a cycle of rebirths before the final realization of Nibbana. Buddhism cares for environment and teaches that the protection of biological diversity is essential. Certain rivers and mountains are sacred, as they give and sustain life. The teachings of the Buddha give a clear description of ecology and interdependence of all life forms. The relation between Buddhist thought and contemporary ecological concerns has become one of the most important dimensions to study contemporary issues. In general, the discourse on Buddhism and environmentalism takes place within a wider discourse of the social relevance of Buddhism, most commonly known as socially engaged Buddhism. Engaged Buddhism itself developed out of Buddhist modernism and integrates presumptions from late nineteenth- and twentieth- century broad-minded innovative experiments by the Buddhist scholars. This is in contrast to the institutional position of Buddhism during most of its history throughout Asia, where it was largely either in missionary role or in reclusive form.

The chance meeting and interaction with Professor Padmasiri de Silva, Monash University in Thailand encouraged me to carry out this work. I am thankful to him for his advice and references. I must take this opportunity to express my heartfelt gratitude to Professor $.Z.H. Jafri, who has always encouraged me to carry out this work. The Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University (MCU), Thailand has organized number of conferences on this topic and I as a panellist in these conferences got wider opportunities to interact with prominent scholars working on this subject. I would like to record my thanks to the university and organizers for such a wonderful opportunity. Thanks are also due to Dr Dipti Mahanta of MCU for a whole lot of suggestions on this topic.

**Contents and Sample Pages**

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