Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Environmental Protection: In Belief, Custom and Songs

The conscious awareness about environmental protection has been deeply rooted in Tibetan religious beliefs, customs, moral obligations and taboos. For thousands of years, Tibetans have maintained a harmonious relationship with the natural environment by protecting the ecosystem, treasuring resources and conserving it for future generations.

The idea of protecting nature dates back to, as early as 3000 years ago when Tibetans followed the primitive Bon religion. According to Bon, everything in the world including mountain, water, tree etc.have its own deity, who can both protect and punish based on human behavior towards nature.

Later when Buddhism was introduced into Tibet in the 7th Century A.D., Tibetans accepted its "no-killing" tenet. They considere themselves as an integral part of the whole system and prohibited killing and advocated protection of forests, and living creatures. 

An environment protection law called, 'ri-rlung-tsatsig' (Mountain Valley Edicts) also existed in Tibet that prohibits felling, hunting, mining, disturbing etc. The edict was issued every year after the Tibetan New year to prohibit people from hunting and protection of nature.

Thus, Tibet existed as a pristine highland with most diversified forms of life for centuries.
But today, due to climate change in general and large-scale development and exploitation and destruction by Chinese government in particular, Tibet is faced with rapid changes in its weather patterns and ecosystems in more extreme ways than any other parts of the world. The impact of environmental degradation will be far beyond Tibet, by changing the water supply for billions of people and altering the atmosphere circulation over half the planet.

Tibetans are still holding on to the idea and belief of environmental protection as is evident from several voluntary activities carried out by Tibetans such as formation of NGOs, protection groups, local initiatives, resistance to mining etc.

Similarly, Tibetan singers have also geared up to protect the environment.  Here, we are sharing one of the songs by a group of Tibetan singer with its lyrics roughly translated into English. The song is title, ཁོར་ཡུག་ལ་བསྲུང་སྐྱོབ་གནང་རོགས།’ meaning please save the environment.


The mighty and beautiful Mount Chomolongma
The pure and fresh water of Yarlung Tsangpo
The turquoise like green grassland of north
They are the life essence of our Snow land, Tibet
It's for the benefit of our future generation
But to cherish a brief happiness
We cause environmental destruction
Please give a plenty of thought to it
Please think over it!
For the benefit of our future generation
Let’s join hands to ensure its preservation

During the ancient times, on this pristine land
Once flowed pure and fresh streams
Once roamed plenty of wildlife
Once flourished virgin forests
Environment was pure and clean, once!
But for the pleasure and comfort of today
We disregard the consequences for tomorrow
The “dexterous” people of this world
 Destroying everything that existed
Only to face the ferocity of natural elements

With the consequences of environment destruction at sight
It's time we wake up from the deep slumber
It's time we show some guts
It's time we must contemplate
People of the world
Listen to our song
For the benefit of future generation
Please save the environment!

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