Spirituality As a Panacea for the Ecological Crisis in Kashmir Region, India

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 10:45
Location: Hörsaal BIG 2 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Saleem MIR, Cluster Innovation Centre, India
Environment has remained deeply embedded within the socio-cultural aspects of Kashmiri Community since time immemorial. Kashmirscape - the unique blend of picturesque landscape, perennial clean water streams and lakes, lush-green vegetation and various seasons with changing hues - has always been associated with the sacred. The rituals, its celebrations, its religion, its culture, all have derived inspirations from the natural settings. However, the region is going through the worst phase of its ecological crisis. The reasons range from the increase in population to the detachment of religion/spirituality from nature. The social practices have changed due to changes in attitudes towards environment, which had been deeply rooted in the spiritual practices of the community.

The study hypothesizes that the age old tradition of spirituality within the Kashmiri Community is panacea for the current ecological crisis in the region. This paper, therefore, aims at bringing out the relationship between the ecology and the spirituality within the valley. Also the current ecological crisis, through which this fragile eco-setting is going, has been analyzed and the need for revival of the old traditions of sacred ecology is explored. As such, exploratory and descriptive methods are utilized, along with the narrative analysis. Narratives have been collected through in-depth interviews of the septuagenarian and octogenarian members of the Kashmiri community.

Preliminary analysis points towards the dramatic change in environmental practices due to changes in the spiritual and religious practices within the community. The paper ends with a note that spiritual ecology needs to be revived in the region to protect its fragile environment from the current crisis and for its sustainability for a longer period in future.