Maria Wirth is a German and came to India for a holiday after finishing her psychology studies at Hamburg University. She visited the Ardha Kumbha Mela in Haridwar in April 1980 where she met Sri Anandamayi Ma and Devaraha Baba, two renowned saints. With their blessing shecontinued to live in India and dived into India’s spiritual tradition, sharing her insights with German readers through articles and books. For long, she was convinced that every Indian knows and treasures his great heritage. However, when in recent years, she noticed that there seemed to be a concerted effort to prevent Indians (and the world) from knowing how valuable this ancient Indian heritage is, she started to point out the unique value of Indian tradition.
I was asked to write a message on Earth Day for students. I share it here
Namaste to all of you,
Today, Earth Day is celebrated all over the world and your Principal Sir has asked me to send a message for you.
You may wonder who I am. So I briefly introduce myself:
I am from Germany. When I had finished my studies and had earned some money, I wanted to go to Australia. On the way I stopped in India and landed up in Haridwar at the Kumbh Mela. This was a turning point in my life. I met impressive Yogis like Devaraha Baba who was over 300 years old. I realized that India was very special. India has so much important knowledge. No other country is as rich in knowledge. I wanted to learn more and stayed in India and never went to Australia. I love India. Actually I never thought that one can love a country so much.
Your ancestors, the rishis, knew many things thousands of years ago which only recently were discovered in the west. The older students among you may know that Quantum physics now claims that there are no separate things in this universe. Things only appear to be separate. Our senses deceive us. In truth, all is an interconnected Whole.
Your ancestors knew this long, long time ago. And you may not know it, but the modern scientists, who discovered Quantum physics in the last century, had studied Indian ancient texts, like the Upanishads. So, the Vedic rishis inspired these scientists. Werner Heisenberg, one of the founders of modern physics, even came to India in 1929 and had talks with Rabindranath Tagore.
Now, regarding the Earth Day, too, India is inspiring the western countries. So far, the west used to think that it is ok to exploit the earth. Even our religion, Christianity, says that it is ok for man to exploit and subdue the earth and whatever is on it. This attitude has done enormous damage. We took more from the earth than what we needed. We cut down forests; we polluted soil, air and water. We robbed the minerals she keeps under her surface. We were only interested what she can give us and never thought of her well-being.
Now slowly we realize that this leads to our doom. If we continue like this, the earth will not support our lives much longer and we won’t be able to live. We are now afraid that we will suffer. We know we have to change and here again, we can learn from India.
India had since ancient times not only a better, but the best approach to life and everything that is connected with it. So I as a westerner should not give a message to you, but you should give a very important message to us westerners on Earth Day.
You must tell us that the earth is a mother. Tell us that you call her Dharti Mata – the mother who holds us. She is alive. She is not dead matter. How can she be dead matter when she gives us thousand fold back what we give to her? We give her seeds and she gives us a full harvest – vegetable, grain, fruits. She gives us herbs when we are sick. She provides wood, stones, mud and iron ore to build houses. She gives us coal and oil for energy; she gives us trees with cotton for our clothing; she even gives us gold and diamonds. Where would we be without mother earth? We are completely dependent on her.
And yet we ignore her most of the time. This attitude has even started in India, because there are many Indians who wrongly think that the west knows better. No. I can assure you. The west does not know better. India knows better.
We need to realize again that the earth is really alive and be grateful to her. Being grateful is one of the most beautiful feelings you can have. It makes you automatically more beautiful. In some Indian families it is still common to touch the earth in gratitude first thing in the morning after getting up, and then touch the feet of the parents. It connects us with everything around us. Bhagawan is everywhere and in everything. And Bhagawan is also present in Mother Earth.
Just imagine what miracle it is: Dharti Mata provides us with everything we need to live. Yet she is also part of a bigger family – Venus, Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn… They all move around the sun. It looks as if they are paying respect to the head of the family without whom they all would be lost in darkness. The earth moves at tremendous speed, at 30 km in one second!! It means if a bullet train was travelling as fast as the earth, it would cover the distance of about 3000 km between Kashmir and Kanya Kumari in less than 2 minutes. Amazing, isn’t it?
She keeps this high speed continuously to take us around the sun in 365 days. And to give us the experience of day and night, she turns around herself once in 24 hours. It is a miraculous dance she performs while we are peacefully asleep at night or walking around during day.
There is no collision in our solar system and we don’t even notice that Dharti Mata is moving. We see only the sun moving… This is the reason why till some 500 years ago, people in the west insisted that the sun moves around the earth. In this respect also, the Indian Rishis were far ahead of their times. The Rg Veda (10.22.14), the most ancient text in the world, stated already thousands of years ago that the earth goes around the sun. However, you may have heard that Copernicus was the first who discovered this. No, he was not the first. He was only the first person in the west. But the credit for this discovery has to go to the Indian Rishis. You can be proud of them.
The celebration of Earth Day is meant to make us reflect on the bigger picture and most of all, to be grateful to Dharti Mata. Let us pledge that we will never exploit her and never take more than what we need for a simple life. And also very important, let us keep her beautiful and clean. It is our duty towards her. She fully deserves it.
Thank you, dear students, that you kept listening.
And all best wishes for your studies and for your future.