To what extent have religion and community been forces for conservation in India?
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To a great extent, one can see the forces of both religion and community helping to bring about the forces of conservation. From the most blatant perspective, the protection of animals such as the Bengal Tiger and the Servant Mouse has connection to the Hindu pantheon of divinity. The maternal goddess Durga rides a tiger in her most commonly depicted of images as she slays demons that do harm to the structure of justice and goodness, while the mouse is the vehicle of the beloved god Ganesh. One could argue that the need to do right by Hindu principles and beliefs could help to spurn efforts to conserve and save the areas and species that hold special significance to its religious worship. Communities committed to Hinduism might also be motivated to practice conservation by their belief in principles such as ahimsa, a rule of conduct that forbids the harming of another living being. The belief that divinity can take the form of any life form is something that is embedded into Hindu philosophy. Additionally, the belief in reincarnation that compels one to believe that every life form is a manifestation of a spirit can also be seen as critical to conservation efforts. The Vedic scriptures and their teachers do much in way of stressing the need for conservation and respect for all life forms, helping to explain how religion and community can play a vital role in the development of practices such as conservation.
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