Monday, July 09, 2018

Why we should start worshiping nature again.


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Conservation of nature requires intimate knowledge about the way it functions. We once had that knowledge that was taught in Universities across the length and breadth of India. What is to be understood is the deep connection between humans and nature. Other beings intrinsically follow natural laws and are therefore connected to and beneficial to nature. Mankind has lost that connection with the advent of agriculture. The chasm deepened with industrialization.

We always marvel at the knowledge of ancients. That knowledge came automatically because they were connected to nature and communicated with it. The process is known today as Shamanism. Through trances and rhythmic dances and through prayers and rituals they connected. The extreme disconnect with nature has proven costly. We have harmed the earth at a level that is frightening.

Our ancestors respected nature and her inhabitants. Indians had a symbiotic relationship with domesticated animals. Every domesticated animal has something to contribute. There are studies that show children growing up in farms have a diverse and healthy microbiome. Farmers in rural settings have a far more diverse microbiome than urban dwellers. Pets are known to keep children happy at several levels and help them grow up physically and mentally.


The microbiome and the virome determine who we are; even our thoughts and habits. We are only 43% human - 57% foreign. One has to understand the microbiome and the virome to comprehend the role of the cow in pre-industrialized India. The cow came to be respected after agriculture and domestication of animals became the mainstay. Slowly the cow, the dog, and the horse became essential items. All were well cared for and prized possessions.

The cows became favourites as they provided labour, milk, dung and urine - all of which had benefits in the food system and in agriculture. The cow was very well looked after and became revered. The human microbiome adjusted to the bovine microbiome and it is from this association that the health benefits stem from. The good qualities of the cow, it's docile nature, it's patience, motherly love, and it's strength were noticed and therefore interaction with humans at several levels was encouraged. Its microbiome that we inherited by consuming her products helped us imbibe those qualities.

The microbiome and the virome share their genetic material with us. Only some species of bats, rodents and fleas are known to harbour organisms that may be harmful till the human body adjusts with them. They are attracted by filth and recognizing this we developed the science of sanitation and hygiene. 

Regarding the virome we know we share it with the plant and animal world and it shapes our health. Unlike today where we abuse both the flora and fauna, once upon a time we worshiped them. A spiritual relationship evolved. Research on both the microbiome and the virome today clearly shows how they change for the worse only under extreme stress. It is very important to understand and realize this.

We are not different from our environment but are constantly interacting with it. Therefore if our environment is healthy and happy we too can be healthy and happy. Industrialization, rampant commercialization that has led to exploitation of flora and fauna, abuse and extreme cruelty inflicted upon cattle, small ruminants and birds for the products they have traditionally blessed us with, the attack on our microbiome and virome with antibiotics and vaccines, and cutting off the inheritance of the ancestral microbiome by encouraging caesarean deliveries are practices that have been disastrous for us.

Maybe if we start caring for and worshiping nature again and restore our happy relationship with domestic animals and birds, we can regain the symbiosis we once enjoyed.





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