What is Eco-Bhakti?

Eco-bhakti is the celebration of our experience of being divinely inspired devotees of Earth and the Divine in concert. Eco-bhakti is one and the same root of the great tree of bhakti-yoga, the yoga of selfless devotion and fierce love which is at the core of many traditions of faith and spirit, including and especially the Caitanya Vaishnava tradition, from which the Sacred Ecology Forum takes our primary direction.

Inspired by the teachings of the Caitanya Vaishnava acarya (teacher/scholar) A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, we understand eco-bhakti as the common ground and good which connects our devotion to the Divine with our devotion to Earth. The personal, loving presence of the Divine permeates each and every atom of Earthly creation. In the Caitanya-caritamrta, one of the core texts of the Chaitanya Vaishnava tradition, Swami Prabhupada writes that “whatever one sees or otherwise experiences one should know to be…the Supreme Personality of Godhead’s energy. Everything is a manifestation of Kṛṣṇa.” All of Earth is full of the energy and presence of Krishna, of the Divine. As we take shelter of the Divine for all of our devotional needs and desires, we are simultaneously taking shelter of Earth.  

The experience and practice of Eco-bhakti enhances the natural Earth-honoring element of the practice of bhakti-yoga. Earthy lures draw us deeper into our bhakti. By serving the loving desires of the Divine, by chanting the holy names of the Divine, we water our bhakti-lata-bija, the creeper plant of our devotion, allowing it to mature and grow towards the light of love for the Divine and for all creatures.

To practice bhakti is to practice eco-bhakti. Eco-bhakti draws us especially into the movements of environmental and climate justice, where the fierce love of bhakti inspires us to serve the flourishing needs and desires of all planetary communities. Eco-bhakti also inspires us to understand our inherent interconnectedness with all living creatures. We always to strive to see all living creatures with, as Krishna teaches in the Bhagavad-Gita,  sama-darsinah (equal and equitable) vision, devoted and committed to each and every person and each and every creature’s Earthly, spiritual flourishing.

Eco-Bhakti Resources

Adams, Carol J. ed. Ecofeminism and the Sacred. Continuum. 1993.
Berry, Wendell. The Art of the Commonplace: Agrarian Essays. Counterpoint Press, 2003.
Chapple, Christopher and Tucker, Mary Evelyn ed. Hinduism and Ecology: The Intersection of Earth, Sky, and Water. Harvard University Press, 2000.
Cremo, Michael and Goswami, Mukunda. Divine Nature: A Spiritual Perspective on the Environmental Crisis. Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, 1995.
Haberman, David. Journey Through the Twelve Forests: An Encounter with Krishna. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994. (Winner of American Academy of Religion’s Award for Excellence, Historical Category.)
–. Acting as a Way of Salvation: A Study of Raganuga Bhakti Sadhana. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988. Reprinted by Motilal Banarsidass Publishers in Delhi in 2001.
–. River of Love in the Age of Pollution: The Yamuna River of Northern India. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006.
–. People Trees: Worship of Trees in Northern India. Oxford UP: Oxford, 2013.
Harris, Melanie. Ecowomanism: African American Women and Earth-Honoring Faiths. Orbis, 2017.
Hindu Declaration on Climate Change, 2015.
Jenkins, Willis. The Future of Ethics: Sustainability, Social Justice, and Religious Creativity. Georgetown University Press, 2013.
Kimmerer, Robin Wall. Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants. Milkweed Editions, 2013.
Keller, Catherine. Political Theology of the Earth. Columbia University Press, 2018.
McAnally, Elizabeth. Loving Water Across Religions: Contributions to an Integral Water Ethic. Orbis, 2019.
Nelson, Lance E. ed. Purifying the Earthly Body of God: Religion and Ecology in Hindu India. SUNY Press, 1998.
Prime, Ranchor. Vedic Ecology: Practical Wisdom for Surviving the 21st Century. Springer Books, 2002.
–. The Eight Elements: My Journey Through Life’s Mysteries. London: Fitzrovia Press, 2017.
Radhakrishna, Meena, Ed., First Citizens: Studies on Adivasis, Tribals, and Indigenous Peoples in India. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.
Rasmussen, Larry L. Earth-Honoring Faith: Religious Ethics in a New Key. Oxford University Press, 2013.
Rosen, Steven J. Holy Cow: The Hare Krishna Contribution to Vegetarianism & Animal Rights. Lantern Books, 2004.
Sanford, A. Whitney. Growing Stories from India: Religion and the Fate of Agriculture. Kentucky UP, 2013.
Sen, Geeti, Ed., Indigenous Vision: Peoples of India Attitudes to the Environment. New Delhi: Sage Publications, 1992.
Shiva, Vandana. Staying Alive: Women, Ecology, and Development. Zed Books, 1989.
–. Making Peace with the Earth. Pluto Press, 2013.
–. Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace. North Atlantic Books, 2015.
–. with Mies, Maria. Ecofeminism. Zed Books. 1993.

Sister Projects

The Bhumi Project is an international Hindu response to the environmental challenges facing our planet. It is supported by the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies in partnership with the GreenFaith.

Gita Nagari Eco Farm A farm community, cow sanctuary, and retreat center in central Pennsylvania dedicated to the worship and service of Sri Sri Radha-Krishna.

Govardhan Eco Village A spiritual community and retreat center outside Mumbai, India dedicated to the worship of Sri Sri Radha-Krishna and putting into practice the principles of “simple living, high thinking” through organic agriculture, natural building, cow protection, ecological restoration, and living in partnership with neighboring rural communities.

Navdanya An educational center dedicated to organic agriculture, food sovereignty, and seed sovereignty in Uttarakhand.

Plenitud An educational center and organic farm in western Puerto Rico inspired by Bhakti practice.