Hinduism : the double edged sword of environmentalism
The purpose of the study was to draw parallels between the Hindu religious teachings and environmental sustainability. A literature review on Hindu teachings on the environment as well as the practical application thereof as experienced or practiced by religious leaders and devotees were conducted. This was similar to the study that was conducted at the Bhaktivedanta Manor Temple near Watford in England at a Janmashtami festival in 2007 (Chauhan et al., 2009).The intention of the 2007 campaign was to raise spiritual self-consciousness by linking the concept of karma to environmental degradation, i.e. the concept of every action has a reaction. It also prompted the devotees to realise that there were practical steps that could be taken to alleviate the environmental crises by reducing one‟s ecological footprint. Literature on similar themes and hypotheses were referenced in the mini-dissertation, exposing the double-edged sword practices of Hinduism, where some religious practices have a harmful impact on the environment, which is contradictory to the teachings themselves. A survey was conducted at the Benoni Temple in Eastern Gauteng in South Africa where there is a strong Hindu community. The study was specifically aimed at two target audiences: Hindu religious leaders and Hindu devotees. The purpose was to establish both the religious leaders‟ and devotees‟ viewpoints regarding the correlation between Hindu religious teachings and lifestyles. The outcome was synonymous that there is a need for better communication and more environmental awareness from the Hindu religious teachings. Limitations of the study: Bearing in mind the vastness of the topic the study has been limited to Hinduism for the Masters in Environmental Management qualification and lays the foundation for expansion of further studies. The purpose of the study was not to denounce any religion, nor is it to promote one religion over the other, but rather to evaluate objectively both the positive and negative influences Hinduism has on the environment.