Nature as Non-terrestrial: Sacred Natural Landscapes and Place in Indian Vedic and Pur?\d nic Thought

Publication Type:

Journal Articles


Meera Baindur


Environmental Philosophy, The International Association for Environmental Philosophy, Volume 6, Number 2, p.43–58 (2009)



Nature, Non-terrestrial, Thought, Vedic


A complex process of place-making by Vedic and Pur??ic primary narratives and localized oral secondary narratives shows how nature in India is perceived from a deeply humanized worldview. Some form of cosmic descent from other place-worlds or lokas are used to account for the sacredness of a landscape in the primary narrative called stala pur??a, while secondary narratives, called stala m?h??mya, recount the human experience of the sacred. I suggest that sacred geography is not geography of ?terrestrial? but of implaced otherworldly materials??rivers, mountains or forests. An ecological ethics based on sacred geography must therefore take into account the sacred aspects of such narratives and encourage normative values that could apply to both the sacred and the ecological for such places.