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Sunderlal Bahuguna Ji (vegetarian): A Life of Dedication to the Environment, Part 1 of 2

2022-01-02
Language:English

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Sunderlal Bahuguna is known primarily as the spokesperson of the Chipko environmental movement. Chipko actively resisted the systematic deforestation of Indian rural woodlands, often confronting powerful corporations in peaceful resistance to prevent the destruction of wilderness areas. Sunderlal Bahuguna gained international attention in the early 1990s by leading an impassioned and unrelenting campaign of opposition to the construction of the hydroelectric Tehri Dam in the Himalayan foothills in Uttarakhand.

Sunderlal Bahuguna’s life is a model of selfless dedication to environmental and social causes, which he was involved in from an early age. Initially inspired to promote social equality within India’s then-rigid caste system, he later became a devotee of the Gandhian principle of nonviolence and drive, to achieve self-determination from Britain. He then became a Member of Parliament in the newly independent nation and, together with his wife Vimla Behn, gave a voice to the often-neglected needs of the villagers in India. Their actions eventually saw the establishment of the now-legendary grassroots movement that is wholeheartedly dedicated to actively promoting environmental awareness.

The Chipko slogan became, “Ecology is permanent economy,” and Sunderlal Bahuguna, with his political experience, became the movement’s spokesperson. A year later, Sunderlal Bahuguna fasted for two weeks, his first of many, as the group chanted passages from the Bhagavad Gita. Hundreds of people, the majority of them women, attached themselves to tree trunks with sacred threads. Passages from the Srimad Bhagavata Katha were also read aloud to remind those present that the natural forests were blessed and an intrinsic part of India’s spiritual heritage. "The philosophy of fasting is that you search inside yourself, and you surrender yourself to the Supreme Power. 'Now I am in Your hands, and if there is anything lacking inside me, give me Light.' So, Gandhiji was doing the same thing."

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