Religions of the World and Ecology home

Vinay Lal received his Ph.D. in South Asian studies from the University of Chicago in 1992. In recent years he has held fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Institute of Indian Studies, and the National Museum of Ethnology (Japan). He has been teaching history at the University of California, Los Angeles, since 1993. His papers on Gandhi and on an array of other subjects, including modern Indian history, the Indian diaspora, the politics of knowledge, popular culture and sexuality in India, and American cultural politics, have appeared in three dozen journals.


Abstract of paper given at Hinduism and Ecology conference:
Gandhi and Deep Ecology

Gandhi is often recognized as one of the principal sources of inspiration for the Indian environmental movement. His 'influence' is most clearly traced in the Chipko Andolan, and more recently in the Narmada Bachao Andolan. It is submitted, however, that that is only the least part of his legacy for Indian environmentalism. Gandhi was in every respect an ecological thinker: the brevity of his enormous writings (putting it rather paradoxically), his everyday bodily practices, his observance of silence, his abhorrence of waste, and his cultivation of the small as much as the big all equally point to Gandhi's ecological awareness. In a manner of speaking, Gandhi left us with the last of the Upanishads, 'forest books,' and his whole life is an aranyaka which hearkens back to the deeply ecological foundations of Hinduism.


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Hinduism and Ecology conference participants