Saturday, 25 February 2017


“We exist in our environment. Our environment exists within us.” – Ratish Iyer

What is environment?

In every combat there are three factors at any given time: YOU, YOUR OPPONENT, THE ENVIRONMENT. But one who is strong and wise will remove the opponent from the equation and convert that person into an ally. Yet there is always The Other Person and it is true that two forces co-exist as long as the world is.
When I taught martial arts to kids, I created an easy definition of martial arts conducive to their understanding and memory->
So what is this environment when it comes to health and our integrity both internally (within) and externally (without)… and what is the kind of environment that we have and wish to leave for posterity?
Let us first look within ourselves into our internal environment:

Human existence = Body / Mind / Soul (I Am'ness)
Existence = Birth<Change>Death
Life is nothing but ceaseless change until death – Dr. BM Hegde

Breath= Inhalation<Pause>Exhalation

Tridosha = Vata / Pitta / Kapha
The tridosha is a combination of the panchabhuta (5 basic elements of life) as follows:

Vata = Vayu + Akash

Pitta = Agni + Jal

Kapha = Prithvi + Jal

These five elements also govern our senses. Our senses in turn, tune in to our environment thereby inducing karma (stimulus<>response<>results<>change).

Eyes – Fire

Ears – Space

Nose – Earth

Skin – Air

Tongue – Water

What do we mean by change?

Energy is neither created nor destroyed. It changes forms.

In other words, only forms are subject to change. When we talk about mind, it is a field of dynamic changes in thoughts (good thoughts/bad thoughts). When we talk of body, childhood to old age is rife with numerous changes (good health/bad health). When we talk about the external environment it is either clean/polluted.

Yoga is all about bringing the external and internal environment into harmony. From the above, we can see that a polluted mind, body and environment will only lead to suffering and dushkarma. I have not attached soul (pure energy – not form) in this discussion because Lord Krishna’s quote  in Bhagavad Gita about soul not being subject to any change, supports the same scientific rationale of energy unbound by change. Thus, environment degradation happens only within the bounds of the manifested creation.

It would be pertinent to note that though the body-mind entity made of the five elements is subject to pollution, the elements FIRE and SPACE are by themselves forever pure and devoid of pollution.

Fire, as we know, purifies anything that comes into its contact. And Space, well… think of a clay pot in your hand that you just happened to drop – what happened to the space that was inside the pot? The first impulse is to imagine the merging of inner space of the pot with the external space upon breaking. But what if I ask you to consider… consider this – that there is actually nothing called inner space. That is, instead of perceiving that there was space within that pot, COULD YOU PERCEIVE THAT IT WAS REALLY THE POT THAT WAS OCUPYING THE SPACE?! Mind-boggling??

 It is as simple as shifting from the perception of yourself vis-à-vis others in a crowded elevator..

>>> From A] I don’t have space.

>>> To B] There is space but it is occupied.

The house you live in is in a particular area. Does anything happen to the existence of the place (read space) regardless of your house getting demolished or even if the name of the area is changed? Think well!

So, in terms of elements – Space and Fire are not subject to pollution themselves but only the effects of imbalance are experienced such as overcrowding or desertion, temperature-associated physical and chemical fluctuations. Pollution however, affects AIR, WATER and EARTH. Let us go a little in depth into the external environment before we examine pollution.
Environment + Ecology = Ecosystem

Environment: It comprises of living and non-living beings in a surrounding. Example: Your house.

Ecology: The interaction that happens between living beings with each other + their environment. Example: You and your pet in the house.

Ecosystem: It is a functional unity of study – can be as big as Planet Earth itself or as small as a drop of water harbouring thousands of microorganisms. Example: Your house with you and your pet taken for study as a functional unit from the totality of your locality; OR your blood sample for study as a small unit vis-à-vis your entire body environment and vis-à-vis your entire home environment.
Types of environment:
1) Atmosphere
2) Hydrosphere
3) Lithosphere
4) Biosphere



1) Absorbs harmful cosmic and UV rays.
2) Maintain heat balance.
3) Providing oxygen for respiration.
4) Providing Carbon dioxide for photosynthesis.

1) Approximately 70% of Earth's surface is covered by water.
2) Water on Earth is 97% salt water, 2% ice, 1% fresh water.
3) Sustains certain life forms.

1) 3 layers of earth: crust, mantle, core.
2) Lithosphere refers to only hard surface i.e. soil part of the crust environment; not entirely inside.

1) Biotic (living) and Abiotic (non-living) beings.
2) Range: 11000m below sea level to 15000m above sea level.
3) Includes most of  hydrosphere, parts of lower atmosphere and upper lithosphere.

Environment, Pollution and the Senses:

1)      Seeing<> Eyes<> Light pollution [Do read on white light, blue light, yellow light and green light, cell phones and other modern gadgets for more details. Also, how birds feel disoriented in bright city lights.]

2)      Hearing<> Ears<> Sound pollution [Do research on common noise irritants as well as background noise effects on children, cell phones, music players and other gadgets for more details.]

3)      Smelling<> Nose<> Stench / germs [Do research on nano particles from emissions and their effect on blood brain barrier for more details.]

4)      Touching<> Skin<> Dirt/rash [Do research on cosmetics with dangerous chemicals]

5)      Tasting<> Tongue<> Food poisoning [Do research on adulteration, pesticide-laden foods, cruelty to animals to satisfy taste buds and what not.]

I will not get into details on the myriad horrors of pollution. But there are some topics that have intrigued me and would like you as well to think about it and act with prudence.

1)      Signal towers and EMP waves <>link<> bee population disturbance.

2)      Global warming<> carbon dioxide or methane? Methane and western/hybrid cow breeds… FRACKING.

3)      Mind (cultural) pollution: Perversions and lies through propagation of negativity by mainstream media, films and advertisements – such as power of 100 lemons for the price of 2 lemons… packaged juice over natural juice! Outrageous!

Some parting quotes to remember:

·         “He that plants trees loves others besides himself.” Thomas Fuller

·         “A nation that destroys its soil, destroys itself.” Roosevelt

·         “Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned, and the last fish has been caught, will we realize that we cannot eat money.” Anonymous

·         “The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.” Robert Swan

·         “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” Arthur Ashe

·         “You can either waste energy or convert waste into energy.” Ratish Iyer



The purpose of this post is to highlight the fact that we are only as good as our environment and our environment is as good as we are. Choose wisely! The future generations should not view us with disdain if we leave the world in a worse condition than it was when we had inherited it.





  1. Lot of information with apt graphics. Points to ponder.


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