2015 in UN’s International Year of Soils. Launching this landmark, Jose Graziano da Silva, director-general of UN’s Food and Agriculture organisation said, “The multiple roles of soils often go unnoticed. Soils don’t have a voice, and few people speak out for them. They are our silent allies in food production.” So, let’s speak out for soils, which are fertile with sacred significance.
Earth, one of Indic religions’ MAHABHUTAS, represents the quality of solidity. The Earth element (pruthavi-dhatu) signifies all that is solid in our bodies, too : flesh, bones, sinews and other organs.
Similarly, the Bible portrays us as being created from the Earth : “God formed man (Hebrew, Adam) from the soil of the ground (dama).” Thus, ultimately and intimately we are all off-springs of soil. The adivasis have profound respect for Mother Nature and her soils. These are exemplary ‘daughters/sons of the soil’, who, rooted in the soil, revere a pantheon of earthy devas and devis inhabiting village boundaries, fields,, forests, groves and mountains. Contrary to the sense of the sacred widespread in adivasi religious consciousness, technocratic man often exploits the Earth for his selfish enjoyment. This tendency is rooted in the “paradise lost” myth, where Adam and Eve rebel against God and sever their three-fold relationship with God, with each other and with Earth’s soil. God said, “Cursed is the ground because of you ; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life until you return to the ground ; for, you are dust and to dust you will return.” –In his parables, Jesus often extolled the Earth and its mysteries : of birth and blossoming, decay and dying. He compared life to a field where one must sow seeds of love-life-liberation. He desired that God’s word “fall on good soil so that we bear abundant fruit.”
During this ‘Year of Soils’, and this when we celebrate earthy festivals like Pongal and Makar Sankranti, let’s resolve to restore our bonding with the soil. It’s our sacred duty to stall deforestation, prevent soil degradation, combat unsustainable land use and ensure that future generations reap benefit from this God-given gift. By doing so, we will e true daughters/sons of the soil, as well as caring children of God, promoting life for all.
—— Francis Gonsalves.