The solution of present-day problems lie in the re-establishment of a harmonious relationship between man and nature….When we sublimate nature in a way that we achieve peace, happiness, prosperity and, ultimately, fulfilment along with satisfying our basic needs, we march towards culture – Sunderlal Bahuguna
On 21 May, Sunderlal Bahuguna, Indian environmentalist and Chipko movement leader and the man behind the anti Tehri dam movement, breathed his last due to Covid.
Whether it was protecting the integrity of the Himalayan forests of oak and rhododendron in the 1970s through the Chipko Movement, or defending the integrity of Mother Ganga through his Satyagraha at the Tehri Dam, he was the voice of nature, the voice of the Himalaya, and the Ganga.
“Harmony with nature is the only way of life,” he believed and instilled the same love and reverence of nature in many young minds.
From 1981-1983, Bahuguna led a 5,000-kilometre march across the Himalayas, ending with a meeting with late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who then passed legislation to protect some areas of the Himalayan forests from tree-felling.
Valley Culture pays tribute to the legend whose goal in life was as steadfast and lofty as the mountains he defended. We had the good fortune of meeting and being inspired by the legend’s simplicity and single minded focus towards his goals as well as his passion.
Through his life, his teachings, his courageous activism, and his creative ideas, he taught us that to protect nature, we need to listen to her and to love her. His life was a continuous satyagraha for life and freedom and his legacy paves the way for the future of humanity, mandating living with respect for, and in harmony with nature.
We can only hope and pray we can continue to emulate some of his ideals and do our bit for the environment and the unique Himalayan ecosystem. Listening to the mountains and the rivers has become a survival imperative for us in India, and for humanity across the world.
Robin Nagar, the co-founder of Valley Culture, expresses his admiration for the legend and speaks of the profound influence that he has had upon the principles behind Valley Culture.
“It was an honour to meet Sunderlal Bahuguna ji. I was greatly inspired by the sheer simplicity of his lifestyle juxtaposed by the loftiness of his ideals and thoughts. His advice to identify one’s purpose and to dedicate oneself to that goal with single minded devotion is one that will always remain etched in our minds.”
“Ecology is a permanent economy”, Bahuguna used to say, and we couldn’t agree more. “It is all about values rather than valuation, ” the great man used to say. And as the founder of Valley Culture, his life and ideals inspired me to a great extent and served as a reminder to keep values at the forefront, always.”