The Indigenous World View.
(Man And Nature) By Jishnu Dev Varma
(An excerpt from the author’s unpublished Book “ The Master of Time”)
The linkages between Man and nature; is old as humans themselves. Long before the rise of modern global society, communities throughout the world prospered by studying natural resources, in an attempt to adapt to the local natural environment. In the process, a wide-ranging body of knowledge, innovations and practices evolved, inextricably linked to the use of natural resources.
It enabled most communities to live within the limits of their local environment and contributed to shaping their cultural and spiritual identity as well. Any effort to conserve nature and ecosystems, therefore, must take into consideration the interface between nature and culture.
Indigenous communities represented a significant part of India’s population. They were rooted in their immediate environment and their social organisation were woven round the management of their environment with their culture, elaboration taking place primarily through interaction with the immediate natural environment. These communities depended on local natural habitats for their biomass needs and natural resources. They relied on their immediate natural environment for their survival for long and consequently developed a stake in conserving the local resources base.
Dependence on their habitat was for more than mere survival for these communities. These communities had to use their terrestrial, marine and aquatic bio-resources for a variety of economic, cultural and religious purposes. The rich oral library of indigenous knowledge and cultural control processes had co-evolved with the customary use of natural resources, helping most of the communities avoid over-exploitation and live within the limits imposed by their availability.
Self-imposed limitations on forest clearance, restriction on hunting, taboos on hunting or harvesting certain species, protection of sacred groves for religious reasons, rotational use of catchments areas (hunting and fishing reserves), lineal ownership of nature zones and use of appropriate local technologies, these lowered the impact of use or even increased biodiversity.
Traditional and customary practices of local communities in the usage of natural resources, on the whole, were conducive to the conservation of natural resources.
As a result of long and continuous usage of natural resources, these communities had acquired a broad knowledge base of the behavior of complex ecosystems of their locality. This collection of knowledge and beliefs that is handed down through generations by cultural transmission. This knowledge of relationship of living beings, including humans, with one another and with their natural environment, is the Indigenous Knowledge .
The indigenous knowledge and belief system determined the cultural ethos, value system and worldview of the community. This worldview, treating man as a thread in the web of life, was naturally conducive for nature conservation. This was the ‘indigenous wisdom’ of, which the indigenous people were proud inheritors.
Let us share this “indigenous wisdom’ on this International Indigenous People’s Day”
( The views expressed here are solely personal and not in any way connected to any organisation or political party the author is associated with.)