However, material needs and material wealth are two separate notions and these are clearly demarcated in the treatment of man’s physical relationship with environment. Unlike the techno-modern objective of mastering environment for extracting the maximum of material resources, the Indian tradition lays great emphasis on inculcating environmental ethics encouraging preservation, protection and conservation of nature. The psychical or spiritual relationship transcends the material world.
In a beautiful verse from Kathopnishad the idea is clearly described: ‘Higher than the senses (and their objects) is the mind, more excellent than the mind (manas) is intellect (sattvam); above the intellect soars the great soul (mahatma) and more excellent than the great one is the unmainfested (avyakta). And higher than the unmanifested is the soul (purusa here) which is all-pervading and without sense’.
Evidently man is conceived in Indian tradition as representing a microcosm of the larger universe which is the macrocosm. Interestingly the two micro and macrocosm constantly exchange their forms.
Thus fire of the nature becomes speech as it enters the mouth; the sun becomes sight as it enters the eyes; wind becomes breath by entering the nostrils; the annual herbs and regents of the forest become hairs as they enter the skin; the moon enters the heart and becomes mind. It also indicates man’s and nature’s interdependence as also the reality that the two can be comprehended completely only in a state of union.