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Environmental Issues in India by Mahesh Rangarajan

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4

THE FOREST AND THE FIELD IN ANCIENT INDIA

Mahesh Rangarajan

When Rama, the prince of Ayodhya, is about to set out on his long exile in the forests south of the Gangetic plains, his mother, Kaushalya, expresses fears about his safety: ‘May the huge elephants not harm you my dear son,’ she says, ‘nor the lions, tigers, bears, boars or ferocious horned buffalo.’ Rama himself, in a bid to dissuade his wife, Sita, from following him into the woods, paints a similar portrait of the forest as a place of hidden menace. The roars of flesh-eating lions would assail the senses and the sharp kusa grass prick the soles of those who walk the tracks. Even the word vana or forest was only given to lands where pleasure gave way to hardship. But a very different ...

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