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River Goddesses, Personhood and Rights of Nature: Implications for Spiritual Ecology

Anthropology, Auburn University, 7030 Haley Center, Auburn, AL 36849, USA
Religions 2019, 10(9), 502; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10090502
Received: 8 July 2019 / Revised: 19 August 2019 / Accepted: 22 August 2019 / Published: 26 August 2019
Designating rights for nature is a potentially powerful way to open up the dialogue on nature conservation around the world and provide enforcement power for an ecocentric approach. Experiments using a rights-based framework have combined in-country perspectives, worldviews, and practices with legal justifications giving rights to nature. This paper looks at a fusion of legal traditions, religious worldviews, and practices of environmental protection and advocacy in the context of India. It takes two specific legal cases in India and examines the recent high-profile rulings designating the rivers Ganga, Yamuna, and their tributaries and glaciers as juristic persons. Although the rulings were stayed a few months after their issuance, they are an interesting bending of the boundaries of nature, person, and deity that produce Ganga and Yamuna as vulnerable prototypes. This paper uses interview data focusing on these cases and document and archival data to ask whether legal interventions giving rights to nature can become effective avenues for environmental activism and spiritual ecology. The paper also assesses whether these legal cases have promoted Hindu nationalism or ‘Hindutva lite’. View Full-Text
Keywords: India; rivers; Hinduism; rights of nature; spiritual ecology; Ganga; Yamuna India; rivers; Hinduism; rights of nature; spiritual ecology; Ganga; Yamuna
MDPI and ACS Style

Alley, K.D. River Goddesses, Personhood and Rights of Nature: Implications for Spiritual Ecology. Religions 2019, 10, 502.

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