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The Eco-Theology of the Bhagavad Gītā: A Multi-Layered Ethical Theory

Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 2JD, UK
Academic Editor: Alison Milbank
Religions 2021, 12(4), 241;
Received: 16 February 2021 / Revised: 18 March 2021 / Accepted: 24 March 2021 / Published: 29 March 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Literature and Eco-theology)
I argue that a normative environmental ethical theory can be coherently derived out of the theological matrix of the Bhagavad Gītā. I build upon Ithamar Theodor’s articulation of the Gītā’s underlying unifying structure to depict how the Gītā conceives of three possible relationships with nature. This allows me to tease out three concurrent worldviews in the Gītā—a world-affirming worldview, a world-renouncing worldview and a bhakti worldview, which is simultaneously world-affirming and world-renouncing. I show how three distinct theories of motivation—three different reasons for acting in the world—emerge from the interconnected normative, soteriological and ontological dimensions of each of these three worldviews. More importantly, the motivation to act for the welfare of individuals in nature, such as animals and plants, can be legitimately derived from these three theories of motivation. I contextualize the Bhagavad Gītā’s environmental ethics by placing it within the larger framework of the text’s distinctive multi-layered approach to ethical theory, in which the foundational teleological mokṣa theory grounds and explains the plurality of more superficial normative foundational theories. View Full-Text
Keywords: Bhagavad Gītā; environmental ethics; ontology; soteriology Bhagavad Gītā; environmental ethics; ontology; soteriology
MDPI and ACS Style

Sen, S. The Eco-Theology of the Bhagavad Gītā: A Multi-Layered Ethical Theory. Religions 2021, 12, 241.

AMA Style

Sen S. The Eco-Theology of the Bhagavad Gītā: A Multi-Layered Ethical Theory. Religions. 2021; 12(4):241.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Sen, Supratik. 2021. "The Eco-Theology of the Bhagavad Gītā: A Multi-Layered Ethical Theory" Religions 12, no. 4: 241.

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