Jan 16, 2015 – Francis Gonsalves
My January 1 article Light up 2015 — heralding UN’s International Year of Light — dovetails with this one since 2015 is UN’s International Year of Soils, too. Launching this landmark, José Graziano da Silva, director-general of UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation said, “The multiple roles of soils often go unnoticed. Soils don’t have a voice, and few people speak out for them. They are our silent allies in food production.” So, let’s speak out for soils, which are fertile with sacred significance.
Earth, one of Indic religions’ Mahabhutas, represents the quality of solidity. The Earth element (pruthavi-dhatu) signifies all that is solid in our bodies, too: flesh, bones, sinews and other organs. Similarly, the Bible portrays us as being created from the Earth: “God formed man (Hebrew, Adam) from the soil of the ground (dama).” Thus, ultimately and intimately we are all offspring of soil.
My adivasi friends have profound respect for Mother Nature and her soils. These are exemplary “daughters/sons of the soil” who, rooted in the soil, revere a pantheon of earthy devas and devis inhabiting village boundaries, fields, forests, groves and mountains. Amidst these people were sown the seeds of my book God of Our Soil, exploring how the Christian Trinity bids us seek God in everything/everyone, and everything/everyone in God.
Contrary to the sense of the sacred widespread in adivasi religious consciousness, technocratic man often exploits the Earth for his selfish enjoyment. This tendency is rooted in the “paradise lost” myth where Adam and Eve rebel against God and sever their threefold relationship: with God, with each other, and with Earth’s soil. God said: “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life until you return to the ground; for, you are dust and to dust you will return.”
In his parables, Jesus often extolled the Earth and its mysteries: of birth and blossoming, decay and dying. He compared life to a field where one must sow seeds of love-life-liberation. He desired that God’s word “fall on good soil so that we bear abundant fruit”.