Recently, I had the chance to view the film, Pad Yatra: A Green Odyssey. The film is about a trek, taken by thousands of people, across the Himalayan mountains, consisting of 440 miles and spanning over 3 months. The purpose of the trek is to clean the mountain and collect plastics along the way. During the trek, the participants also stop by local villages where they are able to connect with the local people and educate them about the importance of recycling plastic. Recently, there have been toxic amounts of plastic found in the Himalayan region, some of which is even found in the most remote areas. Another purpose of the trek includes helping the local people understand their importance. Many time, the locals feel as though they are insignificant in comparison to the larger world. However, the participants assist in educating the locals of their role in the environment ans specific actions they can take to help decrease the negative impacts on the environment. For example, one part of the trek includes a large-scale tree planting activity in which the participants and the locals, totaling to about 9,000 people, both assisted in planting over 50 trees in 30 minutes,, breaking a world record. The main purpose of the Pad Yatra is to have one small action leading to another, creating a cascade of good deeds in order to achieve enlightenment and avoid suffering in the current life.
Image of people trekking up the Himalayan mountain (Image via Dreff.org)
When comparing this ritual to those of the Ancient Egyptians, there is a significant parallel in the purpose of Pad Yatra and other rituals done by the Ancient Egyptians. For example, the participants of this trek participated for merit in the religion. Despite the challenges faced during the trek, including some fatalities, people took part of the difficult pilgrimage in order to attain wisdom and connect to one’s on enlightenment. Through previous courses, I learned that the followers in the Buddhist religion are continuously striving to achieve enlightenment in order to detach themselves from the material objects of this life and avoid suffering. In Pad Yatra, by avoiding suffering people and detaching themselves from material objects, people are able to free themselves to do other things and are able to relocate their focus onto helping the local people and do good deeds to achieve further merit and enlightenment. Similarly, in Ancient Egypt, people did various rituals in order to achieve merit among the gods and goddesses. These rituals included pyramid building and giving offering to the deities, along many others. By committing these actions, the ancient Egyptians believed that they would be able to increase their good deeds and live in a luxurious afterlife. Although the end purpose of the two is different, in terms of gaining enlightenment or living a good afterlife, the pathway to get there, by achieving merit and credit for their good deeds are similar.