Sacred Trees of India: Adornment and Adoration as an Alternative to the Commodification of Nature

Deforestation poses a fundamental threat to ecological sustainability and to the continuation of life on earth.

Investigating the role of perception to environmental protection, this book draws on 10 years of fieldwork in India, documenting sacred trees and groves, and showing that contemporary Indian tree-worship presents a powerful alternative to the Western capitalist commodification of nature that has contributed to the current ecological crisis. Featuring hundreds of original photographs from Hindu, Adivasi, Buddhist and Muslim sacred sites, this study reveals a culture whose reverence for trees has helped to prevent their destruction.

The book will appeal to environmentalists, aesthetes, scholars of religion and ecology, and people interested in the continued connection between spiritual practice and the natural environment.

Louise Fowler-Smith is the founder of the eco-artist collective, The Tree Veneration Society. She was an academic at the University of New South Wales, Australia, for 30 years, introducing the first transdisciplinary course on environmental art. Her publications include “Tree Veneration: How Ancient Traditions Can Lead to Pro-Environmental Behaviour” in Using the Visual and Performing Arts to Encourage Pro-Environmental Behaviour (2020), “Adorning and Adoring: The Sacred Trees of India” in Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture (2018), and “Hindu Tree Veneration as a mode of Environmental Encounter” in Leonardo: The Journal of the International Society for the Arts, Science and Technology (2009). As an artist she has held hundreds of exhibitions, with the most recent international solo exhibition held at the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle in France titled Portraits d’Arbres Remarquables Illuminés/Portraits of Remarkable Trees Illuminated in 2018 and an exhibition at the Royal Botanic Garden in Sydney titled Portraits of Extraordinary Trees, Illuminated in 2020.

"This is a compelling and interesting book that shows the hand of a thoughtful artist. Louise Fowler-Smith identifies herself on her website as an Australian environmental artist, writer, and educator—and also, a tree venerator. All of these IDs are evident in her inspiring book. The book is the result of much thoughtful effort with evidence of significant inquiry; and it is the work of an artist sensitive to the natural world."

David L. Haberman Department of Religious Studies, Indiana University, Bloomington, USA

Buy This Book

ISBN: 1-5275-8833-5

ISBN13: 978-1-5275-8833-2

Release Date: 28th September 2022

Pages: 320

Price: £77.99


ISBN: 1-5275-1727-6

ISBN13: 978-1-5275-1727-1

Release Date: 3rd June 2023

Pages: 320

Price: £38.99