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A Letter to Earth

Updated Friday, 14 January 2022
This is a wonderful Earth anthem that I came across as an environmentally conscious teenager growing up in India in the 1990s. 

This anthem, originally written in Hindi, was popular among the environmental activist circles at that time. My Letter to Earth is inspired by that anthem. In my letter, I attempt to loosely translate that anthem in English and address it directly to Earth.

Photo taken of Himalaya
Dear Earth,
We have been a part of you for eons and eons and you have nurtured many of our generations for all this time.
We are conscious though that we have NOT inherited you from our ancestors but we have borrowed you from our descendants and we are deeply indebted to them for letting us live on Earth.
Your high mountains, fields and plains, the rivers through which flows the elixir of life, all sing a lively song of life. The cooling shade of your trees, which also bear flowers and fruits and shower them on us, have nurtured us for many generations.
Who knows how long these trees have been here? Certainly longer than the many human generations who have been nurtured by them.
And who knows how many generations of humans have been raised on this Earth? But one thing we know for sure that for eons and eons, we have received a constant stream of pure love from you. And for this, we are grateful to you, Earth.
Let’s not forget that we will need to return you to those from whom we have borrowed you. We will return you in good order to our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. We must remember that you are not a gift from our forefathers, nor is it a luxury to be revelled in.
We are conscious that with privileges come responsibilities and we will take our responsibilities seriously. This is our promise to you.
Yours lovingly,
The Earthlings

The original Earth anthem in Hindi:

ये भूमि है बसी युगों युगों से मनमे, हमें मिली है भावी सन्तानोंसे हम है उनके ऋणमें।

ये भूमि, ये भूमि।।

इस भूमिके ऊँचे परबत, खेत, मैदान, खलिहान; अमृतधारा जैसी नदियां गाये जो जीवनगान।

ठंडी ठंडी छाओं वृक्षोंकी, फल-फूल जो बरसाते; ना जाने कबसे वृक्ष खड़े है भूमिके आँगनमें।

ना जाने कितनी पली पीढ़ियां भूमि के गोद में; युगों युगों से प्रेम की धारा मानुषके मनमे, मानुषके मनमे।

ये भूमि, ये भूमि।।

जिनसे मिली है उन्हें लौटानी नाता ना भूले ये हम, देन ना समझो इसे पुरखोंकी ना ये विलासी का धन, ना ये विलासी का धन।

ये भूमि, ये भूमि।।

A photo of Earth in space by NASA / Apollo 17 crew

This anthem makes me conscious that we need to think of our presence on Earth with a sense of responsibility and feel privileged that we have been able to borrow this Earth from our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. It also makes me conscious that we should think of Earth with gratitude for the pure love we receive. The anthem reminds us of our responsibilities towards the Earth when we enjoy our privileges.

Another important point that this anthem makes is the issue of inter-generational justice. On this point, what it says is profound: we have not inherited this Earth from our forefathers (and mothers) but borrowed it from our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren – some of whom are yet to be born. How is it possible to borrow something from someone who is yet to be born? This is where the Earth anthem makes us acutely aware that our actions have consequences that go far beyond our own lifetimes and can have repercussions for generations that will come after we have left this Earth. This ‘reality check’ on the sense of responsibility is very important.

Let us remind ourselves that the Earth has nurtured our many generations and will continue to do so in the decades, centuries and millennia to come. If we recognise that with privileges come responsibilities, only then will our actions make the world a better place for us and for those who come after we have left.



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