All Creatures Great and Small

A mother elephant protecting her calf from tourist groups

When God fashioned human as the head of the animal kingdom, He with His wisdom should have made the other creatures without a heart, so that they could not feel the pain, of being separated from their young ones or being killed, mostly brutally, to satisfy the overwhelming needs of the head of the chain, the man! Of all God’s creation, we are the greatest, endowed with a mind which we have used to subjugate and overpower everything on earth. The ‘lesser creatures’ don’t stand a chance against us, because what we cannot control with might, we do so with the weapons, which have been used since prehistoric times for hunting.

And with the passage of time, from being hunted down for meat , skin and fur, being domesticated for milk and helping in the fields and transportation , the animals have found their way into laboratories for being experimented upon; the more exotic the animal, the more bizarre its use, from aphrodisiacs to cure of dreaded diseases. When the animals kill, it is to satisfy the pangs of hunger and for necessity but for man, killing knows no reason….from killing for meat to killing for sport, he is not fettered by any bonds. No matter what, these creatures are at our mercy, for good or bad is entirely their destiny.

As a student, I have vivid recollection of the students cutting open the frogs, nailed to the boards, to study their internal organs. How many of these students benefited from this exercise, no one can say. But it was not easy to forget the sight of their small little hearts still beating while their skins hung open, forgotten on those boards till their lives ebbed away. Of course what the many animals undergo in labs would not be a sight for the faint hearted!

And to tantalise our palate, the world is our oyster! There is no creature in air, water or ground, creeping, crawling, walking or flying, which has escaped our taste buds, even as the hunt continues for more! The rarer the animal, the more sought after its meat, no matter what cost it comes at….ostrich, peacocks, crocodile ,kudu, impala, python,…I wonder which animal has not made it to the butcher’s knife for our ever expanding gourmet.

We have progressively taken over their habitats for our growing numbers, and while the human population grows and multiplies, that of the ‘lesser creatures’ dwindles and in many cases gets wiped out. Even in their shrunk habitats they are not left in peace, because there is still money to be made out of them. So we climb into our vehicles and make a beeline for these sanctuaries where the sighting of nothing less than the big cat would prove satisfying and give something to boast of, on the social media; while giving the retreats, guides, taxis and tourism brisk business regardless what these animals undergo with our constant prying. From zoo to circus, we have made the experience of watching them more thrilling for us, by now driving right into their habitats, never leaving them in peace, because if not the tourists, the poachers would be on their trail, leaving in their wake carcasses of animals with teeth pried out, while bodies of smaller animals are carried away for their skins and other parts.

Having the magnanimity of giving them their habitat, we go ahead and construct National Highways through their corridors, never mind the hundreds of animals and their young ones who are struck down by the speeding trucks and vehicles. After all, development is paramount and nothing should come in its way. And why take the trouble of finding alternatives when the aggrieved cannot even fight for their cause. If they venture into human settlements which have encroached on their habitation they have to pay for their lives, trapped, bludgeoned to death, or maimed. But of course the blame rests squarely on their shoulders for trespassing, for which they must be suitably punished.

One has to see the bond between an animal and its young one to realise that it is no less than what we feel for our young ones; and while our love for our child is noble and gets glorified in commercials, movies and every forum, we fail to feel the pain when we separate the cow and its calf, so that it doesn’t drink its milk, and they bellow for each other for days! Or the birds and animals which are trapped without consideration. Just googling for ‘animal torture’ will throw up blood-curdling images that can make even the most stone-hearted person aghast seeing the unwarranted suffering of helpless animals. In the theory of Karma, what you do comes back to you, so on some reflection, our sufferings could be because of the pain we inflict on others, be it the ‘lesser creatures’, because believe it or not, they too have a heart, feel the pain and are a part of God’s creation

Stray Dogs in Bangalore

The condition of those kept as pets also hangs in balance, entirely dependent on their owners; while those used for breeding suffer untold miseries because when it comes to economics we want to extract the maximum, unmindful of what the animal undergoes in the process. A beagle bitch for mating with our dog, turned out to be owned by a breeder. She was almost a pup herself, and would come and hide behind me when they wanted her to mate…I had to cut short the proceedings, seeing the trauma she was undergoing, but she may not have been so lucky next time! Of course when they say it’s a dog’s life, they must be having the strays in mind. Not wanted by anyone, they either die, hit by speeding vehicles, ordered to be shot when people feel they are becoming a menace and even when caught for sterilisation they are herded together in dark, minuscule cages where the faint hearted may die out of fear. And who is there to question? Some good Samaritans, who have already given up on the system and prefer to work in isolation, trying to help as many as they can. And while there are those who genuinely feel for the animals, there are others who seem to be more bothered about the mileage they can get from it. While some others feel that in a country where there is no empathy for human life, why bother about the life of an animal?!

Condition of Cows in an Animals Rescue Centre

Shielded by religion, some animals lived a protected life, but with the tenets of religion also under attack, their condition has changed from being revered to being an industry, ruthlessly exploited at every stage for economic gains. And while in temples we make offerings in front of the statue of Nandi and worship the cow and the cowherd Krishna, in real life their condition is nothing short of pathetic. A cow, after being kept away from its calf to extract maximum milk, is turned out once it stops giving milk. While male calves are on the roads much before, or sold to slaughter houses, for skinning. Their condition has not seen any improvement post the spate of lynching and cow vigilantism, while the sounds of people crying out for meat has risen many decibels and is reflected in every debate and writing, whether it is concerned with cows or not.

All these sufferings are justified in the name of economics, but what about the hundreds others who are sacrificed in the name of religion? While we mock the revering of animals, we accept their sacrifices in the name of religion. What is then the efficacy of the term,’ being human’? it seems to be a misnomer, both in the context of how we treat the animals and the fellow humans!

The crux of it all is that it is the might which is right. We will have our reasons for doing what we do, and the brute force to accomplish what we want, and devoid of the gift of the gab, which God in His wisdom did not grant to the other creatures, who is there to debate their case? The case rests here My Lord!