One of my fondest memories of childhood is our annual visits to my pishi’s bari (home) in New Delhi. My pishi (bua, father’s sister) was a very steadfast Sai Baba devotee. There were numerous life like portraits of Baba at her home. She also had a very nice sculpture of him in the puja (worship) room. She would spend hours bathing, feeding, singing, worshiping her beloved God and we children would lovingly play around.
My dad would read numerous stories to us from the large number of books that my pishi kept. The one that I faintly remember is that about a very devout man who very fondly invited the mystic baba to his home for lunch. The baba promised his presence. The man with his humble means prepared the finest feast that he could manage and waited eagerly for his God to arrive. At the allotted time, a very hungry dog came and sat nearby. The man waited and waited but there was no sign of Sai baba. The dog meanwhile was trying to get a sniff of the food. The man got extremely furious and thrashed the poor animal with impunity.
When the next day, the man went to Sai to express his displeasure, he was surprised to see the holy baba all bruised and battered. The baba told him that it was He who had come in the disguise of the dog yesterday and the devotee had behaved so unjustly with him. The man understood the most important lesson – there is divinity and presence of God in all his creatures. We must serve and respect the Gods in all living beings.
This story is of so much significance now. What happened to that elephant in Kerala is abhorrent cruelty and nothing else. How she withstood it all, waiting for her agonizingly slow and painful death, standing and drowning her pain in the river waters has put the entire humanity to shame.
The elephant is one of the most empathetic and auspicious animals. For hindus and many other religions, elephant is a symbol of wisdom, serenity and good fortune like God Ganesha himself.
Not only elephants, all the animals including the carnivore species are true to their basic nature and never deviate from that. Except us, humans. We do not hesitate even once before turning against Mother nature.
Compassion is the keen awareness of interdependence of all things.Thomas Merton
Science has taught us that this circle of life, this structure of food chain is a necessity for the harmony of Earth and its resources. I have read Jim Corbett’s books extensively and he had stressed upon the man animal conflict situation even a century ago.
The man eaters of Kumaon were not man eaters by choice but due to the reasons of a hunt gone wrong and the tiger have been left half wounded by gun shot wounds. The tiger under those unfortunate circumstances had no other choice but to attack the weaker prey in his area. And of course Jim Corbet then had no other choice but to kill the Man eater. But he still, did it with compassion.
Compassion is at heart of every little thing we do. It is the dearest quality we possess. We must not let go of it. Yet all too often we cast it aside with consequences to tragic to even speak of. To lose our compassion, is to lose what is to be human.
Killing of innocent animals for the purpose of fun or putting them in suffering is a devilish act and cannot be pardoned. A couple of days ago, few disturbing videos of cats and dogs were doing the rounds on tik tok. How can anyone presume it to be fun? It is an extremely perturbing scenario.
Not very long ago, my own little boys were fascinated to see frogs in their own front yard. Inspired by some other kids in the neighborhood, they started catching the frogs and putting them in buckets. When their father told them that they might be hurting the tiny creatures and that the frogs need to be with their own mommies, my boys gave it up instantaneously and also begged the other boys to do so.
My boys on being taught by us are sensitive towards the birds, the animals and their water and food needs. It is not very difficult even with meager resources to put out water and food for strays. I know a lot many people who do a lot more than that and I appreciate that.
Compassion is the only solution. It is the need of the hour before our own greed and immorality wipes us out of this earth. And we must act now.
Let us all act on our compassion now, before it is too late.