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'Animal Matters' (January 2015):


“Manana (deep contemplation) will confirm the fact of God being in every living being, bird, beast, tree and when this awareness is established, you will not be tempted to hate or ridicule or envy any other living being in creation. For you are He and He is you, fundamentally. Until you come to this stage, you are only a partial devotee, still a long way to go.” (Sathya Sai Speaks, Vol 10, ch 12)

When I first read the words above, I was puzzled... are there really people who hate, ridicule or envy other living beings in creation? Perhaps they hate them out of fear and yes, we have good reason to feel afraid of certain wild and dangerous animals, poisonous insects and so on. That is understandable. But 'ridicule' other creatures? Because of the way they look or the way they walk? Well, human beings aren't always physically prepossessing or pleasing to look at! However, as time has gone by, I have realised with great sadness that there are people who actually despise and feel contempt for the animal kingdom. Even sadder is the fact that many of these people would regard themselves as 'spiritual' people. (In fact, many people who would not call themselves 'spiritual' often demonstrate a much greater love towards God's other creatures). Their attitude may be due to cultural conditioning and inherited attitudes and/or to the fact that they never had the good fortune to keep pets when they were children. Most small children feel an affinity with animals and want to befriend them if allowed to. Often, of course, this natural feeling is discouraged by the adults around them and thus, their hearts start to close where once they were open. No matter what, I feel sure that if such people took the trouble to really observe animals with an open mind and heart and educate themselves in this respect, their attitudes would change. Especially if they realised that animals not only help humans in times of need and distress but they also help each other, even those of different species, as is shown by the following stories.

On March 23rd, 2008, CBS News showed the following amazing CCTV footage. A street dog was shown on a motorway in Santiago, Chile, singlehandedly carrying out a remarkable rescue operation. On seeing another dog that had been run over by a car, this dog braved the fast oncoming traffic, darting between cars and risking its own life until it reached the wounded one. With its front legs and paws alone and using all the strength it could muster, in the midst of all the traffic, it dragged the wounded dog, by its shoulders, across the road to safety. No small achievement! It took dedication, courage and dogged determination. Highway workers came to the aid of the two dogs, at which the brave rescuer ran off, sadly never to be seen again. Whether or not the wounded dog lived or died is not clear, but one thing was clear, this noble act will be inscribed in the ethers forever.

“The task of every avathar has been to protect the sadhus, punish the wicked and support right conduct (dharma). By sadhus, I do not mean monks and ascetics alone, as it is generally understood. It means the ones who practise goodness, uprightness and virtue. Note that these virtues can be possessed by animals and even insects... (Sathya Sai Baba ,Thought for the day, Prashanti Nilayam,1st February 2012)

Well, Lilica is an animal sadhu if ever there was one. This sweet natured and sweet eyed stray dog lives by a junkyard in Sao Paolo in Brazil where she was first abandoned. Daily, she renders the most remarkable selfless service for the other homeless creatures living there: dogs, cats, hens and other animals. A favourite of the junkyard owner, she brings joy to her and the children who come there. When Lilica gave birth to eight puppies, she knew she had to feed her babies somehow. So every night, she hit the road under cover of darkness to find find food for them. As time went by, she not only brought food back for her puppies but also for the other animal residents there. Even though her puppies have now been adopted, Lilica still continues with this special service, going out every night and coming back with a plastic bag full of food. She puts this down in front of her animal companions and one by one, they feed from the bag. Where does she find this food? One night, a teacher named Lucia was feeding her own rescued animals and noticed Lilica wandering around outside. Realising Lilica was hungry, she brought her some food in a bag. Lilica ate some but not all. Then she picked up the open plastic bag and ran off, spilling a little food on the way. The next night, Lilica returned and this time, Lucia tied up the plastic bag before allowing her to take it away. Since then, for several years now, Lucia has left home at 9 pm every night to meet Lilica with a bag of food and every night Lilica risks her own life on the busy roads, walking four miles, to keep her appointment with Lucia and collect her precious food parcel. Loving, angelic Lucia hardly ever goes away as she knows Lilica relies on her help to feed not just herself but the other animals living at the junkyard. Two beautiful and saintly souls, only in very different forms (first shown on You Tube in 2013).

“The appeasement of the dog’s hunger is the same as mine. The dog has got a soul. The creatures may be different but the hunger of all is the same, though some speak and others are dumb. Know for certain that he who feeds the hungry really serves ME with food. Regard this as an axiomatic truth.” (Shirdi Sai Baba)

Another amazing dog with a life-saving mission appears in “Awesome Animals – Watch How They Help Each Other”. In this film, some fish have been washed up on to some high rocks and stranded. This dog seems very keen to help them stay alive... and can be seen repeatedly and frantically brushing water on to the fish, using his nose to do this. He is definitely on a mission to save them from dying but how does he know that fish need to be in water to live?

One must also not forget animal saviours of species other than dogs for there are many. According to Ben Holt, the author of Animal Heroes, a donkey called Dotty and a sheep called Stanley lived together on a farm in Yorkshire. They had been very close friends since Stanley became a motherless lamb. One day, an ill-intentioned dog got into the field and attacked Stanley, sinking his teeth into him. As soon as Dotty saw this, she raced across the field to the rescue. She managed to hold down the dog until it let go of Stanley. Sadly Stanley was badly injured. However, after he got better, Dotty always stayed close by him.

And who would have thought that Hippopotamuses could also do lifesaving service?

“When Father Patrick Shanahan was in England to raise money for his street children in Accra, West Africa, he recounted the following story, told to him by two game wardens. “The two men were walking through a forest when they saw some impalas being chased by jackals. The impalas ran into a water hole to hide. While they struggled in the water, the jackals waited on the shore. Then a huge hippo climbed out of the water and gradually the jackals backed off. The hippo began to walk home. Two impalas climbed out of the water and a third tried to but couldn’t. Exhausted by the chase, it struggled up the bank but slipped down the mud into the water again and again. It was dying. Then, out from the trees, the hippo returned. Gently it picked up the impala in its mouth. Then it breathed heavily into the impala’s mouth and nose – it was giving the impala the kiss of life. After a few minutes, the impala revived, shook itself and leapt off into the forest." (Taken from Peggy Mason’s magazine dedicated to Sai Baba, Autumn 1996)

Peggy Mason noted that this story is particularly remarkable because animals and birds usually succour their own kind when in distress. However we are hearing more and more about interspecies relationships and interaction nowadays.....this seems to be increasing...a sign perhaps that all living beings are now being fast-tracked spiritually. Since discovering this story, two more well documented stories of hippos saving impalas have come my way and in one of them, yet another impala was successfully given the kiss of life by its hippo saviour... without having attended First Aid classes, hippos somehow know how to do that! For anyone interested in reading about this, please refer to “Peaceful Kingdom – Random Acts of Kindness by Animals” by Stephanie Laland, page 67.

Finally dear reader, please ponder on the wise words below:

“The indifference, callousness and contempt that so many people exhibit toward animals is evil first because it results in great suffering in animals, and second because it results in an incalculably great impoverishment of the human spirit. All education should be directed toward the refinement of the individual's sensibilities in relation not only to one's fellow humans everywhere, but to all things whatsoever.” (Ashley Montague)(anthropologist, scientist, humanitarian)

And from Sadhu Vaswani, a saintly seer of India:

“The scared Upanishad rightly says: “Ahimsa is Yagna, is true sacrifice.” Abolish animal sacrifices! Surely, true religion should teach us to be guardians of birds and beasts, our younger brethren. As a Chinese sage said: “The practice of religion involves as a first principle, a loving compassionate heart for all creatures... In the long ago, he whom I regard as one of the early prophets of ahimsa, Asoka, opened hospitals for animals. Such hospitals need to be multiplied today. Let schools and colleges give to their students lessons in kindness to animals! Let boys and girls be trained in little acts of mercy, little deeds of love.

(Article written by Mercini Sherratt for Vedanta Empire's charity incentive)

Vedanta Empire is dedicated to raising money for charity: A portion of profits raised from each commercial and business booking is given away; to feed, aid and protect neglected animals. When a charitable or spiritual event has been booked; Vedanta Empire shall give away all of the profits raised from the booking, towards this very same cause of supporting animals...

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