A couple of years ago I had gone to attend a lecture on bhagavad gita. It was more of an introductory lecture comprising of topics like does God exist and Who am I? What’s the purpose of my life? Etc… For many people of this century there hardly ever is any time or inquisitiveness for such complex perplexities. But anyway, for few people like myself we do like to ponder on such things and wonder what’s the answer to it and whether answers exist? In the session which was more of an interactive class, we were asked a question by the speaker – ‘who is more sophisticated – animals or humans?’ This particular question was something that I couldn’t help but mull over. Animals in general are considered to be less intelligent than us, humans. It is definitely true.

With the help of our complex grey matter and numerous sulci gyri we have found a way not just to capture the whole planet but also to reach the moon and the mars! And yet animals find a way to triumph over in so many meaningful ways. Hunt only when hungry – the biggest lesson we could try learning from the King of the jungle himself! There is no killing for ‘fun’ or ‘sport’ in the animal kingdom. We, however do not quite follow this jungle law! Hunting, Fishing, ivory market, leather industry, Silk industry – all have rocketed with a desire to appeal our senses. The thought of suffering another ‘soul’ undergoes to give pleasure to us, never crosses our mind.

I am not here to talk about or to promote a vegan way of life or anything, and neither do I wish to get sucked into the age old debate that even plants have life and eating them is equal to killing an animal etc. The proponents of non vegetarianism might have all such well elaborated speech practiced for years. I however believe in classifying things at a more primal level. Satisfying our own hunger is a survival instinct and a law of nature. So, do it!

I don’t judge vegetarianism or non vegetarianism or jainism for that matter. However, when it comes to killing for sport, for a fur jacket, for the tusks, for a purse, don’t you think that does cross a line?! Don’t we need to learn to respect, empathise and co exist with our fellow species? They too have a right to live. Music legend Paul McCartney once said – “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian.”

Animals have shown empathy time and again and have helped their fellow beings as well as other species with multiple examples. The selfless love shown by many famous animals have been etched in history eternally. ‘Hachiko’ was one such example. Even ‘waghya’, Shivaji maharaj’s dog had jumped in his funeral pyre and immolated himself. Many instances of animal mothers taking care of other species babies who are orphaned have emerged. I remember growing up watching the movie – Born free. It portrays a true story of Joy and George Adamson and their bond with Elsa, the lioness. If the ferocious most animal on Earth can have feelings of love, why can’t the intelligent most ? There are many more positive attributes we can learn from animals. Perseverance of an ant. Loyalty of a dog. Empathy of an elephant. Keen observation of an eagle, etc.

Lastly I would like to add words of wisdom by German philosopher, Schopenhauer-

“Compassion for animals is intimately connected with goodness of character; And it may be confidently asserted that he who is cruel to animals cannot be a good man.”