Monday, 13 September 2010


Animals have always been worshipped in our country. The Gaou Maata (holy cow), Pawanputra Hanumanji and our most beloved the elephant headed Lord Ganesha. In our mythology too, animals have been bestowed an exalted position. Jataayu, the Good Samaritan, old bird who gave away his life to save Sitaji. Gaduda, Lord Krishna’s vaahana, Bali and Sugriva, who in spite of their sibling rivalry came forward to help the banished princes Ram and Lakshman and last but not the least the unforgettable vaanar sena led by none other than Marut Nandan, himself. Our religion preaches nature worship and all the good things that Nature has endowed us with have been treated by our predecessors, the sages and seers, as sacred and worshipped in acknowledgement of the divine blessing. This has been our heritage. But sadly when I look around now I feel that our bhakti bhaav is only confined to the four walls of the temple. As we come out of its gate, we forget ourselves and our history.

I am talking about how we treat the stray animals/friends with which we have to coexist even in the most upbeat of cities and metros. Though city planners may cry hoarse that these animals, dotting the roads and streets, mar the beauty of the landscape and there should be separate grazing lands and barricaded zones for them. Agreed, that there should be such facilities. But as long as these are not happening can we not at least be nice and kind to the mute beings and try and understand them as they cannot express their pains and discomforts in languages comprehensible to us.

I find cattle grazing by themselves on the roadside or by the busy boulevards, wherever they find something green, because their owners cannot provide them with sufficient fodder. As a result, they munch whatever they find lying here and there along with what they should not be eating as well. I have seen cows dying of asphyxiation on the road because they make the mistake of swallowing plastics containing thrown away food. (Of course how to use and discard plastics or not to use them at all is another issue of concern which I will not venture into at this juncture. But it is also something to ponder upon seriously.) They are cause of many accidents too as they stray onto the main road during peak traffic hours. Now, isn’t it the responsibility of the owners to provide the poor animals with proper, healthy and sufficient food?

The children pelting stones at stray dogs and puppies, to shoo them away, because these have playfully followed them around, is another common occurrence. Dogs, especially, do not harm human beings. They love and desire human company. You give them a little food morning and evening and they will guard your house like their own from all and sundry. You may have noticed old ladies sitting in the park sunbathing in the winter afternoons or chatting with each other on some other days and one or two stray dogs sleeping or sitting beside them peacefully. Unless and until they are ill treated or are sick and/or rabid, dogs do not bite or chase humans without reason.

But limited knowledge and awareness give rise to fear. Parents instead of teaching their children not to run when a stray dog wagging its tail comes sniffing around, they find it easier to beat up the dog. Dogs always chase running objects either playfully or considering them to be miscreants. Somewhere at the back of our minds also play the fact that stray animals are fit to be treated callously because they are just stray orphans! Had it been a dog of high breed, matter would have been different. But fact remains that these stray dogs are as intelligent as any other dog and if well trained and cared for they are as good watch dogs and friends as any best breed.

One cannot blame the parents as well because they themselves may be ignorant of these facts. Once you tell the dog not to come near you, it will always maintain safe distance. If you talk to them in your own language they listen and understand. But there is no forum to teach these things in a structured manner in play or high schools. We enroll our children for summer/seasonal courses to learn music, dance and other extra curricular activities but alas there is no course to teach them how to live with these animals that have always been domesticated and made use of, for varied and advantageous purposes, by homo-sapiens since the very inception of civilization.

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