Cease all exploitation

Last Updated 25 November 2020, 02:26 IST

Reverence is essential—reverence for our rivers and forests; reverence for our lakes and waterfalls; reverence for trees and plants and the grass that grows beneath our feet; reverence for birds and beasts, whom I love to call our younger brothers and sisters.

My vision of unity and fellowship and brotherhood is of as in of a world in which the right to life is accorded to every creature that breathes the breath of life! How can wars cease until we stop all killing? How can we claim to seek world peace when we continue to slaughter sentient creatures?

Have you ever spared a thought for the atrocities that are perpetrated on the animals day after day, in laboratories and in slaughterhouses? Have you thought of these creatures imprisoned in their tiny cages, deprived of light, fresh air and free movement, compelled to stand and live in their own filth?

Let me tell you, we cannot speak of dharma, we cannot speak of creation as one family until we stop the exploitation of animals—until we stop all killing!

We cannot have a world family built on the exploitation of the poor, and on the blood of the dumb, defenceless creatures! Such a ‘family’ will only crumble beneath the burden of its own weight. If civilisation is to endure, it must be built in a new spirit of reverence, in a new religion of reverence for all life.

Animal welfare is not enough! We must speak of animal rights! I believe the time has come when all animal lovers must get together and formulate a charter of animal rights—a charter of man’s duty towards the animal kingdom. I hope and pray that India—the country of the Buddha, Mahavira, Mahatma Gandhi and Sadhu Vaswani—will be first among nations to pass an enactment giving rights to animals.

The time is come when we must decide once and for all that all types of exploitation must cease. We must recognise the moral inviolability of individual rights—both human and non-human. Just as the poor do not exist as resources for rich, just as women don’t exist as resources for men, even so animals don’t exist as resources for human beings.

(Published 24 November 2020, 21:27 IST)

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