Why Do Animals Matter?

Imagine a world without greenery around, without the four legged ones, without the flying colours? Such a world would be hollow without the essence. Man is blessed to co-exist in this beautiful world, with plants, animals, birds and all other living ‘loving’ creatures. If alone man understands his duty, his legacy, to live practising “Love All Serve All, Help Ever Hurt Never”, coexisting with his co-creation, he can surely claim that his heart has been touched by God. Why man should co-exist in nature and why do animals, birds matter for him? Read on as Ms. Mercinini Sheratt from the United Kingdom writes about the beauty of animal kingdom, citing Bhagawan’s priceless quotes. The writer, an English Teacher by profession, has been a long time devotee and is currently spiritual co-ordinator for Region 6 in the UK. She has also been taking active interest in animal welfare and animal rights.

Why do animals matter? Although Bhagawan often begs us not to lapse back into our animal ancestry because spiritually our task is – with His help – to rise higher and higher up the evolutionary ladder, He nevertheless tells us that:

“Why should you argue that animals, beasts and birds are bad?  Each is treading its own dharma. It does not overstep or undermine.  They have greater cooperation and mutual love than even men.  Each has to be judged from the point of view of the equipment and the opportunity.  Man can live better if he learns from the animals.  He is degrading himself even lower.  When the Lord incarnates, He has as one of His tasks the protection of sadhus, of beings with quiet, innocent natures.  Among animals are countless sadhus, remember.” (Sathya Sai Baba in a question and answer session – Peggy Mason’s Magazine, Summer 1996)

Animals matter because among them are some remarkable and beautiful souls, perhaps old souls of the animal kingdom.  For just like the human kingdom, there are young souls and old souls and this can often be seen just by looking into their eyes.  Think, for example, about all the patient, loving and selfless dogs, also referred to as Assist/ Service dogs,  who look after handicapped human beings.  (However, dogs are not the only sadhus in the animal kingdom) Many other such sadhus can also be found in other species of animals.

Below we can see a picture of the Mother Theresa of Dogs, a rescued dog living in an animal sanctuary in Warwickshire, UK.  This story has been verified to be true and is as follows:

 Mother Theresa of Dogs was a badly abused and neglected greyhound left to die, locked up somewhere.  She was finally rescued and taken to an animal sanctuary, emaciated and shivering with fear.  However, as time went by, she grew in confidence with the love and care she received and has ended up by becoming the sanctuary’s resident surrogate mother.  She welcomes all the new incomers to the sanctuary, providing them with the love and care their bruised souls so badly need.  The picture below shows the different species living peacefully together under Mother Theresa’s tender, loving wing.  Her motto must be “Love All, Serve All”.

Animals matter because they are sentient beings just like us.  Although they can’t speak in our human language, this does not mean that they are automatons with no feeling as certain ‘scientific’ and ‘philosophic’ thinking has claimed for centuries…..an attitude which has hardened the hearts of many and justified all kinds of cruelty and exploitation of animals, ‘legitimate’ and illegitimate.  This attitude is now thankfully slowly changing and certain scientists of animal behaviour are finally accepting that  animals are feeling – and dare I say it – thinking beings with complex emotional lives.  They feel joy, love, pain, fear, anxiety, sorrow and demonstrate humour, the range of animal sentience that is now being recognised is astounding – even a bull has been known to grieve at the death of his owner;   rats, who chuckle when being tickled and come back for more, have been found to be capable of altruism; the humble chicken is capable of deception and empathy and turkeys are so clever that they have been known to hold up heavy traffic in order to let their babies cross the road.  There is no such thing as a bird brain in the bird kingdom, as birds of all kinds have been found to be surprisingly intelligent. Even pigeons have shown mathematical abilities on par with certain primates.   As for parrots, they are a whole amazing story in itself; they have the emotional age of a toddler and the intelligence of a five year old.  They bond so deeply with either their parrot or human companions that parting and separation cause great suffering to them, so much so that they have been known to stop eating and die as a result of this.

Animals matter because many of them are full of love with a capital ‘L’. There is so much evidence which testifies to this.  In many cases, their love seems to be unconditional, purer and more intense than the love shown by many human beings.  As Bhagawan tells us about His visit to Uganda:

“I was really moved by their love and affection.  I could not come out of that place.  Such intense love is not to be found even among human beings today.  The humans hate one another. I could witness an intense, unparalleled love and equality in those animals…..Sathya Sai Baba Speaks, Volume 30, chapter. 19, p. 280


“Love is present not only in human beings but also in all creatures, birds or beasts; nor is that all.   It is in fact all pervasive.  Love pervades everything in creation.  Man’s humanness is vitiated when he fails to recognise this love.” – Sathya Sai (SS February 1995, pg 37)

Once I rescued a small bird being chased by a cat.  I held the bird in my hands while I sat very still, hoping that this would calm it.  As I looked into its little eyes looking up at me, I was overwhelmed by a powerful feeling of LOVE coming to me from this tiny creature. This took me completely by  surprise for it was totally unexpected but unmistakable and I could never have imagined or predicted it.

Animals matter because

“There is only one royal road for the spiritual journey – LOVE, love, love for ALL beings as manifestations of the SAME DIVINITY that is the very core of oneself” – Sathya Sai

The same atma which flows through us also flows through every living being. Our treatment of them matters because what we do to them comes back full circle to us, the human kingdom.  As long as our abuse and exploitation of animals continues on the grand scale that it does, mankind will never know peace. In common parlance, what goes round comes round for we are all ONE LIFE and Swami has said we are creating an enormous karma in our mistreatment of the animal kingdom.

Long ago, in the times of Ancient Greece, in the sixth century BC,  Pythagorus, the mathematician and mystic philosopher stated that:

“As long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other.  Indeed he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love”.

II Samasta Jeevah Sukhino Bhavantu II