Why Do Seva For Animals?

If man believes in the Fatherhood Of God, then he is bound to follow His precept “All Are One…” fulfilling His dictum per word, acting upon it by being “Alike To Everyone…” Quoting Bhagawan’s precious gems on service to the co-inhabiting world of creatures, Late Ms. Mercini Sheratt, a champion animal lover who tirelessly worked for the co-existing world of varied lives, writes about the supreme significance of doing service to this special world of beings. After a glorious earthly sojourn carrying a precious heart filled with Love All Serve All… Help Ever Hurt Never, this Champion Crusader of the muted ones travelled back to The Source last year… merging at Bhagawan’s Divine Lotus Feet. Mercini has ever been our constant inspiration, for this particular section of The Prasanthi Reporter. Honouring SSIO’s crusade for Animal Love, with its SERVE THE PLANET being named after animals under the title – LOVE FOR ANIMALS… we continue with our series from Prasanthi Nilayam, carrying on ‘being’ their voice. 

“Foster the tiny seed of Love that clings to ‘me’ and ‘mine’, let it sprout into Love for the group around you, and grow into Love for all mankind, and spread out its branches over animals, birds, and those that creep and crawl, and let the Love enfold all things and all beings in all the worlds.  Proceed from less Love to more Love, narrow Love to expanded Love.” (Sathya Sai Speaks, Vol. 8, ch. 16)

Once, when presented with seva projects for human beings, Bhagawan said: “What about the animals?  They need help too.  My love embraces the animal kingdom as well as the human kingdom and so should yours……….it should not just be limited to human beings.” (source: Dr. Narendranath Reddy,UK medical conference, September 2011).  To another devotee, He has said, “Real Seva is animal seva”.

Bhagawan tells us that we can learn many good qualities from our animal friends and below, you can see a remarkable act of kindness by one of them:

“Two blind people wanted to drink water at the RagiGudda temple, Bangalore. When they were unable to operate the tap, this mother monkey opened the tap for them, allowed them to drink water, drank some water herself and then closed the tap before leaving the scene.”  (extract from an Indian newspaper)

Please note well!  If a monkey can do this act of kindness for human beings, then can’t we humans also do this for our animal brothers and sisters?  Many people do feed stray animals and wild creatures and birds,  while many more never think of it…………..but hey, what a shining example this monkey is to the human beings who don’t ……she is clearly not ‘speciest’ like many humans or prejudiced against members of other species in need.

No life can be sustained without water or food.  This applies to all life forms and while humans suffer terribly when they do not have enough water to drink or food to eat, so do our fellow creatures……..especially in extreme weather conditions such as the intense and simmering summer heat of summer or freezing winter. And the love and care that we give towards those in animal form is never wasted for the same atma flows through us all.    As Bhagawan says:

“When you love and look after an animal, you help to lift the whole of creation.  If you cannot care for an animal, then at least feed the birds and wild creatures.” (‘Sathya Sai Speaks’ – vol 10/ch 36)

While they may not be able to thank us in words, those who have fed and cared for animals, wild or domestic,  have often experienced their loving gratitude in other ways.  Our love attracts their love and helps us to realise the Oneness behind all forms.

A small example of this occurred at the time of the passing away of Lawrence Anthony, a highly regarded and remarkable conservationist and environmentalist who could communicate heart to heart with elephants.  He had been particularly successful in taming and ‘normalising’ a herd of wild, traumatised and rogue elephants, ‘delinquents, every one of them’ in Zululand, South Africa.  Although he had not seen the elephants for 15 months as he had had to distance them for their own safety, on the day that he died without warning in March 2012, the whole herd appeared out of nowhere and stood silently outside his house as if to pay homage to the human being who had so loved and understood them.  We know that elephants mourn their loved ones and to them, he had become a beloved family member. Somehow, on their jungle telegraph, they had intuited that he had passed away.

A kind and loving soul who has kept a small animal sanctuary for years told me the following story:  Alerted by her dog’s barking one day, she found a wounded baby pigeon beside him which had fallen out of a tree.  She rescued and hand reared it while it lived with her and her other pets for about five weeks……………..then one day, it was ready to leave and join others of its kind.

For 4 years it lived freely, often in her garden.  She could tell which pigeon it was because it recognised its name and was not afraid of her dog, with whom it had lived before.  Then one day, it appeared at her patio door, very sick, walked in, greeted her, the dog and the resident crow in turn and then went into its old cage which was still there.

It settled down and the next day, quietly passed away.  It had come home to die where it knew it was loved and safe.   A few days before it reappeared, she saw the outline of a pigeon on her window pane………..photo below………..rather like an angel bird……………perhaps an omen of what was to come.

An old neighbour of mine used to feed some badgers every night, as indeed many people do……….and I know, because I saw it with my own eyes, that these badgers would announce their arrival in the dark by banging on his patio door.  The food was then served and once they had finished it, they would bang on the patio door again, indicating that they would like a second helping!……..Their visit and their playful antics gave him such delight that it was not a one-way giving……..

“When a devotee seeks with humility and purity to give seva and prema to My creatures who are in need of such selfless service and sublime love;  when he considers all creatures as My children, as his beloved brothers and sisters, as the blessed manifestations of My immanence, then in fulfilment of My role as Sathya Sai,  I descend to help, accompany and carry that yogi.  I Am always near such a yogi to guide him and to shower My Love upon his life.

When Australia had a horrendous heatweave in 2009, something happened that had never happened before……….Koala bears, dying from thirst, emerged from the bush and approached human beings asking for   water, so desperate were they to drink that they overcame any fear of humans . ……..luckily, some humans obliged as can be seen in the pictures below…….

They entered houses to drink and ended up cooling down in baths…………..

Like Sathya Sai Baba and Shirdi Sai Baba, St Francis, the Christian saint,   felt great tenderness for the whole of creation.  He not only fed poor and vulnerable people but always fed the birds and other creatures around him too.  At Christmas, he asked the local government to make sure that all the animals around were really fed well, especially ‘my sisters, the larks’………..

Another love-filled soul, Ramana Maharshi, attracted to him through his love, not only human beings but all kinds of animals and birds who also made their home in his ashram.   He even allowed the squirrels to make nests for their families behind his pillow.   Daily, he used to ask “Have the lads been fed today?” referring to the dogs.    At dinner-time, the dogs had to be fed first.  ……then, the beggars and then the devotees….Here, he is, feeding a monkey:

Shirdi Sai, in His love, was happy to share the food on His plate with stray dogs ………..We know how many times He scolded His devotees when they behaved harshly towards a hungry animal and how many times He manifested in that animal form to teach them that God dwells in all forms and to have the same love and respect for all of them.

As everyone knows, our own Sathya Sai Baba loved and kept many animals over His lifetime and there are many stories in which His great love for the animal kingdom is clearly demonstrated.

Lastly, Mohammed, in one the Hadiths, tells the story of an adulterous woman about to be horribly punished.  However, her sin was forgiven her in Allah’s eyes when on seeing a very thirsty dog, she took off her shoe and filled it with water from a well for the dog to drink.  This act of kindness more than compensated for any past wrongdoing.

Anyone deciding to feed stray animals should take note of the fact that onions, garlic, coffee, raisins, grapes, beans, chocolate and some other foods (lists are available online) are dangerous for dogs and cats. While dogs are omnivores and can eat anything, cats are carnivores (sorry! – God made them like that!) and although they may eat anything when very hungry, really need their own kind of food…….  Birds generally eat seeds and nuts.  Water provided should be clean.

II Samastha Lokah Sukhino Bhavantu II