Founder Acharya His Divine Grace
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

The Universal Family
By Sankirtana Das   |  Apr 23, 2015

 ‘“Nonhuman animals do not have legal rights any more than they have legal responsibilities,” said Bob Kohn, a technology lawyer in Manhattan who has filed briefs opposing efforts to secure human rights for chimps and other animals. “For a court to hold otherwise would have tremendous adverse legal and moral implications for mankind.”’         

And later in the article ‘Ms. Prosin said her group (Nonhuman Rights Project) was saying not that animals were people, but that they were “autonomous beings, who are self-aware and self-directed.”’   — From the April 21, 2015 New York Times – “Judge Orders Stony Brook University to Defend Its Custody of 2 Chimps”by Jesse McKinley

One no longer has an excuse to be ignorant on this topic. Simply by scanning the many posts and clips on the Internet we can directly see the dealings between humans and animals, and animals and animals, even between different species. New books have appeared and research has been done exploring the intelligence and the emotional capabilities of animals. 

The sages of India tell us that animals are like our young children. Bob Kohn should know that our two or three-years olds have no legal responsibilities and yet we have both a legal and moral obligation to care for them.  Animals also are sentient beings who show affection and experience happiness, fear and pain. 

In the pages of Srimad Bhagavatam (7:14:9), written thousands of years ago, it is explained, “One should treat animals such as deer, camels, asses, monkeys, mice, snakes, birds and flies exactly like one’s own son. How little difference there actually is between children and these innocent animals.” 

The rights of humans, of the unborn, and of animals, in one sense, all goes hand in hand. Spiritual awareness is a matter of education and knowledge, to understand that all life holds a soul and that we are all connected. 

People are conditioned to think, “I don’t need to care about that one because they are not of my race, or my religion, or nationality, or my species.” In this way we create excuses to kill, harm or neglect others. To acknowledge the rights of all creatures and to see them as part of our greater universal family is the beginning of civilized culture. 

Later in the Srimad Bhagavatam (11: 7:33-35), it goes beyond this to explain that the animals, the environment and the elements (i.e. the earth and mountains, sky, water, fire, spiders, pigeons, deer, elephants) are also our teachers. The materialists only want to exploit these things to increase their wealth and derive pleasures. Unfortunately, they wander in the world, rarely going beyond this narrow mindset. In the meantime the earth is being torn apart and life forms are being decimated, just to increase the wealth of a very small fraction of the population.

But the introspective souls see all things as part of a greater educational process.  They seek to respect all life. They are awed and humbled by the world around them. In this way, we can gradually learn to see the hand of God working in all beings and in all situations.

* * *

Sankirtana das (ACBSP) is a sacred storyteller, award-winning author (see ) and longtime resident of New Vrindaban Community.

More Topic
Join Our Newsletter