Hinduism is believed to be one of the oldest religions on the earth and it has an astonishing amount of knowledge related to astronomy, medicine, mathematics, and literature and much more. Therefore, there is no doubt that Hinduism is the world’s oldest known modern religion.
Text Vedas of Hinduism hold true to their Sanskrit translation- “knowledge” in every aspect of their being, be it knowledge of science or morality. The text does not hesitate to use the example of the smallest of insects to demonstrate the significance of life, and justice for every living creature.
The stories with a message of morality and good virtues through animal examples are abundant in all of the 300 versions of the sacred texts of Hinduism- Vedas, Ramayana, Mahabharata and Puranas. Here are some of the excerpts from “Pashu”, a book compiled by Devdutt Pattanaik, who is an Indian physician turned leadership consultant, mythologist, author and communicator whose works focus largely on the areas of myth, mythology, and also management.
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Human culture is essentially violent : towards plants, animals, men, women and queers. Vegetarian piety notwithstanding. We deny to cope.
— Devdutt Pattanaik (@devduttmyth) August 25, 2016
Mahabharata: Mahaprasthanika Parva
After a rule of 36 years, the Pandavas along with Draupadi decided to scale the mountains and enter the Home of the Gods.
“If we have lived virtuous lives, the Gods will let us enter,” declared Yudhishthira, the Pandava king.
A dog, too, had ventured with them. Only Yudhishthira and the dog managed to reach the top of the mountain and stood before the gates.
“Only you can enter, not the dog” proclaimed the Gods.
“But as equal right, since he has come on the same ardours journey and has never faltered in his desire and diligence. The flesh may be different but the soul is the same. If he cannot come in, I will stay out as well,” argued Yudhishthira.
The Gods were pleased and blessed Yudhishthira for his righteousness. “The dog is ‘dharma’ and you have demonstrated your innate spirituality in recognising that all creatures are the same.”
Ramayana: Little squirrel who helped Lord Rama!
A little squirrel was labouring hard to help Lord Rama’s army built the bridge to cross over to Lanka.
It was laughed at by many others, but lord Rama picked it up and gently stroked it as a gesture of appreciation, and left the marks of his hands as stripes.
Mahabharata: Gandhari’s 100 sons
According to the legends, at the end of the war Gandhari is said to have lamented to Lord Krishna, whom she blamed for the death of her sons. She is said to have asked the Lord the reason for her sufferings. Lord Krishna replied that the law of cause and effect was the reason behind all sufferings.
He explained to her that long back in an earlier life, Gandhari had poured boiling water after cooking rice on the ground outside her kitchen.
An insect had laid hundred eggs there and all of them were killed. The mother insect cursed her that she too would have to endure the deaths of her hundred children. Another legend stated that Gandhari had crushed the eggs of a mother turtle, who cursed her with a similar fate.
Mahabharata: Sumukh and Gunakeshi
Gunakeshi was the daughter of Matali, Indra’s charioteer, who was in love with Samuka, a Naga (snake). Samuka and Gunakeshi couldn’t get married as Garuda, the eagle, was promised one Naga to feed upon each day as a truce so that he does not kill everyone, and Samuka was his next victim.
Indra, after being begged upon by Matili, went to Vishnu for help to save samuka. Vishnu ordered Garuda to spare the Naga boy. Garuda refused and vowed to remain hungry unless samuka was presented to him.
Vishnu placed a hand on Garuda, and as a result the eagle was unable to fly anymore. He begged Vishnu for mercy, at which Vishnu replied – for that you must show compassion to others—for that is how all life is sustained. The Naga was spared.
These are small fragments from the ocean of fables and stories that the scriptures encompasses in Hinduism. An endless mine of treasure which rests between closed book covers!
– by Usman Zafar. Twitter: @HalkiSiChuban