Reverence for all life is true religion
Reverence for all life is true religion

The modern world is facing many problems. To solve them, we need the light of a new renaissance and a new faith in life. Humanitarianism is rooted in faith in life, which is inspired by an intuition of the kinship of all sentient life, a vision of the fellowship and brotherhood of life. He, who is inspired by the motive which sees one’s own good in the welfare of others, will draw an increasing number to the service of man, the service of the universe.

St Francis prayed, “Bless all things that have breath: guard them from all evil.” To us in India, this faith is an ancient faith — the faith of Buddha and Mahavira, the faith of the rishi who said, “Look upon all sentient beings with kindly eyes.” In my daily prayer I lift my heart to the Lord of all life and say, “O Lord! Bless the birds: they sing the song which purify the heart and reveal the beauty and mystery of life. O Lord! Protect the mild-eyed cow and the faithful dog and the honest horse and every beast and worm that groaneth, from the cruel hand of man!”

Who is my neighbour? The answer to this must be given by the heart, the purified heart of the awakened man. Man is the elder brother of the animal: So, must man be the animal’s guardian and helper — not his tyrant and oppressor. The great Indian poet, Tulsidas, wrote, “Compassion is the root of religion as pride is the root of sin.” One of our great poets voiced Tulsi’s faith when he said: If I can spare one heart from aching I shall not live in vain! If I can help one fainting robin unto his nest again, I shall not live in vain!

Sometimes, I feel that compassion is knocking at the door of every free nation, saying, “You are not truly free until your younger brother — the animal is free and happy. His keepers are ye!” Amid the ruins of a broken and bleeding West, is not compassion knocking, too, at the door of every Christian church?

Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe and America! Listen ye not to the call? Slowly, cometh compassion with a stronger power than communism. In little groups, in unknown men, on the glancing wings of pretty birds and the feet of gentle beasts and mild-eyed cows, is coming the angel of compassion to teach our hard and wayward hearts that to crucify our younger brethren and sisters is to crucify the spirit of life and that in loving them we love the one living life that loveth all things that wing the air or wander dumb — the one Mother-heart that loveth all things, great and small!

Piteous and urgent is the world’s need of the vision of ‘one life in all’. Humanity cries for a new Mahavira, Buddha and St Francis to teach us the truth that to love the little creatures is to love God, the Great Lover of the little ones. ---Sadhu Vaswani 

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