A blog created to learn from mutual experiences of the Author and the readers of the blog. I request all the readers to kindly leave comments for the improvement.
(Could not forget Kittu passed away on 31st August 2009).
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Animals and World Religions
I was going through a very interesting website and found some great text. The summary is given below. It clearly says that with few exceptions no religion is favoring the animal slaughter.
Religion, whether organized or not, is an intimate part of human culture. All of the world's major religions have explicit or implicit principles concerning the proper character of the human-animal relationship. Most of the world's religions recognize the importance of animals and the animal-human interaction. However, few major religions hold ceremonies to mark the birth or death of animals that are the equivalent of ceremonies marking the birth or death of humans. This seems to indicate that many world religions relegate animal life to a secondary status when compared to human life. Nonetheless, ethics and morality concerning the use of animals is an important issue that most world religions consider to be within their domain. Sometimes, the religion's standpoint on issues relating to animals is clearly stated in holy writings. In other instances, an interpretation of a written passage is made by a person or official body within the religion.With few exceptions, the general attitude of most of the world's religions toward the relation of humans and animals can be characterized by five general principles. 1) Human life is more valuable than animal life because humans have a "soul" (or something equivalent to a soul). (2) Humans have a God-given authority over other animals. This is usually expressed as "dominion" or "stewardship." (3) The right of humans to consume animals for nutrition and to use the labor of animals is recognized by several, but not all world religions. (4) Cruelty to animals—pointless acts that will cause an animal to experience pain or suffering—is prohibited by most religions because it displays attributes that are undesirable in civilized societies. Even religions that previously or currently practice animal sacrifice often specify that the animal be killed in as painless a manner as possible. (5) Most religions urge kindness toward animals.
For many Christians, an indicator of the desired relationship of humans to animals is found in Matthew 10:29-31 in the Christian New Testament. The verses suggest that, although the life of a sparrow is of much less value than a human life, "not a sparrow dies without God taking notice." For Christians, humans may have a soul but God still considers the life of a sparrow important enough to take notice of its passing.
The God-given authority of humans over animals is recognized by Judaism, but not without restrictions. The prohibition of cruelty is so strong in Jewish law that the slaughter of animals for human consumption is carefully scrutinized by a specialist in the field. If there is any indication that the animal suffered unnecessarily, it is considered unclean (unfit for human consumption). There are exceptions to this rule for medical research. The Polish rabbi Moses ben Israel Isserles (1525-1572) taught that anything necessary for medical or other useful purposes is excluded from the prohibition of cruelty to animals.
The right of humans to consume animals for nutrition and to use their labor is recognized by most Muslims. The Qur'an is neutral on the subject of the consumption of meat. However, moderation in all things, including eating, is encouraged (Qur'an 7:31; 5:87). If animals are slaughtered for food, the slaughter must be done in strict accordance with Islamic law and in such a way as to cause as little pain as possible. Most Islamic scholars hold that the Qur'an prohibits animal cruelty, which is defined as causing unavoidable pain and suffering. This last prohibition is generally applied to sport hunting as well.
The Hindu religions also denounce cruelty to animals. TheBhagavad Gita (verse 5:18) proclaims that a self-realized soul is able to understand the equality of all beings. To a Hindu, animal souls are the same as human souls, progressing to higher means of conscious expression in each life. Hinduism teaches that every soul takes on a life for a specific purpose and that to kill an animal stops the progression of the soul and may cause great suffering. For this reason, most devout or orthodox Hindus do not consume meat or use meat products in any form.
Many Westerners have difficulty understanding why a country as poor as India allows cows to wander the streets, break into gardens, and pilfer food from market stalls. To a devout Hindu, the cow is sacred. The Mahabharata, an epic poem of ancient India, teaches that spiritual sacrifice must be accompanied by milk curds and ghee (clarified butter). Ghee and the cow that produces ghee becomes the very root of spiritual sacrifice. Hindus hold cows sacred because cows are the symbol of everything that is alive. In the same way that Roman Catholics and many other Christians revere Mary as the Mother of God, Hindus revere the cow as the mother of life. To a Hindu, there is no greater sacrilege than harming a cow. Even the taking of a human life lacks the symbolic defilement attached to cow slaughter.
Like Hinduism, Buddhism also teaches reincarnation, the belief that sentient beings are subject to rebirth as other sentient beings and that consciousness cannot be killed. The interconnectedness of all living organisms is an important precept of the faith. The first of the Five Precepts, the foundation of Buddhist ethical conduct, is not to harm sentient beings.
The relationship between humans and animals is evident in the literature, folklore, and practices of cultures around the world and through the centuries. Yet ambiguity and inconsistency often characterize this relationship. We love our pets and we depend on our domestic animals for food and valuable products, yet we sometimes mistreat our pets and we have almost completely separated ourselves from domestic animals.