He prayeth best who loveth best
All things, both great and small;
For the dear God who loveth us,
He made and loveth all.

ALL great men have been kind and loving to animals. The examples of two great men, namely, Sri Ramana Maharshi, the great sage of South India, and Sir Issac Newton, the great British scientist, are noteworthy.

Sri Ramana Maharshi’s love drew towards him not only devotees from far and near but also animals and birds. His Ashram used to be the home of dogs, cows, monkeys, squirrels, peacocks, and many other animals and birds. He gave them the same attention and love as he did to the people who came for his darshan and blessings. He never referred to an animal as “it,” but always as “he” or “she.” “Are the lads given food today?” he would lovingly enquire about dogs. In fact, it was a regular Ashram rule that, at dinner time, the dogs were fed first, then beggars, and last, the devotees.

Once, a monkey approached the Maharshi with her child. The devotees were trying to drive away the monkey because they thought that it would disturb the peace in the prayer-hall. But the Maharshi said, “Let her come. Don’t stop her. She has come to show her daughter to me and get my blessings as you people do.”

There was a cow in the Ashram. The Maharshi named her as Lakshmi. Even in a devotees’ gathering, she would go straight to the Maharshi without taking notice of anyone else. She was so sure that he would be keeping bananas or some other fruits for her. She had become a pet of everyone in the Ashram. Lakshmi gave birth at least to three calves on the Maharshi’s Jayanthi or birthday.

When Lakshmi became old, she fell ill, and one day, her end seemed near. At that moment, the Maharshi came to her and said “Amma (mother), you want me to be near you?” He sat down beside her and took her head on his lap. He placed one hand on her head and caressed her with the other. Soon thereafter, Lakshmi left her body quite peacefully. After full religious rites as is done human beings, she was buried in the Ashram compound near the graves of a deer, a crow, and a dog. A square stone was placed on Lakshmi’s grave, and on it was mounted a small image of her own likeness.

Such was the kindness, love, and respect which the great sage had for animals.

  1. What did Ramana Maharshi teach the devotees by his example?
  2. Why were graves raised for these animals when they died?
  3. Write in detail about any other example of man’s love for animals which you have read, or heard, or which you have seen.
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