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Uttarakhand High Court

Uttarakhand High Court

This is what The Times Of India (TOI) reported about an order of the Uttarakhand High Court: “The Bench comprising Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Lok Pal Singh observed, ‘The Corporations, Hindu idols, holy scriptures, rivers have been declared legal entities and thus, in order to protect and promote greater welfare of animals including avian and aquatic, animals are required to be conferred with the status of legal entity/legal person. The animals should be healthy, comfortable, well-nourished, safe, able to express innate behaviour without pain, fear and distress. They are entitled to justice’.” (July 4, 2018 )

Commenting on the said order, columnist Robin David wrote: “In the first order on July 4, the court declared all animals as legal persons, effectively blurring the line that separates humans from other animals. A division bench declared the entire animal kingdom, including avian and aquatic species, as legal entities with rights, duties and liabilities of a living person.” ( “Are Animals People?” TOI Ahmedabad, August 25, 2018)

The Implications of Giving Rights and Duties to All Animals

What does the U. High Court mean by this order? It would mean, by implication, that cats and rats have their own rights and duties, the one for killing and eating rats and the rats for getting themselves protected from cats. Who can do this Job? Who can tie the bell on the necks of the cats? Certainly not the democratically elected ministers since they represent human beings who elected them, not animals. What is the rationale for such an order? No serious reason is given for this unheard-of declaration. What about the rights of the carnivorous animals like lions and tigers to kill and eat other animals? What about the rights of the victims like cows and buffalos? Can anyone protect these animals without infringing the naturally given rights of lions and tigers, panthers and the like to get the food suited to their carnivorous nature?     

After Louis Pasteur practically all the allopathic treatments are in terms of anti-biotics (anti+bio=anti-life). It means killing of all sorts of germs and bacteria. And practically all the doctors would become criminals since they have to prescribe anti-biotic remedies. Indeed brushing one’s teeth would be a criminal action since it would ‘murder’ thousands of germs. For the same reason, the use of soap for washing and bathing would be legally punishable.

A.                          The Three Radically Different Realms of Life:

(Vegetable – Animal – Human)

Sensation and Feeling in the Vegetative Kingdom

     Many years ago a Brazilian botanist with international repute, gave a few lectures, often with experimental demonstrations, in De Nobili College, Pune. He wanted to point out that plants have some sorts of sensitive knowledge and feeling. He placed three plants in the same environmental conditions. He blessed one, cursed another and remained neutral to the third. After a week he took the students to the plants and showed how the plant which was blessed was growing with special energy, which was cursed was beginning to wither away and the third one appeared in its usual way. According to this scientist, all the three plants had some sort of sense-knowledge and feeling.

In India, J. C. Bose proved that the plants too possess sensation and feeling. Some schools of Ayurveda and some sects of Jainism too believe in sensation in plants. If so, if you eat vegetables which have also sense- knowledge and feelings, why don’t you eat animals with a little different type of sense-knowledge and feelings? If life, feelings and sense-knowledge are the reasons for non-violence towards the animals we should stop eating vegetables because they too have sense-knowledge and feelings.

The Types of Knowledge in Brute Animals and Rational Animals

Now let us come to the distinction between ‘rational animals’ (human beings) and the brute animals. This distinction is very different in the West and in the East. In spite of the theory of evolution, the Western world maintains great gap between these two realms. The problem of vegetarianism and non-vegetarianism depends very much on this distinction. We need some rational thinking on the basis of science and philosophy to get into the truth of these distinctions.

Aristotle defined in his book on the human soul that man is “a rational animal”. This means that man has the animal nature with rationality. Many Western philosophers, influenced chiefly by Aristotle and Aquinas, say that man, unlike brute animals, does make progress. For example, the animals in thousands of square miles of the Amazonian forests have remained the same for millennia without any cultural progress. Human culture–civilization is usually built one over the other. Why?  One of the reasons for this is that man makes tools or instruments with growing sophistication enabling him to progress faster and faster.

Now, making tools implies rationality and intelligence. Why? The answer leads us to a little involved reasoning. A tool is made in terms of means and end or purpose. Let us take the example of a knife for cutting. When a knife is made, the idea of cutting must be in the mind of the maker of the knife. Every action of the maker of a knife (black-smith) such us choosing the metal, shaping it, giving it sharp edges etc. are controlled and guided by the idea of an instrument or tool for cutting. The idea of the tool and its purpose (end and means) of cutting have to be together, simultaneously in one mind, in one intellect. The simultaneous existence or rather co-existence of two material things in one intellect implies the immateriality or spirituality of the intellect. Material things are extended things and two extended things cannot occupy the same space at the same time.

The German philosopher Immanuel Kant calls human beings “ends in themselves” and it would be against the moral imperatives (“Categorical imperative”) that they should be used as means or tools. This is what the extreme forms of slavery do. Kant and his followers consider human beings this way because they have rationality, intelligence or ability for self-reflection.

Another Argument For Man’s Rationality in A Spiritual Nature

Why don’t the animals use ‘conceptual language’? Conceptual language implies the use of ‘universal concepts’ like ‘man’, ‘humanity’, ‘animal’ and ‘animality’. Without rationality such concepts cannot be formed. These concepts are beyond the three dimensions of a material substance. The concept ‘humanity’ or ‘man’ have no colour, no length, no breadth and no height. These concepts are abstracted from concrete material things and are made matter-less or immaterial. Because of man’s rational-spiritual nature they can form such matter-less concepts. Though the animals do make noise to express their emotions and needs, they do not communicate with one another through conceptual language. A parrot can mechanically utter some concepts without conceptual knowledge. Animals act on instincts. These explanations would suffice, I presume, for a journalistic article like this.                             

B.   Jivo Jivasya Jivanam

This Sanskrit adage (saying) is a very realistic and practical one. The moment we accept its meaning that any living being is the food of other living beings, the contradictions with regard to the eating habits in our country and all over the world, will slowly disappear.

How to understand this saying? There are certainly many vegetarian animals. Elephants, buffalos, giraffes, etc. are vegetarians. Many wild animals, especially the canine, the feline, the serpentine groups etc. are carnivorous. These facts pave the way to understand the above adage.

The vegetative kingdom seems to confirm the above saying. What is the food for trees, plants and grass? Their food is called manure. What does the most common manure, the compost manure, consist of? The decomposed forms of living things from the animal and vegetative kingdom.

C.    The Geographical Determinants of Food and Drink

Some year ago an Alaskan Scholar, an expert in anthropology, visited St. Xavier’s College, Ahmedabad. When we asked about the eating and drinking habits of the Aalaskans, he replied saying: “We usually eat fish and drink fish-oil”. He said that in some parts of Alaska one could travel hundreds of kilometers without seeing any vegetation, indeed, even a blade of grass. There are large areas covered with thick layers of snow without the availability of water. This will explain why the natural food and drink of the Eskimos, the indigenous people of Alaska, are fish and fish-oil.

Once an Ayurvedic doctor ( Vaidya-raj) told me that according to Ayurveda, one should eat food that is available within the radius of 40 miles. He being a famous ‘vaidyaraj’, I did not dare to question his authority. But here I want to make a point relevant to our discussion. According to Ayurveda, the food most suited to the Alaskans in large areas of Alaska is fish and the most suited drink is fish-oil.

A Creator God And the Carnivorous Animals

Most religions, including the Indic ones, believe in a Creator God, except some of the Jain and Buddhist Sects. This implies that the Creator intended that the naturally carnivorous animals like lions and tigers, would live on the bodies of other animals like cows, buffalos, and deer, as their natural right. In other words, God Himself wanted that some animals should kill some other animals for their food and drink. Indeed the Creator God intended the killing of some animals by some other ones for their food and drink as a law of nature. These animals are not ends in themselves unlike human beings. According to Immanuel Kant, only rational animals (human beings) alone are ends in themselves not brute animals. At least, from the time of Aristotle, most Western Philosophers taught that only rational animals have intelligences and spirituality, and so, they alone are immortal. 

To Conclude:

In this article our interest has been to point out the problems, difficulties and the contradictions to which the order of U. High Court leads. When the U. High Court spoke about the personal rights and duties of animals, it included all animals, not only cows. We have seen how such an order makes our life almost impossible.

In practically all the cultures, the killing of innocent human beings is considered murder, except for some special reasons like self-defence. The reason for making this exception is that only man is an end in himself, man alone has a rational soul with the ability for self-reflection. Hence, man alone has personal rights and duties.

This is not the case with regard to brute animals including cows and buffalos. These animals do not have rational knowledge with self-reflection and cannot use conceptual language. Hence they cannot be considered as persons with rights and duties. Therefore, according to most religions and cultures only man has personal rights and duties. It cannot be said that for selfish reasons man has invented and articulated these laws, which give man a privileged place and status over and above other animals. God, the Creator, has established these laws of rights and duties in human nature itself. Hence these laws are called Natural Laws both in the West and in the East.

 (Published on 24th December 2018, Volume XXX, Issue 52)