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Religion and the One Right Approach of Animal

The recent incident in Malappuram Kerala, (India) on 27th May, 2020 where a pregnant elephant died after a local allegedly fed her a pineapple stuffed with crackers and later she died while standing in the water. This showed our concern of towards the environment and towards the animals.

It also pinches us to think do animals have rights in India?

In order to get answer we must introspect I have included in this paper the importance and rights of the animals since ancient period. First of all, it is important to understand that the Animals are an inevitable part of environment. Animals are a source to maintainthe balance in environment. In ancient India, the protection of environment was taken care of properly and that's why all the religions have added the protection of environment in their script.

The concern for environment protection dates back to the age of Vedas. Rig Veda mentions Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Space as the five essential elements which form the basis in life in anything and everything. Thus, it calls out for the protection of vegetation and animals. In all the religions, the saints, sages, gurus, faqir tried to live in a peaceful place and that used to be forests. Hinduism considers the nature as the body of God and thus different aspects of nature i.e. plants (tulsi), trees (peepal), birds (garuda) and animals (lion) are worshipped. Kautilya's Arthashastra calls it the dharma of every individual to preserve the nature.

Buddhism preaches simplicity and non- violence. Which means that even animals should not be killed. A simple life is led by optimum utilization of resources and lease cases of overexploitation of nature. Non-violence teaches us not to kill animals for fulfilling our own selfish needs.

The holy Quran declares that everything is created from water and thus, there is significance of purity of water. Purity of water can be maintained with the sea animals.

In Christianity admission is granted after baptizing in water. It is considered a symbol of purification. Human being can only make the water dirty. But the water can be made pure through the natural process with the help of animals.

So, one should not consider himself more important than animals. We all are equal on this Planet earth. It means that even a single human being is not more important than a single honey bee, ant, or even minute creature.....because we all are contributing to create the balance in the environment.

Even the text in Sikhism in in Guru Granth Sahib, it is emphasized that everything is a creation of the Almighty and hence, we cannot limit their use to the present generation or ourselves.

A verse states that:
Terejeehjeeya ka tohe.

Hence, this implies all belong to you and all are yours. Here, all does not merely include humans but everything in this universe from planets to plants. To follow the principle of sustainable development, first and foremost is that we must learn to live in harmony with the nature.

The Sri Guru Granth Sahib proclaims that our purpose is to encourage harmony with all creation and discourage undesirable human domination. The Sikh Gurus preached us showing way to live in harmony with the ecology as well as all their constructions are adhered to this philosophy.

We have various laws in India to protect the animals. However these are not sufficient to deal. The provision in Indian Penal Code, 1860 and Wildlife Protection Act, have various provisions for the protection and preservation of the animals. Still in India and in the most educated state the local people are killing pregnant elephant. Do we have sufficient laws or whether laws alone can help the protection of environment. The need of the hour is to understand that animals do have their rights in Pluralism. Every religion and even those who do not follow any religion they must respect the animal rights.

The One right Approach must be followed. State welfare includes the welfare of both human and non humans. Just like judiciary is also recognizing the animal rights. The Human and Environment (which includes plants, animals both) should fit in legal paradigm for Anthropocene. The protection of human and environment is both necessary.

If we see the legal rights through courts, probably the first case came before the court for the animal rights was when Manu Needhan Chola, The King , who hung a bell in Public Place for ordinary people to ring it up if they need justice from the King . Once a Cow's horn was stuck in the bell and it rang. The cow was brought to the King and he came to know that its calf has been killed by the carriage of his son. He gave justice by ordering to kill his son so that he (king) should suffer the same pain as cow suffered because of the act of his son.

Recently, Islamabad High Court on 21stMay, 2020 recognized that animals do have legal rights . Earlier India , Argentina has also recognized the rights of animals. It is necessary to impose duties for the protection of environment. Without protection of environment even humans cannot survive. We must have animal courts to deal with the protection of animals as they are under estimated by the human beings.

It is a time to consider the legal right of animals which is delayed for a longer time because of illiteracy of human beings. The challenges today we are facing in COVID 19 is result of human being's selfish motives. We consider ourselves superior than other creatures. We think everything is for us and we own this Planet. No one owns this Planet earth rather we play our part in it with harmony to each other.


  1. Saskia Stucki and Tom Sparks, The Elephant in the (Court)Room: Interdependence of Human and Animal Rights in the Anthropocene, European Journal of International Law, June 9, 2020.
  2. This King rules South India around 250 B.C (now this place is in Sri Lanka) has been the torch bearer of the Judges' work philosophy that no one is above the law and all are equal.
  3. KrishandasRajgopaldas, When the Chola King was personification of Perfect Judge, The Hindu, January 29, 2017
  4. On 21 May 2020, the Islamabad High Court issued a remarkable judgment in of Kaavan the elephant (among other inmates of the Marghazar Zoo), affirming without any hesitation that animals have legal rights Chief Justice Athar Minallah held that the pain and suffering of Kaavan must come to an end, and ordered his release and relocation to an elephant sanctuary
  5. Animal Welfare Board v. A. Nagaraja and others, MANU/SC/0426/2014.available at

Written By: Dr. Sangeeta Taak´┐Ż

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