Ancient Indian view on animals is succinctly presented in Srimad Bhagavatam, an ancient Vedic text. It is said therein:
atmanah putravat pasyet
tair esam antaram kiyat
One should treat animals such as deer, camels, asses, monkeys, mice, snakes, birds and flies exactly like one’s own son. How little difference there actually is between children and these innocent animals. (Srimad Bhagavatam – 7.14.9)
By this statement, one can imagine how broad minded the Vedic civilization was and how much it was concerned with the well-being of all living entities. This is the Vedic world view, commonly known as the peaceable kingdom. If we have dominion over animals, surely it is to protect them, not to abuse them for our own ends. Our dominion over animals is exactly like the loving parents’ dominion over their children.
“The baby is an animal,” wrote one mid-nineteenth-century author, “and the child’s devotion on the whole is to its body.” It is normal for children to want to run, scream, and pay, and in the words of the parenting manual author George Ackerly, “every effort to restrain them in their youthful gambols is as unnatural as it would be to confine the deer in the midst of the forest.”
This association of animals with children (and children with animals) is not new. Throughout the history, children were regarded as not culpable for crimes, a position later adopted by one and all. Today, in many countries like Canada and the United States, children below twelve are not held responsible for their actions. Only children twelve and older may be sent to special correctional institutions, such as juvenile hall. Children enjoy this privilege because they possess innocence. Animals also possess this very same attribute and it reflects in their eyes.Today, animals are innocent sufferers in a hell of our making