Animals - from the writings of Sri Chinmoy
Editor's preface (Sri Chinmoy, Friendship with the animal kingdom, Agni Press, 2010)
In the early 1980s, Sri Chinmoy embarked on a new adventure, welcoming into his house a variety of birds, dogs, monkeys, chinchillas and other pets. Sri Chinmoy explained that while offering his love, affection and concern to the animal kingdom, these qualities would also touch the human level, entering into his spiritual children and flowing into the Universal Consciousness. This volume contains charming and sometimes amusing stories about Sri Chinmoy’s experiences with his pets, as well as with the disciples who assisted in caring for them.
Sri Chinmoy, Friendship with the animal kingdom, Agni Press, 2010
Why I keep animals
When we were celebrating Madhuri’s birthday, she asked me why I give animals such importance. I told her that it is because they give me joy. It is like playing with a top or a new toy.
I see how restless the monkeys are! My monkey Madhu is restlessness incarnate, but it gives me such joy to watch him.
When I was a child, I used to have animals at home — dogs, birds, monkeys. Now I am bringing back my old habits. These are not bad habits; old habits can also be good.
Everything has an inner reason. The main reason I keep animals is because they give me tremendous joy. Also I feel that these innocent beings need my special attention. Every day I hear the birds and look at the monkeys and various other animals — the guinea pigs, gerbils and so on. Every day I do it.
I really feel sad when one of the birds falls sick or when the monkeys and other animals do not do well.
Animals have restlessness and cuteness and, at the same time, sweetness and fondness. All these qualities go together.
3 April 1981
Sri Chinmoy, Friendship with the animal kingdom, Agni Press, 2010
Inside the finite, the Infinite
The world’s smallest horse came here yesterday. It gave me so much joy! I am inviting the seekers to come and receive something cute: a photograph with the world’s smallest horse, Thumbelina.
At the beginning of the month, I lifted the smallest horse; at the end of this month, I shall lift Radar, the tallest horse.
[A video of Sri Chinmoy lifting Thumbelina was shown. On the video, Sri Chinmoy remarked:]
I was getting tremendous joy. Although I was lifting one little horse, the smallest horse in the world, I felt that I was lifting at that time hundreds of little horses. These are my little brothers and sisters from another kingdom, from the animal kingdom. They give me tremendous joy! They are so innocent, so, so loving, always. They exist on earth to give us joy. These animals live on earth only to give us joy. We are their elder brothers and sisters, their superior ones and they serve us in a very, very special way. For that we should be very, very grateful to our little brothers and sisters who are now still in the animal kingdom....
For me it was a great experience. I was meeting with my little sister, Thumbelina, who is full of love, full of affection.
[After the video, Sri Chinmoy made the following comments:]
When we think of God, we immediately feel that God is infinite, eternal, immortal. We think of His Infinity, Eternity and Immortality. Tagore, India’s greatest poet, wrote a poem that became a song. The first line runs, Simar majhe asim tumi bajao apan sur. It means, “Inside the finite, O Absolute, You play Your song-music-melody. I am a tiny body. Inside my finite body You play Your infinite melody. Therefore it is so sweet, so sweet.”
Inside the finite if we can see the Infinite, that realisation is infinitely more beautiful than the realisation that tells us that only inside the Infinite can we see God. God is inside both the Infinite and the finite. It is very difficult to imagine God when we see a tiny object — let us say, a grain of sand. For us, to think of God inside that tiny grain is very difficult. If we think of the Himalayas or something else very vast, then it is quite easy for us to think and feel that God is there.
Yesterday Thumbelina gave me boundless, boundless joy. We have seen many, many horses and at the end of this month we shall see the world’s tallest horse. This is the smallest horse and the tallest horse also I shall be able to lift. God is so kind to me! I shall be able to go from the smallest to the tallest in the same month.
- WSI 37. 1 June 2007, Seeker Meditation, Aspiration-Ground, Jamaica, New York↩
Sri Chinmoy, I wanted to be a seeker of the Infinite, Agni Press, 2012
Question: I would like to know if having pets necessarily slows down your spiritual progress.
Sri Chinmoy: It depends on your capacity. If you see that your pets are standing in your way, then you naturally should get rid of them. In India we have a traditional story about a king who used to think of his pet deer so much that when he took another incarnation, he himself became a deer.
If you focus your attention on your pet all the time, you will be making a mistake. The time, attention, love and devotion that you spend on your pets you could easily offer to God instead.
You may feel that you are indispensable to your pets, that if you do not look after them, then they will have no place on earth. But there are many people on earth who will gladly accept them. These people do not have an aspiring consciousness like you have, so the animals will not interfere with their present state of consciousness and development. They will be by far the best people to look after your pets. But if you would like to have one pet, and if you feel that it will not take much of your time, then you can do it. But if you keep three or four cats and a dog, how are you going to have time to pray and meditate?
Sri Chinmoy, Aspiration-Glow and Dedication-Flow, part 2, Agni Press, 1977
Question: Guru, did you have any pets when you were a kid?
Sri Chinmoy: Yes, I had quite a few pets, but my favourite pets were two monkeys: Jadu and Madhu. Here in America, also, I had two monkeys. I gave them the same names, Jadu and Madhu, but now they are with God. My childhood monkeys, although they were my pets, were very, very unkind to me. They used to bite me like anything. I have so many scars and marks. Without any rhyme or reason they would bite. To escape their bites, I discovered a trick: they do not bite dead bodies. So when I saw Madhu or Jadu coming, running fast towards me, I would immediately lie down flat on my back and pretend I was dead. Quite a few times I had the time to lie down on my back. Then they would examine me closely. Meanwhile, I would pretend that I was dead. They were satisfied and they would not bite me. That is how I escaped most of the time, but I still have very, very big marks from those occasions when they caught me by surprise.
Sri Chinmoy, Sri Chinmoy answers, part 14, Agni Press, 1999
Question: Sometimes so-called unevolved things — for example, a dog — can have such noble qualities. A dog might give its life to save somebody. On the other hand, a human being that is more evolved might have such petty qualities.
Sri Chinmoy: God has given each individual good qualities. If the individual does not use those good qualities, bad qualities loom large. Good and bad, day and night, light and shade each individual has. Because we are human beings, we are more evolved than animals. But some human beings are infinitely worse than animals. For example, if you give a dog a little food two times a day, it is satisfied. But each human being has to be supplied with new food, most delicious food every day. Otherwise that person may get angry. The poor dog is getting the same meat year after year. But a human being will try to get better food, more delicious food. Is this evolution?
The human mind is highly evolved, but insecurity, jealousy, pride, anger and so forth play their role. When you see a large herd of sheep, immediately you notice how gracefully, how peacefully they are staying together. If one thousand human beings are together, there will be so much screaming and fighting. They will do many unkind things. There will not be any peaceful feeling among them. In that way, the sheep are more developed.
You have said that in many cases, animals, especially dogs, have given their lives for their masters. Many, many more animals have given their lives and will give their lives for human beings than human beings will give for animals. Pets can be so affectionate to their master, so fond of their master, that they can give their lives.
Just recently I read a book about animals that have given their lives and how these animals suffered. Animals far surpass human beings when it comes to sacrifice. As human beings, sometimes we get a kind of unconscious, malicious pleasure when somebody suffers. I have come to realise that in human life there is no such thing as friendship; it is all rivalry. If your friend has achieved something, immediately your heart burns. Unless and until you have established divine friendship, rivalry always exists. If you establish divine friendship, you are safe. At that time you feel oneness. Otherwise, so-called human friendship is made of rivalry and jealousy. Outwardly if your friend achieves something, you will give a broad smile and congratulate him, but inwardly you are cursing your friend or cursing yourself because you could not do that very thing. You feel that you should have done that thing or something better. Animals do not have that kind of developed mind. True, animals can be jealous, but they are not directly entering into the world of jealousy and cursing the person who has achieved something.
There are many, many ways animals can help us in our evolution. Again, in the process of evolution, we are higher because we are conscious of God. The poor animals are not conscious of God. Either we pray to God or meditate on God; it is up to us. But we are conscious that there is somebody in Heaven or inside us who is watching us, while animals are not. Unconsciously they are doing many, many good and divine things.
Again, this does not apply to all animals. In my own case, my dog Kanu used to take my suffering. When I used to get very painful stomach upset, he would sit on my stomach and take it away. So many times when I was miserable with very serious problems, he would come and sleep right beside my head, very, very affectionately. Then my problems would be solved. How many times he took away my real physical headache and my stomach pain. When he used to sit next to me, my problems would go away. I was able to see light on how to solve the problems. This was Kanu. I have kept Kanu in the soul's world. There he is so huge. My mother takes care of him.
When I was young, we had a dog called Bhaga. Bhaga looked like a tiger. He was very big and very, very kind. He used to guard the whole Ghosh family — five or six houses. When we left Shakpura for good, Bhaga would not stay behind. He entered into the Kharnaphuli River and followed us. Our boat was sailing and he was swimming to catch up. Finally, we put him in the boat with us. We stayed for two or three days at our maternal uncle's place and Bhaga was so happy. Then we had to go to Pondicherry and we could not take him with us. Our relatives were so kind to this dog, but in one week Bhaga died. That was Bhaga's sacrifice for our family.
Something more: my physical father would have died at least three or four months before he actually departed had it not been for one of our cows. We had a number of cows, but two cows I remember, Surabhi and Nandini. They were very affectionate to each other. Surabhi was more developed than Nandini. Somehow Surabhi knew that my father would be dying soon. Surabhi did not have any disease, yet she died four or five months before my father. My father lived on earth four or five months more only because of Surabhi's sacrifice. At that time, I did not know. Later, when I came to the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, because of my God-realisation, I was able to see in the inner world why Surabhi died untimely.
We had another dog named Teghā. Our house was in Shakpura and my aunt's place was in Dhalghat. Teghā used to carry messages from one house to the other. My sister used to write down a message. Then the servant would go with Teghā for a half mile or so. Immediately Teghā knew what he should do. The servant would come back and Teghā would go all the way to my aunt's place, three miles away, and deliver the message.
If an animal is evolved and very close to its master, then that animal can do something very, very special to prevent a serious calamity from taking place either in the family or among the very dear ones. That kind of supreme sacrifice an animal can make.
Sri Chinmoy, Sri Chinmoy answers, part 27, Agni Press, 2000
I didn't come of a poor family; I came of a rich family, but we gave all our material wealth to the ashram. My eldest brother went first to the ashram and then the younger ones went. My uncle was against it, but my brother said that all would stay. He said, "If they leave the ashram, then I will also leave. Right now they are young. It is my duty to do the right thing for them." Pakistan, which is now Bangladesh, has taken our property. But in those days we had two or three large gardens and several houses. My father was the inspector of a large railway junction then.
When I was a child in Pondicherry, I had a dog named Bhaga. It means "tiger." We wanted our dog to be in the city with our relatives. Finally, we took him in a boat and he stayed with my maternal uncle.
Bhaga was very devoted. Several miles he used to cover to deliver a message. He went three and a half miles to my aunt's place and gave her a message. Then, from my aunt's place he was so eager to come back. Twice he did that.
Bhaga was big, spirited and very powerful. If you dropped something, if you made any sound, then you were finished; he used to bark for five minutes. When we were studying for our examinations, we never studied silently. To convince the physical mind that we were studying, we used to recite aloud. At that time, when anything went wrong, the dog used to bark. That was Bhaga.
I had a white hare. I had also many, many birds. I had a kite and others. Then we had a few monkeys. One monkey was named Madhu. I was very fond of monkeys. There was a chain hanging down from a pole and at the top was a small round house where they lived. The monkeys' lives were spent climbing up and down the chain and screaming. Then from their own bodies they removed bugs. Every second they used to discover some thing on their skin. We could not see anything, but a monkey sees everything on its own body.
The monkeys used to bite. When a monkey starts running toward you, you have to lie down and stop breathing. If you act as if you are dead, then it will never, never bite. So many times I did that when I was about six years old. Little children of one or two years and elderly people they never bite, but young boys and girls they bite. A few times I was caught. I have at least ten or twelve marks. I used to go near a monkey with such fondness and joy, but then I forgot that the chain was so long. Sometimes, before I brought food for the monkey, it used to bite me. We had a servant who was fourteen or fifteen years old. There was not a single day when he was not bitten by one particular monkey.
When monkeys are tame, they show affection. My mother was not bitten even once. They felt kindness in my mother. My sister once or twice was bitten. The monkey-bite hurts a lot. It bleeds immediately and profusely. How many times my right or left thigh or my elbow was bitten! Their teeth are very small but they grind. My brother Mantu never gave them any bananas or anything else to eat. He didn't like monkeys, he didn't like dogs, he didn't like cats. He was against every kind of animal. Monkeys do something that is really worth seeing. They climb up a tree and from the very topmost branch they jump into a pond. Then they swim across.
I have disciples whose children were once upon a time their pets. In a previous incarnation somebody had a pet dog, and now the pet dog has become a member of the family. Suppose you had a dog; now that dog has become your brother. In your family it has taken its first human incarnation, Like that, we also had maidservants who wanted to come into our family. They pleased us so much and their wish was to come into our family. Just open your third eye and see whether I am telling you the truth!
- JH 1. During an informal gathering, Sri Chinmoy related this story about his childhood days.↩
Sri Chinmoy, The jewel of humility, Agni Press, 1979
When an Avatar visits a zoo,
he amusingly enjoys
his own evolving past.
When he visits his Consciousness-Height,
he unceasingly admires
his own beginningless Past:
the Supreme of Light
and Delight Supreme.
Question: Does the soul give importance to the birthday when it is in the animal incarnation?
Sri Chinmoy: As soon as you see some animals, you know that they are going to be human in their next incarnation. You may see them in a zoo, but their eyes and even their consciousness seem human. If the animal is extremely developed and mature and on the verge of becoming a human being, then the animal's soul may observe the birthday.
Sri Chinmoy, The soul's special promise, part 1, Agni Press, 1994
Yesterday Madhuri asked me why I do not have any cats. In Chittagong and Pondicherry my brother took care of so many cats. Hriday had fifteen or twenty cats that he fed every day. He renounced the whole world, but innocent cats he had to remain attached to!
God created the animals. Different people will be fond of different animals. Some you will like; others somebody else will like. Otherwise, there would be no fun for us in the animal world. It is better if there is some specialty!
There are many animals which I do not have, but it is not that they are hopeless or useless. No, no! Only I cannot have all the animals at my house.
Next week I shall invite the disciples to come to my house to see the animals and birds. Their cages will all be decorated.
3 April 1981
- The “Sri Chinmoy Zoo” opened its doors for one day on 18 April 1981. The birds and animals in Sri Chinmoy’s house had their cages specially decorated and lined up in such a way that the disciples could walk by and view them.↩
Question: Do animals aspire, and is this how they come out of the animal kingdom?
Sri Chinmoy: Animals do aspire, but they aspire unconsciously. It is the combination of their unconscious aspiration plus God’s infinite Compassion that grants some chosen animals the opportunity to come out of the animal kingdom and enter into human life.
Sri Chinmoy, Aspiration-Tree, Agni Press, 1976
Question: What is the Supreme's favourite pet?
Sri Chinmoy: The Supreme's favourite pets are His monkeys, because His monkeys remind him of the cute and restless qualities of His cute human children.
Sri Chinmoy, Sri Chinmoy in the amusement park, Agni Press, 1993