Among the most trying and time consuming jobs that we face at People For Animals (PFA), India’s largest animal welfare organization, is facing down bullies who attack , abuse and even assault people who feed and care for hungry, homeless animals in their area. The victims are typically women – usually single or vulnerable—and the aggressors range from loutish chowkidars to retired defence officers and bureaucrats who grandly preside over meaningless RWAs and Building Societies in a pathetic effort to recreate their ‘koi hai’ heydays.  

First understand: It is perfectly legal to feed and care for needy animals. There is no law in India that prohibits anyone from performing such charity. In fact, not only is it legal to feed dogs, the Court has held that is helpful as it facilitates the municipal Animal Birth Control (ABC) programme of sterilization and vaccination that is being conducted by municipalities around India in conjunction with local animal welfare organizations.

For those of you who want to hurt dogs, understand why we have street dogs and what they do for us. Animals exist in any area because of the availability of food – this does not mean the food given by a few lovely ladies as mentioned above-- but uncollected garbage and rats. When you remove the existing dog population, this food supply still remains, so other animals move in. These could be other dogs or worse, rats. In one year, one pair of rats can multiply to 33,000. The municipality is helpless against rats, it is our street dogs and cats that keep them in check. Remove dogs without first removing garbage, and your rats will multiply. Both New York (rats love NY) and Surat (which killed its dogs and got the plague) are prime examples. So street dogs act like unpaid garbage cleaners, consuming organic waste that would otherwise putrefy and smell, as well as control the rodent population. As long as we don’t have an efficient garbage disposal system, we shall have street dogs, and thank God for that!

For several decades, India is following an outdated colonial law and in an effort to eliminate street dogs, continued to kill them in the most barbaric manner. Millions were poisoned, beaten to death, burnt, buried alive, repeatedly electrocuted and even hanged. The dog population continued to increase as nature compensated by increasing litter sizes. In 1991, I produced statistics showing that killing had not reduced either dog numbers, bites or rabies. So much cruelty for nothing. An appalled Court banned all municipal dog killing forthwith. 

Today, not only is it illegal to kill dogs, it is illegal to remove them from any area. The Stray Animals (Dogs) Rules 2001 prohibits any individual, organization or building association from removing or relocating dogs. Complaints, if any, may be directed to the local municipality or an animal welfare organization. 

They will take the dog, sterilize and vaccinate him/her and replace in the same area. A sterilized dog may not be moved by even the Municipality.  

Sterilizing dogs not only reduces dog numbers, it also reduces dog bites. Male dogs are apt to get into fights over females during the mating season and aggression increases. Similarly post delivery, protective mother dogs will bite anyone she sees as a threat to her puppies. This is actually when the maximum bites occurs. Sterilization removes both causes. The logic of leaving dogs where they belong is that this ensures that dogs of one area prevent the incursion into that area of other animals. Being sterilized, the original dog population does not increase and since the dogs are familiar with the residents, there is no chance of bites. The dogs, thus live out their natural lives healthily and harmlessly.  

This WHO recommended programme has been successful. Many cities are now rabies-free zones. In both Delhi and Mumbai, dog numbers are down and there are far fewer bite cases. Some states have taken this very seriously : Sikkim is the best and even put it into a budget head. Some , like Orissa and Madhya Pradesh have not started any programme at all but have stopped the killing. Kerala continues to kill – and has the highest number of rabies cases.

For the programme to be strengthened and speeded up, we need more people feeding and caring for dogs. This has several advantages. First, there are people who recognize the dogs of the area , can provide a reliable head count and ensure that the entire local population is covered. Two, the dogs are people- friendly and therefore easy to find and take for sterilization. Hostile and frightened dogs run, hide and evade capture. Three, regularly fed dogs are healthy and therefore recover better and faster from the sterilization operation increasing the turnover rate. 

Therefore it makes no sense to pick on people who are doing us the favour of tending our homeless animals on their own time and at their own cost. 

A lot of people demand that those who feed dogs must then take responsibility for housing them. I may give money to a beggar – do I have to provide him accommodation as well? Many of the people who share food with animals are neither well off themselves nor live in bungalows. Rather than appreciate what they are already doing, we blame them for not doing more! Those who object the most to this charity, are the ones who do nothing to help anyone themselves. 

A second criticism of dog feeders is that they must be responsible in case of any biting incident. Most feeders do take this responsibility but it is illogical. If I give a beggar food, shall I be held responsible if he later robs a house? Dogs are naturally friendly animals and do not bite unless severely provoked. It is certainly not the feeder’s fault if neighbours throw stones or brandish sticks at the dog which makes him to react in self-defence.

It is equally unreasonable to insist that dog feeders must pick up the faeces from public spaces like parks and open ground of the dogs they feed. You can expect that from the owners of pet dogs. Nor do we set such standards of cleanliness and hygiene for ourselves. Our parks are littered with plastic in spite of bins being provided. Nobody is penalized for littering. Dog faeces is organic and will mix into the soil and turn into manure. Plastic and glass will not. 

Another weird reaction is outrage that you can be feeding an animal rather than another human being. It is funny how quickly the outrage and the crowd melts away when you turn around and ask this great humanitarian objector why he/she doesn’t go give something to another human themselves!  

All of these are not because we really object to dogs or dirt or noise or anything. At the end of the day, it is simply power play. People at the bottom of the pile-henpecked husbands, menial employees, people who command no power or respect , the great unloved-- need to vent their frustration somewhere. These become child, wife and animal beaters. Since those who are sensitive to animal suffering are perceived to be ‘softies’ they make easy targets. 

And this is why People For Animals is inundated with such cases. In each instance we have tackled the bully who has either given an apology and desisted from ever troubling the animals or their caretaker again , or else has faced police action . Here are the laws that every animal feeder should be armed with.

Under Section 428/429 IPC, it is a cognizable offence to hit /hurt , maim, injure or kill any animal. Offenders may be immediately arrested. It is also a criminal offence under Section 506 IPC to threaten, abuse or harass anyone for feeding an animal. The court has termed feeding homeless animals a social service and directed the police to protect those who do it. Anyone obstructing this work may be prosecuted. 

The most important thing to understand is that compassion and courage are two sides of the same coin. Those who care about animals and take the time and trouble to help them, deserve our strongest support, encouragement and admiration. 

People who help people are routinely applauded and awarded. Helping animals is a long and lonely struggle. This is what makes it a far greater service than any other and one that needs to be recognized and rewarded. The next time you see someone feeding an animal, be sure to give them a smile.  

To join the animal welfare movement contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

As more and more people come into the animal movement, the number of people picking up puppies from the road has , thankfully increased. It is a sad truth that 90% of the puppies die within a week of their birth and 30% of mothers die before the pups are even a week old - of being run over, of being beaten because they try and defend their puppies from young children hurting them , of being poisoned because people don't want puppies on their street or neighbourhood, of being picked up at night and thrown away, of sheer exhaustion from the delivery and consequent starvation. Once the mothers are gone, the puppies don't stand a chance. They will starve to death or die of cold, of be run over or be stoned by people or develop parvo virus or distemper. 

It is important for you to pick them up and look after them. But you must know how to feed them as well. Here are instructions on what to do with puppies - whether the children of a pet or those that you have brought in from the street.

Q. My dog just had 5 puppies. They are now three weeks old. I can see my dog is getting tired of breast feeding. When the puppies feed on her they can be very aggressive to get to her nipples and they scratch and hurt her. I also want to feed my dog properly because she's breast feeding. Do you have any suggestions on how to deal with the puppies being hand fed? What foods I should give my dog to get the proper nutrition?

Ans. Start to wean the puppies by giving them formula milk twice a day. Take the mother out when you feed and then allow her to go back in. Give her a lot of broth – the more she drinks the more milk she will make.

This is the formula: 10 oz. of canned evaporated milk or goat's milk (not pasteurized cow's milk . Do NOT use sweetened condensed milk. 3 oz. sterilized water (boiled water that is then cooled). This is not needed if using whole goat's milk.1 raw egg yolk.1 cup of whole yogurt. 1 c white sugar and 1/4 c hot water (cook it to dissolve in the water. Place ingredients in a blender and blend or use a wire whisk. Be careful to not over blend and create a milkshake full of bubbles and then tube bubbles into the puppy. Warm formula to body temperature (dogs are around 101 degrees). This is a thick mixture - enlarge the hole in the nipple for easy access for the pup. To enlarge the hole, heat a needle and then pierce the tip of the nipple a few times. The hole is the right size if, when you turn the bottle upside down, milk replacer drips from the nipple with only a gentle squeeze of the bottle. 

If, when you upend the bottle, you must squeeze it firmly to get milk to drip from the nipple, the hole needs to be enlarged. Otherwise, the puppy will become discouraged or exhausted when nursing and may even refuse to nurse. Discard any un-used formula. 
Q. I have brought in puppies from the street whose mother was run over when they were just one day old. What should I do ?

Ans. Newborn puppies cannot regulate their body temperature very well. They quickly become chilled, or hypothermic, if their mother, their siblings, or their environment does not keep them warm. It will be necessary to provide a heat source for your puppy for the first few weeks of life. Suitable heat sources include hot water bottles, incubators, and heat lamps. Whichever heat source you use, make sure the puppy doesn't become overheated or burned. In addition, avoid drafts by placing the puppy's box away from windows, doorways, and air-conditioning vents. 

During the first 4 days of life, aim to keep the air temperature in the box at puppy-level between 85°F and 90°F. Gradually decrease the temperature to about 80°F degrees by days 7-10. If you are raising a litter of puppies, the temperature can be a little lower, as the puppies will huddle together and keep one another warm.

The normal rectal temperature for a newborn puppy is 95-99°F. If its rectal temperature is below 94°F degrees you are dealing with a potentially life-threatening case of hypothermia. The puppy needs to be warmed immediately. Take care not to overheat the puppy or warm it too quickly; this can be fatal in a weak puppy.

Q. The newborn puppies look very dehydrated to me?

Ans. Newborn puppies quickly become dehydrated very quickly if they are not nursing. They can also become dehydrated if their environment is too hot and dry. Two indicators of dehydration are loss of elasticity in the skin (the skin stays tented when gently pinched up) and decreased saliva production (the gums and tongue feel tacky or dry).

Hypoglycemia quickly develops in a newborn that is not nursing frequently. As hypoglycemia worsens, the puppy becomes progressively more depressed and weak. Without treatment it may develop muscle twitches or seizures and then it will become unresponsive and comatose. If it is showing any of these signs place a few drops of corn syrup on its tongue. This simple procedure is often sufficient to revive a hypoglycemic puppy. Also watch for signs of hypoglycemia over the next several days, as you adjust your puppy's feeding schedule.

Q. Should I know anything about their defecation ?

Ans. Mothers stimulate their puppies to defecate (pass stool) by licking or nuzzling around the puppy's anus. To prevent your orphaned puppy from becoming constipated, you'll need to mimic this action using a soft cloth or cotton ball moistened with warm water. Gently stimulate the puppy's anal area after feeding for the first 2 weeks of its life. Orphan puppies less than one week old must be stimulated to urinate and eliminate. This is accomplished by gentle massage of the abdomen and genital area with a piece of cotton wool or tissue, dampened with warm water.

Q. What should I feed them ?

Ans. What I have written above but gently and slowly. 

Q. What should I watch out for when bottle feeding puppies ?

Ans. Here are some general rules for bottle feeding puppies:

Always boil your water before using - allow time to cool.

Burp your pups after feeding.

A pup may have little bubbles by his mouth but there should not be milk running out of his mouth.

When the bottle is held upside down the milk should drip out - NOT FLOW OUT in a stream - pups that get milk in their lungs will get pneumonia and more than likely die.

Calorie intake needs to be adjusted according to growth of puppies. A general rule of thumb (unless someone has a better idea) is 1 CC per OZ. of body weight every 3 hours. 

You must have an accurate scale to weigh pups if you are going to get the best success. Use a kitchen food scale. It is easy to see any weight gain or loss. Keep a record that you can easily refer to.

To join the animal welfare movement contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

I was in Lucknow recently for BJP National Executive meeting. Halfway through I decided to go and see the People for Animals shelter. On the way, I saw a road covered with cages. Thousands of parakeets, mynas, munias, bulbuls. I rang up the local district forest officer and asked him to send me a team to arrest the sellers and take the birds. By the time I returned from the shelter and picked up the forest department team they had already informed the sellers and the bird market had simply vanished! Undeterred we went into the houses behind the market and found one with heavy padlocks on it. The chirping of birds could be heard inside. We called the police – the chowki was 50 yards away, shamefully – and they took an hour to come. The locks were broken and the munias, doves, baby parakeets were taken away. If I had not been there the mob of seller would have lynched the forest officers. The DFO told me that that last time they raided the market, they were stripped of their clothes and beaten. No one was arrested. The man whose house we raided had a bold sign on top – Ram Autar (his real name is Sulaiman), Bird and Animal Seller. Just out of jail after 10 months. It had not taken him one day to restart his criminal profession.

While the newspapers were full of the incident the next day, I know it is a useless gesture. The police and the forest department get weekly bribes and even if they did not, they are scared of the physical violence they might encounter in this hardcore criminal Muslim basti called Nakhas. Not just birds are sold here. Bombs, guns and knives are made and every criminal on the run can hide out here. 

The first thing the ranger said to me was – how can we take these birds? They are all foreign. They were not. They were all munias that had been dyed bizarre bright colours. That shows two things: the ignorance of the forest rangers who receive no training at all in wild species or articles. And their readiness to interpret the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 to say that people selling “foreign” bird can do so legally. For years now, every time we catch a birdseller, this is the excuse that the department makes. The seller has no import licence or selling licence; he has brought the birds from Kolkata which is the centre of the trade. But still his birds are “foreign”. As a result whenever animal activists take away birds, the local courts order them to be given back under “custody” to the sellers themselves. Needless to say the case is never heard again and the “custodian” carries on selling them. This useless Jairam Ramesh refuses to correct the error. At the end of his tenure, he will go down in history as the minister who talked the most and did the most damage to forests, animals and the environment.

However, now comes a major ray of hope in the form of a judgment from Gujarat. Every now and then God sends a judge with common sense and humanity. Honourable Justice M.R. Shah of The High Court, Ahmedabad has come as a gentle ray of sunlight through the clouds of forest department ignorance and corruption.

In 2010 Abdulkadar Mohamad Azam Sheikh was caught selling birds in Surat. A criminal complaint under Sections 11 of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 and Section 12 of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 was filed against him. He had kept 494 birds in tiny cages with their wings and tails cut, cellotaped and with rings on their legs. These birds were confiscated by the police and given to an NGO.

The criminal appealed and typically asked for custody of the birds. Fortunately the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate dismissed the application and ordered the birds to be set free in the sky. The criminal made a revision application to the Additional Sessions Judge who asked for the birds not to be released but to be given to an NGO and costs to be paid to them by the criminals of Rs 1.05 lakhs. 

The criminals then went to High Court in May 2011 and asked for the birds. Their lawyer N.A. Shaikh’s defence was that his clients had been in the business of selling birds and animals for a long time so should be allowed to carry on! This is like catching a man with his 40th murder victim and being told that since he has killed 39 before that, he should be allowed to keep doing it. And, in the same breath, they said that they should be given the birds since it was their first offence!!!! They further argued that no licences were needed for sale of birds. That is true – no licences can be given because the trade is illegal. They also argued that the birds would die with the NGO or the police and therefore should be returned to them.

The lawyers, including the Additional Public Prosecutor, argued that since the way they had been kept was cruel and atrocious, and that as most of them were birds banned for sale, they should not be given back.

The judge quoted a beautiful passage from the ruling by the Supreme Court in the case of Sansar Chand the tiger poacher. It is too long to reproduce here but I will give this judgment’s salient points:

The criminals had failed to prove their ownership. Possession of birds does not mean ownership.

The birds were all being sold without a licence.

No licence could be given by any authority unless the applicants proved that they got the birds without hunting or trapping. Even the business of breeding birds could not be started without hunting or trapping them

The manner that they were kept was inhuman and against the rules of nature and in violation of the right of birds to move freely in the air/sky

Not just the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act 1960 but Art 51 of the Constitution casts a fundamental duty on every citizen to have compassion for animals and to protect them from unnecessary pain.

Birds cannot be kept in cages because they suffer pain. To keep any birds in cages would be tantamount to illegal confinement of the birds and violative of their right to fly in the open sky

The day has come to think of the fundamental rights of birds and animals: right to live freely, right to move freely. Violation of these rights has caused the decrease in birds and many have vanished.

To keep the birds in cages during the trial is unfair because this may take a long time. Therefore the only order that can be passed is to respect the rights of birds and free them in the sky. Section 451 of the Code of Criminal Procedure confers powers on the court for custody and disposal of property pending trial and if such property is subject to natural and speedy decay or if it is expedient to do so. Therefore the original order of the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate to release the birds in the sky is restored.

This is the most important judgment for the animal welfare movement in a long time. It confers rights on birds. Please make a copy of this article and give it to the forest department. Start catching the bird sellers of any birds in your area. If you want copies of the judgement. I will send them to you. I will also put it on the site 

God bless Justice Shah!

Maneka Gandhi
To join the animal welfare movement contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The main native breed of cow called Sahiwal was named after my maternal grandfather Sir Datar Singh. There were hundreds of local breeds of cow of every shape and size, even one slightly bigger than goats in Kerala. Today there are very few native breeds that have survived the murderous, illegal leather industry. And in another few years, the remaining Indian breeds will have succumbed to the illiterate push to hybridize them.

It is not just our native seeds of rice and wheat and cooton that are under attack, In an ambitious effort to boost milk production and produce high yielding cows, India is cross breeding our native cows with high potential exotic bulls primarily Holstein Friesian (HF) and Jersey. This mixing of Indian cows (Bos Indicus) with European cattle (Bos Taurus) raises serious concerns about the ability of these cross bred cows to cope with our agro-climatic conditions and perform in our system of farming. 

The first is to do with hardiness. The milk production potential of Indian breeds may be limited, but their suitability for tropical climatic conditions is well known. Having evolved in this hemisphere, Indian cow breeds are uniquely adapted to the heat. Their hide, coat and skin are configured to withstand muggy and scorching environments with temperatures of over 40 degrees celcius and relative humidity of 55% or more. Their smooth coat with primary hair follicles enhances conductive and convective heat loss and reduces absorption of solar radiation. With less carbon dioxide in the blood in their veins, they can maintain lower respiration rates in the heat. With a lower metabolic rate and larger, better developed sweat and sebaceous glands than their European counterparts, Indian cows enjoy an increased capacity for heat loss and are better able to regulate body temperature in response to heat stress. This ability to maintain thermal equilibrium is necessary for normal function and performance. Exposure to elevated temperature has less deleterious effects on Indian than European cows. These high milk yielding cows are very prone to suffer heat stress in our warm climate. 

Not only are our cattle better able to cope with our climate, but also with our living conditions. 

Indian cattle are genetically adapted to local nutrition, which is to poorer quality, sparser vegetation and soils of low pH. They have lower inherent voluntary feed intake and lower relative maintenance requirements. Cross bred cows not only need very good nourishment but also need a cooler and more comfortable environment. While such special conditions can be provided only in well organized dairy farms in India, by and large our dairy industry is based on milk collection from small rural cattle owners

Due to a genetic ability to utilize forage more efficiently, Indian cattle have higher red blood cell counts, total cell volume and haemoglobin. They enjoy greater immunity against infection and disease. They are naturally resistant to ectoparasites like ticks and worms and the diseases transmitted by them. Indian Cattle are also more tolerant to mosquito attacks than exotic breeds. Best of all, they enjoy ease of calving. So all in all, Indian cattle survive and reproduce in our less than ideal conditions. 

Cross-breeding leads to the loss of the unique genetic advantages that Indian cattle enjoy. Not possessing the tolerance to heat and other attributes necessary to survive and thrive in Indian conditions, any hybrid strain is naturally less able to cope and function.

For example , while native cattle are resistant to mastitis, HF cross bred cattle have been found to be very prone to this condition. Similarly with tuberculosis. A news report stated that recently 60 HF cows in a small sample had tested positive for TB. This is a serious concern as milk and dairy from infected cattle spreads the disease to humans. It is evident that TB is not common among Indian cows as the disease would otherwise have been rampant in Indian rural areas where it is traditional to have household cattle. With government breeding programmes now propagating only cross bred HF cattle, it is impossible for small rural farmers to regularly test their cows for TB. It is also not feasible to have screening tests to detect TB infected milk at milk collection centres. This makes the entire Indian dairy milk supply a potential source of transfer of TB to humans. 

But even this is not the worst health worry. Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) is a zoonotic disease that spreads to humans through ticks. It was first identified in the Crimea in 1944 and christened as Crimean Hemorrhagic Fever. In 1969 it was recognized that the pathogen causing Crimean haemorrhagic fever was the same as that responsible for an illness identified in 1956 in the Congo , and linkage of the two place names resulted in the current name for the disease and the virus. 

Usually the virus spreads to humans either by tick-bites, or through contact with infected animal tissues during and immediately post-slaughter.. Various feral and domestic animals such as cattle, goats, sheep and hares act as hosts in spreading the virus. CCHF can be transmitted from one infected body to another by contact with infectious blood or body fluids. Improper sterilization of medical equipment, repeat use of needles and corrupted medical supplies would lead to the spread of this is virus as has been documented and there has already been a documented spread of this virus.

The symptoms include headache, high fever, back pain, joint pain, stomach pain and vomiting. They may also include jaundice, and in severe cases, changes in mood and sensory perception. Red eyes, a flushed face, a red throat, and petechiae (red spots) on the palate are common. As the illness develops, large areas of severe bruising, severe nosebleeds, and uncontrolled bleeding at injection sites can be seen, beginning on or about the fourth day of illness and lasting for about two weeks.

CCHF outbreaks constitute a threat to public health because of their epidemic potential, high case fatality ratio (10-40) and the difficulties in treatment and prevention. CCHF is endemic in all of Africa, Eastern Europe, particularly in the former Soviet Union, the Middle East and in Asia south of the 50° parallel north, the geographic limit of the genus Hyalomma, the principal tick vector. It is scattered throughout the Mediterranean, in northwestern China , central Asia, southern Europe , and the Indian subcontinent.

In India , CCHF cases are reported to be emanating mainly from Gujarat , headquarters of India ’s white revolution and its cross breeding programme. While Indian breeds have sweat and sebaceous glands spread all over their body with the mix of sweat and skin oil that they exude, acting as a natural tick repellent, foreign breeds and hybrid cattle enjoy no such defence. They are, therefore, that much more prone to contracting or spreading CCHF. In fact WHO figures indicate that indeed CCHF is far more prevalent in areas that do not have Bos Indicus the original breed of Indian cows.

World dairy scientists have also discovered that BCM7 ( Beta Caso Morphine 7) a highly toxic opioid, is found in the milk of HF cows. This milk is designated as type A1 and has been found to be strongly linked with a large number of human diseases starting from autism and pediatric diabetes to cardiac artery diseases, diabetes, arthritis, arteriosclerosis, Alzheimers, and Parkinson’s. On the other hand, the milk of Indian cow breeds has been reported to be immune to these diseases.. Milk that is free from BCM7 is designated as type A2 milk. All around the world, dairy farmers have on their own initiative, started breeding cattle to produce A2 milk. American veterinarians are already reported to be working on strategy to genetically modify HF cows to produce BCM7 free milk.

This besides, BLAD is an autosomal recessive genetic disease that afficts Holstein-Friesian (HF) cattle worldwide. This is alarming as the mutant gene has already entered the HF crossbred cattle population and therefore, the population of HF and its crossbreds needs regular screening to avoid the risk of spreading BLAD in the breeding cattle population of India .

The express purpose of cross breeding is to increase milk yield. While European cattle might boast higher milk yield , it is because of their natural environment where they are assured rich pastures and a cool climate. Actually , Indian cattle have a more efficient feed to milk ratio. Instead of cross breeding as a way of increasing milk which has a risk of spreading disease, what we should be looking at is ways to improve milk yield of our own cows through better feed and better health and veterinary practices like pre and post partum care.

By cross-breeding our cattle we risk losing native species that are uniquely adapted to India and producing a hybrid that poses a public health hazard. Check your milk : where does it come from ?
Maneka Gandhi
To join the animal welfare movement contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

As scientists progress, they have come to agree with spiritualists who have known for centuries that the mind has many layers. It is not just a simple machine that resides in the neurons of the brain and carries messages to the body. Each layer has a different function.

These are the layers:

The Physical or Gross Mind: This picks up the signals of the body about hunger, pain , desire, the urge to procreate

The Sensory Layer: This is concerned with sensory impulses such as touch, the feeling of fullness, pain , sound, taste and sight

The thinking layer: This is concerned with logic and the ego. This works out actions, devises plans and is the layer that gives us our sense of who we are as individuals. This is the part that is affected with its ego is bruised

The empathy layer: This deals with compassion and a love for others in a non contractual way. This is the one that looks at “dharma” – to do unto others as you would have them do unto you – and is not limited by thoughts of what you get in return

The special gifts layer: This controls creativity and gifts like special memories, clairvoyance. This layer operates when it is free of the clutter of thoughts and ego of the above layers. but it is the layer that operates its gifts without understanding

The Wisdom layer: This is the mind that can see the past/present/future. It is connected to the cosmic mind and has all its power. This is the layer that, when accessed, allows you to live in bliss and understanding  

How to get there? Like a puzzle box, you have to open layer after layer till you reach the wisdom one. Most people don’t get past the first three and spend centuries trapped in the pain caused by their own ego and thoughtlessness. You need to get to the fourth layer of empathy to be able to even peek into the other two.

My own “eureka!” moment came fairly early in life. It seems trivial and perhaps unconnected but it was a turning point in my life. I was in the third standard in Bangalore’s Sophia High school. The junior school had its building right in front of the gate and the third standard children were the topdogs. I really thought I had reached the pinnacle of power and knowledge – until I was promoted to the fourth standard and became part of senior school. The first day I saw an entirely new entrance, building and world with so many wonderful things that I did not even know existed. The wonder of that moment has stayed with me and it opened the door in my brain to the realization that amazing things exist that I am not even aware of. That was when I think I made the leap to thinking and then empathy very quickly. The next two levels need a teacher – and though life has thrown a few my way, I have not crossed the barrier as yet.

Are you empathetic? Do you have the ability to stand in another’s shoes? The first and most logical thing to do is to stop killing. e.g. to become vegetarian.

Though scientists have demonstrated that fish, chickens and all animals feel pain, every year billions of these beings are brutally slaughtered for your consumption. “In order to eat the flesh or milk of a once-living being, we need to disconnect, psychologically and emotionally, from the truth of our experience. We need to “numb” our authentic thoughts and emotions, to block our awareness (i.e., we must think that we’re eating “meat,” rather than a dead animal) and our empathy for the animal who became our food - and awareness and empathy are integral to our sense of self. When we eat animals, we violate our personal integrity. Integrity is the integration of our values and practices. For most of us, our core value system does not condone gratuitous violence toward other sentient beings, so when we consume the products procured by their bodies we are acting in opposition to our deeper values. That is what stops your mind from proceeding further.

The second is to be proud of your non killing status and to thank the gods for having allowed you to make this decision. This immediately opens up an entire field of consciousness: what you wear, what you want, what friends you make. And suddenly you are free of so much anger and hurt and ego that comes with centering on the self. Suddenly you have this tingly feeling that comes with love and excitement. I know. I walk around with it too. Imagine if everyone in the world were to strive to be empathetic – no more wars, food and water and clean air for all, lots of forests and happy children, good neighbours… all from the transition to level four of the brain

Are you empathetic? Empathy does not mean that because you feel the pain of a drug addict, you give him money for more. Or that you drown in someone else’s problems so that you become the sounding board for everyone. It does not mean that you are psychic and interpret someone else’s mind . Or that you suddenly go out and distribute all your money to the poor.

It is the narrow band dictated by the saying “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Think: would I like this person to be rude to me? Would I like to be asked for a bribe? Would I want my legitimate work stopped? Would I like to wait hours for medical treatment? Would I like to be stepped on like an ant or torn apart like a chicken, or strung upside down in a slaughterhouse? Would I like to live in a chawl with no water? Would I like to have false cases on me? Would I like to treated badly my boss? If not, then don’t do it yourself. Do not do anything that you don’t want to happen to you. That is called respect and that translates into empathy. It changes your behaviour and goals. And it opens your brain to the magic of the next layer.

Some people call this the opening of the heart chakra: to experience of the weave of reality. We are not as separate as we seem. Feel all the love that has ever been given to you, and feel and see all those who have ever loved. Include animals, who are great teachers of unconditional love. I believe that when you know how to empathize with others, you will be able to succeed with just about anything that life might bring your way.

Maneka Gandhi
To join the animal welfare movement contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.