It was her time-off from duties as a stewardess. She was in Mumbai, her base station, for a few days. She read the news about the circus in town.
A string of questions began flashing across her mind.
Why do we make wild animals do silly tricks?
Just for a few laughs? To amuse us out of our boredom?
Surely we can find better things to do?
Aren’t they born free to lead their life the way they should?
Are we so lost for entertainment that we stoop to unethical means just for fun?
How can we be entertained at the cost of another’s discomfort?
She wondered and wondered about how the animals would have been trapped, ensnared, snatched away from their families and then made to submit to human will, forced to mimic ‘their’ ways.
Let us hear in her own words this true life account of a ‘Royal Rescue’ where the Language of the Heart overcame the might of external power.
As far back as I can stretch my memory, this episode took place around mid October 1997. A few days later a dear friend and colleague, called to ask if I would be interested in rescuing six blind and emaciated lionesses from the Golden Circus.
Swami had heard me grumble, object and protest!
“Reach Out” had always been my theme in life. Reach out to whomever, whenever, however… for that gave life a sense of purpose, a kind of happy feeling that said, ‘Hey, I don’t know if I really was of any use, but this gives me a nice feeling inside of me’.
The matter had reached the Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court and a legal battle was on for the rescue. Some of those who strongly believed in Ahimsa and ethical rights and who were pained to see the plight of these magnificent creatures now reduced to this most pathetic and appalling state had decided to move court. Not only were the lionesses blind and all ‘skin and bones’ but had loose motions too.
Their names were – (1) Basanti, (2) Lily, (3) Gauri, (4) Tina, (5) Ganga and (6) Sita.
Three Veterinary Doctors certified them as – Basanti and Ganga were totally blind in both eyes. Lily was partially blind while Tina was blind in one eye and had a cataract in the other. Gauri was pregnant. All of the lionesses were very weak, dehydrated and unfit to ‘work’ in the circus. They were beaten, whipped, goaded by sharp instruments in their abdomen and one of them was even tied with a rope and picked up by her tail.
The Circus owners had influence, might and money on their side but our strength lay in compassion and prayer. My friend who knew my passion for prayer and belief in its outcome, plagued me to pray ‘like I had never prayed before’.
I clutched my picture of Swami…it fitted into my palm…and intensely started praying for relief.
Visualising His Lotus Feet, in that court room, I became a mythical lawyer pleading to Him, the Supreme Judge…I sought His immediate Divine Intervention. Did He not say time and again “Ishwara Sarva Bhutanam” and that “All are One, be alike to everyone”, so also “All beings belong to Me”…? These mute creatures were His children too and they needed Him here and now!
The Circus owners looked quite confident and intimidating and the case went on, the Judge seemed to tilt in their favour and I stepped up my pleas to Bhagawan. Diwali was fast approaching and the Courts would be shutting down, the darkness had to lift, the cause was just.
The flame in the heart turned intense, the Judge was replaced. This time it was a lady – strict, with a ‘no nonsense’ attitude and to top it all she had a kind and understanding heart.
Just a day before closure of Courts she gave her verdict and the judgement was in favour of releasing the animals!
30th October 1997…it was Diwali and my mother’s birthday too…and we had by way of this court order received a wonderful gift from Beloved Bhagawan.
I kissed those Lotus Feet in my mind!
And saw Him smile!
All set we approached the Circus Tent late evening for the animals. It was silent and dark. But the managers refused to cooperate and give us their vans to transport the animals. It was the night preceding Diwali and I prayed – Tamasomaa Jyotirgamayaa. We were disappointed that night but undeterred. We returned the next morning having made our own arrangements for transporting the six royals that the Lord had allowed us to rescue. Faith, patience, determination, love and compassion had won.
We followed the Van to the National Park where the Lionesses were released for the time being in to cages, as they had to undergo medical care, treatment and recovery. Though they were blind and in gaunt condition, they had been made to perform their tricks which they did as per their training and which they had perforce grown into. It would be a while before they healed from their trauma. Their diarrhea was severe too.
I thought of Swami and the tenderness that must be felt by Him, for He has said that He is conscious of the slightest pain and sensation in the most distant part of creation.
The few of us who were involved in this ‘royal rescue’, didn’t know each other well before this episode.
So what drew us together?
Bhagawan has said – He is the secret spring within each activity, so the answer once again lies in His simple, yet profound statement –
“There is only one Language, the Language of the Heart. The language of the heart expresses itself through sympathy, kindness, service, love and brotherliness. This is the language that really matters.”
It is no entertainment when it causes another being pain. Let us believe in that language of the heart that unites us all in love and brings only joy in its wake.
Samastha Lokaah Sukhino Bhavantu.