“Yea, I am in all creatures and all creatures are in me. In all their joys I rejoice, in all their afflictions I am afflicted. Wherefore I say unto you: Be ye kind one to another, and to all the creatures of God.” – Jesus.
There was great excitement in the air.
My friends and I had meticulously planned on a trek to the foothills of the Himalayas. I could almost breathe in that cool, crisp mountain air laden with fresh fragrances. The previous year we were so charmed by the Valley of Flowers, Hemkund and Badrinath, that this time too the destination was the rugged and awesome locale of Garhwal.
There is something about this region’s jagged peaks and myriad meandering rivers that compelling draws you to its terrain again and again. From early 1990s, the incident being related here occurred way back then, till date…the pull seems magnetic and irresistible.
Perhaps the fact that innumerable Mystics and Masters have walked that earth and have leant their aura to it makes Uttaranchal ever so vibrantly alive. Unknown to the ordinary human mind there are many renunciates and sages, who even today live in solitude and seclusion in those pristine surroundings, spiritualizing and uplifting man through their evolved efforts, while negating the attempts of those with evil and hateful intent.
The Himalayan Masters, needless to say, are in direct communion with Bhagawan.
And Beloved Bhagawan’s Himalayan sojourn in 1961 has revitalized the sanctity of that region a zillion times over!
Well, so there we were, two of my friends and me, at Bandra station gearing up, preparing ourselves mentally for the physical challenge of getting aboard the local train at that peak rush hour. We were going to Churchgate to complete our booking formalities with the GMVN – Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam. Getting in and out of Mumbai local trains is indeed an art, at times a herculean feat! For those who were not used to travelling frequently and were inexperienced in this ‘art’, and I do confess none of us were accomplished at it, it felt like we were waves bobbing up and down in a sea of humanity. Getting in and out of the ‘crowded beyond capacity’ compartment was like setting the mode to ‘auto pilot’ and gushing forth as did water released from a dam.
Now as we were waiting at Platform 5 for the train to scramble in, my friends were peering into the distance upon the tracks, while I was gazing about the platform. My attention was caught by a dog that seemed to be sitting and dragging itself forward. It seemed to be restless and kept yelping every now and then, looking back at its tail section. I just had to know why it was so agitated and so rushed across to see for myself if all was well.
Crouching down I called out to the dog and it responded and came towards me. I realized that there was a mass protruding out of her anus which was bothering her. On closer inspection and with great trepidation, I noticed that this ‘mass’ was a puppy that was stuck in the birth canal during the process of whelping. I tried to look for signs of life in the pup but there was none. Whether it was still born or died in the process of birthing couldn’t be fathomed. All I knew was that this ‘mumma’ dog needed medical attention urgently.
Immediately I sent an ‘SOS’ to Swami. The train was about to roll in, my friends were gesturing frantically. I gestured back matching their urgency. Shaking their heads they ran over towards me. I asked them to carry on without me, if they so wished, as I just couldn’t leave this dog in that helpless state, with the pup half in and half out of her body. What trauma! When they saw what had gripped my attention, my friends were eager to help and ease things out for this four legged homeless street ‘mumma’ dog.
For me there were no strays all belonged to Bhagawan and I couldn’t ‘stray’ away from that thought.
Prayers came spontaneously to the lips – Beloved Bhagawan, You led me to this child of Yours…now show me how to reach out and rescue her, while restoring some semblance of relief from her painful and distressing state. What do I do? How do I go about things?
I looked around for assistance and finally asked the man at the refreshment kiosk if there was anybody at the station who looked after this particular dog. I know and have experienced so in my travels, that there are many amongst us, who though have no roof over their head and do not know from ‘where’ or ‘if’ they will get something to eat, yet when they do get even a piece of chapatti, they are willing to share it with a dog. I have personally witnessed this at street corners, dustbins and wayside stations – wherever a homeless man sits down to eat and along comes a dog wagging its tail and begging a few morsels, he invariably shares it after the initial hesitation…a situation akin to the Lord testing for streaks of compassion in our character.
The man at the kiosk guided me to check with the little boy who sat at the entrance of Platform 1 polishing shoes. My friends kept a watch over the doggie’s movements while I rushed across to fetch this boy. He was easily identified and seemed keen to help. Packing his things away he skipped along with me, up over the steps and on to Platform 5.
Though I am very good at handling animals, I needed his help as this particular dog was in pain and would feel more comfortable with a familiar touch. We gathered her up, took her out towards the exit and the taxi stand.
As I bundled her into the back seat of the taxi, the driver protested as it would ‘dirty’ his taxi. I gave him a sermon on how his taxi was getting a chance of a lifetime to ferry a being in distress and perhaps an opportunity to save a life too! I assured him that a lot of his karmas would get wiped out with this ‘punya’ – great good deed, and that he needn’t fret as I would clean up his cab! He simply had to rush us to the Parel Hospital for Animals (SPCA). Whether good sense prevailed or he felt it would be inhuman to refuse, or he just wanted me to stop, I have no clue but to my relief soon we were on our way.
I was more than anxious about the dog as I knew we were very close to lunch hour. The doctor may not be available. Sure enough, as we carried her in to the clinic and laid her on the table to be examined, the doctor nonchalantly took off his white coat and said that he would check the dog after the lunch hour.
That is when politeness flew out of the door. I remembered Sri Ramakrishna’s fable about the Sage and the Snake, where the snake, when found in a bruised and battered state by the Sage months after their first meeting when the Sage had asked it not to harm anyone, was now gently reprimanded for not having hissed when necessary to keep others from injuring it. The Doctor was reminded about the seriousness of the case and his priorities. I also told him that at this time the dog’s helpless and painful state required instant attention and was more important than his lunch – so he was honour bound to ignore his stomach and listen to his heart instead! I couldn’t let him go out of the door without operating on this dog. Lying on that table was a living being and we couldn’t callously overlook her agony. The Doctor gave me an exasperated look and relented.
Later we went to the office, gave a donation and requested that the dog be spayed before her release. Spaying is a practical method in Animal Birth Control (ABC). The SPCA authorities gave us an assurance that the dog would be left back at Bandra Station on the same platform upon its recovery.
A couple of weeks later we visited the station specially to meet our ‘little shoe polish boy, who had a big loving heart’ and together we walked across to greet our ‘tail wagging friend’ on Platform 5. We celebrated our reunion with biscuits and chocolates!
A dog wags its tail with its heart. – Martin Buxbaum
The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. – Mahatma Gandhi