Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sri Aurobindo Talks About Animals

SRI AUROBINDO: People say animals can't think or reason. It is not at all true. Their intelligence has evolved to act only within the narrow limits of life, according to their own needs. But they have latent faculties which have not been developed.
Cats have a language of their own. They utter different kinds of mews for different purposes. For instance, when the mother cat mews in a particular tone and rhythm after leaving her kittens behind a box, the little ones understand that they are not to move from that place until she comes back and repeats that mew. It is through the tone and the rhythm through the tone and the rhythm that cats express themselves.
Even donkeys, which are supposed to be very stupid, are sometimes unusually clever. Once some horses and donkeys were confined together, with the gate shut, to see if they could get out. While the horses were helpless, a donkey got out by lifting idle latch and opening the gate.
Why go so far? Even in our Ashram the Mother's cat Chikoo was extraordinarily clever. One day she was confined in a room. It was discovered that she was trying to open the window in exactly same way as the Mother used to do. Evidently Chikoo had watched the Mother carefully.
We had a dog, a bitch left by somebody in the first house we rented. One day she was locked out. Finding it impossible to push the door open, she just sat in front of it and began to think, "How to get in?" The way she sat and the attitude of her head and eyes showed clearly that she was thinking. Then suddenly she got up, as saying to herself, "Ah, there is the bathroom door. Let me try it. And she went in that direction. The door was open and she got in.
It is the Europeans who make a big difference between man and animal. The only difference is that animals can't form concepts and can't read or write or philosophise.
NIRODBARAN: They can't do Yoga, either.
SRI AUROBINDO: I don't know about that. Once, while the Mother and I were meditating, a cat happened to be present. We found that she was behaving oddly. She passed into a trance and was almost on the point of leaving her body and dying, when suddenly she recovered. Evidently she was trying to receive something.
SATYENDRA: Ramana Maharshi's cow Lakshmi is said to bow down to him.. She is supposed to be someone connected with him in her past life who was attached to the Maharshi. This cow must be an exceptional one in South India. One can't really love Tamil cows: one gets so disgusted with their thin starved look and blank expression. And what a horrible practice it is to set the cow's milk flowing by putting a stuffed dummy calf in front of her, which she can't recognise as a fake one.
You say animals are intelligent, but this doesn't show it.
SRI AUROBINDO: Not all men are intelligent either!

(Talks with Sri Aurobindo, pp. 223-224)

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