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16th World Vegetarian Congress 1960

Hannover and Hamburg, Germany

From The Brtitish Vegetarian Nov/Dec 1960:


Mr. J. N. Mankar, Hon. Secretary, Bombay Humanitarian League, while submitting a brief report of the activities of the League and the All-India Animal Welfare Association, and Vishwa Ahimsa Sangh, with which he has been closely associated, observed that India being the home of the universally acknowledged principle of Non-Violence - Ahimsa - as propounded by its seers and sages, and as further exemplified by the great apostles of Ahimsa like Lord Mahavir and Lord Buddha, has always been keen to maintain the purity of its ideals. Ahimsa and the non-violent way of life is a religion and
religious belief with the majority of Indians, based on the One Life concept.

This religion is, as a matter of fact, a spiritual attitude than merely a belief in specified doctrines. Religion, as understood in India is therefore a mode of life as distinguished from a belief. It has been aptly said that "India is born of religion, lives religion, and religiously moves Godwards through re-incarnation and Karma, towards the consciousness of the Divine Immanence. Thus, when man follows that religious feeling or motion of the Divine spirit within him, his vision is full of the light of life through
which he sees and understands the manifestations of the Divine Mystery around him, the spiritual nature of all things and his true relation to them."

It is on this spiritual background that the humanitarian and cultural organi-sations in India carry on their activities. The Bombay Humanitarian League, along with its multifarious activities for the welfare of animals and human beings, lays particular stress on purity of life and propagates the vegetarian way of life as a means to the higher goal.

Vegetarianism has so far been practised in India either as a religious or traditional obligation. But we are conscious that with the advance of science and materialistic considerations, it is now necessary to bring about convictions concerning the spiritual, scientific and economic importance of the vegetarian way of life, especially among the younger generation. It is here that the Western vegetarians can help the East in planning its future programme of work.

As a matter of fact, we in India have a defensive role to play in order to keep off the inroads of a non-vegetarian way of life to which the modern youth in our country is being attracted in the name of higher and more civilised standard of living of Western nations.

The question of food for Indians and other nations is also being considered at Government level and merely from nutritional points of view, as a result of the directives from international organisations like F.A.O. and W.H.O. A time has come when we in India have also to convince our people and the Government, through scientific research, that whatever is understood to be beneficial to humanity from spiritual considerations is also scientifically and economically beneficial.

The Bombay Humanitarian League, The Vishwa Ahimsa Sangh and similar other organisations are therefore thinking of setting up Ahimsa Research centres. The International Vegetarian Union can help the national organisa-tions by investigating the possibilities of supplying nutritional requirements of the nations from vegetarian sources of food and convincing national Govern-ments about the same.

Nor are we less conscious, vocal and active, in combating various forms of cruelty practised in our country and abroad in the name of food, fashion, sport, religion and science. With the active co-operation of Mrs. Rukmini Devi Arundale. M.P., and animal welfare organisations of our country, we shall shortly have comprehensive legislation for the prevention of cruelties to animals, which, though, due to the secular political constitution of our State, it does not go very far in totally abolishing cruelties in the name of science and religion, will reasonably control the same. One of the most welcome features of the proposed Act is that the Government will constitute an Animal Welfare Board which will review the situation, co-ordinate efforts, and advise the Government to take any further necessary steps to achieve the objectives of the proposed legislation.

The All-India Animal Welfare Association, started at the instance of the Bombay Humanitarian League in 1952, with the objects of combating all cruelties and injustice done to the dumb millions, is lending its support to all activities of animal welfare, and carries on propaganda for the promotion of kindness, and also educates public opinion in favour of vegetarianism from points of view of humanity, health, economics, science and aesthetics.

We all feel that no civilization is complete which does not include God's dumb and defenceless creatures within the sphere of charity and mercy, and all our endeavours are for creating increasing respect for animals among mankind, with a realisation that men and animals share the same Divine Life and all are rooted in the same spiritual unity.

We bring greetings and good wishes from our country - known for its spiritual and non-violent culture - and are very grateful to our international brothers and sisters, and especially the German vegetarians, for giving us an opportunity to visit this historical country and strengthen the ties of brother-hood. Apart from messages of goodwill from Bombay Humanitarian League, All-India Animal Welfare Association and many eminent humanitarians, including Shri K. M. Munshi, ex-Governor of Uttar Pradesh, and Shri Mangaldas Pakvasa, ex-Governor of Madhya, Pradesh, Bombay and Mysore, I have an inspiring message from Shri T. L. Vaswani, the well-known philo-sopher, poet and educationist. and a great exponent of the ancient truths and wisdom of Indian sages, which reads thus:-

"When will the souls of men have wings?"

From India, an Eastern brother sends his salutations to you, friends of animals and birds!

May the 16th World Vegetarian Congress be richly blessed by Him who is the Protector and Guardian of every jiva, every life-unit, every animal, every creature!

The modern world is face to face with many problems. To solve them we need the light of a new renaissance and a new faith in life. Humanitarianism is rooted in faith in life.

The eminent French thinker rightly said: "The heart has its reasons which reason knows not." I believe the work and message of your Congress will be spread, far and wide, through simple men, of awakened hearts. The world is waiting to listen to simple things and simple men.

Humanitarianism stands for the gospel of the simple life and the spirit of creative sympathy. Humanitarianism is inspired by an in-tuition of the kinship of all sentient life, a vision of the Fellowship and Brotherhood of life. In its larger sense humanitarianism coers the whole field of unselfish service.

To defend the weak, to guard those who are below us in the scale of evolution, is to grow in the nobility and strength of life. The beast and the bird cannot speak to us in the language we understand. They cannot protect themselves. For centuries they have suffered for our sins against them. The Blessed Buddha said: When wisdom came to me, I resolved to defend the weak, and to all living things I gave the compassion of my heart." Yes - with wisdom grows maitri - the feeling of kinship with all life. And maitri, compassion will be the basis of a new morality, a new culture, a new civilisation in the coming days.

Slavery in its gross forms has been abolished :in civilised areas. In a new era of awakening, animal rights will, also be recognised. Civilisation will become humanisation, and men will learn to bend in reverence to the sub-human God.

I have tried, in my humble way, to study the struggle of centuries for human rights, for human liberation. And I have bowed to the patriots and martyrs of humanity. Then mine eyes have been touched with tears; and I have cried a lonely cry in my heart. And I have said to myself: "When shall the day come - the day when the great ones of humanity will be banded together for the service of the animal world? When will new patriots appear - new teachers who will be drawn together in the service of birds and beasts - of the dog, the faithful animal, the cow that looks with mild eyes - and looking thus rebukes me, saying, 'What art thou doing for the .animals that groan in suffering and pain?'"

I recall what a Dutch novelist wrote many sears ago: "You are proud of your aeroplanes. But when will your souls have wings?"

The "wings of the soul" are these two - wisdom and sympathy.

Friends of the World Vegetarian Congress! build ye in sympathy and wisdom. Today, we are so few. And in my heart awakes a lonely cry, as of the moaning of the sea, when I survey the situation of the world. I see its hard-heartedness: I see its lack of sympathy. I see how nations are wandering from violence to violence. I see how slaughter-houses are multiplying. I see how my brothers and sisters - the animals - are being slaughtered every day. Friends of the World Vegetarian Congress! you, too, sometimes feel lonely. But we must not lose hope. And to you I say: Despair not! Work on in faith! Work on in hope! Work on, by day and by night! The great ones, the mighty teachers of humanity, are with you. The guardian angels are by you - to guard, to help, to bless and serve the weak and lonely. So work on and despair not! You will, one day, achieve! You will attain!