Lord Krishna in Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 11, Visvarupa-Darsana Yoga, The Vision of the Universal Form, verse 55 proclaims “ADVESHAM SARVA BHUTESHU”- Being devoid of enmity towards all living entities is a must and laid the foundational principle of AHIMSA. Krishna is most popularly known as “GOVINDA”, a provider of a great sense of Joy to cattle.
Mahatma Gandhi applied the principles of ‘AHIMSA’ to fight for India’s Freedom.
“Cow protection to me is not mere protection of the cow. It means protection of all that lives and is helpless and weak in the world.” -Mahatma Gandhi.
Siddhartha Gautama Buddha lived in India, c. 563 B.C. – c. 483 B.C. was the founder of Buddhism.
LORD MAHAVIRA – Jainism is founded in the 6th century B.C. emphasized the importance of reverence for all living things.
In the ancient land of India, the tradition and practice of ‘Ahimsa'(noninjury) have been well established. This entry is not intended to speak about the greatness of Lord Mahavira, Lord Gautama Buddha or Mahatma Gandhi. Their contributions are well-known and well-respected by all. As a beneficiary of this great tradition, I want to claim that Ahimsa helps humans as much as it promotes the well-being of animals. Animals give us a chance to learn and practice the habit of showing compassion. Animals may not be able to speak and communicate their fears, pain, and suffering. But they provide us with the skills to listen and know the emotion of fear. Animals give us the ability to discern pain when we are not in a position to speak for ourselves. I want to describe as to how a person, experienced in preventing cruelty to animals, is well equipped to rescue humans.
CHILD ABDUCTION AND A STORY OF MIRACULOUS RESCUE:
Swami Karunyananda, One who delights himself or experiences a sense of Joy by showing Karuna or Compassion. His birth name was Venkata Subbiah. His birthplace was Kammavarpalayam, a tiny village in Madras or Tamil Nadu State of India. He founded and established Sri Gowthami Jeevakarunya Sangham at Rajahmundry during 1940.
I am narrating my personal story to recall an event and express my gratitude to a person whose name is not known to me but whom I remember for his timely intervention to rescue me. Otherwise, my life’s journey would have proceeded on an altogether different track. This very simple, down to earth, the unassuming person acted in a manner that had made a lasting impression on my mind and I am able to recollect the incident without any effort.
In 1951, that is 56 years ago, I lived in the town of Rajahmundry, East Godavari district of the present State of Andhra Pradesh. The town is on the left bank of river Godavari which enters the town from the north and flows towards the south. I lived in a residential neighborhood known by the name Innispet and it is located next to the river bank.
Those days, many of the streets had no given names and the houses had no designated house numbers. The part of the street where I lived was later named as ‘KALABARGI VARI’ street. Our house was built by my grandfather (Late)Shri.R.Subbarao who had earlier worked as the District Public Prosecutor. I lived with my grandmother Smt. Lakshmi Narasamma, my parents and two elder brothers. My great-grandmother and my grandmother’s sister had also lived in this mansion. My younger brother and sister are not yet born. I may also mention that my father had chosen my personal name to be Rudra Narasimham and he had made this choice to please and honor my grandmother. For this reason, I had also enjoyed her affectionate treatment.
At the age of three and a half years, I was able to walk and move freely. My elder brothers had already joined schools. I whined about it and my father got me enrolled at King George Elementary School which was on the same street at a short distance from my home. The name King George reminds us of our colonial past. The School had a very modest structure. There was no kindergarten class and hence I had joined the grade 1 class.
A little while after the monsoon season had finished, the School was temporarily closed because of a panic created by a string of child abduction incidents. My father was in the habit of going out for an evening walk. That day, the evening was cool and pleasant and the sky was clear. I insisted that I would accompany my father during his evening walk. He tried to talk me out of it and more so out of concern about the child lifting incidents. He left for his walk leaving me at home. I slipped out of the house and I thought I would be able to follow him from behind while he walked ahead of me.
I was walking towards the north on the street and very soon lost sight of him. I kept walking, went past an intersection and at the next intersection, the street had ended. I made a right turn as I had noticed that a lot of people were walking in that direction towards the ‘Main Street’ of our town. The streets had no sidewalks and the pedestrians walk all over the street and there was not much of vehicular traffic.
Soon after I had made the right turn, I was suddenly lifted up by a stranger and was handed over to a woman who accompanied him. I instantaneously recognized that I was in some big trouble. I had started crying loudly but was not able to express my sense of fear in words. The pedestrian crowd around me paid no attention and my crying aroused no particular concern.
This terrible situation suddenly changed when a man wearing simple, white, hand-spun garments (‘KHADI’) came by riding on a bike. He spontaneously reacted to my crying. In my speechless voice, like any other dumb animal, I could communicate to him that I was very apprehensive and that I was gripped with a sense of fear and pain. He read my emotions correctly and he lost no time and decided to intervene.
He stopped the pair and started grilling them with questions and insisted that I was not their child. They initially argued that I was their child. My rescuer did not relent a bit and eventually, he demanded that the pair should accompany him to the Police Station to verify my identity. I remained a silent spectator and the sense of fear would not let me speak up the fact that I was not their child and that woman was not my mother.
As the heat of the argument built up, the pair decided to get away and the woman dropped me down leaving me with the man on the bike. I was at ease in the company of this unknown man and the sense of fear vanished and I stopped crying.
He placed me on the front bar of his bike. He inquired about my address. The only information that I could provide was that my house was located near a doctor’s clinic. Meantime, the evening had already turned into night. He decided to return me to my home. Before doing so, he took me to a street vendor selling sweets and snacks. He had asked me to pick an item of my choice. He paid the merchant. After I had finished eating my snack, I felt a lot more relaxed and was ready for the bike ride through the neighborhood.
After spending some time conversing with me, he began his search at the south end of the street where I lived. The street was fairly long and had several houses on either side. Those were the days when we had no television; before retiring for sleep, people were in the habit of relaxing in front of their homes after it gets dark. House after house, he was checking with people and was inquiring about any missing child.
Finally, we had arrived at the intersection where my house stood on the street corner. At that point, to recognize my house was very easy for me. I saw my grandmother and my mother standing on the front porch with a very worried expression on their faces. The search was over and I simply jumped out from the bike and literally ran into my home. I was not around when my mother and grandmother thanked him for bringing me back home safely and they were shocked to know that I was briefly got abducted. Later, my mother tried to gently admonish me and asked if I would ever go out alone all by myself. By then, I had lost the fear that gripped my mind and I was happy with my experience of meeting this man who got me back home and very boldly I answered my mother that I am not afraid of going out on my own.
This unknown man worked for a charitable organization by the name ” Sri Gowthami Jeeva Karunya Sangham”. This organization provides animal shelters and a variety of humanitarian services. The employees patrol the streets on bikes to detect and to prevent cruelty to animals.
His belief in Ahimsa or Non-Injury, his personal experience in dealing with the pain and suffering of dumb animals had also given him the insight to recognize my plight when I was lifted up from the street. On a crowded street, while I was snatched, no one had paid attention to my cries and but for this person, the abduction would have proceeded unnoticed. I would describe that this person has the Indian Identity that I cherish and value. This Identity springs from our long-established Cultural tradition of Ahimsa. I would consider him to be a true practitioner of AHIMSA.
I have not personally known or seen Sri. Karunyananda (1894- 1997) who established Sri Gowthami Jeeva Karunya Sangham in Rajahmundry during the year 1940. Karunyananda was at Swami Sivananda’s Ashram at Rishikesh in northern India. Mahatma Gandhi visited Rishikesh and addressed the group of young ‘sanyasins’ at the Ashram. He encouraged them to render humanitarian service and serve others to practice the principle of ‘Ahimsa’ which involves treating all living entities with a sense of respect and dignity.
This concept of ‘Ahimsa’ reached me through the service rendered by a man who practiced the principle of ‘Ahimsa’ and gained the ability to recognize pain and suffering even when there is no verbal communication to express that condition.
Dr. R. Rudra Narasimham, B.Sc., M.B.B.S.,
Danavaipeta Municipal High School, Rajahmundry, East Godavari District, Andhra Pradesh, India,
S.S.L.C., Class of March 1961.