Animals and birds along with other living creatures are silently cohabiting on this planet. Every living being has an equal right to live and prosper – a thinking which is now accepted by most people. Pujya Bapu through his meditations many years ago came to the same conclusion:
‘Jiv Shrusti ne faida thai teva kaariya karva ane karava, nirmal, sahaj ane shakshi bhave’
which means that our purpose in life should be to purely, naturally and selflessly undertake work to benefit all life forms and encourage others to do likewise.
True to his belief and seeing animals and birds suffering due to the actions of humans, he passionately wanted to act in relieving some of the injustices suffered. HTAT was formed with this in mind and as its guiding principle.
Help the Animal Trust was established in 1999 with the following objectives
- To protect and conserve animals and birds
- To establish and manage Gaushalas and Panjrapols
- To establish grazing land for cattle
- To improve the breed of the cattle
- To provide medical care to sick, elderly, injured animals and birds
- To provide relief in accidents and natural disasters to needy animals and birds
In the early days, Pujya Bapu had organised feed for cows whenever the rains failed and there was shortage of grass. He would order grass from other states of India sometimes at a high cost. Also, he noticed that some animals needed medical treatment to relieve them of pain and suffering due to injury or ill health. The owners, mainly poor farmers, would treat their animals with traditional medicine and methods but sometimes it was not sufficient and needed modern medical intervention.
This they would not do due to high cost. Pujya Bapu experiencing this situation started holding animal camps in Chaparda on a regular basis. Farmers after a slow start, started attending these camps where local veterinary surgeons and with the help of local Government department for Animal husbandry would give seminars on best practice and also do check- up and treatment of animals free of charge. This had a very positive impact on health of the animals and hence the wellbeing of farmers.
In the process of conducting these animal camps, Pujya Bapu learnt about the Gir cow breed. The Gir breed is considered to be one of the finest cow breeds and its milk is considered to be the most nutritious. As one of Puja Bapu’s pet projects, he ensures that he only keeps Gir breed in all his dairy farms and also encourages promotion of this breed by running a breeding programme with the local farmers. He has kept some fine bulls and by artificial insemination techniques, the local farmers can make use of this technique to impregnate their cows especially when the animal camps are held.
In each of BET’s education centre, there is a dairy farm and the milk produced is fed to the children free of charge. Vedic culture considers the cow as the mother of mothers since it has the ability to feed, provide and support humanity in so many ways. Hence the cow has been revered as sacred, to be protected and preserved. Essentially this is a depiction of the necessity to preserve what helps you support yourselves. The cow has remained the basis of India’s development in the nascent stages of one’s life that is by provision of milk for food, manure through cow-dung for agricultural purposes, after it’s death for leather for footwear and other uses and its bones for chemical uses. The ‘Gaumootra’ (liquid effuse) and ‘Gaumay’ (solid effuse) have medicinal uses in Ayurveda and also to carry out sacred rituals.
All the Gaushalas have been developed with these principles and the shepherds and Gaushala caretakers have been provided with quarters in the Gaushala itself with all the amenities to support them. All the cows are treated with great love and care.
Panjrapol – Panjrapol is an animal sanctuary for sick, injured or elderly animals. As in Hinduism, cow is revered to be very sacred, when it becomes sick, injured or old, people in many cases leave the animal to fend for itself. These are the animals that you see on the Indian roads. These animals should really be in a ‘Panjrapol’ where they can be looked after and cared for if sick. But there are very few Panjrapols as it costs to keep animals – cost of building a shelter, supplying feed and water and staffing cost. Pujya Bapu has opened a Panjrapol near Bilkha, about 10km from Chaparda where about 400 animals are being looked after.
Bird Sanctuary – Birds are generally ignored by most people and considered as pests in many cases. Some people do feed grains to bird as their normal daily routine and some for religious reasons. Generally, birds find their food from trees that bear fruits and berries but due to deforestation everywhere, there is a shortage of good bird feeding trees. Pujya Bapu through his meditation had a thought that he should create a sanctuary for birds only. On a large piece of land which he had near Mehendarda, Pujya Bapu is creating a 250-acre bird sanctuary with trees which birds love to feed on like Peepal, Banyan etc.