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August 2009
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If Goats could have Religions

(They also feel pain)

 

In the absence of George Orwell…

 

These days I am walking through a lane which passes through a particular intersection. It’s a special one because everyday it makes me realise that we humans are not the only living species on this earth. On one side of the road, there are at least four goats which keep watching the traffic. The goats are also special because they are really tall and well built! (I know these special goats have survived this long only because their Muslim owners are waiting for some special occasions to sacrifice them.) This makes me remember what happened last year…

 

I had to walk through a particular stretch everyday. It had heavy traffic, so I looked at some alternatives. I found and started using one lane parallel to the main road. This was very calm, peaceful and clean. One day I saw some function happening near one particular building, which I realised was a community hall of some Gujarati association. (The locality was dominated by Gujarati Hindus and Jains.) While I tried to walk past swiftly I was stopped by two ladies. They asked me for my five minutes to fill a questionnaire on the first floor of the building. I was not interested, so they said I could win some freebies as gifts for that and it won’t take more than five minutes! At that time, I was tired and returning back from college, and too busy with placement season. I remember this incident as it was one of the few occasions when I said a clear (may be even impolite) “no”, mentioning that I really didn’t have time. From that day onwards, whenever I passed through that lane I gave a curious look at the community hall. I realised that they used to organise some religious festivals, discourses, and talks in that building. After some weeks, I realised that I was seeing some goats tied near the hall!

 

They were two goats to be precise, with their necks tied with a metallic pole on the footpath. I realised they were stationed there permanently, or may be they were at times replaced by some similar-looking goats. It was impossible for the Jains and Gujaratis to keep the goats like that, so I wondered who made them captive in this way in Mumbai? The answer was to be seen on the other side of the road…

 

On the other side of the road, there was a low-roof semi-open building. Every evening, some Muslim devotees would come and do their prayers there while looking at a particular direction. Some times, young boys used to sit and a bearded teacher would make them learn lessons. I guess it should be a kind of madarsa or a multi purpose community building. And the two goats who watched their prayers and lessons from the other side of the road just confirmed it. How at the distance of ten steps, life changes so much – for the goats :)

 

Now, I also remember the scene from the flopped movie ‘Delhi-6’. People in a particular locality were witnessing frequent thefts and weird things, and one day a Hindu noticed that thefts were happening only in the houses of Hindus! Then a Muslim man protested saying, “Didn’t my goat also get stolen despite her being a Muslim?” :) Of course he corrected himself a moment after – if goats could be Muslims perhaps he won’t be able to kill them in the name of his religion. Now this makes me wonder: what if goats had the right to choose their religion?

 

If goats had the rights to choose their religion, what would they choose? They won’t choose Islam for sure, as Muslims sacrifice hoards of goats and other animals every Bakri-Id festival. Even if they shrewdly converted to Islam thinking Muslims care so much for brotherhood, they still would have the risk of getting massacred – as we see the frequent wars between Shia and Sunni tribes within Muslims. If they chose Christianity, they would have to make a Church for goats and need to install a Pope to guide the lesser-goats, and this would be too troublesome. The chances of them choosing Zoroastrianism are also less as the religion is already going to extinction because of diminishing population. Though it would be a blessing for the goats to die first and then get eaten by vultures afterwards under an open sky – a condition which would make them immune from the hands of any meat-eating man. They don’t have the option to become neo-Buddhists, as they don’t have voting rights in elections. They won’t choose plain Hinduism as many Hindus eat meat too. Perhaps they would choose Jainism or some sects within Hinduism like Vaishnavism – which would make them remain in peace with this universe after ages… But still, there is a threat! If this example of animals choosing religions becomes a trend, I fear the wolves would choose to become Taliban Muslims where they would be able to manipulate their faith to justify butchering the goats and still being religious! Isn’t it so?

 

But in general I think cows would become Hindus and Jains without a second-thought. Horses, tigers, cheetahs and elephants may choose to become Sikhs. Birds and rabbits may fill up application forms to become Buddhists. Zebras and penguins may become Christians, as their special bodily/clothing features would satisfy their ego of being ‘different’ and ‘more evolved’. I think the biggest list of options would be for the one and only Pigs. Since Muslims don’t kill pigs for food, I think all pigs can peacefully choose any religion in this world, of course excepting Islam. What would lions choose? I think Islam would be perfect – their long mane would look like the long beards of the Muslim men and no restrictions on eating would suit their lifestyle… But I think there is a big problem in this! The lionesses would revolt against Islam, after all how would they spend their life under black veils? And with each lion now marrying up to four lionesses, it would be too insulting for the proud lionesses to be Muslims! So this won’t be workable…

 

What would happen if cows and rabbits started saying they were superior because they had White skins? Or if camels started exerting their superiority of having born in the Arabia and forcing other animals to develop the capacity to run in deserts without water? Or lions forcing every deer and dog to grow long beard? Or worse – vultures writing a book, electing a Pope and asking all different birds to twitter in the same voice? That would be a horrible world! My thoughts are too troublesome; I think animals should go without their religions… Let me get back to my life…

 

Back here, I fear if the next morning I would see one of the tall and well built goats gone missing. Or may be I won’t be able to know because it would be replaced by another tall and well built goat! I wish I didn’t know counting. Or should I avoid that particular intersection? Enters religion again: I really wish the goats could make a ceasefire with Muslims… But it can’t be called a ceasefire; it’s not a war but a one-sided exploitation of goat’s rights… I don’t see any non-religious solution working for the goats! With goats being fed and taken care of only to get sacrificed one day for the God they have never felt or seen, it seems it’s a devil’s world out here… Is there a way out?

 

If Goats could talk to God, what would they ask? Or better, if God could see Goats, what would God feel?

(Rahul)

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