The Poor Brutes
Theosophist, December, 1882
“’Twere all as good to ease one beast of grief,
As sit and watch the sorrows of the world,
In yonder caverns with the priests who pray.
. . . . .
“Unto the dumb lips of his flock he lent
Sad pleading words, showing how man, who prays
For mercy to the gods, is merciless,
Being as gods to those; . . .”
— Sir Edwin Arnold, Light of Asia.
A certain Fellow and Councillor of our Society and member of the Bombay Branch is engaged in a noble work, which reflects honour upon us all. Mr. Kavasji M. Shroff, a Parsi gentleman among the most public-spirited and intelligent of his indefatigable race, is known in England as a colleague and friend of the late philanthropic Miss Mary Carpenter, and in America as a lecturer upon Fire Worship. At Bombay his name has been long identified with movements of public importance, among them that of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, of the local Society devoted to which work he is Secretary. There have long been such praiseworthy bodies in Europe and America, but, curiously enough, our Parsi colleague has devised a new feature in their administration never yet thought of by the more experienced Western philanthropists, and which vastly enlarges the scope of their usefulness. The Bombay daily papers have noticed the scheme approvingly, and from the Gazette of July 22, and Times of India of November 6, we copy in full the extracts which follow, in the hope that they may incite humanitarians elsewhere to imitate this most laudable example.
[Here followed quotations from the articles in question, which can be read here.]
Unless we mistake, posterity will offer a more lasting homage to the names of Mr. Dinshaw Manockjee, Mr. Shroff, and their colleagues than “nosegays and rosewater.” For a very great body of people in these Asiatic countries have in their natures an inbred tender compassion for the brute creation; and long before the London S.P.C.A. arose, there existed in a Hindu quarter of Bombay, a refuge for animals called “Pinjrapol”, where even the fleas and bugs are fed on the bodies of living men who hire themselves out for this curious service at so much per night! It is a common thing for a Hindu merchant or speculator to vow that if he succeeds in a certain venture he will buy so many cattle, sheep, or other animals doomed to the shambles, and send them to Pinjrapol to be kept at feed for the rest of their natural lives. But though Pinjrapol is richly endowed, having a revenue of, we believe, more than a lakh of rupees annually, its internal management leaves much to be desired. This, under the intelligent supervision of Mr. Shroff, is most likely to be avoided in the proposed Animal Hospital, and as we remarked above, it is a cause of honourable pride to every member of our Society that so Buddha-like a practical charity should have been set afoot by our Parsi colleague and brother. We hope these lines may come under the eye of Mr. Henry Bergh, the American zöophile.