Animals are generally ferocious, wild, strong &quick in their movements & shrewd in their behaviours. Animals are more close to nature which makes them fit to live in their habitats in spite of many hindrances. Carnivorous &herbivorous are the major types of animals.
Animals provide us food and clothing along with some attributes from which inspirations on good living could be drawn from, and it was the for very reason that men and women started deifying animals and worshipping them as Gods. Even Gandhiji’s words teaches us the same.
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
Animals are as well depicted as the “Vahanas” of the many deities for qualities such as aesthetic beauty, regal bearing, and strength.
LION, SWAN, OWL, ELEPHANT, KITE, PEACOCK, MONKEY, TIGER, HORSE, BULL, MOUSE, DOG, GOAT, COCK, CROW are the major &well know “Vahanas” on which the Gods travel. (Vahanas means Vehicles)
“Panchatantra” believed to have been composed in Sanskrit in the 3 rd Century BC, by Pandit Vishnu Sharma, is the earliest documented version. These and similar accounts in other Indian languages, explain in a simple allegorical manner, certain complicated maxims and standards of life, either as Morals, or sayings, or proverbs, which still have meaning for us today.
Few qualities in animals like patience, team work, conscientiousness &many more can be inspired from them by observing the behaviour of a dozen animals which inhabit the wilds of South India.
1. Deer- Axis Axis (MUTUALISM): A moderately sized deer, the chital as it is otherwise called, is a gregarious species that forms matriarchal herds, which are primarily grazers and browsers.
A timid creature it is preyed upon by almost every other carnivore, but over the years has entered into an interesting mutualistic relationship with Grey Langur as a countermeasure against potential threats, and the pair may often be seen feeding together. The chital benefits from the langur’s keen eye sight and ability to post a look out from trees, while Langur benefits from the chital’ s acute sense of smell and hearing, both of which help keep a check on potential threats by providing an early warning.
Mutualism is a doctrine that mutual dependence is necessary for social wellbeing and ,the fable of Greek origin “The Blind Man and the Lame” that recounts how two individuals collaborate in an effort to overcome their respective disabilities, is an apt example of mutualism in human beings.
2. Dhole -cuon alpinus (TEAMWORK) : A sociable canine, the “Endangered” Indian Wild Dog or Dhole, with its highly evolved social structure and lesser dominance hierarchy, lives in clans rather than in packs, for centuries of evolution have taught it that, Together Everyone Achieves More. The dhole preys on hoofed animals much bigger than itself, such as large deer, which it runs down by relentless pursuit, and it owes its success as a hunter chiefly to co-ordinated team work. The pack splits itself into teams, and as one team gives active chase from behind, other teams engage themselves in wide encircling manoeuvres, and close in on the quarry from the sides. All the while a reserve team ambles easily behind, its function, to take over the chase, from individuals who tire out. Unlike other virtues which have to be cultivated, team work is something that is inherent in human beings, for hunter-gatherers of prehistory were well know to have associated themselves in co-operative behaviour, a trait that seems to have become blunted over the passage of time.
3. Grey Langur- Simiaentellus( CONSCIENTIOUSNESS) Popularly known as the Hanuman Langur, this simian lives in troops and is much more earthbound in its habits than the others of its order. These creatures which inhabit the more open jungles of India are preyed upon by the larger carnivores, and long experience has taught them to post a sentinel atop a lofty tree, to warn the troop of possible danger whilst they forage on the ground. The Langur watchman can teach humanity a lesson in conscientiousness, from the way he carries out his duties, for from his outlook he never stirs, but keeps a sharp look out on the ground below, all conscious of the fact that the lives of the other members of the troop depend on the his unceasing vigilance. Wishing to do one’s work or duty well and thoroughly is conscientiousness, and a corporation or a society of conscientiousness men is a corporation with a conscience.
4. Nilgiri Tahr- Nilgiritragus hylocrius (TRUST): Peculiar to the western Ghats of Southwest India, the Nilgiri Tahr, is an endangered species of mountain goat that inhabits the high altitude mountain grasslands of these chain of hills. A surefooted creature it lives in small herds, and when threatened with predation, the herd takes to the safety afforded by steep cliffs and precipitous crags, leaping from one narrow ledge to another, climbing what might be a mere crack on a vertical rock face, where a false step may prove fatal. The young of the Nilgiri Tahr, follow the elders up any steep rock face, secure in the trust that it is safe to follow where they led, an unquestioning obedience which enables the young of many a creature of the wild to grow to maturity. Learning to trust is one of the life’s most difficult tasks, particularly for humans, whose inborn instincts are overridden by ego, for in trust lies the hidden gate to success.
5. Striped Hyena - Hyaena hyaena (PERSEVERANCE) : A nocturnal scavenger, the striped Hyena is a solitary animal which subsists mostly on the left overs of the kills of larger carnivores. This “Near Threatened” denizen of the open jungles of India, is more closely related to mongeese (plural of mongoose, mongooses can also be used but is considered as crude English), rather than to dogs, whom it superficially resembles. Although the Hyena is considered cowardly and is often treated with derision, it at times is known to drive away tigers and leopards from their kills, not by aggression, but by the cacophony of unearthly noise that it is wont to make in such situations, keeping up the racket for hours with stubborn perseverance, till the rightful owner, out of sheer disgust at the unholy din, moves away. Perseverance is defined as persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success, and though the tendency to give up is natural to the human race, perseverance guarantees that results are inevitable.
6. Wild Boar -Sus Scrofa (COURAGE) : A versatile omnivore, the wild Boar inhabits diverse habitats ranging from snow forests to deserts, where it lives in sounders of a dozen or so individuals. A big hearted and normally inoffensive creature, there is no animal as menacing in the Indian jungle once it has been aroused, that willingly takes on unfavourable odds.
When wounded or threatened with danger, the boar shows rare courage, preferring to stand its ground rather than seek safety in retreat, driving home charge after charge with much dash and determination, most often emerging victorious, an attribute which makes it a subject in heraldry both in recent times and antiquity. counted as one of the four virtues of Ancient Greek thought, courage, is the choice and willingness to confront agony, pain, peril, uncertainty or intimidation, courage doesn’t always roar, but sometimes says at the end of the day, in a quiet voice. ‘I will try again tomorrow.”
7. Sloth Bear (FARGIGHTEDNESS): A ‘Vulnerable’ species, the Sloth Bear is peculiar to the wilds of the Indian Subcontinent and is much more familiar as the dancing bear of the yesteryears, and is named so for it looks like the South American Sloth. Nobody would ever dare to even dream that this shaggy, dusty, unkempt, clumsy and purblind creature, possesses to any degree, the human attribute of farsightedness. Nevertheless the Sloth Bear shows a prudent awareness of future possibilities, for in times of plenty, it is known to regurgitate a mixture of half-digested fruits and pieces of honey comb that hardens into a bread like mass, which it then puts away for a rainy day. Being “Farsighted’ relates to having good judgement about what will be needed in the future and making wise decisions based on the this, and is more a human quality, which may also be termed as vision, or the art of seeing things invisible.
8. Asian Elephant -Elepas maximus (INNOVATIVENESS): A crepuscular mega herbivore which lives in matriarchal herds, the ‘Endangered” Asian Elephant inhabits the more open types of jungles, but shrinkage and fragmentation of its habitat have in recent times, forced to move out into adjacent areas of cultivation to raid crops quite frequently. The elephant with its large brain is a highly intelligent and self-aware creature which is now considered to be one among the most intelligent and innovative animals. It is known to intentionally drop logs or rocks on electric fences to short them out, to plug up water holes with balls of chewed bark to keep other animals from drinking them away and are even known to systematically modify branches to swat at files, breaking them down to ideal lengths for attacking the insects. Innovativeness is more of a human quality, and can be termed as the key that unlocks new values and quality that differentiates a leader from a follower.
9. Indian flying fox- Pteropus giganteus (ADAPTABILITY): Native to tropical forests and swamps, the Indian Flying Fox or the Greater Indian Fruit Bat, belongs to an order which had long ago taken to the skies to avoid the hustle and bustle on the ground, and which have evolved themselves for a nocturnal lifestyle leaving the day lit hours to the other ungulates and carnivores. Loss of its habitat doesn’t seem to have affected this highly adaptable creature to any great extent, for rather than bemoaning the loss. It has colonised with ease, disturbed habitats in both rural and urban areas. Here it roosts contentedly in the day time, by the hundreds, on large way side trees and as well on those growing close to agricultural fields, ponds, and so forth. The ability to adapt is an inherent quality of the human race, which over passage of time, learnt to live in frozen wastes and waterless deserts; for it is not the strongest that survive, nor intelligent, but the most adaptable.
10. Bengal Tiger- Panthera tigris (PATIENCE): A solitary hunter which preys on fairly largish animals, the now endangered Bengal Tiger, once roamed the wilds of India in large numbers, but hunting, loss of habitat, combined with other factors, have taken their toll, and it is now confined to pockets, as a mere fraction of those that were seen nearly a century earlier. The tiger depends on a terrific last minute rush, launched from within a short distance, to bring down its quarry, and the way it either methodically and noiselessly stalks its prey, or waits in ambush for hours on end, can teach humanity a lot about patience. Although counter to human instinct, “Patience is a virtue”, as the old English adage goes, for the ability to wait for something without getting angry or upset is a valuable quality in a person, which both in the short and long run gives much enduring results.
11. Gaur – Bos gaurus (LEADERSHIP): Living in matriarchal herds numbering a dozen individuals or so, the Gaur also better known by the misnomer, Indian Bison, inhabits any type of jungle. Due to their formidable size and power, Gaur have few natural predators, except for an occasional tiger, or the latter is wont to hunt down the gaur’s young or infirm. They are known to put up a combined defence when they sense they are stalked, and walk menacingly towards the predator as a phalanx with lowered horns, with the matriarch leading at the head of the phalanx, keeping the rest of the head focussed and motivated to do their best. For humans, leading by example can be quite a difficult task and not as simple as that of the gaur, for it is just not about crowning glorious acts, but about laying the groundwork for others’ success, and then standing back and letting them hold on.
12. Indian Jackal – Canis aureus (RESOURCE-MANAGEMENT): The Indian jackal, the subject of many a folklore, often in the role of a trickster, usually lives in packs which typically inhabit the outskirts of the towns, villages, and farms, and at times jungles. It is a great resource-manager which puts to use all available assets, for near villages and small towns it subsists on garbage and offal, supplemented with rodents, reptiles, fruit and insects; and in jungles either scavenges or occasionally hunts down small deer and antelopes in packs. A few lone individuals are apt to enter into mutual relationship with tigers, alerting them to the presence of a potential meal, their reward, a share in the proceedings. Unlike the wants of the Jackal which are simple, the resources which human society or an organisation need, are more complex and are not easy to find. They have to be searched for, and once found, successful resource management lies in the efficient and effective deployment and allocation of these.
These animals never speak up about their space, rights, &difficulties, but we as humans should feel the responsibility and care for them.
“Living wild species are like a library of books still unread. Our heedless destruction of them is akin to burning the library without ever having read its books. – John Dingell.