The Buddha’s Compassion towards Animals
Posted on October 30th, 2012


Given the enormity of animals being sacrificed (killed)on two days of hajj festival ( altogether estimated at 100 million animals around the world. In Pakistan alone 10 million animals were killed) our moral conscience do not permit us to remain silent. As Buddhists our sympathies are entirely with the innocent and defenseless animals being killed to help human beings go up the ‘spiritual ladder’.

In the sixth century before the Christian era, religion was forgotten in India. The lofty teachings of the Vedas were thrown into the background. There was much priest craft everywhere. The insincere priests traded on religion. They duped the people in a variety of ways and amassed wealth for themselves. They were quite irreligious. In the name of religion, people followed in the footsteps of the cruel priests and performed meaningless rituals. They killed innocent dumb animals and did various sacrifices. The country was in dire need of a reformer of the Buddha’s type. At such a critical period, when there were cruelty, degeneration and unrighteousness everywhere, the reformer Gautama the Buddha was born to put down priest craft and animal sacrifices, to save the people and disseminate the message of equality, unity and cosmic love everywhere.

The spirit of Ahimsa (non-violence) was ever present with Gautama from his very childhood. One day, his cousin Devadatta shot a bird. The poor creature was hurt and fell to the ground. Gautama ran forward, picked it up and refused to hand it over to his cousin. The quarrel was taken up before the Rajaguru who, however, decided in favour of Gautama to the great humiliation of Devadatta.

In his wanderings, the Buddha one day saw a herd of goats and sheep winding their way through a narrow valley. Now and then the herdsman cried and ran forward and backward to keep the members of the fold from going astray. Among the vast flock the Buddha saw a little lamb, toiling behind, wounded in one part of the body and made lame by a blow of the herdsman. The Buddha’s heart was touched and he took it up in his arms and carried it saying, “It is better to relieve the suffering of an innocent being than to sit on the rocks of Olympus or in solitary caves and watch unconcerned the sorrows and sufferings of humanity”. Then, turning to the herdsman he said, “Whither are you going, my friend, with this huge flock in so great a hurry ?”. “To the king’s palace” said the herdsman, “We are sent to fetch goats and sheep for sacrifice which our master – the king – will start tonight in propitiation of the gods.”

Hearing this, the Buddha followed the herdsman, carrying the lamb in his arms. When they entered the city, word was circulated that a holy hermit had brought the sacrifices ordered by the king. As the Buddha passed through the streets, people came out to see the gracious and saintly figure of the youth clad in the yellow robes of a Sadhu (renunciate) and all were struck with wonder and awe at his noble mien and his sweet expression.

The king was also informed of the coming of the holy man to the sacrifice. When the ceremonies commenced in the presence of the king, there was brought a goat ready to be killed and offered to the gods. There it stood with its legs tied up and the high priest ready with a big bloodthirsty knife in his hand to cut the dumb animal’s throat. In that cruel and tragic moment, when the life of the poor creature hung by a thread, the Buddha stepped forward and cried, “Stop the cruel deed, O king!”. And as he said this, he leaned forward and unfastened the bonds of the victim. “Every creature” he said, “loves to live, even as every human being loves to preserve his or her life”. The priest then threw the knife away like a repentant sinner and the king issued a royal decree throughout the land the next day, to the effect that no further sacrifice should be made in future and that all people should show mercy to birds and beasts alike.

10 Responses to “The Buddha’s Compassion towards Animals”

  1. Dham Says:

    Stop the cruel deed, O Muslims, every creature loves to live, even as every human being loves to preserve his or her life.
    Do not kill animals during Eid in the name of Allah , the delusional being suffering in hell.

  2. gdesilva Says:

    I guess before blaming our Muslim and Christian brothers and sisters, we Buddhist should look at what we can do to reduce cruelty to animals by way or reducing our own consumption of meat/fish made available through large scale factory farms all over the world. If we set an example perhaps others may take note and do likewise otherwise…..

  3. jayt Says:

    gsilva is right but this is very hilarious. there are more serious problem singhalese are facing in the world. singhalese are threaten to disappear but here now they are bringing another the subject. This is the proof how little singhalese know about outside world. Singhalese should be spending time 24 hr how to counter global conspiratorial and to build a defends system to match the global conspirators.

    fighting for suffering of animal is good thing but how can you stop billions of people eating meat. First take care yourself. if you exist you can talk about it but you are on the way to disappear but animal are not threatened like singhalese

  4. Dham Says:

    I think most Sinhala Buddhist do not eat too much meat, compared to westerners and muslims.
    I think Sinhala people were made aware of animal sacrifices by Hindus only recently and this whole war against cruelty to animals in the name of a God satrted.

  5. Ceylonese Says:

    Lord Buddha showed compassion towards Humans before Animals. Sinhala is quicker to extinct before all animals would. We should get our priorities right. FOCUS pointing out Hajj displays his/her one tract mind to stir up communal sensitivities in the Island nation is deplorable. The Hajj slaughtered meat is sent to Africa to feed the those who are dying of hunger. Is is not feeding the hungry a Noble act?

    All Life are sacred, however there is difference between human life, plant life and animal life. For some plant life is permitted to kill and some it is permitted to slaughter animal life HUMANELY. Slaughtering Food for human consumption is permitted in most faiths. FOCUS and accept that there is a world out there with diverse beliefs. Respect them. Please do not single out communities. Bad for business.

    Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, meat in one hand, a drink in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming, “Woohoo! What a ride!”

  6. appuhamy1 Says:


  7. Christie Says:

    Killing of animals just for fun is not good. But humans depending in the enviroment they live in had to eat meat for the continuety of the humns. In the deserts and in the cold snowy places meat was eatne and they still do.

    Haji comes from those practices of the dry deset countries where the vegetation is not palatable to the humans but for animals. So the natural food chain is for the humans living there to eat meat. The followers of Islam where ever Islam is practiced, still carry that practice and we should not interfere with their religious practices because our practices are different to theirs.

    I am a bit concerned about the writer and his motive from hos fables. “The Buddha’s heart was touched and he took it up in his arms and carried it saying, “It is better to relieve the suffering of an innocent being than to sit on the rocks of Olympus or in solitary caves and watch unconcerned the sorrows and sufferings of humanity”

    How did Buddha know of rocks of Olympus in those days?

  8. M.S.MUDALI Says:

    Majority Hindus dont support animal sacrifice or eating flesh or fish. But Sinhalese are happy to kill humans instead of animals in the name of Buddha. That is the Sri Lankan brand of Buddhism =Sinhala Buddhism.

  9. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    Eating meat and fish is not explicitly banned in the suttas and Vinaya of the Pali canon which encourage Buddhist monks to accept whatever food they are given. In the Mahayana Lankavatara and Angulimala sutra the Gautama Buddha explicitly prohibits eating meat and fish. Places where Mahayana Chinese Buddhism is practiced like China, Korea, Vietnam, Buddhist monks are very strictly vegetarian.

  10. Dham Says:

    What you said is true about mahayana buddhism, I doubt there is such thing in Angulimala Sutta.
    The simple logic is , “EATING” is not given priority by Buddha. Eating is just to keep the body going, eating offered is Ok as long as the animal is not killed just for the individual. If monks spends time on chosing what to eat and not to, chance of elightenment is slim as this itself become a “Thanna”.
    Kamma, Vipaka all these applicable only to worldlings, not to the Arahant.

    Sinhalese are not happy to kill human beings, it is Tamil maniacs like Mu_Dalit and LorenZion engage on the topic of killing.

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