Treatment of animals in Hinduism
Hinduism is a compassionate religion and treats all living beings from animals down to insects and tiny creatures with great respect as aspects of God, having souls of their own, going through the same process of births and deaths as human beings. Depending upon how they are born, they classify all living beings into three kinds: those who are born from seeds andsprouts, those who are born from eggs and those who are born from womb. The scriptures urge us to treat the animals fairly and, not harm them and not subject them to cruelty and pain. Non-violence towards all, including plants and animals is the highest virtue. Non-violence means not even having the intention to disturb others. Sacrificing animals to appease the deities was a prehistoric tradition which continued in the tradition for long, but as time went by became increasingly uncomfortable with such practices to the extent that it is no more appreciated in Hinduism by all sections of people. The historical attitude of Hindus towards animals can be guessed from the fact that until the arrival of the British into India, the Indian forests were teeming with all kinds of wildlife. It was the British who made hunting a great sport and virtually wiped out the wildlife population from the country.
"Killing is a denial of love. To kill or to eat what another has killed is to rejoice in cruelty. And cruelty hardens our hearts and blinds our vision, and we are unable to see that they whom we kill are our fellow brothers and sisters in the One Family of Creation."
G.L. Rudd, author of Why Kill For Food?