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Location: Home arrow Library of Articles arrow Compassion / Vegetarianism arrow Man's Dominion

Man's Dominion   E-mail 

Mankind's Responsibility

Both science and religion assert that man is the apex of creation. Science bases this claim on man's physiological superiority over the rest of the animated world, while religion bases it on man's physical excellence and potential.

The Christian Bible speaks of man having dominion over the animals. Sikh Dharma too, recognises man's position of pre-eminence in the creation. The fifth Guru, Sahib Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji, says :

"Out of all the 8.4 million species He created,
The Lord has blessed man with glory."
                          - SGGS page 1075

So far, it all sounds very flattering, but what does this really mean? For Sikhs, the human form is an opportunity to unite with God. Although the verse given above gives humans the pride of place, it in no way condones the ill treatment of non-humans. Christians, on the other hand, have misinterpreted the idea of 'dominion' to mean that animals can be killed for food, or used in whatever way required. Consequently, they feel that what they do to animals need not be governed by moral constraints.

It is worth noting that all major religions have taught compassionate and humane treatment of animals. The special position given to man brings with it a sense of responsibility. For example, although in a family there may be intelligent as well as unintelligent children, the father loves them all and sees to their welfare. He may entrust his less intelligent children to the more intelligent, but that does not mean that the intelligent children can kill and eat the others. On the contrary, they are expected to protect them.

'Dominion' does not mean killing and eating - it means protection. A king has dominion over all his subjects, but can he murder them at will? Of course not. Because man?s consciousness is developed, he is expected to see to the welfare of all other living entities. He is, in effect, the custodian of nature.

Unfortunately, "man's dominion" has become tyranny instead of legitimate government. It's taken to be a licentious freedom to break all the established moral rules designed to protect other species.

Isn't it about time we accept our responsibility and act responsibly towards our fellow earthlings ?

"Be thou mentally content
and show kindness to all living beings."
                          - SGGS page 299

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