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Dignity for all creatures great and small

In Bodh Gaya not only dogs, even cats, rats, calves and fishes are given dignity after death. Anand Mishra tells more.

india Updated: Sep 12, 2007 03:15 IST
Anand Mishra

Dying a dog’s death may be a disgraceful comment. But not in Bodh Gaya - the place where Lord Buddha attained enlightenment. Not only dogs, even cats, rats, calves and fishes are given dignity after death, thanks to the efforts of an Italian woman Adriana Ferranti, the director of Maitri, a charitable trust working from Dhandwa village in Bodh Gaya.

Probably the first of its kind in Bihar-Jharkhand, Maitri has come up with a burial ground for animals on its campus.

Remains of more than 150 animals, mostly dogs, that too stray ones, have been buried here with their epitaphs carrying names, date of birth and death and in some cases even their pedigree.

Ferranti, the disciple of a Tibetan guru, has sound spiritual logic behind this unique practice. “Animals too have life and feelings. I give them dignity after death, which all living beings are entitled to. After all they do so much for human beings when they are alive,” she says.

She is annoyed at the idea of calling every dog a Tommy and Moti and every bitch a Lucy. “Do we call all our brothers and sisters with the same name? It’s so funny that we have bracketed a few names for all animals. I want to break away from tradition so I have started looking after the animals. In Tibetan tradition, there is rebirth and I wish they are reborn as human beings,” says Ferranti.

Ferranti now wants to make relics of dead animals.

“It is like giving them emancipation from the cycle of death and birth. Only well-qualified lamas can do it. I would like to dig out the bones of these animals from their graveyard and make a ‘Tza-Tza; by using plaster of Paris and other materials accompanied by the chanting of mantras,” she says.