10 Mar

Karuna (Compassion towards all life forms) – a Foundation Principle of All Religions

Compassion or Karuna is something which we humans are born with. It’s innate. until the world and society conditions us to its customs and ethics. A white child never innately discriminates against a black child, it is what he/she learns by observing the adults around. Same way, put a rabbit and an apple in front of a child and the child will play with the rabbit and eat the apple and not the other way round, but its later in life that he considers it normal to kill and eat a rabbit, because he is conditioned to think the rabbit as food and not someone.

Religion, in human society has given humans two things.

1) A theory on reality of life. eg. Monotheism, polytheism, pantheism, atheism, dualism, etc.

2) A code of conduct revolving around it. eg. permissible and non permissible food items, acceptable social customs etc.

Differences in ideologies and the conduct they preach, has invited criticism throughout history and even does today. People easily spot the differences and criticize other religions for the code of conduct they subscribe to. But seldom do they, or does their religious ego or parochial instructions allow them to spot and acknowledge the commonality between all religions.

The commonality is compassion towards all lifeforms! Presenting what religions through out the world have preached on Karuna.


Jains are amongst the ones who are most devout to the principle of Karuna and follow it to its logical end of compassion towards all.
  1. Adhyatmasar Granth
Pajjaitani pavitraani sarvashan dharmacharinam.
Ahimsa Satyamsteyam tyago maithunvarjanam.

“Every religion preaches these 5 immaculate principles. Non-Violence, Truth, Non-stealing, Non Possessiveness, Celibacy.”

2) Pushpamala Grant

Kim Gayanaao visalah?
Ko ya ahimsasamo Dhammo?

Just like nothing is more sprawling than the sky, No religion is above non violence.

A Jain folklore of how an elephant’s compassion rose him to great spiritual heights.
Once a forest fire broke out and all the animals rushed inside a cave. which got crowded eventually. An elephant lifted his leg to scratch but when he went to put it down he found a rabbit had occupied that space. To not kill or harm that rabbit by crushing it under his leg, the elephant decided to not put down his leg. The forest fire lasted for 3 days after which every animal left the cave. After the rabbit left, the elephant finally tried resting his foot down but the foot had gotten stiff which led to the elephant thrashing down and die. This act of compassion towards the rabbit led the elephant’s soul to be reborn as Meghkumar and attain great spiritual heights.

3) Aacharang Sutra

Savve pana Piyaua suhasaya duhapadikula

All life forms adore their life, not death, Value happiness, not unhappiness Hence Do not harm any life form, nor cause it sadness. As you sow so shall you reap. / The fruits of the actions which one receives are as per the nature of their actions.

4) Aacharang Sutra

Jivavaho appavaho jeevdava appanno hoi daya

Taking others life is in reality taking ones own life. Reverence towards others life is in actuality reverence to our own life.

At the core of Jainism lies compassion towards all life forms.


There is a reward for kindness to every living animal and human” Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)
  1. Quran Shariff
Bismillah Rahimajurrahim

In the name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful” It is but obvious that if Allah is Merciful then his followers will dwell mercy in their heart too!

2) Hajrat Ali Saheb

create a graveyard of animals and birds
In your stomach, you dont
Once the followers of Prophet Muhammad built their fire very near to an ants nest. Due to the heat and smoke, the ants started to flee their nest. Came a voice from the skies “look what you have done, you have built your fire too close to the ants nest, the ants will get burnt.“. Soon the fire was put off, and again came a voice saying “No matter how small or large the animals are, they are all important to God, everyone should take care of them“. The ants went back to their nest and slept knowing that the Prophet was looking up for them.

3) Quran Shariff

Keep mercy towards all life forms. 
Because The Almighty doesn’t even wish
the slightest of torture on any life.

4) Quran Shariff

Vaija tavalla sao fir arde layuk sid fiha
vayahulikal harsa bannasl vallaho la yuhibul fasada

To kill animals and destroy farm yield, Is like spreading dirt in the soil, And Allah doesn’t like dirt.

5) Hajrat Mohammad Paygambar

All the life forms are the family of God Loving
Whoever does the welfare of his family
Is the most beloved to the Almighty.

6) Hajrat Mohammad Paygambar

Allah grants His Mercy on the merciful
Even you be merciful to all on this Earth
Only then the one in Heaven shall be merciful to you

7) Quran Shariff

If one takes the life of other
Then that person will be considered the slayer of complete humankind
And if one saves the life of even one
Then that person will be considered the savior of entire humankind.
Sulaiman (AS) was granted with great wisdom by Allah. One day when he was marching with his army in gush towards a valley, he heard a plea of an ant who wanted to save her community from being trampled beneath the rushing army. When Sulaiman (AS) heard the ant, he was immediately reminded of Allah and his blessing of understanding what the ant said. He acknowledged that it was a gift from Allah and showed gratitude immediately. He commanded the army to change its course, and the destruction of the ant colony was avoided.

8) Hajrat Mohammad Paygambar

If you will good for yourself
Then will good for others as well.

9) Quran Shariff

Lai yana lallah luhu muha vala dima oha
vala kia yana luhat takva

Allah Taalah has no interest in your sacrifices of meat and blood. He only is considerate of your will towards him.

It was a really hot day. The Prophet was walking through a garden where he heard a cry of a camel. he saw a poor and over worked camel, tied up to a tree with no shade. The hot sun was eating down on him and there was nothing to drink. The camels owner was resting nearby in a shade. The prophet walked over and said “your camel is just as much a part of God’s world as you and I. It is our duty to treat the camel well, and feed it and to make sure it has enough to drink.”. The owner looked very ashamed and promised to take care of the camel well.

10) Hadis Granth

Irahamu manfil arde yarham Kurmurhamanu

Be merciful towards the life forms of world Because God has been very merciful to you.

11) Quran Shariff

Ta baryabi dar bahishte adan ja
Shapakte banumae khalke khuda

If you always want to stay in heaven, Then be merciful to God’s creation, And act with humility towards it.

12) Imam Al Hafiz Bashir Ahmed Maseri

If a human being kills even one sparrow
Then he is bound to give justification to God Almighty for it
And if someone
Is merciful towards the smallest of life forms
And gives that life form the gift of life
Then God bestows His mercy on him/her on the day of judgement.


The essence of Hinduism is the same essence of all true religions : Bhakti or pure love for God and genuine compassion for all beings.- Radhanath Swami
  1. Yogshastra Granth
Dirghmayu : paraha rup-marogyam shlaghniyata.
Ahimsayaha falaha sarvam, kimanyat kamdev sa.

Long Life, Attractive look, good health, Appreciation, recognition and fame, all this are the fruits of non-violent life style and compassion. Really Non Violence is a wish fulfilling cow (Kamdhenu).

2) Yajurveda Granth

Ma hinsistanvi prajaha

Refrain from harming even the smallest of micro-organisms, you must.

Krishna, the all attractive said to Arjun “Oh Arjun, I am the self indwelling in the hearts of all beings.”
When Govinda plays His flute, the peacocks, the animals and trees and plants, all stand still and listen to the transcendental sound of the flute with great attention.  As soon as the deer hear the playing of the flute, they offer respectful obeisances unto the Lord by looking at Him with great affection.

3) Bhagawad Gita

Atmavat sarvabhuteshu yaha pashyati sa pashyati

One who sees all life forms equal to his own life, actually sees.

4) Yajurved Granth

Mitrasyaham chakshusha sarvani bhutani samikshe

All the life forms of the world, With friendliness we see.

5) Skandapurana Granth

Sarvebhutdaya tirtham

Having compassion towards all life forms, Is the holiest of deeds.

Bail Pola, a Hindu festival of Maharashtra where the bullocks who till the farmers land are decorated, worshiped and are given the best of food and treatments for their service in the farm. There is a deep sense of gratitude and reverence the farmers feel for their cattle on this day and they acknowledge the contributions of the bullocks in their life.

6) Padmapurana Granth

Aatmopamashcha Bhuteshu Saha Tirthafalamshnute

Only that person gets the fruits of pilgrimages Who sees all life forms as equal to ones own self And protects them like his own self.

7) Ishwargeeta Granth

Karmana Manasa Vacha, Sarvabhuteshu Sarvadaa.
Akleshjananam Prokta, Ahimsa Paramarshibhi.

Through Deeds, thoughts or words Not causing any life form Any harm any time That is what the wisest of Saints call non-violence.

8) Mahabharat Granth

Yo Dadhyaat Kaajchanan Meru, Krutsnam Chaiv Vasundhraam.
Ekasya Jivitam Dadhyan, Na Cha Tulyam Yudhishthir!.

Oh Yudhishthir! Even if one donates gold equal to the size of an entire Meru Mountain Or donates the entire Earth Still That won’t equate the value of the importance of rescuing a life.

In Rural India, cattle are more than family members.

9) Bhagwad Geeta Granth – Shree Krishna

Pruthivyampyaham Parth! Vayavgno Jalempyaham.
Vanaspatigatshchaaham, Sarvabhutagatopyaham.
Yo Ma Sarvgatam Gyatva, Na Cha Hinsyaat Kadachan.
Tasyaaham Na Pranashyami, Sa Cha Ma Na Pranashyati.

Oh Arjun ! I am the Earth. In the Air, fire, water and even in the vegetation I am present! I am present in all the life forms of the Earth. After understanding this minor truth, whoever refrains from harming and killing any life form. Receives my grace and blessings. I always protect him.

10) Padmapurana Granth

Pravishanti Yatha Nadhyaha Samudramrujuvakraga.
Sarve Dharma Ahimsayam, Pravashanti Tatha Dridham.

The way all rivers finally merge and become one part with the sea, Same way all religions In the end blend into Non-violence.

11) Vishnupurana Granth

Devartiyargmanushyeshu, Punnamni BHagwan Hari.
Striinamni Lakshmi Maitrey!, Nanyorvdhyate Param.

In Demi-Gods, animals and humans, The males are Hari, The females are Goddess Lakshmi. Except for these two there is nothing.

In India, the concern for the rights of calf can be seen in the word ‘Dohan‘.
Do‘ means two, and ‘han‘ means udder. ‘Dohan’ means using only two udders of a cow while taking milk from her. The other two udders are solely reserved for the calf.
Calves in most parts of the world are deprived of their mothers milk, just so that humans can consume it. The cows are exploited each year and are milked in excess..
While this is not the case in rural parts of India. In Rural India the housholder only takes the minimum of the milk his/her family needs. The maximum rest is for the calf.

12) Padmapurana Granth

Sa Snataha Sarvatirtheshu Sarvayagyershu Dikshit.
Abhayam Yen Bhutebhyo, Dattam Sarvasukhavaham.

The gift of life gives happiness to all. The one who gives the gift of life to anyone Gets the blessing of Bathing in holy waters of holy places, And benefits of all the sacrifices made in Yagnya. 

14) Itihas Purana

Govraje Va Vane Champi, Grame Va Nagarepi Va.
Yognim Samutrujen Mudh-Sant Vidhyad Bhramaghatakam.

The one who burns cows, forests, villages or towns, Gets the curse of Bhramhatya (murdering a Guru). 

What inspired Valmiki to become a great poet? The experience of seeing a bird in love shot dead by a hunter. In shock and sadness he cries, “You will find no rest for the long years of Eternity, for you killed a bird in love and unsuspecting!” For days he cannot get these lines out of his head and repeats them over and over. Lord Brahma understands the inspiration that Valmiki has come across and instructs him to retell the life of Rama in a poem.

15) Itihas Purana

Yukamatkunadanshadin, Ye Jantustudatastnum.
Putravat Parirakshanti, Te Naraaha Svargagamin.

Even if lice, ticks and insects like mosquito bites, But still the One who protects them like their own relative or son, Goes to Heaven for that deed.

16) Padma Purana Granth

Pangvandhabaalavrudhaanaam, Rogyanaathadaridrinnaam.
Ye Pushnanti Sada Vaishya!. Te Modante Sada Divam.

The one who nourishes and takes care of the differently abled, blind, children, elderly, diseased, orphan and poor, they remain in supreme bliss in heaven.

17) Itihas Granth

Vane Vanatrunnaahaaraaha, Praanninonaparaadhin.
hantumirchbhat Yo Dinaan, Tam Vidaad Brahmaaghyaaatakam..

The ones who will to kill innocents life forms Which graze in the forests get the sin as bad as of killing a Learned Guru. 

In rural India, it is a tradition to make the first Roti or any food item for Non-human animals first, whether it be cow, goat, dog, crow, pigeon. In every household first the animals are fed and then humans sit to eat.
In Rural India, compassion towards animals is a central tenet such that outside each house one can find a small stone carving where the householders put any vegetable, Roti, fruit for the animals. Then at a specific time the strolling cattle, dogs and bird pass from there and have food from each household.

18) Bhramand Purana Granth

Ahimsa Dharmasya Dvaarmuktam Maharshibhi.

Non-violence is the gateway to righteousness Is what is said by the great learned people. 

19) Skandhpurana Granth

Na Himsa Sadrusham Paapam, Trailokye Sachraachare.
Hinsako Narakam Gachbhte Gachbhdhinsak

In the entire world, like violence, There is no other grave sin. The one who is violent goes to hell And The one who is compassionate goes to heaven. 

20) Bhramand Purana Granth

Sarve Veda Na Tatkuryuha, Sarve yagyaashch Bharat.
Sarve Tirthaabhishekaashch, Yat Kuryaat Praninaam Daya.

The fruits of having reverence to all life forms which one obtains, Those fruits one doesn’t obtain in All the Vedas, All the sacrifices And in having bath in all the holy waters of the holy places. 

Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, a devout Krishna follower, had deep love and compassion for all beings of God in his heart. Whenever he used to pass from forests, animals around used to feel his ecstasy and used to rejoice.

21) Skandhpurana Granth

Ahimsa Parmo Dharma ihoktaha Sarve suribhi.
Tasmaann Himsa Kartavyaa, Narairnarakbhirubhi.

On this land, “non-violence is the most optimum religion” Is what is said by all the wise men. Hence the one who doesn’t wish to suffer in hell, Should refrain from violence. 

22) Bhagwat Granth

Yaavanti Pashuromaani, Pashugaatreshu Bhaarat!
Taavdvessharsahasraani, Pachyante Pashughaataka.

As many cells there are in the body of an animal, For those many thousand years, The murderer of animals Has to burn in the kiln of hell.

23) Manusmriti Granth

Yaavanti Pashuromaani, Taavatkrutvoyatra Maaranam.
Vrutha Pashudhanaha Praanoti, Pretya Janmani Janmani.

As many cells in there are in the body of an animal, Those many deaths dies the killer of that animal.

24) Manusmriti Granth

Sanrakshanaarth Jantunaam Ratraavahani Va Sadaa.
Sharirastyaatyaye Chaiv Sanvikshya Vasundha Charett.

Whether it is day, night or even if one is on their death bed, To protect the life forms, One must always look down on Earth and walk consciously to not harm any life form. 

25) Mahabharat Granth

Ahimsa Saklalo Dharma.

Non-violence is the complete religion.

The Mahabharata war was about to begin.
The armies were taking up positions. The
elephants started marching.  Deafening
noise of conch shells warned of imminent
danger. The dust raised was so thick as to
eclipse the sun. A sparrow had built her
nest in a hillock close to the Kurukshetra
battlefield.  She was staying there with her
nestlings and was concerned for their safety.
She cried wildly and caught the attention
of Lord Krishna. Out of compassion for
the mother bird and her young ones, Lord
Krishna lifted up an elephant bell that he
found nearby and placed it over the bird’s
nest saying: “This will protect you” .  So,
during  the eighteen days of the terrific war,
the mother-bird and her little ones  remained
fully safe. “One who takes refuge at the lotus
feet of the Lord, will be protected by Him.”
Such was the lesson from Mahabharata war.


The Buddha taught that to realize enlightenment, a person must develop two qualities: wisdom and compassion. Wisdom and compassion are sometimes compared to two wings that work together to enable flying or two eyes that work together to see deeply..

1) Majijhamanikay Granth

Paanaatipaatveramani Kusalam

If you will leave violence, Then you will remain happy.

2) Suttanipat Granth

Paane Na Hane Na Ghaatye

Don’t harm any life, Don’t kill any life.

On Buddha’s Vihaar to a town, a jealous relative of Buddha devised a plot to kill Buddha. For that he fed liquor to an elephant and left it in Buddha’s direction after beating it. The overwhelmed elephant in pain and anger rushed towards Buddha. All the disciples except for Aananda fled away for their lives upon the sight of the elephant. At that time, Buddha himself remained totally at ease and composed. He took a look at the elephant and felt great love and compassion for the poor beast. He stood where he was and radiated his loving-kindness towards the elephant.
Buddha’s love and compassion was so strong and powerful that the elephant could feel it. Just a few steps before it was about to charge into the Buddha, it stopped in its path and calmed down. It then trotted towards Buddha and respectfully bow its head.
Buddha stroked the elephant’s trunk and comforted it with soft & kind words.
The elephant was totally tamed.


  1. Bible
Eastern Orthodox Church, the second largest Christian Church. They consider animals and plants and all of nature equally a member with humans in their prayer for a peaceful world.
“If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men” St Francis of Assisi. St Francis of Assisi had great love for animals and environment.
Dr. Albert Schweitzer, a medical missionary and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, wrote that humans were “compelled by the commandment of love … proclaimed by Jesus” to respect all forms of life.

Great Indian Saints

One day, Bhagavān Ramaṇa while picking up his towel from a rack disturbed a sparrows nest. As a result of this, one of the eggs fell on the ground and cracked a little. Ramaṇa was sleepless over this incident. He took that egg with tenderness and nursed the broken egg every day. When the egg fell on the ground, he felt heart broken. He cried out, “Look, what have I done! How sorrow-stricken will be mother sparrow to see its egg broken!” Every day, he used to gaze at this egg and pray for its hatching and for the child of the sparrow coming out of it without any physical handicap. For this purpose, he kept the egg safely inside the towel by wrapping the towel over it. One day when the little bird came out of it, he was happy. He caressed it and passed it on to others!

Sant Tulsidas

Tulsi Daya Na Paarki, Daya Aapko Hoy.
Tum Kisko Mare Nahi, Tune Na Maare Koi.

If you refrain from causing violence onto others, you shall become a sympathizer from an object of sympathy. Then even you wont be harmed.

Maharishi Vyas

Ashtaadashpuraneshu Vyasasya Vachanadvayam.
Paropkaraha Punyaya Paapaya Parapidanam.

It is the crux of all the 18 Purana’s That Doing good deeds gets us blessings, And doing bad deeds gets us sin.

Sant Śankardev saves a deer and shows compassion towards the hunter. Once, Śankardev was passing through a forest with his students while on a pilgrimage. He saw a deer ensnared in a hunter’s net. Very soon, the hunter would have returned and taken the deer for slaughter. Śankardev took pity on the creature and freed it from the net. But, he was worried that he had deprived the hunter of his livelihood. Therefore, he placed a gold coin in the net out of compassion to compensate the hunter for his loss.

Sant Tulsidas

Daya Dharma Ka Mul Hai, Paap Mul Abhiman

Compassion is the root of Righteousness, Ego is the root of sin. Till the time there is life in our body, We should not leave compassion.

Guru Nanak

The ones who consume meat and hen
And consume alcoholic substance.
All the goodness within that person dies
Dhan Siri Guru Har Rai Ji used to treat injured animals and used to give them shelter in his own garden. The animals were then left back in the wild at the right time. The animals used to love to be in his divine presence.

Sant Kabir

Maans Dukar Ke Khaane Hay, Manushya Deh Kyu Khay?
Rati Ek Ghat Me Sannchare, Sahaj Nark Le Jaay.

Meat is the meal of dog. How can human consume that? Even if one tiny morsel of meat enters the stomach, Then it takes one directly to hell.

Sant Kabir.

Jeev Mat Maro Baapura, Sab Ka Ek Hi Praan.
Jeev Hatya Nahi Bhutati, Karod Gau De Daan.

Don’t kill the poor animals Life as how much we value it, is valued by them as well. Even if one donates a thousand cows, One cannot brush of the stains of killing a life.

The compassion of Ramalingam Adigal Vallalar. In the 19th century CE, there lived a charismatic saint Vallalar, close to the temple of Chidambaram. He opposed caste based distinctions among Hindus, promoted vegetarianism, Sevā and feeding the poor as the best worship of Bhagavān. His sermons were very famous and many people traveled from distance places to listen to him.
One day, a village headman from a village at a distance started from his home on a bullock card to listen to the Swami’s sermons. On the way, the bullocks felt hungry and thirsty, but the headman told the cart driver not to stop the cart lest they are late for the sermon. As soon as they reached the residence of Vallalar, the headman rushed in and bowed to the saint. But, the Swami just got up and went outside the room, surprising everyone because he never got up in the middle of a sermon.
When the Swami did not return after a long time, the assembled people went out to check. They saw that the Swami was feeding the bullocks some water and grass and had tears in his eyes. He was telling the animals, “Because of me, you had to suffer and had to go hungry and thirsty.” When the village headman saw this, he realized his mistake and fell at the Swami’s feet. The Swami’s act of piety and compassion made the headman realize that Bhagavān resides even in animals. Therefore, if we cannot be kind to animals, there is no use of attending spiritual sermons.

Each Religion preaches about compassion towards all life forms, lets pledge to fill our hearts with compassion, preached in the ancient wisdom of the learned and lets pledge to make this world a happy place for ALL. Lets pledge to be kind to all animal creation and not harm them by consuming them.

Small acts of kindness can lead to huge ripples of positive change.

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May peace prevail!