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Forest Voices of India, a U.S. 501 C 3 charity, helps support four charities in south India.

The names of these Indian charities are – The WRRC – Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre (in Bangalore); Blue Cross of India, in Chennai; the CP Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation, and its sister organization, CPREEC – the CPR Environmental Education Centre (in Chennai).

Another bonnet macaque - from south India.

The WRRC, in Bangalore, rescues, cares for, and releases back to the wild, orphaned or injured wildlife, especially forest animals. They rescue and release several thousand wild animals each year.

Blue Cross takes in and finds new homes for homeless dogs and cats, as well as other domestic animals, rescuing and caring for 10,000 animals each year.

The C.P. Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation and CPREEC are primarily educational organizations. They run several schools, including elementary schools for children. In India, schools are not free and are not paid for by the government. The parents pay for their children to go to school.

These schools, run by the C.P. Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation, provide scholarships for the children whose parents cannot afford to pay. In addition, the Foundation also provides around one thousand scholarships each year for children to attend other schools in the city of Chennai. Without this help, these children from poor families would not be able to attend school at all and would not receive any education. With this help, they have a bright future, filled with possibilities. They can go on to a university to become doctors, attorneys, accountants, teachers, or whatever career they choose. Many fields are open to them.

In addition, the CPRA Foundation also runs programs each year for around 10,000 young people – mostly of high school age, in six states in south India – to go on excursions out into the wilderness or forest areas – to do scientific projects to study the eco-systems. This takes these young people out into nature and not only gives them scientific knowledge, but also a profound awareness of the environment and a lifelong love of the natural world.

All of the educational work of the C.P. Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation and CPREEC instills in young people a profound connection with the world of nature – which, of course, benefits both the planet earth and the young people themselves.

Elephants by the Karumba people

Why India?

Why ‘Forest Voices of India”?

Well, India offers an alternate perspective.

In what follows, we are about to make a few generalizations. These observations – about eastern culture and western culture – are not true of everyone all the time, in every circumstance. And yet, there is some truth in these observations. Though painted with a broad brush – they do highlight some general truth and reality.

We who have grown up in the western world – as part of the western-oriented world culture – have, often, been conditioned to see the world in a certain way: The way we see it – human beings are at the top of the ladder. We are taught that everything should be organized to promote human interests — a human future, human well-being. Laws benefit humans; the structure of societies benefits humans. If we choose to go to the moon or to Mars, that will be for the benefit of humans. The future is for humans.

That is how we are generally taught to perceive the universe.

Eastern culture – particularly the very ancient traditions of India, which go back several thousand years – has a different perspective – seeing humans and human awareness as being a part of nature, as belonging to nature, as being children of the earth – along with all of the animal kingdom, the plant kingdom, and the rocks themselves – even the mountains, the rivers and the oceans. We are not meant to rule over these other beings – we are one way of being among all the other ways of being. We are meant to live in harmony – as a part of nature – not dominant, not subservient, but as one life form among all the children of the earth – of the universe.

To see ourselves as superior – along the lines of Charles Darwin – or in general western philosophy, is to have a mistaken view of the universe. We are actually not the pinnacle of creation. We are not the only conscious life form on earth. Your dog, your cat, your gerbil, or the wild birds outside your window also have a profound consciousness – they know and are aware of things which may escape us, as humans, entirely.

The other life forms around us

Your dog knows which of your friends are genuine – and who is not to be trusted. Your cat has never forgotten the ways of the wild. She knows the nature of the wind and the changing of the seasons. Those birds, who we might think have such a small consciousness, can migrate for hundreds of miles – to places where they have never been – and return to the same tree where they were born the following spring. Your dog knows when there will be an earthquake and has the ability to be aware of the intricacies of fifty to 100 times as many smells, with all the information that accompanies them – as we do. They can find lost people or criminals – we cannot do that. They have connections to the reality around us, whereas we are all too often trapped within our human minds – and alienated from reality.

Yet we, in our own self-glorification, tend to assume that we are wiser, smarter, somehow more “advanced” – even though our knowledge is often confined to the purely cerebral and, indeed, may have pretty much lost contact with the world of nature all together. There is so much knowledge that we miss – but nevermind, we do write so many important books and we have such a lofty opinion of ourselves. We write laws to benefit ourselves, and we naturally assume that we are the pinnacle of all creation.

Ancient eastern thought

Eastern thought, especially in India, over 5,000 – or seven or eight thousand years (depending on when we start counting) simply does not subscribe to these self-delusions about the supremacy of humanity.
Patterns in rice powder[/caption]

There are many simple, day-to-day, examples of this. For example. It is a common practice for Indian housewives, early in the morning, to sprinkle outside their homes, beautiful designs – mostly flower patterns – made of rice flour. These beautiful designs have another purpose: they feed the ants. It is the housewife’s way of taking care of even the very least of the creatures of the natural world. Every day, as her first activity in the morning she creates a beautiful artistic pattern which has the important benefit of feeding small creatures. To her, the ants are not a nuisance, not an irritation – she does not reach for a can of insecticide to “get rid of the “invasion” of ants. No, instead, she looks upon all creatures as worthy of compassion, of help – she feeds them – and creates beautiful designs at the same time. How typically Indian! How much we could learn from this compassionate way of seeing our fellow creatures.

Indian spiritual awareness is profound – it is not simplistic. It exists on many, many levels of reality. It does not place human beings on a pedestal (a pedestal which, by the way, may be fast dooming the earth to destruction as we use the earth up to benefit ourselves).

Worshipping trees – and the beings of nature

Indian people – today, as always – worship trees. You cannot go to a Hindu temple without first encountering the temple tree – often surrounded by other sacred trees and sometimes even sacred forests. The people worship these trees. They pray to them. They stop to wrap a sacred cloth around them – or to hang a little trinket as a token of devotion – in the branches, as they pray, asking the tree for blessings – or thanking the tree for prayers answered.

Every Hindu God has, as part of his or her identity – an animal companion – who is not in any way inferior, but who expresses a powerful, magical aspect of that God’s essence or divinity.

Garuda, the great eagle is the vehicle of Vishnu.

Hamsa, the swan (or sometimes the goose – they are closely related) is always the faithful companion of Saraswati – the Goddess of learning and culture.

The parrot, as the guardian of the forest, accompanies Minakshi, the beautiful Goddess worshipped in south India, especially in her temple at Madurai. Minakshi is also the fish goddess who has emerged from out of the sea.

Krishna is the cowherd who guards and protects his herd of cows, keeping them safe – he does this also for people.

Shiva, the great transcendent power of the universe, is often shown with the mighty bull – who represents his power and might.

Literally millions of Gods and Goddesses, in their varying names and forms, are worshipped by the people of India – all with their accompanying animals – who are sacred beings, who carry the power of divinity within them.

Human beings, who do not feel that they are in any way superior to these sacred beings, worship them instead.

Adi Sesha, which means The Remaining One, goes on from world to world, eon to eon – the one who remains – as all other beings come into being and then fade away as each era ends. Adi Sesha – the great divine cobra remains – from time to time – always.

Seeing the worth of all species

To the people of India, animals are not products – to be grown then sacrificed – eaten or sold for money. It is not just cows that are worshipped. Life is worshipped.

Yes, there has been much western influence – and today there is factory farming in India and even the use of animals in laboratories. However, the respect and love for the spiritual essence of each animal has still not vanished altogether.

The innate ability to see the worth and value of all species and all life forms remains – even today – in hearts of Indian people. Despite the corruption of modern times which has seeped into Indian thought, over time, the basic reverence for life remains – in the kindness and in the traditions of Hinduism.

And this can still be seen by anyone who takes the time and makes the effort to talk with people in India or from India – and to read the laws of India that pertain to wildlife and to all animals, which are among the most enlightened laws in the world.

Let’s not assume that everyone in the world is the same. That is not true. Let’s take the time to be aware of cultural differences. The laws and the perceptions common as state laws in the U.S. still do, almost universally, consider animals generally (except for pets like cats and dogs) to be livestock to be exploited by humans – or, in the case of wild animals, they are considered “resources” – as in the words which most states have – “the Department of Natural Resources” – or something similar. The term itself implies that animals are to be used for the benefit of people.

This is simply not the case all over the world. It is not the case in India, and it does not have to be the case anywhere.

© Copyright, Forest Voices of India, 2023

Gateway of Light

A Forest Voices of India presentation…

Saturday, October 28, at 2 pm

Gateway of Light

Josh Baird

Listen to the music of Josh Baird, discover the science of light, space, reflections, landscapes, and the fascinating history of art through the ages.

At the Nomad Café, at the Port of Entry, Kanab, UT

“Sir, I don’t think I can do that.” The frogs, still alive, had been brought into the classroom for dissection, and the Science Master was looking over the frog that had been placed right in front of the young Chinny Krishna. The frog was alive and the task at hand was first to kill the frog with a pin – and then to dissect it.

It had been an eventful time already for thirteen-year-old Chinny. Just a few months before, the boy had watched in alarm as a bus carrying members of the football team capsized. Without hesitating, Chinny, who was big for his age, ran straight to the bus, and pulled first one, then the other, of two brothers, both team players, out of the bus. The boys were bleeding badly, and Chinny’s white shirt was drenched in blood. Off they went to the hospital. Thanks to his quick action, both boys’ lives were saved.

Shortly after that dramatic rescue – at St. Joseph’s European High School, in Bangalore, in the south of India, the Science Master stood by Chinny’s table, requiring him to kill an animal. Coming from a family with a deep love for animals, this was a task that he simply could not do. He repeated, “Sir, I can’t do that.” The Science Master, unhesitatingly, sent him off to the principal’s office, with a note that said simply “Six of the best!”

“Six of the best” meant six strikes on one hand with a cane. Corporal punishment was very common for schoolboys in those days – in the 1950’s. The principal recognized him and asked, “Aren’t you the one who pulled the two boys out of the bus a few weeks ago?”

During their conversation, the young Chinny attempted to make the point that biology is the study of life, and that it wasn’t logical to study life by killing an animal. This point though didn’t seem to resonate very much.

The principal did not cane him; however, he did say firmly, about killing and dissecting the frog “You have to do it. I don’t think you can continue in this school if you refuse.”

Out the door

For refusing to harm the frog, Chinny was expelled from school, although he was allowed to complete the school year before leaving.

The reason he was allowed to stay until the end of the year was that if he had been expelled halfway through the year, he would not have been admitted to any other school that year, and that would have had lasting repercussions for his entire future. As a student in the eleventh grade, the next year he would be in the twelfth grade. His attendance at school would have had a bearing on which university he could attend – and on all his future prospects in life.

Chinny and his older brother, Suresh, who was also a brilliant student, were the only two boys in the school who were vegetarians and who did not eat meat. It was known that their family cared about animals.

St Joseph’s was a boarding school in Bangalore, India. Chinny’s parents lived in the neighboring state of Tamil Nadu, with his younger sister. His mother had spent a great deal of time and effort getting him into that school, which was an excellent school, and she was really devastated by what had happened. It was hard to talk on the phone in India in those days, so they exchanged letters. Clearly, she was profoundly upset and very worried about her son’s future.

Chinny knew of another school called Clarence High School. So, he took it upon himself to speak with the principal there and explain the situation. The principal at that school was from Australia and had been a lifeguard there. He did not seem too bothered by the frog incident. He pointed out to Chinny that, if he were admitted to Clarence High School, he would still lose six marks, which would be subtracted from his grade. Chinny was fine with that. He joined the school.

A bright future despite a rocky start

The young Chinny’s future life was, in fact, spectacularly successful. After high school, he spent five years in the U.S., first attending a university and then working as a research scientist. He then returned to India and started a highly successful company that created a global business, Aspick Engineering, which has among its many remarkable projects, manufactured some of the parts used in India’s satellites.

The young Chinny also succeeded his father, Captain Sundaram, as the head of Blue Cross of India, which was the first and remains the largest and best known of the thousands of modern animal rescue groups that are active in India today.

Dr. Chinny Krishna, along with a few others, has been instrumental in the passage of India’s very enlightened animal welfare laws and regulations. He is a dynamic force in the worldwide animal welfare movement.

Finally banning dissection

In 1998, thanks in large measure to the hard work fought over many decades by Dr. Chinny Krishna against experimentation on animals, dissection was finally banned in all schools in India below university level. The first step, in 1996, had been to make dissection optional for the students, then, finally, in 1998, dissection was finally banned for good.

Dr. Chinny Krishna also created the computer program Compu-frog – and other programs featuring animals commonly used in dissection. These inventive programs enabled students to learn all the information required – through computer images alone — without any real animals being killed or dissected.

Continued in Part Two….

Sixty years later…

The fight to ban killing and dissecting animals in schools was just one aspect of much progress in protecting animals in India; especially dogs and cats, but also cows, horses, dolphins, circus animals, birds, and wildlife.

For his outstanding contribution to animal welfare over many decades, Dr. Chinny Krishna was recently given the prestigious Prani Mitra award, as well as the Winsome Constance Kindness Trust Award.

When he was awarded the Prani Mitra Award, his old school, St Joseph’s, honored him with the very special OBA Life Time Achievement Award. Remarkably, this was the same school that had once expelled him – over sixty years before.

India’s reverence for animals has been a theme throughout thousands of years of history. India has a long history of kindness and reverence for the world of nature and for animals. The efforts and vision of Chinny Krishna and others have served to ensure that this fundamental heritage of kindness remains firmly at the center of India’s laws and regulations.

The school that had expelled him for refusing to kill a frog took this opportunity to honor his life and accomplishments.

As part of the ceremony, in a beautifully written testimony, St Joseph’s school recounted a number of Dr. Chinny Krishna’s life achievements.

Here are just a few paragraphs from the citation. (They have been edited for length):

“At a time when television was a rarity even in urban India, your company Aspick Engineering participated in setting up TV sets for community viewing in schools and Panchayat centers in 2,400 villages in six States: Bihar, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Rajasthan. The life of the dish was supposed to be 15 years but, remarkably, 45 years later, they are still in use…

You campaigned to have dissection banned in schools and colleges. Dissection is now banned all over India in all schools below the university level.

In 1964 you pioneered the first population management anti-rabies program for street dogs in the world, called Animal Birth Control – Anti Rabies, or ABC-AR in short. This was the world’s first – and longest continuing — street dog spay/neuter program – it continues through today. The ABC program is the national policy of India – and an example for many nations.

You served as Vice Chairman of the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) from 2000 to 2016… You were a Member of CPCSEA (Committee for the Purpose of Control of Scientific Experiments on Animals) from 1996 to 2002 and later from 2010 to 2017… Even today, you continue to serve as Chairman Emeritus, Blue Cross of India, and Chairman Emeritus, Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organization (FIAPO).

Dr. Chinny Krishna, you are a true exemplar of the spirit… of St. Joseph’s Boys’ High School.

May your benevolent presence continue to cast a protective shadow over animals in India for many more years to come, keeping them safe from abuse and ensuring that they live life on their terms.”

In his lifelong dedication to animals, the boy who wouldn’t kill a frog – Dr. Chinny Krishna – continues to be a powerful voice and a presence for the protection of India’s animals and an inspiration to all of us, around the world, who seek peace, blessings, and well-being for all animals.

By Sharon St Joan

Horse Rescue

Horse Rescue flyer

Another bonnet macaque - from south India.

The town of Harohalli is a 40 minute drive southeast of Bangaluru in south India. On May 10, 2023, a kind person took the time to stop and rescue a bonnet macaque there who was having trouble and clearly wasn’t doing well. She was brought to the WRRC (Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre) in Bangaluru, adjacent to the Bannergatta Forest.

There was an uncomfortable swelling on one side of her abdomen. She wasn’t just simply an overweight macaque because the swelling was only on one side. It looked to Dr. Roopa Satish like it might be an intestinal hernia.

At the nearby Zoo hospital at the Bannerghatta Biological Park, Dr. Umashankar and Dr. Vijay took an x-ray and were able to confirm that diagnosis.

Surgery and recovery

The following day, back at the WRRC Clinic, Dr. Roopa and Dr. Nirupama performed surgery, using general anesthesia, to correct the hernia.

All went as planned, the wound healed well, and there were no post-operative complications.

Of course, macaques love fruit and she was kept on a half diet of soft food like banana, papaya, and cucumber. Each day she got better and regained more of her strength.

In just 15 days she was back to feeling fine again, and as macaques tend to do, she removed her own sutures. On June 21, she’ll be taken back home to where she was found in Harohalli to rejoin her family and friends.

Good to go

Thanks to her kind rescuer and the skilled surgical intervention at the WRRC, she’ll be able to live a happy life now, active in the wild and free from pain.

Her condition had been serious. Initially, she may have suffered from a bite or trauma which tore the abdominal muscles, causing significant internal damage. If it hadn’t been corrected, as she grew older, she would have been very susceptible to serious intestinal problems that would only get worse with time. Now she is healed and can live a normal happy life of 20 to 25 years.

Bonnet macaques are native to south India. They are named for the distinct bonnet of fur on the top of their heads.

Dr. Roopa writes, ”We are glad to send her home in 41 days after a major abdominal surgery.”

Congratulations to Dr. Roopa, Dr. Nirupama, and all at the WRRC!


You can help monkeys like this and other wild animals at the WRRC with your donation. Thank you for caring!


By Sharon st Joan

© Forest Voices of India, 2023


Hulimavu, an area of southern Bangaluru, a city in the south of India, features luxury shopping, restaurants, and upscale homes.

A sacred site, the Hulimavu Cave Temple, is also located there. Inside a single giant rock, clean, elegant passageways extend though the cave and lead to areas of worship for three deities: Shiva; Devi, the Goddess; and Ganesha. The temple has been declared to be a 2,000 year old single rock cave.

India, of course, is filled with many thousands of extremely ancient sites.


Two baby birds

On the evening of June 1st, 2023, two small young baby birds (who, as far as we know, knew nothing of the ancient history of their region) unfortunately took a tumble and fell from a significant height on to the grass below their nest.

Two kind residents of Hulimavu came across them, but, at first, the people were not quite sure what to do to help them. Early the next morning, they thought of bringing them to the WRRC (the Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre), and they rushed them there as soon as they could.

Dr. Roopa Satish examined the little birds on arrival, judging them to be about a month old. She found no external injuries; however, internal injuries could not be ruled out because they had fallen from a significant height.


Breakfast helps a lot

They were definitely hungry, and the two were fed banana and papaya, which they eagerly gobbled up. Soon they were eating on their own and making happy sounds. White-cheeked barbets make an energetic, repetitive call, which when they are grown up, resounds through the forest.

They live especially in this area of southern India, in the tall forests. Their main range is along the mountains of the Western Ghats. These birds rarely leave the trees, and they obtain most of the water they need from eating fruit.

Within two weeks the little birds were moved into a large aviary to practice their flying skills. It’s important that they have adequate space to practice so that they become strong fliers.

They flew well naturally and started flying with ease almost immediately.


Oops! Back to freedom, one way or another

As can sometimes happen with lively, active birds, one of them escaped when the keeper came in to put down their feed. They could see the escapee hanging around, almost daring his companion to escape as well.

Dr. Roopa writes, “Sure enough, in two days the lonesome twin in the aviary used the same old trick and escaped between the legs of the keeper who by now knew the shenanigans of the barbet.

This escape flight between a human’s legs is a very daring act for a shy timid bird like the barbet. The fact that both the twins managed it successfully fills us with pride for their skill and bravery.”

Soon, these brave birds will find their way out of the large area of the WRRC (where hundreds of birds and animals are cared for). They will fly into the large, deep Bannerghatta Forest, which is adjacent to the WRRC, where they can expect to lead their wild lives in freedom, eating fruit and singing their enchanting, happy notes for many years to come.


Photo Credit: WRRC Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre, Bangaluru, India

© Copyright, Forest Voices of India, 2023