Question: Sometimes so-called unevolved things — for example, a dog — can have such noble qualities. A dog might give its life to save somebody. On the other hand, a human being that is more evolved might have such petty qualities.

Sri Chinmoy: God has given each individual good qualities. If the individual does not use those good qualities, bad qualities loom large. Good and bad, day and night, light and shade each individual has. Because we are human beings, we are more evolved than animals. But some human beings are infinitely worse than animals. For example, if you give a dog a little food two times a day, it is satisfied. But each human being has to be supplied with new food, most delicious food every day. Otherwise that person may get angry. The poor dog is getting the same meat year after year. But a human being will try to get better food, more delicious food. Is this evolution?

The human mind is highly evolved, but insecurity, jealousy, pride, anger and so forth play their role. When you see a large herd of sheep, immediately you notice how gracefully, how peacefully they are staying together. If one thousand human beings are together, there will be so much screaming and fighting. They will do many unkind things. There will not be any peaceful feeling among them. In that way, the sheep are more developed.

You have said that in many cases, animals, especially dogs, have given their lives for their masters. Many, many more animals have given their lives and will give their lives for human beings than human beings will give for animals. Pets can be so affectionate to their master, so fond of their master, that they can give their lives.

Just recently I read a book about animals that have given their lives and how these animals suffered. Animals far surpass human beings when it comes to sacrifice. As human beings, sometimes we get a kind of unconscious, malicious pleasure when somebody suffers. I have come to realise that in human life there is no such thing as friendship; it is all rivalry. If your friend has achieved something, immediately your heart burns. Unless and until you have established divine friendship, rivalry always exists. If you establish divine friendship, you are safe. At that time you feel oneness. Otherwise, so-called human friendship is made of rivalry and jealousy. Outwardly if your friend achieves something, you will give a broad smile and congratulate him, but inwardly you are cursing your friend or cursing yourself because you could not do that very thing. You feel that you should have done that thing or something better. Animals do not have that kind of developed mind. True, animals can be jealous, but they are not directly entering into the world of jealousy and cursing the person who has achieved something.

There are many, many ways animals can help us in our evolution. Again, in the process of evolution, we are higher because we are conscious of God. The poor animals are not conscious of God. Either we pray to God or meditate on God; it is up to us. But we are conscious that there is somebody in Heaven or inside us who is watching us, while animals are not. Unconsciously they are doing many, many good and divine things.

Again, this does not apply to all animals. In my own case, my dog Kanu used to take my suffering. When I used to get very painful stomach upset, he would sit on my stomach and take it away. So many times when I was miserable with very serious problems, he would come and sleep right beside my head, very, very affectionately. Then my problems would be solved. How many times he took away my real physical headache and my stomach pain. When he used to sit next to me, my problems would go away. I was able to see light on how to solve the problems. This was Kanu. I have kept Kanu in the soul’s world. There he is so huge. My mother takes care of him.

When I was young, we had a dog called Bhaga. Bhaga looked like a tiger. He was very big and very, very kind. He used to guard the whole Ghosh family — five or six houses. When we left Shakpura for good, Bhaga would not stay behind. He entered into the Kharnaphuli River and followed us. Our boat was sailing and he was swimming to catch up. Finally, we put him in the boat with us. We stayed for two or three days at our maternal uncle’s place and Bhaga was so happy. Then we had to go to Pondicherry and we could not take him with us. Our relatives were so kind to this dog, but in one week Bhaga died. That was Bhaga’s sacrifice for our family.

Something more: my physical father would have died at least three or four months before he actually departed had it not been for one of our cows. We had a number of cows, but two cows I remember, Surabhi and Nandini. They were very affectionate to each other. Surabhi was more developed than Nandini. Somehow Surabhi knew that my father would be dying soon. Surabhi did not have any disease, yet she died four or five months before my father. My father lived on earth four or five months more only because of Surabhi’s sacrifice. At that time, I did not know. Later, when I came to the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, because of my God-realisation, I was able to see in the inner world why Surabhi died untimely.

We had another dog named Teghā. Our house was in Shakpura and my aunt’s place was in Dhalghat. Teghā used to carry messages from one house to the other. My sister used to write down a message. Then the servant would go with Teghā for a half mile or so. Immediately Teghā knew what he should do. The servant would come back and Teghā would go all the way to my aunt’s place, three miles away, and deliver the message.

If an animal is evolved and very close to its master, then that animal can do something very, very special to prevent a serious calamity from taking place either in the family or among the very dear ones. That kind of supreme sacrifice an animal can make.