In my school, Vaishnavism, we base our teachings on the Bhagavad Gita. Krishna tells aham bija prada pita, that the one supreme truth, the one Supreme Lord of all living beings, of all religions, is the father and mother of every living being. Mamaivamsho jiva loke jiva bhuta sanatana, that the source of life, that person who is seeing through the eyes and hearing through the ears, who’s feeling and experiencing, who’s animating the body, that living force is a part of God, that living force is sacred. To the degree we actually come in contact with our own spiritual essence, our own real self, naturally we will feel concern for all living beings. It’s not just a matter of intellectual understanding; reverence for life comes from the heart, because in fact we are all connected.
Recently I was in a train from New York City to Washington D.C. And, a few seats ahead of me there were two men talking. I was trying to do my meditation, my chanting, but they were speaking really aloud. They were really upset, because from what they were reading in the newspaper, in one oriental country there was a slaughter house for dogs. They were outraged about how people in these oriental countries were uncivilized and cruel. “Can you imagine they are killing dogs?!” As I was listening, I was feeling for all those dogs who were being slaughtered, and I was also feeling for all of those life loving people in the form of animals who aren’t even acknowledged in their suffering and death. Gandhi said that the moral value of any society can be evaluated by how people treat animals. And my beloved guru Srila Prabhupada said that the barometry of spirituality of any society is how happy the cows and animals are.