The understanding that the abuse of animals—like all forms of cruelty—is an affront to the Creator and a factor that contributes to the corruption of human nature, is not a recent phenomenon. At various times, in various places, saints and sages have spoken and written about the immorality of such behavior. Their teachings reached large numbers of the people of their own time only to be "purged" by subsequent generations.
The saying that those who win the battle often rewrite history, proved true for those who believed that "might is right" and power means the ability to rule, without restraint, over the powerless. They warred against those who taught the necessity of compassion, concern, and care for all creatures and portrayed them as heretics or criminals: as enemies of the established order. And, ultimately, the place in history of these compassionate ones was reduced to little more than a footnote. This, in spite of the fact that their influence was widespread and effective at various times in the course of history.
This issue of HUMANE RELIGION reviews some books that have not been largely circulated although they provide much information and insight into the history of animal/human relatedness. The authors approach the subject from their own unique point of view, but each provides information which shows that the struggle for the rights of animals, and for their welfare, has been an ongoing issue in the spiritual development of human beings for thousands of years.