Dr Manjiri Prabhu is an award-winning international author, a filmmaker, and the founder and director of the Pune International Literary Festival and the International Festival of Spiritual India, and she has the key to inner peace – spend time with dogs. Drawing on a lifetime of work and her profound spiritual connection with canines, Dr Manjiri Prabhu’s new book, The DOGtrine of Peace, is an absolute must-read.
What inspired you to write about dog adoption, as you usually write mystery fiction?
I write mystery fiction because of my passion for writing and for the mystery genre. It is my profession. But dogs are my life. They symbolise my passion for life. The bond I share with them is very special and surpasses time, distance, and even death. They are my teachers, my gurus. They have taught me the true essence and transitory nature of life, the meaning of immortality, unconditional love, the beauty of giving and receiving, and the power of forgiveness and gratitude.
People tend to take dogs for granted – either as a friendly canine or a nuisance on the street. I had often wondered about this dog-human bond and its purpose. Gradually, I realised that dogs are in our life for a reason, and I saw with crystal clarity that humans and dogs were together for mutual benefit. Our prosperity, good health, and mental peace are interdependent. Both would benefit from each other’s company, and that was the answer to overcoming emotional, intellectual, and physical issues in people. I wanted to share this revelation with the rest of the world.
Also, over the years, I have witnessed so much – incidents of hatred and violence, ill-treatment of dogs, their hunger, their helplessness, their pain and suffering, and I felt that all this was completely unjustified. Dogs deserve to be cherished and honoured. I realised that two main emotions were missing in a majority of people – love and compassion. And that is how the book The DOGtrine of Peace was conceived, with a multi-fold purpose. I felt that it was time to really give dogs their due respect, value, credit, role, and importance in our lives. Simultaneously, it was time to bring back love and compassion in the lives of people and show them the path to spiritual awakening – through loving, serving, and caring for dogs, especially community dogs.
Was there a particular incident that opened your heart to community animals?
I began looking at dogs differently when my first doggie daughter, Sheena, entered my life. She completely changed me. After she came into my life, it was as if I began to see life in other beings (and even things) with new eyes and startling clarity. I began to understand the meaning of existence, of pain, suffering, and loss, and a spontaneous, uncontrollable urge swept over me and my family to do something for community dogs. I saw them as divine beings of light and wisdom, with so much to offer and so much for human beings to learn from. Once this emotion took over me, there was no looking back.
What is the importance of adopting a dog from a shelter or the street over buying from a pet store or breeder?
I have always advocated “adopt, don’t shop”. Firstly, because there are so many community dogs who need a home, who need to be taken care of and to be fed. I think it is our humane duty as human beings to take care of our canine companions. These dogs suit the Indian climate and are smart, intelligent, sturdy, loving, and wonderful friends. On the other hand, I feel that pedigree dogs sold in shops are mostly products of inhumane, money-making breeding stations. Also, they are delicate and need a great deal of attention. If anyone really wants a dog, the most blessed thing they could do is give a community dog a home and a chance to live.
What is the importance of getting companion dogs and cats sterilised (spayed and neutered)?
It is mostly during the mating season and when newborn puppies are around that the possibility of dog bites can occur. If the dog is sterilised, this possibility is completely eliminated. The dog calms down, becomes more friendly and safe around humans, and can live a happy life, minus the six monthly cycle of mating and childbirth. Sterilisation of dogs is an act of caring, a way of assuring the dog a good life, especially the ones on the street. It is a service you would do not only to the animals but also to all mankind.
Your book also speaks about cruelty towards animals. What do you recommend people do if they witness cruelty?
Cruelty in any form is unacceptable and should be treated with urgency. The least you can do is try to talk to the offender and make him or her see what is wrong and right. If that doesn’t work, involve the community, your neighbours, and get them to talk to the person. If even that doesn’t work, you would need to report it to the local authorities, even the police if necessary.
Anything else you’d like to share?
The DOGtrine of Peace is a powerful book of love, compassion, co-existence, and harmony. It shows you how to be vibrationally aligned with nature and the universe, thus opening the path to spiritual awakening and enlightenment and your heart to love and peace. If everyone follows the nine-fold path or the nine sutras of the DOGtrine, I feel that the world would be a happy and peaceful planet.
If you are prepared to share your life with a companion dog, take a page from The DOGtrine of Peace and adopt one from your local animal shelter or community. You’ll save a dog’s life and gain a family member, and if you read The DOGtrine of Peace, you may have a spiritual awakening.