Indra’s story is one of complete inspiration and love. She shares her beautiful life and mission across the world and it is such an honor to host her as Keynote Speaker at NEPA BlogCon this year! We are all in for a truly spectacular day!
Indra is founder of Indraloka Animal Sanctuary and, in 2014, co-organized the Global Coalition of Farm Sanctuaries. Her passion and care for animals is evident in all that she does. By opening up her heart and pouring out her dreams for rescuing, caring, and loving animals in need, she found support from other humans, who care as deeply as she does. Her story on how she is able to connect with readers on a digital platform, gather support, and provide sanctuary for hundreds of animals is sure not to be missed! Get your ticket for BlogCon to explore the immense power sharing our passions can have towards achieving our life’s goals. And below, enjoy a brief glimpse of what is to come!
Indra Lahiri, PhD, Indraloka Animal Sanctuary
1) The animals you love and homes given to them is such an immense gift and accomplishment. Congrats. It must fully warm your heart to feel and know you have helped them. But when you realized you couldn’t do it alone, that there were many more animals in need you couldn’t reach, what were the first steps you took? Did you plan then to be where you are at today?
First of all, thank you for your kind words.
When I realized I couldn’t do it alone, I sat on the ground and cried. At that point in my life, I had completely isolated myself. There was no one left to turn to, and I saw with clarity that I would fail the animals if I tried to continue on my own.
Out of options, out of ideas, and feeling a deep despair, I cried until no more tears were left. Feeling wrung out and lost, I began to remember some of the lessons taught to me years ago. With nothing left to lose, I prayed in the manner I learned from an Anishinaabe Medicine Man many years before. I asked that I be used as a hollow reed, allowing forces of good to work through me. I gave thanks for this beautiful life that I have been given, for my many beloveds, and for my path of service to other beings. I asked for help to be sent to us in a good way.
Soon after, a Buddhist Llama befriended me. I remember pouring my heart out to him, sharing my fears that the sanctuary would fail. Where could all of the animals go? What was to become of them? He laughed gently, and explained to me that each of them had incredible karma. Each of them was one of billions to survive the terrible fate of almost every other farmed animal on earth. He explained that their collective karma was far too powerful for Indraloka ever to fail.
I took heart, and renewed my efforts to live up to the glorious opportunity I had been given: to rescue, live amongst, and serve these precious beings. I began to truly see the incredible beauty and blessings that surround us. And doors started opening.
One of those doors brought a wonderful, wise human into our midst, who threw all of his energy and strength and spirit into helping the sanctuary to succeed. He read one short piece I had written, and looked straight into my eyes. “You need to write. Even if there is nothing else that I say that you ever listen to again, you must listen to this. You need to write.”
So I wrote. I wanted share the sacred experiences I had with these beautiful animals that I call my beloveds. I wanted others to know the magic of living alone, in perfect harmony, with so many absolutely remarkable beings. I did not know if anyone would read any of it, but I felt driven to write it.
Today, I am humbled when we travel around the world to advocate for the animals, and repeatedly people tell me how the stories have impacted their lives. I am so grateful that people take the time to read these words, and to share these experiences with me.
The answer to your last question, did I plan then to be where I am today, is yes and no. Yes, in the sense that I planned to do whatever it takes to advocate on behalf of compassion for all beings. No, in the sense that I never dreamed the work grow to a global scale, nor did I ever dream it would be so endlessly joyous and inspiring. Truly, my prayers have been answered.
2) So many accounts of rescued animals fill your blog and site. What is the most memorable animal story for you though? Do you have a tale of an animal you continue to think about? If so, why do you think it is this one which touches your heart most?
I love each of them so much, and I remember with great tenderness each of the 733 that I have rescued and then outlived, most of whom died in my arms. Yet, the first pig I ever rescued, Pigmont, will always stand out. It was Pigmont that opened my eyes to the plight of farmed animals, and it was because of him that I shifted Indraloka’s focus entirely to rescuing farmed animals. Pigmont was my only “only”. I used to make sure that every animal I rescued was paired up with a rescued buddy. But Pigmont had no buddy, and he simply did not bond with any of the others that I tried to pair him with. He came into my life at a particularly painful time, and I spent hours drawing comfort from his presence.
When I went back to the house to sleep (which I did not do every night, but I did do when the barn was too cold or I was too stiff to sleep on hay bales), he would call to me.
“Oink,” I would hear through my open window.
“Oink,” I’d reply, “I love you beautiful Pigmont, my pignificent friend.”
“Oink, oink,” he’d reply.
I realized I wasn’t an “only” anymore, and neither was he. Pigmont and I were the best of friends. I made sure every day of his life was filled with as much joy as I could bring him, and he did the same for me. The last words he heard, as he died in my arms a very happy, very old pig were, “I love you Pigmont, my beautiful, precious pignificent friend. Thank you.”
Every single creature I have rescued since then has been in tribute to Pigmont’s precious soul. And I know now that I will never be an “only” again.
3) You’ve traveled internationally to speak on the necessity for neglected animals to be cared for. Are you surprised this issue is so wide spread and such a global concern? Do you feel the world is coming and working together for remedies on this common cause?
No, I am not at all surprised at the widespread nature of animal exploitation, although I am saddened by it. As long as we human beings fail to recognize our own true nature, our actions towards the world around us—and especially to those who are more vulnerable—will continue to be unkind, unintelligent, and senseless. I hope that someday soon we will collectively recognize that we harm ourselves when we harm others, and that only by saving our fellow earthlings can we save ourselves.
I do agree with you that more people than ever are coming together to create a compassionate world where humans and other animals can live together in peace. However, we have a massive, global system to change. This will not be easy or simple, and it will require all of us to do our part. I do believe, though, that until we create true world peace amongst all of us who share the earth—humans and non-humans alike—we as humans will never be truly free.
4) It seems the digital world was one of the key tools used to share your dreams, gain awareness, find support, and provide solutions for animals in need. Although I feel you would have accomplished much towards offering sanctuary for animals from strength apparent in your spirit, do you think it would have been more difficult without the connective digital platforms we live with today? How do you feel the internet helps, if it did?
I have mixed feelings about the internet. Digital and social media are wonderful tools for small nonprofits. We are able to reach people all over the world easily and inexpensively. Indraloka would simply never have grown to the organization it is today without digital and social media—especially the blog. I have received heartwarming messages from readers on every continent who share how the animals of Indraloka have inspired them to make changes in their own lives, to stand up for compassion, and to reconnect with who they truly are. By the way, I am eternally grateful for those messages, and I hope readers will keep them coming!
On the other hand, it is easier than ever now for people to put out false information, and even to plagiarize other people’s work. It is also much easier for people to be unkind to one another when they are not interacting face to face. I think the key here is to remember our integrity and to always be kind, no matter the circumstance.
5) You have experienced amazing successes and achievements in helping animals and educating others about the joy found in loving animals. However, I’m sure you are not one to stop until every animal has found a home and is being loved. How can others help spread the word to help you continue such a worthy cause? What are some of your visions and goals for the future?
Thank you for asking about this. Truly, we could not rescue any animals, nor care for the ones we have, nor advocate on their behalf, without the generous and kind support of compassionate individuals. We are also always thankful when people share our stories and videos, spread the word about our work, participate in our events and volunteer. And of course, we are always extremely grateful for donations.
On a global level, the single most important thing that we, as people who love and care about animals, can do to help them is to leave them off of our plates. Raising animals for food and dairy is a cruel business. Even on humane and organic farms, animals are forced to live unnaturally, and treated as if their feelings and their lives do not matter. This industry is no kinder to the farmers and workers than it is to the animals. This is tough, dirty work and workers often suffer terribly. At Indraloka, we advocate for a world in which all of us, human and nonhuman alike, live in harmony with nature and one another.
Research has shown us time and again that those who victimize, abuse, and even murder other humans begin by doing the same to animals. It is clear that brutalizing one life makes it easier to brutalize the next. If we follow that chain of logic, we can see that there is a major problem with raising and killing animals for food, or for their milk and eggs. We know from countless undercover investigations that animals raised for food experience brutality on a daily basis, and that the transport system and slaughterhouses continue that brutality. So how then can we expect to live in a peaceful society? We are either peaceful with everyone or with no one. Violence breeds violence.
The lives of farm animals do matter. Their suffering matters. And we get so many more benefits from being their friends than from causing them pain. We have an opportunity to heal the earth, heal ourselves, save people from starving, and create a kinder world for animals. We should take it.
Your loving passion and commitment flows through your answers so touchingly, Indra. Thank you so much for sharing. The power in your words is sure to send ripples of love felt by all. I actually can’t help but to believe there is a Tsunami of love coming, as more people join to help you with your dreams. What beautiful waves they will be. What a beautiful heart you have.
I think I should remember to bring tissues to BlogCon with me…:) What a beautiful and overflowing day it will be.