Animal Souls


Christine Townend is an artist and writer from Australia who has been working to bring relief to suffering animals in India for over 20 years. Her paintings and writings evoke the soul of animals in a way that profoundly touches the human soul. Below are excerpts from two of her stories accompanied by several of her art works.

Sitting in the Cowshed


When it was evening and there was not any more light with sun, but just faded   sky with a yellow mask due to the last washings, she went and sat in the cowshed. There were four old cows, a young bull, and a calf. The cows were white and grey with humped backs, and scallops of skin like curtains hanging under their throats. They were the dregs and left-overs from the streets of  Jaipur, abandoned because they were not productive, and were too expensive to feed.


Two Cows, Hill End, NSW

They had been rescued by the shelter and brought to this shed, where they stood in contemplative and   royal grandeur. Their sordid past as beggars and wanderers had not tainted  them. Lifting their heads, their long ears pricked forwards, they regarded  her with a high compassion, their great black eyes neither staring nor not staring, but simply observing, detachedly, from beneath the crown of mighty curved horns. There were the outlines of ribs protruding from the gas-blown  stomachs, knocks on the ankles, a twisted hoof, the story of their lives of deprivation, but still they stood with a grand dignity as though they had just stepped from thrones.

Then, as all the turmoil of the day began to settle inside her, and as their   eyes continued to regard her, and as the smell of mashed hay, and the sound of the masticating teeth, the soft hairs of their muzzles, and the burble of rumens, as that ineffable, completely competent peacefulness which refuted any question, as that stateliness imposed itself upon her, she could no longer be vexed about the noise of the passed day. And as she sat among them, she thought of how the scientists had said that cows release endorphins when they masticate, and she realized that the cows were in a state of meditation, and were also imposing this peace upon her, and that they were sharing the   inmost of themselves, and that any person could come any time, if only they realized, into the presence of any cow, anywhere, and they would be healed and soothed, because of the knowing of the cow.



Bullock, Hill End, NSW

Bullock, Hill End, NSW

Touching the Elephant

All of his majesty and dignity and silence were given to me, so that through the touching I was him and in him, and I looked at his eye so far above, which was blind, and small, but did not seem blind, because it was golden brown. And I was filled with grief and shame that he should be chained like this, in the small courtyard, on cement, in the sun, when he was meant to be pacing and stretching under the canopy through grasses which brushed his knees, and bringing branches crashing, and making birds rise and filling the whole earth with his triumph and trumpeting.
 Elephants, Jaipur
But he was here in bondage, sending some secret, thrilling greatness, and I thought that he accepted this bondage, because of his love for the piddling weaklings who crawled around him and did not feed him properly.

Because he could have ranted, and broken his chains and killed whoever walked near him, but instead he stood mildly because of the child who crawled on him, and the brothers who brought him buckets of water sometimes when they deemed it necessary but not at all when he wanted it.

And I knew why elephants were sacred, and in holy books. And perhaps it was the son of the God of the Wind, perhaps it was that Being, Ganesha, who had brought me to the feet of the elephant.

from Animal Stories (Published by Prakrit Bharti Academy, Jaipur, India, 2006)

Also from Christine:

Radical Love for Animals
The Animals Await


See also:

Help in Suffering