Mālatī: Śrīla Prabhupāda, you said that the animals are not subject to the laws of the state, that if they steal something, they are not punished. But in our country, even if a person has a mouse in his house, a little mouse, he sets some trap and he kills him for stealing food.
Prabhupāda: That is not punishment. That is to stop the disturbance. By law... There is no such law that "When there is a rat in your house, you should catch it and kill it." Law does not say. Is there any law like that?
Prabhupāda: Then that is another thing.
Mālatī: But this country had it into the laws.(?)
Prabhupāda: Yes, but sometimes... That depends on the person. Sometimes... Those who are pious persons, they know that these rats, they are also hungry and they should be given some food. That is the vision of the pious person. And that is stated in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, that in your house you should see not only to the welfare of your children. Even there is a lizard, there is a rat, even there is a snake, you should see how he is also comfortably situated. That is spiritual communism. In Vṛndāvana still, a snake found in the house is never killed, snake. Still a rat is never killed. If you kill a rat in Vṛndāvana, then so many people will come: "Oh, you are committing such sinful acts. You are killing a rat." That depends on the mentality of the person. You can take care of this animal, I mean to say, against the disturbance created by this animal, but you cannot kill them. That is not. But when it is unavoidable, we have to do like that. But as far as possible we should avoid. We have heard from our father that his elder brother in the village had a cloth shop, and there were rats. So at night he would keep a big bowl of rice in the middle of the shop, and the rats will eat whole night. They would not commit any harm to the cloth. They respect it. They are also hungry, they are also living entities. They have also right to live, to eat. Īśāvāsyam idaṁ sarvam (ISO 1). Everything. They are God's creatures. The food is not only meant for you, that you shall simply eat rice and not allow to the rats and cats. No. That is not Vedic injunction. You will find in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. You can take precaution. After all, they are animals. But you cannot kill.
Himāvatī: But then if you think further, that is that if you are going to make a program to feed the animals in your house, then won't more and more animals come into your residence? Suppose I feed these rats and I go on feeding them. Won't more and more rats come?
Prabhupāda: Well, the rats will be fed. Either you give or not, it will steal. So that is not the problem. But if you give them food, they will... Of course, that is Western philosophy, that because the animals are increasing, they should be killed. We Indians also, we have taken that view—because we cannot give protection to the cows, they must be sent to the slaughterhouse. That is the modern view. But that is not injunction of the Vedas. The Vedas says that everyone has right to live, every living entity. That is going on not only in consideration of the animals—even in human beings. Just like the Americans, they were all Europeans, and they entered this American land, killed so many Red Indians. So these kind of things are going on, but that does not mean that is the law. You killed so many Red Indians for your benefit, but you have to suffer for that. So that... This is going on in the human society, but that does not mean it is dharma. No. Dharma means you have to abide by the regulation given by the Vedas. You have to adjust things. Sometimes in Africa the man-eaters, they kill their grandfather, make a feast. The Russians also, they maintain such theory, that old men, they should be neglected. I have heard. I do not know. They become burden. But that is not Vedic injunction.
Himāvatī: But isn't that natural, just like no one wants to keep an old bull in the barn?
Prabhupāda: Yes. These things are man-manufactured. Dharmāṁ tu sākṣād bhagavat-praṇītam (SB 6.3.19). Therefore we have to accept the words of Nārāyaṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That is dharma.