One of the core aspects of the ashram at Skanda Vale is its life as an animal sanctuary. We care for hundreds of animals and birds, including cows, horses, deer, buffalo and three elephants.
Most of these animals have come from farms or from homes where they can’t be cared for anymore, and are able to enjoy the space and safety of Skanda Vale.
For some of them, it is more space than they have ever had before. These animals are fed and cared for out of the donations we receive through the temples, without which Skanda Vale wouldn’t be able to operate.
There are also many more animals living in the valley which aren’t cared for directly by the Community but benefit from the ashram’s guardianship of the land. All life in the valley is an important part of Skanda Vale.
You might not get a chance to see all these animals on your visit here, but you will encounter a lot if you take some time to walk around on your way to the Maha Shakti Temple, and let yourself be quiet and keep your eyes open when you’re walking through the forest or following the pilgrimage routes around the valley.
Why do we look after animals?
Guru Sri Subramanium’s first companions at Skanda Vale were a group of goats, and soon after a small number of cows. Right from the start, living with and caring for animals has been at the core of our way of life.
Fundamentally, this stems from the basic human instinct to serve all of life. That instinct is a manifestation of our oneness with all beings, of our shared divinity. At Skanda Vale, we have the opportunity to help so many animals that have been mistreated or gone through traumatic experiences, or can’t receive the care they need elsewhere.
Coming to Skanda Vale gives many animals a chance to live their full natural lifespan, to grow, to evolve, to go through the experiences of living, and even to be of service.
At the same time, caring for animals teaches us a lot. Animals are very sensitive to the vibrations people are operating in, the attitudes they are acting with. If a person is impatient, insensitive, or angry, animals will respond to that. At the same time, with some exceptions, animals won’t usually tell you if something is wrong, what they need, or say thank you. They teach you to pay attention, to be quiet, to be patient and care without expecting anything in return.
A SPACE FOR WILDLIFE
While of course, active service is important, a lot of the time the kindest thing is non-interference. Much of the land in Skanda Vale is given the space for life to flourish there freely, and find its own balance.
Skanda Vale takes up more or less the entire valley of Cwm-Creigiau, and the majority of that land is being left alone for wildlife to live as freely as possible. The land has been replanted with native woodland, and the wildlife living in the valley is being left to regenerate and go about its life.
There is amazing diversity in the valley, with many varieties of songbirds and rodents, foxes and herons, otters, red kites and so many other animals, as well as of course a great variety of plants, fungi and invertebrates.