A close up picture of Shambo wearing a garland of flowers. Shambo was the sacred temple bull who was the focus of an intense debate about the sanctity of life

Shambo & the sanctity of life

  • Shambo - July 2007
  • 10.07.2007

    Our legal team will be contesting the Welsh Assembly Government’s decision to proceed with slaughter in judicial review scheduled in Cardiff High Court on Thursday 12th July at 10.00 am. We look forward to a positive result for Shambo. May Dharma prevail.

    BBC thought for the day by Akhandadhi Das (original weblink no longer available)

    Good morning. On Thursday, Cardiff Civil Justice Centre will decide life or death for Shambo, the Friesian bull born and raised in the Hindu-based Community of the Many Names of God in Skanda Vale near Carmarthen. His crime? He tested positive for exposure to Tuberculosis. Currently, this carries the death penalty. DEFRA’s policy is to cull any such animal in its efforts to contain bovine TB from spreading amongst other cattle and potentially infecting humans.

    Most folk know that, in Hinduism, the cow is sacred. In the same way that many people regard their cats and dogs as part of the family, Hindus consider cows and bulls to be part of the extended human family. There is a natural relationship of inter-dependence. Cows offer us the miracle food – milk; and bulls provide power and transport. But it’s not just cows – the Hindu religion regards all life as sacred. The community at Skanda Vale is, therefore, devastated that an animal in its care might be taken away for slaughter – even though it hasn’t yet been proven to be a threat to anyone.

    However, many farmers have publicly supported the Welsh Assembly’s decision to enforce the slaughter of Shambo. They say there should be one law for everyone with no exceptions made on the basis of religion. I agree – but I do believe that laws need to be broad enough and should include viable alternatives to achieve their purpose so that they don’t cut across people’s ethics, religion or conscience.

    We don’t cull infected humans to protect other people, we treat them. Same with zoo animals. So, can there not be an option within DEFRA’s law on TB for those who want to cure rather than kill? Mahatma Gandhi said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way it treats its animals.” So, it seems odd that we should require anyone, whether farmer or religious community, to destroy life rather than follow their commitment to nurture it.

    The Skanda Vale community takes its inspiration from two principles found in the teachings of Krishna in the Bhagavad-Gita – these are: service to life and devotion to God. Should the decision on Thursday go against Shambo, the monks and nuns have vowed to remain true to those convictions. They feel they cannot be expected to assist in the death of Shambo, but, in case there was worry, they have said that they will not use or allow any type of force or violence to obstruct the authorities. I support this approach. It’s important, their method of campaigning for the welfare of Shambo is in keeping with their message of celebrating the sanctity and divine nature of all life.


    In the Cardiff High Court today, a judicial review was heard which will decide the future of Shambo. The Judge was fair to both parties, allowing each to express their case fully. Having heard all the evidence the Judge will take the weekend to consider and will announce his verdict on Monday at 11.00 am. In his summing up the Judge commented that Skanda Vale had a strong case for saving the life of Shambo but he also recognised the strength of the Welsh Assembly Government’s position. We trust that the Judge will reflect deeply on the sanctity of life.


    We are delighted that the Judgment today has been in our favour. We wish to thank everybody who has supported our campaign to save Shambo. The Welsh Assembly Government have been given leave to appeal but will have to cover all our costs. Instead of wasting taxpayers money on a appeal we again ask the Government to enter into constructive dialogue with us.


    The Welsh Assembly Government has appealed against the Judgment of the 16th July to quash the slaughter notice for Shambo. The appeal will be held in Cardiff on Friday 20th July.


    The appeal was held in Cardiff today. The appeal Judges will announce their verdict in the afternoon of Monday 23rd July. Two days ago the Welsh Assembly Government appointed Elin Jones as the new Rural Affairs Minister .


    Following today’s announcement by the Court of Appeal in London, we are disappointed about the decision not to quash the slaughter notice on Shambo the sacred Temple Bull. We have put a very strong case across about our rights, and those of all Hindus, to freely practice religion by recognising the sanctity of life. This decision seriously disregards the principal tenets of Hindu Dharma.

    We are devastated that an animal in our care might be taken away for slaughter, even though it hasn’t yet been proven to be a threat to anyone. We have consistently asked for other tests to be done to verify if Shambo does have bovine TB. It seems ridiculous to kill him and then carry out a post mortem to confirm if he does or does not have TB.

    The law needs to be broad enough and should include viable alternatives such as isolation and treatment to achieve their purpose so that they don’t cut across people’s ethics, religion or conscience. We don’t cull infected humans, we treat them. The same is the case for zoo animals, so, why can’t the Government use their discretion in exceptional circumstances to provide such an option within the law on bTB?

    We will remain true to our convictions, of service to life and devotion to God, we cannot be expected to assist in the death of Shambo. We will continue to seek ways to spare Shambo’s life and celebrate the sanctity of life. We urge you to email the new minister to voice your concern: [email protected]

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