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I am a scientist studying the effects of different drugs in the immune system. The immune system is so complex and we have such a limited understanding of it, that the only way to understand whether or not a drug is toxic is to study the effects on animals such as mice. Unfortunately, the way it works is that every animal that is used has to undergo a painful disease to replicate the conditions needed for the drug to work. After The study, every single animal has to be sacrificed. From a hypothetical perspective, it seems easy to say that this research is necessary and can save human lives at the cost of animal lives. From a practical perspective, it is terrifying to see the animals suffer every day and live a life that is horrific by any standard. Sometimes it feels like you are seeing the holocaust but for mice instead of humans. Finally it is incredibly difficult when the animal has to be sacrificed.

Are there karmic consequences for animal testing? Who suffers the consequences and how much? The scientist doing the testing? The group of collaborators working on the project? People who sell the drugs that were created using this process? People who take the drugs?

It gets more complicated in the real world. For example,when you are only 20% certain that the drug will work should you test it on animals anyways to learn something?Is there a cut off for the percentage?What number of animals should be used? And so on...

How do The Scriptures suggest we think about these problems? Everything seems much more significant when taking an innocent life.

I became a scientist to help humans avoid suffering. But seeing how much animals have to suffer makes me wonder if I am doing the right thing according to Hindu principles and if I will have to suffer the karmic consequences.

  • I think in olden day's people were observing what animals are eating and their effects on them and giving them similar dieat for their good.Those medicines were only herbal and ayurvedic once.So I think they were not themselves testing the medicines but were concluding from watching animal behavior. – SwiftPushkar Feb 21 '17 at 5:29
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    I think there will be no direct answer for this. All things are allowed which do good for humanity and at the same it shouldn't conflict natural law. – The Destroyer Feb 21 '17 at 8:19
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First, verses from Bhagavad Gita are not to be taken and interpreted according to one's own whim and fancy. Any Vedic teacher would refer to commentaries by previous acharyas, which are handed down in tradition. Commentaries to verse 2.19 of Bhagavad Gita by acharyas such as Ramanuja and Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of ISKCON clearly cite:

ma himsyat sarva bhutani - violence to any living entity is forbidden.

This is the Vedic injunction.

Citing verbatim from Bhaktivedanta Swami's English version of Bhagavad Gita

Never commit violence to anyone. Nor does understanding that the living entity is not killed encourage animal slaughter. Killing the body of anyone without authority is abominable and punishable by the law of the state as well as by the law of the Lord. Here is a link

@Rishi above has stated that if it is your duty you must do it without attachment to mice. "Duties" in Bhagavad Gita are referring to Vedic duties, not whatever you choose and call it duty. I would never choose a profession like that and risk all my future births (and deaths). Ayurvedic science never developed by horrific torture of innocent animals. Numerous organizations exist even today that advocate products free from animal testing, for, everyone with conscience can understand this is inhumane.

Regarding your concern about whether you will accrue karma or not, this link might be helpful to you.

If you want to call yourself a scientist/researcher in this field, come up with ways of testing drugs without using animals. That will be a huge contribution to humanity! The argument that animal sacrifice is useful to save humans is only valid if humans are living a life better than animals i.e., using it for self-realization. If they are doing the same four things an animal is doing (eating, mating, sleeping and defending), and not using the additional gift of human life (ability to rationalize, contemplate higher things of life), they do not rank in a higher position than animals.

āhāra-nidrā-bhaya-maithunaṁ ca
sāmānyam etat paśubhir narāṇām
dharmo hi teṣām adhiko viśeṣo
dharmeṇa hīnāḥ paśubhiḥ samānāḥ

Translation: Eating, sleeping, sex, and defense—these four principles are common to both human beings and animals. The distinction between human life and animal life is that a man can search after God but an animal cannot. That is the difference. Therefore a man without that urge for searching after God is no better than an animal.

And if there are such humans living purely and pursuing the goal of human life (self-realization and God realization), then by virtue of their sincere practices, they burn up all previous karmas and such diseases do not necessarily attack them.

EDIT:

I had been thinking of @rishi's answer further to my typing the above answer. I would like to clarify what it means to work with detachment from Bhagavad Gita's point of view. It is detaching oneself from three things - phala (attachment to fruits or thinking yourself to be the enjoyer of the work), sanga (thinking yourself to be the proprietor of the work) and kartrutva (the doership mentality or aham-bhava). In your specific case, even if you may be free from phala and sanga, it is unlikely that you can be free from kartrutva ahankara. kartrutva ahankara, here means "I have to do something to save the world from deadly diseases". Modern medicine/science as a field has evolved independent of the Vedic science. The Vedas already contain answers to everything that a human needs to pursue the goal of life. And dependence on the Vedas is a process given by God to pursue human needs. The Vedas prescribe three ways for handling diseases that obstruct one from the goal of life - mantras (chants/hymns), manis (stones and gems) and aushadhas (herbs). For instance, in the phala-stuti portion of the Vishnu Sahasranama Stotra, it is said:

"ghoreshu cha vyadhishu vartamanah sankirtya narayana sabda matram" - "One can transcend even the deadliest of disease conditions just by chanting the name of Narayana".

But how to chant, how much to chant, in what form to chant, and under what circumstances to chant, with what qualifications to chant requires guidance. When applied with proper attention to detail, these will yield fruitful results, and our scriptures are replete with such examples. Same is the case with herbs or gems and there are herbs, mantras and gems specific for each condition.

The thing modern researchers need to do therefore, is to excavate these solutions to health problems from relevant portions of the Vedas. By depending on the Vedas, there is a lesser chance of a feeling that you are trying to accomplish something which does not already exist. In this way, it may be possible to be detached while you work, which is not necessarily possible in modern scientific pursuits - which are mostly destroying the ecosystem at large than aiding it. The answer is probably more elaborate than what you asked for, but this discussion might help someone in the future.

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Arjuna ask Krisha on seeing his own family in front of him, for Dharma he was supposed to kill his own cousin brothers, teachers, grand parents and friends.

गुरूनहत्वा हि महानुभावान्

श्रेयो भोक्तुं भैक्ष्यमपीह लोके।

हत्वार्थकामांस्तु गुरूनिहैव

भुञ्जीय भोगान् रुधिरप्रदिग्धान्।।2.5।।

2.5 Better it is, indeed, in this world to accept alms than to slay the most noble teachers. But if I kill them, even in this world all my enjoyments of wealth and fulfilled desires will be stained with (their) blood.

Lord Krisha said

अशोच्यानन्वशोचस्त्वं प्रज्ञावादांश्च भाषसे।

गतासूनगतासूंश्च नानुशोचन्ति पण्डिताः।।2.11।।

2.11 The Blessed Lord said Thou hast grieved for those that should not be grieved for, yet thou speakest words of wisdom. The wise grieve neither for the living nor for the dead.

देहिनोऽस्मिन्यथा देहे कौमारं यौवनं जरा।

तथा देहान्तरप्राप्तिर्धीरस्तत्र न मुह्यति।।2.13।।

2.13 Just as in this body the embodied (soul) passes into childhood, youth and old age, so also does it pass into another body; the firm man does not grieve thereat.

तस्मादसक्तः सततं कार्यं कर्म समाचर।

असक्तो ह्याचरन्कर्म परमाप्नोति पूरुषः।।3.19।।

3.19 Therefore without attachment, do thou always perform action which should be done; for by performing action without attachment man reaches the Supreme.

So these are some Shaloka from gita but would recommend to also see this answer for another perception for your situation.

Hinduism teaches us that Executioner is not doing anything nonreligious (No Bad Karma's as it is his duty) and same goes with armies as well, What do you think your duty is?, if it is your Duty you must do it with out attachment with mice on the other hand I have read that there were sages in ancient India who have successfully replaced the head of person Eg. Lord Ganesha.

How ever there have been people who literally do not kill even a mosquito sitting on their hand, So they are also right from their perspective but same sounds rubbish from another.

I would suggest you first to decide is it what you want to do, clarity of mind is necessary from a religious perspective, So the Essence is that it all depends on your feelings as the question is asked on Hinduism website, So from a Hindu perspective it is both right and wrong, No one knows you better than you.

You can not argue with an owl what is light and what is darkness, What is right from one perspective could be wrong from another.

I became a scientist to help humans avoid suffering. But seeing how much animals have to suffer makes me wonder if I am doing the right thing according to Hindu principles and if I will have to suffer the karmic consequences.

Warning: Below answer is only for this situation.

Now when you say that you have become scientist to help humans avoid suffering then why you are scared all mice would any way going to die and when they are dying for a good reason they will be born again as soul never dies, it is just as simple as changing clothes.

I would recommend you to study Bhagvad Gita

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    You need to cite sources. Your answer sounds like an opinion. OP has specifically asked for scriptural sources. – sv. Feb 21 '17 at 4:56
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    "I would recommend you to study Bhagvad Gita" - Sorry, but that's not enough, you need to cite relevant verses from BG. Please take a look at Guidelines for new users answering questions. – sv. Feb 21 '17 at 5:04
  • @sv. I tried my best sir, I welcome to edit my answer, Thanks – Rishi Feb 21 '17 at 5:06
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    Thanks for attempting to answer, but it's not good for the site if you write personal opinions as answers. I think you should delete your answer and undelete it once you've added proper references. – sv. Feb 21 '17 at 5:11
  • @sv. Sir, I have tried again as per your guidance i think now it looks better sir. Thanks for your guidance – Rishi Feb 21 '17 at 5:44
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First of all scriptures have not dealt with the issue directly.So,what we need to do is find verses that are closely related & adapt them to the situation.

What the scientists do is clearly unlawful(Adharma) IMO because they are killing/torturing innocent animals for their own good/benefit.Even if they say "we are doing it for the benefit of humanity" then humanity is not the whole set of living beings that are on earth.Animals,insects and the trees are also Almighty's children just like we are.Their pains and sufferings also count

In Hindu Scriptures,all throughout,its being said that the only lawful killing of animals(or even plants) is when they will be used in sacrifices for the Gods or for the Manes(Pitrus).I have not found any exception to this rule.

And any killing apart from that, for one's own need, is more or less bad karma.

The whole essence of what i am saying is summed up well in Lord Shiva's words given below :

Trinam VApyaVidhanena Chedyenna KadAchana| Vidhina GAm Dvijam VApi HatyA PApairna Lipyate ||

If its not prescribed in Shastras don't even tear a grass,but there is no sin even if one kills a cow or a dvija as per Shastra Vidhi.

KulArnava Tantram, 2-137.

AvidhAnena Yo HanyAdAtmArtham PrAninah Priye| Nivasennarake Ghore DinAni Pasuromabhih|

One who kills an animal for one's own good/benefit/enjoyement goes after his death to hell and lives there for as many days as there are hairs on the animal's body.

KulArnava Tantram 2-131

Manu Smriti also says the same thing in a different way:

5.38. As many hairs as the slain beast has, so often indeed will he who killed it without a (lawful) reason suffer a violent death in future births.

The only lawful killing of an animal , as said earlier,is when done for sacrifices to Gods/Manes.

Manu Smriti 5.39. Svayambhu (the Self-existent) himself created animals for the sake of sacrifices; sacrifices (have been instituted) for the good of this whole (world); hence the slaughtering (of beasts) for sacrifices is not slaughtering (in the ordinary sense of the word).

Who suffers the consequences and how much? The scientist doing the
 testing? The group of collaborators working on the project? People who
sell the drugs that were created using this process? People who take
 the drugs?

Everyone involved in the process IMO,from the start till the end,will be equally guilty of the crime.Even the persons who are buying the medicines and consuming them included.Everyone who is benefiting from the process of torturing the animal will have to pay the price for it.

A relevant verse from Manu that can be adapted here is this:

5.51. He who permits (the slaughter of an animal), he who cuts it up, he who kills it, he who buys or sells (meat), he who cooks it, he who serves it up, and he who eats it, (must all be considered as) the slayers (of the animal).

The purport of this Manu verse is that everyone is equally guilty, from the one who kills the animal to the one who partakes it.Even one who is cooking is guilty (although he might not be eating it). Similarly here.From one who is getting monetary benefits out the research to one who is getting the health benefits all of them will have to pay the price for the animals' sufferings.

Also, i don't think that we really need scriptures to tell us that what we are doing is wrong because our conscience will also tell us the same unless its dead.

EDIT

Adding a couple of more verses from Parashara Smriti which say that the animals that are working for us should be taken good care of.We should not burden them with over weight, over work.Because,if they get hurt or get killed in the process of working for us then we need to do penance to overcome that guilt.

3. An ox that is hungry, or thirsty, or fatigued, should not be harnessed (to a plough) . A bull wanting in a limb, or diseased, or impotent, should not, by a Brahman, be made to work.

24. If a bull happens to be unduly burnt, on the occasion of cauterizing an injured part ; or if a bull is loaded beyond his strength ; and if he be sent, so loaded, to cross a river, or travel over hills, — the following penances are prescribed by law :

These verses clearly prove that the practice of killing/torturing animals for our own use is unethical/unlawful from the Hindu perspective.

  • Nice answer and in fact I am a pure vegetarian and know that killing any living organism who has feelings is not only unethical, But they will be Partaker of sin But the point you are making that the lawful killing of an animal is when done for sacrifices to Gods/Manes is misunderstood by many of the pandits. The word Pitra also comes in gita when arjun ask krishna "All the pitra would have to come back to take care of their families as young people in the family will be dead", Here arjun is talking about grand parents who have taken sanyan ashram are called pitra not one who is dead – Rishi Feb 21 '17 at 8:31
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    @Rishi I am fed up listening to Krisha -arjuna dialogues in every Hinduism questions...I wonder how the people who lived in Krita,Treta and for the most part Dwapara used to live without Gita..lol.. – Rickross Feb 21 '17 at 8:59
  • In Manusmriti in chapter 5 verse 30 to 40 there are many which are misunderstood, But as we are here to discuss and gain more knowledge, so first of all we all know that killing an animal by any means is prohibited in Great Vedas itself. And there is no point in manusmriti which denies vedas, Great yogi's have said if we ever found any mistake in their statement we are supposed to cross check it from vedas. – Rishi Feb 21 '17 at 9:08
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    @Rishi Manu Smriti does not deny Vedas..i am surprised that u have such profound misconceptions ..Manu Smriti infact says any Shastras that opposes Vedas are false and worthless..I suggest that u pls read some more scriptures..: – Rickross Feb 21 '17 at 9:10
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    Yes animal sacrifice is a vedic thing..that's not killing at all..there r many scriptures which say so.. – Rickross Feb 21 '17 at 9:15

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