Mehoopany, PA. The name Indraloka is derived from Sanskrit, and means “heaven for the gods.” Indeed, the Indraloka Animal Sanctuary in Mehoopany provides a “heaven on earth” for its 176 animals. Opened in 2005, the nonprofit organization (which relies heavily on donations to cover its daily expenses of $500) is a no-kill “retirement villa” for many animals that were branded as having behavioral problems, as well as animals with medical issues. For owner and operator Indra Lahiri, “The human condition is really the condition of being alive.”
If a farm is shut down, there typically exists no protection for the animals. The only option is usually slaughter. If a male cow is born on a dairy farm, he is normally sold for veal. Breeds of animals considered “commodities” are treated to “common farming practices,” which are not regulated. The animals are modified to be larger and more muscular, or to produce more eggs, milk, and so on. Some say that the modified animals are prone to aggression, but Lahiri states that once these animals arrive at the Sanctuary, the peace and calm overtake them, and behavioral issues seem to disappear.
Lahiri knows she can’t save them all, but speaks of the beauty of taking an animal from undesirable conditions and letting it live in beautiful surroundings until a peaceful end to its natural life. Lahiri believes that “people want a kinder, more compassionate world,” and views animals as our equals. She notes that humans could learn from animals about letting go of the past—the creatures don’t harbor bad feelings, according to Lahiri.
Indraloka Animal Sanctuary’s goal is to become less dependent on finite resources by using other types of power, such as solar and wind. The Sanctuary, as it is commonly known, has also teamed up with Marywood University’s School of Architecture, for an exercise in “farmatecture,” where students take on Indraloka as a real-life client and create environmentally-safe shelters for the animals.
From summer through late fall, Indraloka often has a stand at the Farmers’ Market in Scranton, where the public can get information and buy merchandise. Information about the Sanctuary and how to volunteer or donate can be found on their facebook page or their website: www.indraloka.org. The public can schedule a tour or join in monthly events. There will be a Winter Solstice Nature Walk and Celebration on Saturday, December 21, 2013, for a suggested donation of $15.