Monday, March 24, 2014

The Dogs of India: Travel Notes

In the Mahabharata, a weary traveler enters a strange village:

"One day he came upon a hamlet, in the midst of a forest, inhabited by cruel hunters addicted to the slaughter of living creatures. The little hamlet abounded with broken jars and pots made of earth. Dog-skins were strewn about everywhere. Bones and skulls of boars and asses were gathered in heaps in different places.  Cloths stripped from the dead lay about, and the huts were adorned with garlands of used-up flowers. Many of the habitations were embellished with sloughs cast off by snakes. The place resounded with the loud crowing of cocks and hens and the dissonant bray of asses. Here and there the inhabitants disputed with one another, uttering harsh words in shrill voices. There were temples of gods bearing devices of owls and other birds. Resounding with the tinkle of iron bells, the hamlet abounded with canine packs standing or lying on every side." (Canti Parva § 141, Ray VI)
Puppies on Varanasi Street

The traveler can find nothing to eat in the village except the flesh of a recently slain dog, and he must decide whether he can partake of this, which he must first steal, to avoid starvation. The passage is dreamlike, even nightmarish, but the large numbers of dogs in and around a village are as familiar today as they were when the great epic was written.

Even on the drive from the airport into New Delhi we saw dozens of themmostly light tan, some brown and blackbeside the road and sometimes crossing before us in traffic. Though variously called pi-dogs, pariahs, INdogs, street dogs, village dogs, native dogs, parries, pyes, and other terms, here I will call them pi-dogs for brevity.  They live in the streets and alleys, beside the roads, mostly near people but sometimes in small isolated groups on the edges of parks and forests.  One estimate put their numbers in a section of West Bengal as from 156 to 214 per square kilometer, 404 to 554 per square mile.  I have seen no census but, even assuming that only a portion of the country holds sufficient foraging opportunities to support breeding populations, their numbers could well be over 100 million and perhaps more.
Boy with Pi-Dog, Udaipur (Joan Ensminger)
Outside our first hotel, the Imperial in New Delhi, they were on the streets, mostly ignoring us, though curious when I started taking pictures.  One I saw several times over three days slept beside the door but under the low roof of a small shop, where the owner occasionally put food on the ground and water in a small cup. The dog had no collar and I do not know if the shop proprietor, who did not speak English, would have said the dog was his.  These relationships are often temporary, and some specialists believe that male dogs are more successful at making friendships with humans than females.  At least one scientist who has studied India’s pi-dogs in West Bengal for decades, Sunil Kumar Pal, has found that the ratio of males to females is around 1.37 to 1, though this has not been confirmed in other areas.  


Anne de Courcy, in her wonderful book about the brides brought from England to India to find husbands during the British occupation (The Fishing Fleet: Husband-Hunting in the Raj), writes that “most cantonments were haunted by pi-dogs,” and the “fear of rabies was ever-present.” Yet a British effort to exterminate street dogs in Bombay in 1832 led to riots (Palsetia, 2001). More recently, laws have protected the dogs from euthanasia, but sterilization programs have had some success in cities such as Delhi and Jaipur. 

Dr. M.K. Sudarshan, of the Kempegowda Institute of Medical Sciences in Bangalore, has estimated that each year in India about 20,000 people contract rabies, mostly males in rural areas, over 90% of whom are bitten by dogs.  The incubation period lasts from two weeks to six months.  Almost half the victims do not seek medical attention and may resort to indigenous healing practices. Although I had thought that oral rabies vaccines for animals, such as announced by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, might be a partial answer, I am advised that at present there are environmental, as well as cultural limitations, that may make this approach impractical in India. 

Animal Behavior Studies

Puppies are born from October to March, with most in November through January.  The average litter is just under six puppies.  Mothers milk-feed for ten to 11 weeks, but may remain in contact with litters for as little as 13 weeks.  Milk feeding sessions last as long as 27 minutes during the first week of life, going down to around two minutes in the 11th week.  Mothers also feed puppies by regurgitation.  Puppies’ eyes are completely open by day 17 of life, and they soon become mobile.  They begin searching for food independently at ten to 11 weeks.  The mortality rate for puppies is high. Two-thirds die within four months and one study found that only 18% survive the first year.  Since so many live near the roads, they are easily run over as we saw happen several cars ahead of us the day we drove into Ranthambhore.  The squeals of the dying puppy haunted us for days. 

Pi-Dog Puppies in Delhi Cloth Market
Pi-dogs live on garbage and human generosity. They are often found beside food stalls, and are sometimes fed by shop owners, as was true of a group of puppies in this picture taken at a cloth market in Delhi. Srejani Sen Majumder, Anindita Bhadra, and their colleagues at the Behaviour and Ecology Lab of the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research in Kolkata have studied the relationships of free-ranging dogs with humans.  The researchers found that during daylight dogs spend about half the time resting and about 16% of the time walking.  Of their interactions, about 85% were with other dogs.  These researchers say that calves are occasionally chased by dogs, though in Varinasi we once saw a cow lower her head and chase a dog for several feet.  Aggression towards humans is rare, and we never saw any, but submission is evident in about half of interactions with humans, usually demonstrated by tail wagging or begging.   Humans, on the other hand, are frequently aggressive towards pi-dogs, and we saw people throwing stones at them more than a few times. A local newspaper article from a century ago (Amrita Bazar Patrika, July 13, 1899) suggests that there may be social limits on how much effort one should put into chasing away a dog:

“We saw the other day a European pursuing a pariah dog with a stick in his hand, because the dog, finding him a stranger strangely dressed, had barked at him.  Of course, he had no fear of being bitten; its barks irritated him, and he, therefore, sought to give the animal a lesson…. By following the pariah dog in anger, the European lowered his dignity.”

Dogs in Ancient India

Dogs were present in India from before any historical record and their bones have been excavated at ancient cultural sites (Kharakwal et al. 2011).  More than a century ago, Edward Washburn Hopkins wrote:

“[I]n the Rig-Veda the dog is the companion and ally of man; the protector and probably the inmate of his house; a friend so near that he pokes his too familiar head into the dish, and has to be struck aside as a selfish creature.  He may have been employed as a steed—the chariot of the Maruts is pictured as one drawn by dogs; but he is, at any rate, used for hunting, and the gift of a kennel of one hundred dogs is gratefully acknowledged.”

Hopkins describes tales of evil spirits taking the form of a dog, and lists dog-ghost references in ancient literature. Dogs could also have magical qualities.   In the Upanishads (Chand. Up. 1.12), dogs walk in a line, each dog keeping the tail of the preceding dog in his mouth, “as the priests do when they are going to sing praises with the Vahishpavamana hymn,” each priest holding an end of the robe of the priest before him. 

The Uncleanness of Dogs

Battered and Infested Street Dog, Varanasi
Dogs were perceived as unclean in early literature.  The Satapatha-Brahmana states: “But, surely there are three unclean animals, a vicious boar, a vicious ram, and a dog….” (SBE XLIV, 178)  A person who was touched by a dog was to bathe with his clothes on (SBE II, 56; XIV, 121, 183), though another passage says no more than that the limb the dog touched must be washed (SBE II, 253). A pot touched by a dog was to be heated until it was the color of fire (SBE XIV, 160). (SBE references in this blog are to the volume and page number of The Sacred Books of the East, published a century ago by the Clarendon Press at Oxford. For more detail on this 50-volume set, see Muller, the overall editor, under “Sources” below.)

The poor kept poles to drive away dogs, though a Jain Sutras say that even thus armed one might not avoid being bitten by one of them (SBE XXII, 84).  (Jain writings often emphasize the danger of dog bites; see SBE XLV, 94, 262). 

Yet dogs were not permitted everywhere. They were not to be allowed to watch the performance of a funeral sacrifice (SBE II, 145, also II, 259; XXV, 119).  If a dog, a frog or a cat ran between a teacher of the Vedas and a pupil, a three days’ fast with residence in some place besides the teacher’s home was required of the student (SBE II, 184; SBE XIV, 121; also, teaching must stop for a day and a night, SBE XXV, 149). Brahmanas were not to recite the Veda while dogs barked (SBE XXV, 147).  Dogs “must not look at the Brahmanas while they eat” (SBE XXV, 119).

A herdsman was liable for the loss of an animal in the herd if it was killed by dogs and the herdsman did not duly exert himself to prevent this (SBE XXV, 295; XXXIII, 142). The owner of the dog, if there was one, was apparently not liable for such a loss unless he had set the dog to kill the animal (SBE XXXIII, 212). 

Obligation to Feed

Yet a householder was obligated to "throw (some food) on the ground for dogs Kandalas [low-caste persons], outcasts, and crows." (SBE II, 122, SBE XI, 9, SBE XIV, 50, SBE XXV, 92). According to the Institutes of Vishnu, one who intentionally killed a dog must fast for three days (SBE VII, 160; see SBE XIV, 114, requiring 12 days of penance).  The Gryhia Sutras, giving rules for domestic ceremonies, say that food is not only to be given to dogs, but also to dog-butchers (SBE XXIX, 87).  It was considered wise to throw food down into a pit for the dogs, obviously to keep them from getting close enough to bite (Sobti, 1995).  As in the Book of Proverbs (26:11), dogs were described as prone to eating their own vomit (SBE VIII, 160). 

Dogs in the Home

Dogs on Palettes, Varanasi
Some ancient sources discourage keeping dogs, at least inside a house.  The Sacred Laws of the Aryas state that the “gods do not eat (the offerings) of a man who keeps dogs, …  nor of him who lives in subjection to his wife, nor of (a husband) who (permits) a paramour (of his wife to reside) in his house.”  In the Ramayana (Dutt, UttaraKandam § 70), a talking dog explains why he cannot enter a palace to speak to the king:  “We cannot enter into the houses of divinities, kings or Brahmanas, nor can we go there where is fire, Indra, the sun or the wind, for we are the vilest born; so I cannot enter here.”   Nevertheless, the king directs that the dog be brought before him.

Those of certain lower castes did apparently own dogs, as “their wealth (shall be) dogs and donkeys” (SBE XXV, 414; XLII, 106 suggests that the dog is sleeping near the family).  The Mahabharata speaks of a dog that became exceedingly attached to a scribe in consequence of the affection with which the scribe treated the dog (Canti Parva § 96, Ray V).

A passage in the Ramayana (Dutt, Ayodhya Kandam § 70), describes a king giving gifts of elephants, woolen sheets, deerskins, and dogs.  The dogs were “brought up in the inner apartment, resembling tigers in strength and prowess, furnished with teeth representing weapons, and large of body.” 

Hunting Dogs in Antiquity

Harappan Period Burial Vase, Delhi Museum
A burial jar from the Harappan period (c. 1900 BC), on display in the Delhi Museum, shows a dog (the width of the neck may suggest a collar), or conceivably a wolf, attacking a deer.   Ancient references to deer hunting seldom add any detail as to how dogs were deployed, though the Ramayana (Dutt, Aranya Kandam §55) describes a doe separated by dogs from a herd before being attacked by them. 

Although dogs could defile human food by eating it, this did not occur when a hunting dog or a huntsman caught a deer (SBE VII, 103, 104, XIV, 133, 170, XXV, 192).  Breeders of sporting dogs are mentioned (XXX, 106), and reverence is said to be due to dogs, dog-keepers, and huntsmen (XLIII, 152). 

Boar Hunting, Khajuraho, 11th Century
Boar hunting is mentioned in the Mahabharata (Drona Parva § 183) but most specific references to prey in the ancient sources concern deer.  By the 11th century AD, a boar hunt on the wall of a temple at Khajuraho could look very similar to what one would see on Roman and Greek sarcophagi going back to classical antiquity.  Dogs were also used to hunt hare, and a Santal folk tale tells of a dog that caught five in one day (Campbell, 1891).

Dogs in Criminal Punishment

Dogs were known to eat slain enemies after the battle (SBE XLII, 129), but this was true of all battlefields and sometimes still is (see Homer, Iliad 8:379-80).  One who sinned might expect that after he died, his body might be eaten by dogs and vultures (SBE VII, 216), as was true of Jezebel at Jezreel (2 Kings 9:10).  Dogs could be used in punishments:

“A woman who commits adultery with a man of lower caste, the king shall cause to be devoured by dogs in a public place.”  (SBE II, 289) The Laws of Manu (SBE XXV, 318-9; see also XXXIII, 367) speaks even more generally:

“If a wife, proud of the greatness of her relatives or (her own) excellence, violates the duty which she owes to her lord, the king shall cause her to be devoured by dogs in a place frequented by many.” 

Dogs were agents of punishment even in the afterlife where, in the hells to which they are consigned, the wicked will be devoured by dogs and jackals and other beasts (SBE VII, 142).  On transmigration, a sinner might become a dog (SBE VII, 145; XXV, 496; XXXVIII, 114). Some sins could even bring punishment to one’s ancestors:

“If he applies sesamum to any other purpose, but food, anointing, and charitable gifts, he will be born again as a worm and, together with his ancestors, be plunged into the ordure of dogs.” (SBE XIV, 221,  XXV, 422)

A brand in the shape of a dog’s foot was put on the forehead of a person convicted of stealing gold (SBE VII, 26; XXV, 383).  This type of branding was also recommended for those who violated the rules of an order of religious ascetics (SBE XXXIII, 265). 

Dog Trainer, Orchha Palace, 16th Century
The autobiography of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir (1569-1609) describes sentencing a man to have his tongue cut out, after which he was to be confined with only the company of dog-keepers, apparently a type of person that no one would associate with if he could avoid it.  Jean-Baptiste Tavernier (1889) describes the cruel use of dogs in an execution of a murderer in the 19th century:

“The enormity of the deed justified that the guilty one should be condemned to a very severe sentence, and the judgment provided that he should be hung to a gallows, head downwards, between two large dogs, suspended close to him, so that in their rage they should eat out his vitals, and so make him suffer more than one death by the protraction of the torment.”

Eating Dog Meat

Some passages would suggest that the flesh of the dog is forbidden (SBE II, 75, VII, 166). If one ate dog flesh without knowing it, one was must fast for seven days (SBE XIV, 121; see also SBE VII, 166).  Nevertheless, dog meat might be acceptable to avoid dying from starvation, as was true for the traveler described in the passage from the Mahabarata with which this blog opened. The Laws of Manu state: “Vamadeva, who well knew right and wrong, did not sully himself when, tormented (by hunger), he desired to eat the flesh of a dog in order to save his life” (SBE XXV, 424; see also XXV, 425, and Mahabharata, Canti Parva §96) specifically mentioning eating the haunch of a dog).   

Dog Copulating with Woman (left) as Witnesses Run Away or Shield Their Eyes, Khajuraho, 11th Century
A passage from a minor law book called one tribe, tasked with performing public executions, the dog-cookers (SBE XXXIII, 209, n.11; see also Dutt, Ramayana, BalaKandam §§ 60, 72: “always feeding on dogs’ flesh”).  A passage in the Vedanta Sutras suggests that one who eats dog flesh is no better than a dog (SBE XLVIII, 96): “In the dog and the low man eating dog’s flesh the wise see the same.”  The Kama Sutra states that dog’s meat was thought to increase virile power, and was effective against certain diseases (Danielou, pp. 194, 324).  During a famine in the 1630s, it was recorded that shopkeepers began selling dog flesh (Jaffar, 1936).

Cleansing after a Dog Bite

After being bitten by a dog (or a jackal, tame pig, an ass, an ape, a crow, or a public prostitute), one was to stand in a river and “stop his breath sixteen times.”  (SBE VII, 176; SBE XXV, 471) A Brahmana bitten by a dog was to go to a river that flows into the ocean, bathe, suppress his breath one hundred times, and eat clarified butter (SBE XIV, 121, 183). In the Mughal empire there were physicians who specialized in treating dog bites (Rezavi, 2012).

Dog saliva was regarded as medicinal (SBE XLII, 472, 504), a belief that may explain dogs licking the sores of Lazarus (Luke 16:21).  Epilepsy was said to be due to a dog-demon (SBE XXX, 219, 286, XXXIII, 230), though the demon was not presumed to have entered through a bite. 

Dog Leather

Dog skin was a poor quality leather, but nevertheless had its uses.  Part of the penance of one who killed a learned man or a priest was to put on the skin of a dog or an ass with the hair turned outside, and take a human skull for a drinking vessel (SBE II, 90). As mentioned above, a poor village might have to use dog hides for various purposes.  (Dog hides were used to make shoes in the American colonial period, something that George Washington complained to his shoemaker about.)

A Dog at the Entrance to Heaven

Perhaps the most widely known story from India of a dog’s loyalty to a master, and a master’s loyalty to a dog, concerns a mythological king. Yudhisthira was accompanied by his dog after all other companions had fallen, a story in the Mahabharata (Maraprasthanika Parva §3, Ray translation, vol. 9).  When he comes to the entrance to heaven, Indra, the god of heaven, tells Yudhisthira that he can live with his brothers and may enter with his own body. Yudhisthira says that his dog should come with him.  Indra denies this request, saying:

Yudhisthira and Dog at Entrance to Heaven
“Immortality and a condition equal to mine, O king, prosperity extending in all directions, and high success, and all the felicities of Heaven, thou has won today!  Do thou cast off this dog.  In this there will be no cruelty.”

Yudhisthira persists, as does Indra, saying that there is no place in heaven for persons with dogs. Yudhisthira says that abandoning one who has been faithful is infinitely sinful.  He insists that he will not abandon the dog, even for his own happiness.  The solution is not to admit the dog, however, but rather for the dog to be transformed into the deity of righteousness.

Such respect for dogs was not just mythological.  The King of Assam was buried with an elephant, 12 camels, six horses, and “numerous sporting dogs … it being believed that all these animals will come to life again, after they are dead, in order to serve the King” (Tavernier, 1889).  Nevertheless, Tavernier also records that the flesh of the dog is especially esteemed in Assam and is a favorite at feasts.  Every “month, in each town in the Kingdom, the people hold markets where they only sell dogs, which are brought thither from all directions.”  It is perhaps to be noted that Assam is close to Burma, where dog meat is still eaten. 

Shiva’s Dogs

Shiva Holding Head for Dog, Udaipur, 17th Century
Wolf-Dieter Storl (2004) explains that, in “his most terrifying form as Bhairava, Shiva is referred to as the one whose mount is a dog.  It is a black dog, befitting the archetypal image of a god of shamans, hunters, and the shades.”  The association of a dog with a god of destruction is not without its positive side, Storl argues, as “if one regards it in a meditative way, putting all preconceived, programmed notions aside, one is awed by the gentle, nearly loving way in which these gnawing animals cause the mortal remains to disappear.”

T.A. Gopinatha Rao (1916) says that in the depictions of Bhairava, the dog is the same color as his master. Nishipad Dev Choudhury (1999) states that Bhairava is an ugra form of Shiva, noting that he is often depicted with “big eyes, wide nostrils, a moustache, a beard and side tusks. His lips are parted in a horrible smile.  His hair flies up like flames.”  The black god on the black dog is a picture I took at a shrine in Varanasi with the help of Professor Rana P.B. Singh. 

Shiva on Dog, Varanasi
While watching cremations on the shore of the Ganges, I saw one of the attendants driving a dog away from the pyre in which the body had been placed.  I could not take a picture, being close enough to the cremation ground that a photograph would have been offensive to the mourners.

Shiva’s dog, probably not accidentally, is generally depicted as a sturdy guard dog, though a statue in the Norton Simon Museum in Los Angeles has a dog next to Bharaiva that appears to be more of a greyhound.  Shiva as a beggar, however, is generally depicted with greyhound-like dogs (Adiceam, 1965).

Dogs in the Mughal Period

Hunting reached the level of a high art during the Mughal period.  Despite his Moslem beliefs, Akbar, the third Mughal emperor declared dogs to be clean (Malleson, 1896).  In the siege of Golkonda in 1687, the assailants had gained the ramparts but a dog gave the alarm and the garrison on the wall threw down their ladders.  The dog was rewarded with a golden collar (Lane-Poole, 1908).    

Thomas Allsen explains that during the Mughal empire (1526-1858), “the royal hunt was a key element in the governance of the realm.”  Court dinners included antelope, hare, peacock, and deer. Mughal rulers undertook long hunting trips. The Mughal emperor Jahangir (1605-1627) built a pleasure resort at his favorite hunting ground near Srinagar.  Francois Bernier describes a parade of riches before the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan during his visit to Delhi in the mid-seventeenth century.  Included in the parade were elephants, tame antelopes kept for the purpose of fighting each other, grey oxen, as well as—

“rhinoceroses; large Bengale buffaloes with prodigious horns which enable them to contend against lions and tigers, tame leopards, or panthers, employed in hunting antelopes; some of the fine sporting dogs from Usbec, of every kind, and each dog with a small red covering; lastly, every species of the birds of prey use in field sports for catching partridges, cranes, hares, and even, it is said, for hunting antelopes, on which they pounce with violence beating their heads and blinding them with their wings and claws.”

The Emperor Jahangir states in his autobiography that the times for running dogs are in the morning and at the end of the day, and describes Arabian dogs (perhaps salukis, as Brian Duggan has suggested to me) as having become exhausted because they were run when the air was too hot for them. The dogs may have actually come from Arabia or at least Afghanistan as the emperor describes having received a gift of dogs from the governor of Qandahar. 

Rabies Passed from a Dog to Two Elephants

Arabian Dog (Saluki?) in Procession, Udaipur
Emperor Jahangir describes how he came to understand that a dog could pass rabies to elephants:

“I knew that every animal or living thing bitten by a mad dog died, but this had not been ascertained in the case of an elephant.  In my time it so happened that one night a mad dog came into the place where was tied one of my private elephants, Gajpati by name, and bit the foot of a female elephant that was with mine. She at once cried out. The elephant-keepers at once ran in, and the dog fled away into a thorn-brake that is there. After a little while it came in again and bit my private elephant's fore-foot as well. The elephant killed it. When a month and five days had passed after this event, one day when it was cloudy the growling of thunder came to the ear of the female elephant, that was in the act of eating, and it of a sudden raised a cry and its limbs began to tremble. It threw itself on the ground, but rose again. For seven days water ran out of its mouth, then suddenly it uttered a cry and showed distress. The remedies the drivers gave it had no effect, and on the eighth day it fell and died. A month after the death of the female elephant they took the large elephant to the edge of the river in the plain. It was cloudy and thundery in the same way. The said elephant in the height of excitement all at once began to tremble and sat down on the ground. With a thousand difficulties the drivers took it to its own place. After the same interval and in the same way that had happened to the female elephant this elephant also died.”

J. Ovington, a chaplain, visiting Surat in 1689, reported that there was a veterinary hospital near the city in which cows, horses, goats, and dogs were treated. 

Pets and Professional Dogs in the Modern Era

Explosives Detection Dog, Varanasi Airport
Although I heard of cases of pi-dogs becoming house pets, the only pet dogs I actually saw were purebreds, mostly Labradors, a German Shepherd, a Doberman, an Akita, a Beagle, a Yorkie, and a St. Bernard.  We encountered explosives detection dogs with military handlers at the Varanasi and Udaipur airports, both overweight Labradors.

An article in the India Times in February 2014 describes India’s first “petathalon,” in which “200 pet dogs of various breeds will run along with their human companions.”  The article says that the breeds participating included Labradors, German shepherds, beagles, rottweilers, pugs, Tibetan Mastiffs, bull mastiffs, and others.  A picture accompanying the article shows a boy with a German shepherd.  There was also to be talks by veterinarians, groomers, and others.  The event was a fundraiser for animal welfare programs.  Nowhere does the article mention pi-dogs.  


From Vedic times there have been two classes of dogs in India, the pi-dogs and those that were bred to the chase or to guard the palace.  They have always been separated and still are. India is too big a country for me to claim to understand after a short visit, and I am in no position to judge. Nevertheless, I feel that the rapid industrialization and modernization that is taking hold in much of the country is going to force change for the pi-dogs. Roads are getting more dangerous, less forgiving.  If more than two-thirds of pi-dogs die in the first months of life now, the carnage seems likely to increase.  These are generally gentle and I think attractive dogs. They are grateful for food and attention. Yet many that I saw were diseased—almost all over two or three years old, with obvious lesions on the skin and significant balding where fleas and flies constantly worried them.  They should not be allowed to continue to breed indiscriminately, and to navigate a generally indifferent and often unfriendly world.  Sexual reproduction should be limited, as has been implemented in some areas.  

I would close with mention of someone I did not meet, but wish I had. Sandip Karan of Kolkata, described in an article by Kaushik Sengupta as a “street dog doctor,” takes care of thousands of street dogs every year, and gives many a home.  May there be more of his saintly kind!  (Click on this link for a remarkable series of photographs.)

Notes of Appreciation

First I must thank my wife, Joan, who took most of the pictures reproduced here.  Thanks to Professor Rana P.B. Singh for showing us many of the interesting shrines of Varanasi, including Shiva riding the dog.  Many of our drivers and tour guides displayed considerable skill in finding art that included dogs.  These include: Shailendra Singh Rathore whose knowledge of Jaipur made him the best guide we could imagine, and who found palace depictions of hunts that I have not seen published before. Attar Singh, a skillful and patient driver navigated the difficult streets of Delhi and made good time on the long roads between stops; if we return to India, my first priority will be to assure that he drives us once again. Devesh Kumar Agarwal got us down to the Ganges twice, and helped us navigate that wonderful and frightening city.  H.K. Lavania in Agra not only showed us the great wonder of the world, the Taj Mahal, but spoke French to my wife throughout the visit.  In Udaipur, our guide, Arun Bhate showed us the Shiva with the blood dripping into the dog’s mouth on the wall of the temple. 

Joan with Shop Owner's St. Bernard, Udaipur
I must also thank Dr. Savita Yadav of Khemvillas in Ranthambhore, who made vegetarian Indian food a healthy and delightful cuisine.  The atmosphere of this hotel was such that we ended up making friends at meals, rather than always going to a separate table as seemed to be true in many other hotels.  

I also want to thank Kavita N. Ramdas, Representative of the Ford Foundation, who gave us a tour of the Foundation, which my uncle, Douglas Ensminger, worked at for several decades after WWII and who is still remembered in Foundation halls as the Maharajah Ensminger. (I first learned of this sobriquet from A. Gridley Hall, a friend who once worked for the Ford Foundation in South America, but who died young, and long ago. Grid, as I blogged about a year ago, was no stranger to pariahs.)

Finally, I wish to express my deep appreciation for Dr. J.D. Agarwal and Dr. Aman Agarwal, who asked me to speak on money laundering at the Indian Institute of Finance, but had the good humor to allow me also to give a seminar on the social and economic history of dogs. Although I have no influence in such matters, I be so bold as to suggest that the Nobel economics committee should take note of the important work this institution, and particularly Dr. J.D. Agarwal, have done for developing sophisticated financial markets research and education in India.   


Adiceam, Marguerite E. (1965). Les Images de Siva dans l’Inde du Sud, III et IV (Bhikaanamurti et Kakalamurti). Arts Asiatiques, 12, 83-112 (showing south Indian depictions of Bhikshatana, the mendicant or beggar aspect of Shiva, which often include a small hunting dog with the appearance of a sighthound). 

Agarwal, Yamini (2013). Capital Structure Decisions under Multiple Objectives: A Study of Indian Corporates.  Delhi: IIF Publications (an analysis of how capital structure decisions are becoming very sophisticated for Indian corporations). 

Allsen, Thomas T. (2006).  The Royal Hunt in Eurasian History.  Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. 

The Amrita Bazar Patrika 31(53), p. 3, Calcutta, July 13, 1899. “The Sedition Trials.”

Belo, Vinicius Silva, Werneck, Guilherme Loureiro, da Silva, Eduardo Sergio, Barbosa, David Soeiro, and Struchiner, Claudio Jose (2015).  Population Estimation Methods for Free-Ranging Dogs: A Systematic Review. PLoS/ONE e0144830.

Bernier, Francois (1916).  Travels in the Mogul Empire AD 1656-1668.  London: Oxford University Press. 

Campbell, A. (1891). Santal Folk Tales. Pokhuria: Santal Mission Press (stories of hunting dogs, wild dogs, and others). 

Chilli, Shaikh (1913). Folk-Tales of Hindustan.  Bahadurganj, Allahabad: Abinah Chandra Sarkar, Brahmo Mission Press (with stories of people been changed into dogs).

Choudhury, Nishipad Dev (1999). Lord Siva and Siva Icons in Assam.  In Studies in Hindu and Buddhist Art (Mishra, P.K., ed). New Delhi: Abhinav Publications.

Contadini, A.  (2012).  A World of Beasts: A Thirteenth-Century Illustrated Arabic Book on Animals. Leiden: E.J. Brill (Contadini notes that this book likely originally contained a section on dogs, probably with a picture, but this section did not survive).

Danielou, Alain (1994).  The Complete Kama Sutra.  Rochester, Vermont: Park Street Press.

Dog Begging at Sarnath
Day, Lal Behari (1912). Folk-Tales of Bengal.  London: Macmillan & Co. (stories of dogs transforming into other animals).

de Courcy, Anne (2014). The Fishing Fleet: Husband-Hunting in the Raj.  New York: Harper.

Derr, Mark (2012).  What is the Indian Pariah? Psychology Today, August 9, 2012 (Taking issue with Gardiner Harris’s article in the New York Times and stating that “the view of Indian dogs as little more than dump-diving, teeth-gnashing threats to public health and safety is deeply flawed.” I agree with him on this.).

Dutt, Manmatha Nath (1891). The Ramayana. Calcutta: Girish Chandra Chackravarti.  The depiction of Yudhishthira at the entrance of heaven is from a Hindi version of the Mahabharata published by Gorakhpur Geeta Press.

Financial Action Task Force (2010).  Mutual  Evaluation Report on India: Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (describing India as often the victim of terrorism from various internal and external terrorist cells). 

Gubernatis, Angelo de (1872). Zoological Mythology, or The Legends of Animals.  London: Trubner & Co. (finding parallels between Hindu and western mythology and folk stories). 

Harris, Gardiner (2012).  New Delhi Journal: Where Streets Are Thronged with Stays Baring Fangs.  New York Times, August 6, 2012 (describing vicious attacks by stray dogs of children, students, old men). 

Herman, Steven L. (2008).  The Relationship between People and Dogs in Contemporary India.  Harvard Extension School. 

Hopkins, E.W. (1894). The Dog in the Rig-Veda. The American Journal of Philology, 15(2), 154-163. 

International Monetary Fund (February 2014).  India: 2014 Article IV Consultation (describing economic challenges for India in the years to come). 

Jaffar, S.M. (1936). The Mughal Empire from Babar to Aurangzer.  Kissa Khani, Peshawar: S. Muhammad Sadiq Khan.  

Karthickeyan, S.M.K., Rvimurugan, T., Hisham, A., and Sivaselvam, S.N. (2015).  Chippiparai Breed of Dogs in Tamil Nadu: An Assessment of Physical and Performance Characteristics. The Indian Journal of Veterinary Sciences and Biotechnology, 10(3), 45-49 (describing the breed as "a medium-sized indigenous sight hound dog of Tamil Nadu).

Kharakwal, J.S., Rawat, Y.S., and Osada, T. (2011). Annual Report of Excavation at Hanmer 2007-08 and 2008-09. In Occasional Paper 10: Linguistics, Archaeology and the Human Past Osada, T., and Uesugi, A., eds.). Kyoto: Indus Project. 71-104.

Knowles, J. Hinton (1888).  Folk-Tales of Kashmir.  London: Trubner & Col. (describing a dog that tracked thieves who had stolen from his master’s shop, taking his master to the place where they had hidden the goods; also, stories: “The Clever Jackal” and “The Jackal-King”).

Lane-Poole, Stanley (1908).  Aurangzib and the Decay of the Mughal Empire.  Oxford: Clarendon Press. 

Malleson, G.B. (1896).  Rulers of India: Akbar. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Majumder, S.S., Bhadra, A., Ghosh, A., et al. (2014). To Be or Not to Be Social: Foraging Associations of Free-Ranging Dogs in an Urban Ecosystem.  Acta Ethologica, 17(1), 1-8.

Majumder, S.S., Chatterjee, A., and Bhadra, A. (2014). A Dog’s Day with Humans—Time Activity Budget of Free-Ranging Dogs in India.  Current Science, 106.

Monier-Williams (1885). Religious Thought and Life in India.  London: John Murray (describes worship of dogs, feeding dogs as a sacred duty, and how one of the 139 Mothers of Gujarat controls mad dog and prevents hydrophobia). 

Tourist Trying to Give Commands to Pi-Dog at Bus Station
Muller, F. Max (1890).  The Sacred Books of the East (50 vols). Oxford: Clarendon Press.  Muller was the overall editor as well as a translator in some volumes.  Twenty volumes were from Hindu religious sources, and two from Jain sources,making this one of the massive collections of scholarship of the early 20th century.  NOTE: Rather than having cumbersome citations for each reference in this blog, I have chosen to use the volume and page number where the reference was taken from (e.g., SBE II, 56).  The volumes may be downloaded without cost from and Google Books. 

Norton Simon Museum, Catalogue No. F.1975.17.27.S, 15th century bronze statue of Bhairava from Tamil Nadu, south India. 

Ovington, John (1696).  A Voyage to Suratt in the Year 1689.  London: Jacob Tonson.

Pal, S.K. (2001). Population Ecology of Free-Ranging Urban Dogs in West Bengal, India.  Acta Theriologica, 46(1), 69-78. 

Pal, S.K. (2003). Urine Marking by Free-Ranging Dogs (Canis familiarizes) in Relation to Sex, Season, Place and Posture.  Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 80, 45-49. 

Pal, S.K. (2008).  Maturation and Development of Social Behavior During Early Ontogeny in Free-Ranging Dog Puppies in West Bengal, India. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 111(1), 95-107.  

Pal, S.K. (2010). Play Behaviour During Early Ontogeny in Free-Ranging Dogs (Canis familiaris).  Applied Animal Bheaviour Science, 126(3-4), 140-153 

Pal, S.K. (2011).  Mating System of Free-Ranging Dogs (Canis familiaris). International Journal of Zoology, 2011.   

Pal, S.K., Ghosh, B., and Roy, S. (1998). Dispersal Behaviour of Free-Ranging Dogs (Canis familiaris) in Relation to Age, Sex, Season and Dispersal Distance.  Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 61(2), 123-132. 

Pal, S.K., Ghosh, B., and Roy, S. (1999). Inter- and Intra-Sexual Behaviour of Free-Ranging Dogs (Canis familiaris). Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 62, 267-278.

Palsetia, Jesse S. (2001).  Mad Dogs and Parsis: The Bombay Dog Riots of 1832.  Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Third Series, 11(1), 13-30. 

Rafy, Mrs. (1920).  Folk-Tales of the Khasis.  London: MacMillan & Co. (tales, including “How the Dog Came to Live with Man”). 

Ragozin, Zenaide A. (1002). Vedic India. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons. 

Rezavi, Syed Ali Nadeem (2012).  Medical Tehniques and Practices in Mughal India.  New Delhi: Indian National Science Academy (describing a doctor at Kalanaur to whom dog-bite patients were sometimes carried).

Rogers, Alexander, and Beveridge, Henry (1909).  The Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri, or Memoirs of Jahangir. London: Royal Asiatic Society.

Sengupta, Kaushik (2014). Street Dog Doctor. Galli.In website (January 1, 2014) (describing Sandip Karan, who cares for hundreds of dogs in Kolkata).

Sobti, Manu P. (1993). Timurid Central Asia and Mughal India: Some Correlations regarding Urban Design Concepts and the Typology of the Muslim House.  Master’s Thesis: Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Storl, Wolf-Dieter (2004). Shiva: The Wild God of Power and Ecstasy.  Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions.

Sudarshan, M.K. (2007). Rabies Prevention: A Medical Guidbook. Pune:  Serum Institute of India Ltd.   This book has been posted online as a public service. 

Sudarshan, M.K., Madhusudana, S.N., Mahendra, B.J. et al. (2007). Assessing the Burden of Human Rabies in India: Results of a National Multi-Center Epidemiological Survey.  International Journal of Infectious Diseases, 11, 29-35.

Tavernier, Jean-Baptiste (1889).  Travels in India (2 vols).  London: Macmillan & Co.

Tawney, C.H. (1884).  The Katha Sarit Sagara, or Ocean of the Streams of Story, 2 vols. Calcutta: J.W. Thomas (11th century collection of stories and fairy tales, many involving dogs).  

Yule, Henry, and Burnell, A.C. (1903). Hobson-Johnson: A Glossary of Colloquial Anglo-Indian Words and Phrases. London: John Murray (defining pariah-dog as the "common ownerless yellow dog, that frequents all inhabited places in the East, is universally so called by Europeans, no doubt from being a low-bred caste-less animal."  The entry quotes a 1789 source as stating that the Indian common cur is called a "pariar-dog.").

All rights reserved as to photographs and original text.