Indian elephant cruelty galore - crushing to dampen the animal's spirit?

This elephant had been deliberately blinded by its handler
Nail-tipped sticks to torture the animals.
A helpless baby elephant endures a brutal ritual to prepare it for sale.
Nandan cuts a pathetic figure at the Guruvayur Temple, with his hind feet bound temple elephant
Terrible wounds in the legs caused by prolonged chaining.
Chained and roped in spite of severe burns in the
More often than not we have seen calm and composed elephants in the Hindu temples  of southern India in particular Kerala and Tamil Nadu states  and occasional street elephants  begging money  from the fear-stricken shop-keepers on command from their masters - Mahouts. 
Elephant crushing - phajaan Tailand.
As the circus companies are gradually disappearing because of higher maintenance costs, enforcement of animal laws, etc, we do not see elephants  nowadays in such entertainment houses. When I was a kid, at the Circus, a major attraction  50 years ago, I saw elephants doing all kinds of tricks, riding a huge  tri-cycle,  playing foot ball, dancing with dainty foot steps that might challenge a ballerina from the Baltic state, writing some numbers with a chalk-piece on the black-board, etc.  It was fun watching a huge animal doing  various tasks effortlessly upon commands from the Ankusha - wielding Mahouts. Never had we thought about the intense training program the big jumbo had been put through before becoming well trained to do  such tricks with dexterity. In reality, these beautiful animals designed by God to live in the wilderness, went through horrors in the name of training. 
Elephant crushing - phajaan Tailand.
If we think that these animals would have gone through normal animal training program in which psychology is used  to make the animals obey the commands by giving reward for each act, we are absolutely wrong. Among the animals, elephants undergo  the worst and cruel treatment that may make your heart bleed and your blood boil. 
Horrible torture - crushing to subdue.
Heartless and selfish man wants to use elephants' intelligence and strength to perform difficult task for him.  Being away from their natural habitat, the the trained elephants are continuously chained, fed unhygienic food and  given inadequate water far below their daily intake. No regular bathing and dusting  of their skin to protect it from UV rays. Deprived of their natural surrounding, the new unfriendly  cramped environment makes the elephants uncomfortable and they are  mentally stressed. Wounds in the legs because of friction of  rough chain on the skin, skin  burns, eye burns, etc., are not well taken care of and these giant animals stoically bear them. The pre - training problems are part of an elephant across Asia and elsewhere.
chained elephant.
The quite shocking one is, in the name of training or domestication, elephants are exposed to a variety of cruel and disgusting methods to subdue them. The widely practiced method in SE Asia is called Elephant Crushing, or a training crush ( also called the 'kraal'). It is nothing but the worst form of cruelty inflicted on the animal for selfish motive. In order to tame the freshly caught  wild elephants,  the trainers keep them in a  narrow  make-shift  well-built cage or stall with limited space with legs tied and the trunk (proboscis) movements restricted.  They use a variety of corporal punishment or negative reinforcement that may shun the devils in the Hades. The sharp spikes  are driven into their heads or heated nails  are dug into the most sensitive parts of their huge bodies. They undergo excruciating, unbearable pain. Further, Jumbos are  tied with  strong ropes to keep the elephant from moving,  kicking, raising or swinging  their head. This method is supposed to crush the elephant's spirit.  Many trainers  say this method will subdue them, make them adjust to the new environment and learn the basic commands “Still!” or “Quiet!”. 

 In the case of an elephant, born in captivity is brought up among  human beings and its training is humane from the day it begins; whereas a wild beast parted from the herd and its mother must suffer agonies before its will is broken.
Chained, abused and lonely: India's captive elephants suffer to entertain at temples and circuses. swollen legs with wounds.
In Thailand, where elephant poaching is not under control  the  new poor elephants fresh out of the wilderness are then often put through a process of beatings to "mentally break" them " - phajaan"), to make them submissive for the lucrative  business - entertaining tourists in tourist parks. This practice off Phajaan (crushing of elephants' spirit) in Thailand  is condemned by a variety of animal welfare groups as a form of animal cruelty.
Thisi  is What Happens before the Elephant Ride  .
According to National Geographic reports 
stabbing  into the ears and feet of an elephant using of nails and sticks  is followed  in Thailand. Other reports point out  to "break" the elephant and make them submissive to their owners,  the trainers resort to  beatings with sticks, chains or bull hooks, sleep-deprivation, hunger, and thirst.  With exceptions, for most elephant training centers, corporal punishment seems to be the main forte. 

As far back as 1970s, countries like the USA  used  
corporal punishment and negative reinforcement to train wild elephants. Later a new method called  protected contact or non-dominance is used in modern zoos. This techniques involves giving rewards, not punishment to encourage the behavior of the animal to the target behavior. Psychology-based method is harmless and lasting, but it is time consuming.
badly wounded temple elephant, Kerala
Though Elephants hold an important place in Indian culture as we can see captive elephants in numerous temples, these caparisoned, well decorated iconic creatures add zest to the temple festivals especially in Kerala state. An elephant is considered an embodiment of lord Ganesha, who is revered across the country. Behind this extravaganza and publicity bonanza at many temples, there lies an hidden streak of unimaginable cruelty. Many temples own elephants and some get the elephants through a broker. Renting elephants is a money spinning business, but their health and welfare are compromised. So, the trained elephants also suffer the same agony as before when they were put through harsh training. Commonly speaking with many exceptions, many temple mahouts are heartless and treat the elephants badly and  the temple authorities do not take serious action against them. During the Musth cycle, as the Nature has it, the bull elephant is  normally aggressive and violent, needing the company of a female elephant. The Mahouts starve these bulls and  do not give enough food and water for a few months to reduce their aggressive nature. Every year, this routine is followed. 

The Indian Animal Welfare Board admits many temples have no control over the mahouts who treat the animals badly. So in God's place, the elephants are on pillory with mahouts holding a tough bullwhip in one hand and red hot spike in the other hand to tame the majestic denizens of the jungle.

Gone Astray - The Care and Management of the Asian Elephant in Domesticity Richard C Lair, Food And Agriculture Organization Of The United Nations (FAO), October 1997, ISBN 974-89472-3-8