Tuesday, September 29, 2015

My Answers to Some of the Pertinent Questions that You Have in Your Mind: Question-2 About Eating Meat!

Your Question: I hate the non-vegetarian people and those involved in killing animals and eating their flesh deliciously. I do not understand how modern humans be so cruel? I believe in ahimsa and wish to practice it as taught by the great religions of India, Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism. Moreover, it has been scientifically proven that meat eating is not good for health. Humans have no right to take away other lives. That is what our scriptures teach us. So both on religious and health counts, governments should take all steps to promote vegetarianism as an accepted culture and ban all kinds of non-vegetarian practices. What do you say?

My Answer: I do not know how much you have learnt or understood from your own sacred texts such as the Mahabharata or the Upanishads. Before I give my own thoughts in to the subject matter, I would like to recall a story from the great epic of the Hindus, the Mahabharata. I have simplified it by omitting much of the details and the style of text for better comprehension.  (You may go to page giving the English translation of Mahabharata that depicts this story in detail by clicking this link!)

Once the great Pandava King Yudhishthira wanted to know about human virtues and morality and asked this difficult question to the great sage of wisdom, Markandeya.

" Oh! Great Saint! I want to know about the subtle truths about morality" the king requested the saint.

In response, Markandeya told the king a story about what a simple housewife taught a wise ascetic named Kausika. This learned Brahman saint Kaushika was a scholar and a principled yogiHe had great abilities enriched with the power of asceticism and devotion to the study of the Vedas, Angas and the Upanishads. 

One day this great saint was sitting under a tree and was reciting the sacred texts in order to enhance his priestly power. A female crane sitting on the branches of the tree happened to drop her excreta just at that time which fell on the body of the saint making the Brahman feel polluted and unholy. He became very angry and looked up to see the bird. His angry stare powered by his yogic capabilities caused the poor bird to die and fell down to his feet immediately. Seeing the dead bird, the Brahman for a moment felt remorse because his anger now had violated the principle of ahimsa (non-violence). 

" I had done a bad deed out of my anger" he kept repeating this in his mind.

Anyway, he proceeded walking to the village nearby. He felt hungry and thirsty and he needed something to eat and drink. As it was the practice for the yogis to seek alms in such times of bodily needs, this saint then proceeded to a village home of a peasant. He found the housewife alone there and asked for alms from her. 

The simple village woman showed all respect to the saint and requested him to stay till she made the food to satiate his hunger. 

At that very moment her husband, the farmer entered the house after the day's hard work at his field. The obedient housewife immediately went to attend her husband momentarily forgetting the saint waiting for food and water. Seeing the poor village woman ignoring his saintly presence and needs, the Brahman felt highly angry once again. But the lady remembered about the waiting saint just the moment she had satisfactorily attended to the needs of her husband. She then proceeded to the saint and requested him to be patient for some more time for her to do the needful.

The saint now had been fuming from anger because this village woman had dared to ignore an accomplished saint like him. His hunger added oil to his anger from his hurt ego. He stared at the woman reflecting his annoyed face. Then the lady said to him humbly:

" Sire, please forgive me. I got a bit delayed because I had to attend to my tired husband. My husband is my supreme god. He came hungry and tired and it was my duty to attend him. But now I am free and I will attend to your needs."

Hearing this, the Brahmana's anger exceeded and he retorted like this:

" You ignorant village woman! How dare you ignore esteemed Brahmans like me? Do you not know the manners? Do you not know that we are like fire when we are angry? Do you not understand that our anger can even destroy the whole earth?"

" But I am not that she-crane, my lord!" the woman replied.


The egoistic Brahman was stunt. He became speechless. How come this simple village woman came to know about the incident that happened some time ago? Surely, she must be some goddess living in disguise. The Brahman thought. His anger began to fade out to awe!

" O! learned Rishi ! Remove your anger which is arising out of your ego.O you the spiritually enlightened! It had been said that the study of the Vedas, tranquility of soul, simplicity of behavior, and repression of the senses, constitute the eternal duties of the Brahmana. Those full  with virtue and morals have said that truth and honesty are the highest virtue. But, it seems to me that you with your highest learning has not comprehended what virtue really means. If you are interested in knowing what virtue really is, I advice you to go to the city of Mithila in search of the virtuous butcher. He would teach you what it really is". The lady advised the saint.

The Brahmana, now humbled by this lady then proceeded in search of the butcher to learn about the reality of virtue. He began to meditate on the subtle ways of morality and virtue and decided to go in search of the virtuous butcher of Mithila about whom the village woman told. He went in search of him and finally reached him.

Seeing the saint, the butcher acknowledged that he knew why the saint traveled this much in search of such a man like him who butchered animals and sold their meat to people to eat. But the Brahmana at heart was dejected by the profession of this man and so he said:

" Why do you do such a cruel trade? Do you not realize the fact that killing is a sin? This profession does not fit you. You should look for some other noble job instead". 

Hearing this, the butcher told the saint humbly like this: 

" O spiritually exalted Brahman! This profession I am doing is the only work I know. This has been the work of my parents and my forefathers. Perhaps this is the job ordained to me by God. I am only doing my job dutifully. But I always speak the truth, never envy others; and give to the best of my power. I live upon what remains after serving the gods, guests, and those that depend on me. I never speak ill of anything, small or great."

As Kausika was too willing now to learn from this meat vendor, the latter gave him a long sermon on the various aspects of human virtues and morals.His sermon covered the real meaning of ahimsa (non-violence), the food habits of people and about meat eating that some of the Brahmans considered as unholy and sinful. The following are some of those things that this man doing an unholy profession told Kausika who had been of the thought that he was the wisest and the most virtuous one:

"Those animals that are slain by me and whose meat I sell, also acquire karma, because with their meat, gods and guests and servants are provided with tasty food. It is said authoritatively that herbs and vegetables, deer, birds and wild animals constitute the food of all creatures. And, O Brahmana! king Sivi, the son of Usinara, of great forbearance attained heaven, which is hard to reach, giving away his own flesh. And in the past, O Brahmana! two thousand animals used to be killed every day in the kitchen of king Rantideva; and in the same manner two thousand cows were killed every day and this king Rantideva acquired  reputation by distributing food with meat every day. For the performance of the four monthly rites animals ought to be sacrificed daily. 'The sacred fire is fond of animal food,' this saying has come down to us. And at sacrifices animals are invariably killed by spiritually elevated Brahmanas, and these animals being purged of sin, by chanting of hymns, go to heaven. If, O Brahmana! the sacred fire had not been so fond of animal food in ancient times, it could never have become the food of any one. And in this matter of animal food, this rule has been laid down by Munis:--Whoever partakes of animal food after having first offered it duly and respectfully to the gods  is not polluted by the act."

"And, O good Brahmana!, knowing this to be the consequence of my own actions, I obtain my livelihood from this profession. Forsaking  one's own occupation is considered to be a sin and the act of sticking to one's own profession is without doubt a meritorious act."

"Agriculture is considered to be a praiseworthy occupation, but it is well-known that even there, great harm is done to animal life; and in the operation of digging the earth with the plough, numberless creatures in the ground as also various other forms of animal life are destroyed. Don't you think so? O good Brahmana! the seeds of rice and other such cereals are all living organisms. What is your opinion on this matter? Men, O Brahmana! hunt wild animals and kill them and eat their meat; they also cut  trees and herbs; but, O Brahmana! there are innumerable living organisms in trees, in fruits, as also in water; don't you think so? This whole creation, O Brahmana! is full of animal life, sustaining itself with food derived from living organisms. Do you not notice that fish preys upon fish, and that various species of animals prey upon other species, and there are species the members of which prey upon each other? Men, O Brahmana! while walking about here and there, kill many creatures in the ground by trampling on them, and even men of wisdom and enlightenment destroy animal life in various ways, even while sleeping. What have you to say to this?--The earth and the air all swarm with living organisms, which are unconsciously destroyed by men from mere ignorance. Is  this not so?"

"The commandment that people should not do harm to any creature, was ordained of old by men, who were ignorant of the true facts of the case. For, O Brahmana! there is not a man on the face of this earth, who is free from the sin of doing injury to creatures. After full consideration, the conclusion is irresistible that there is not a single man who is free from the sin of doing injury to animal life. Even the sage, O good Brahmana! whose vow is to do harm to no creature, does inflict injury to animal life. Only, on account of greater considerations, the harm is less." 

The butcher further gave a lengthy discourse on many other aspects to Kaushika. 

King Yudhishthira listened to the detailed story as told by Markandeya. in response to his doubts on human virtues and morality.

My dear friend! I hope you could find the answer to your thoughts about animal slaughter, non-vegetarianism, etc from the brief narrative I reproduced from the story given in the Mahabharata, the sacred text of the prominent religion of India. 

I think it important to give another quote from my favorite book of life guidance, in this context:

"Adam and Eve and their first generation of children did not use the flesh of animals for food. They subsisted wholly upon "the fruits of the trees." After the first generation all of the descendants of Adam began to partake of dairy products, but many of them continued to follow a non-flesh diet. Many of the southern tribes with whom they later united were also non-flesh eaters. Later on, most of these vegetarian tribes migrated to the east and survived as now admixed in the peoples of India." ( The Urantia Book 76:4.4)

To conclude this discussion, I would say this. All living beings need energy for living. The higher order living beings (the immortals) have been provided with the ability to absorb energy directly from the universal energy circuits just as the plants take sunlight and convert it in to chemically stored energy such as the carbohydrates for the lower order animals to sustain. Similarly lower order animals eat the chemically stored energy and convert it into concentrated energy source such as the complex fats and proteins in the form of flesh which are used by still higher forms of animals. Some animals including humans can use both stored up energy of the plants and the animals for their own energy needs. And all these systems are divinely created for a purpose. It is not necessary that all humans have the mind capacity to understand all the secrets of divine creation.

What you eat or relish is according to your anatomy and that keeps changing or progressing according to divine plans. Thus a discussion on the superiority of any kind of eating habit is of no special use. Only stupid humans with lower mind capacities could become boastful of their superiority on account of any of their physiological or mental or spiritual qualities. Humans do differ and that difference is for serving each other and not for establishing overpowering superiority over others!

But in the due course of time, humans would advance further biologically and spiritually. In those times, the human capacity to transform energy for self sustenance would also increase many fold. Perhaps then, humans no longer need to eat concentrated energy source such as animal flesh. Their liking for such foods naturally vanish.

But till such times, it is better that we refrain from judging our fellow beings on account of their eating habits.

While non-violence is the best policy, humans are not to be foolish adherents of non-violence when the world is yet to become a perfected abode. Problematic life forms need to be tackled!

But it is of a greater problem when humans kill each other in the name of ahimsa, meat or beef eating, spiritual beliefs, etc. Do you think God would ever favor a person who resort to violence for the sake of his own erroneous ideas about his own religion? Do you think humans know more than God? Do you think God needs human protection?

I earnestly hope you understand what I wanted to say.

3 comments:

  1. Thanks for explaining this so well. But debates like this keep taking place:
    Blog by Justice Katju about beef controversy

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  2. Almost every Indian with above average educational status understand well about the game plan played by some of the political outfits to garner favorable votes by playing this beef game. Though they took up this issue masquerading as upholders and protectors of Hinduism, they seem totally ignorant about Hindu traditions and religious texts. Not only the Mahabharat, but also in several other religious texts such as the Rigveda, Manusmriti, writings of Swami Vivekananda, etc, beef is praised as some thing special. However, since Hinduism is a universal adopter of ideas, the later day ideas from Jainism and the like had made an effect in some people to use some eating preferences as an opportunity to group themselves as different from others. They used vegetarianism and abstaining from beef eating or adopting total fasting or food restrictions as part of their effort to make themselves elite. The caste gradations in Hinduism helped to propagate this to some extent. This had been happening for so many centuries. No wonder that some modern day people are using the same technique for gaining advantage in the vote bank politics of the present. But they do not realize that this may also boomerang back to their disadvantage!

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  3. Hi,

    However, since Hinduism is a universal adopter of ideas, the later day ideas from Jainism and the like had made an effect in some people to use some eating preferences as an opportunity to group themselves as different from others. They used vegetarianism and abstaining from beef eating or adopting total fasting or food restrictions as part of their effort to make themselves elite. The caste gradations in Hinduism helped to propagate this to some extent. This had been happening for so many centuries.


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    ReplyDelete

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