HINDU DIET CODES, SCRIPTURAL SANCTIONS AND ETHICS
(Lecture by N. R. Srinivasan, 2010)
Indo-Aryans, who established Vedic culture, gave great importance to determine which food can be safely eaten and which is not. Not all food is considered good for the physical and spiritual well-being of the people. Ayurveda (Life Science) has also given great consideration to this aspect during sickness as well as preventive care. Cooking as well as eating, both are compared to Hindu sacrifices (Homa). When the stomach is burning for food we consume food to quench that fire. This is similar to what we offer to the sacrificial fire. God, to whom the food is offered through the medium of sacrificial fire, is pleased and brings us good things in life as per Hindu belief. Vedas proclaim timely rain by the divine grace saves life. In a similar way the food that is offered to the burning stomach, converts it into nutrients and activates bones and brains. Cooking is also a kind of offering to sacrificial fire. Making use of fire to cook and making it good for digestion is similar to a divine act. "Food is the first medicine" is a well known proverb in Ayurveda. If the body can't take food how can it take the medicine is the guiding principle in treatments in Ayurvedic medical science. To cure a person of the disease with medicines it is necessary to give nourishing food. Before giving the nourishing food it is necessary to keep the body clean. Only when stomach and mind are clean body can be made strong. Therefore, Ayurveda prescribes also medicines to clean the body first. Manu, the ancient law giver, has described in detail what food is forbidden and what food is permitted in his Dharmasaastra. Paaka Saastra, the ancient book on cooking science deals at length not only on the subject but also dwells at length how to make non edibles, edible and healthy by the art of cooking, like cactus.
According Hinduism food can be classified into three categories: Saatvic, Rajasic and Tamasic. Saatvic foods are those foods which do not agitate stomach at all. Much of the saatvic food consists of fruits, vegetables and nuts. Rama in his loneliness in Dandakaaranya forest resorted to such kind of food as described in Sundarakaanda in Ramayana, though he was a meat eater. "Na maamsam Raaghvoe bhunkte na chaapi madhu saevate | vanyam suvihitam nityam bhaktamasnaati panchamam||" says Hanuman to Sita—Due to pangs of separation from you (Sita) Raaghava (your husband) neither eats meat nor enjoys alcoholic drinks. Daily he eats the available fruits and nuts in the evenings and that too in small quantities (sarga 36, sloka 41).
Saatvic foods are supposed to produce calmness and nobility among men. Eating fruits and vegetables increases one's magnetism as per the Hindu code. From what we understand to-day about diets, we can infer that the ancient Hindu saints (Rishis) had a very good idea about food in general and its effect on the body and thinking patterns of the individual. Expression of the soul is dependent on the body, and the body is dependent on food. So, for proper spiritual development, a proper diet is a must for every one. An old proverb says: "Annatoe praanam, Praanatoe parakramam" –with food you get life and with life valor. If saatvic foods are taken in right proportions, one would develop a calm attitude and will not be disturbed under any circumstance. He will also take clear decisions without being agitated. Thus the wise sages (rishis) strongly recommended saatvic food along with yogic practices for spiritual and intellectual development.
Food that consists of the fatty flesh of animals is called Rajasic food. Rajassic food also consists of strong spices, onions, garlic, hot peppers, pickles and other similar foods. Rajasic foods are supposed to produce activity and strong emotional qualities among men. People indulging too much in such foods are always agitated; take wrong decisions influenced by emotions and take wrong decisions to regret later. They would also repeat the same mistakes.
Ayurveda did not prohibit meat eating. Ayurvedic notion of a happy life was not to the liking of the austere ascetic and puritanical law givers. They naturally frowned upon such advices coming from Ayurvedic sources as: "Na maamsabhakshane doeshoe na madyoe na maithunay | pravittireshaa bhootaanaam nrivittistu mahaaphalaa ||--There is no sin in eating meat, in drinking liquor or in sex indulgence; they are natural inclinations. But there is merit in self restraint". Upanishads also recommended Rajasic type of food under special circumstances and for pregnant woman for a healthy and intelligent progeny in proper proportions.
The following Mantra from Brihadaranyaka Upanishad is worth repeating here: "Atha icchetputroe may panditoe vijeetah samitimgamah sushrooshitam vaacham bhaashitaa jaayate sarvaan vedaananubraveeta sarvamaayuriyaaditi maamsowdanam paacha-itvaa sarpishmantamasreeyaataa meesvarauoukshena vaarshabhena vaa"—He who wishes that a son should be born to him and that he should be a reputed scholar, who will be frequenting the assemblies of learned scholars, who would be speaking delightful and worth hearing words, who will be a master of all the Vedas and who will attain a full term of life should have rice cooked with the beef from a young bull or a bull in advanced years and he and his wife should eat it with clarified butter (ghee), then they will be able to bring forth such a son. It is worth noting here, that cow beef is not mentioned here because of special regard towards the female species, cow whose slaughter is avoided at all cost.
All the Puranas (Hindu Mythology) and Upanishads talk of Asvamedha Yajna (horse sacrifice), where horse meat was consumed by all the participants at the end of the sacrifice as Prasadam (blessed food). Goat meat was also popular in Yajnas. Madhvacahrya, who opposed such sacrifices promoted the concept of offering clay models of goat (Aja) in sacrifices symbolically.
Ramayana narrates the story of Vaataapi and his brother Ilvala. Ilvala cheated Agastya by offering him his brother Vaataapi's human flesh instead of the customary lamb meat which the sage knowingly digested to bring about the destruction of the cruel brother Vaataapi. Cooking lamb meat and feeding Brahmins was customary during Shraaddhas (death anniversary religious ceremony) in Treta Yuga as narrated in Aranya Kanda, XI, slokas 56 and 57: "Dhaarayan brahmanam roopamilvalah samskritam vadan | aamantrayati vipraan sa shraaddhamuddisya nigrinah || bhraataram samskritam kritvaa tatastam mesharoopinam | taan dvijaan bhojayaamaasa
shraaddhadrishtena karmanaa || Assuming the form of a Brahmin and speaking Sanskrit, that merciless Ilvala used to invite Brahmins for the sake of shraaddha. Thereupon cooking that brother (of his) who used to take the form of a ram, he used to feed those Brahmins according to the injunctions laid down for shraaddha".
shraaddhadrishtena karmanaa || Assuming the form of a Brahmin and speaking Sanskrit, that merciless Ilvala used to invite Brahmins for the sake of shraaddha. Thereupon cooking that brother (of his) who used to take the form of a ram, he used to feed those Brahmins according to the injunctions laid down for shraaddha".
The mythological story of Goddess Kaali is very popular and known to all. In the process of destroying the demon, she had to receive the human blood on her tongue in order to prevent it from falling on the ground. Each drop of blood falling on the ground would have generated a fresh demon each time due to the vow compassionately granted to him by Lord Shiva. This gives a mistaken notion of encouraging cannibalism.
There is a mistaken notion in the West that Hinduism prohibits beef eating because Hindus regard cow as holy and worship. We also often hear the expression "holy cow" often used in USA more in a derogatory sense than giving due consideration to Hindu sentiments. Predominant Western religions have conditioned people not to respect the so called lower forms of life and to think that those who do so are somehow primitive and superstitious. Hindus honor, adorn, and protect cows as a symbol of wealth, strength, abundance, selfless service and a full value for leading Earthly Life. Cow was the most popular domesticated animal by the Aryans of the Vedic period. Cow was a real blessing to the community. Cow provided milk, butter and yogurt. Dried cow dung cakes were used as a fuel starter and supplementary fuel. Cow dung was used as manure. The dead cow's skin was used to make shelters and clothing. The community was therefore indebted to cow in many ways. This later made them regard cow with reverence and devotion. Mythology speaks of a celestial cow Kamadhenu which could grant and fulfill any wish. Lord Krishna was a cowherd and he spent most of his childhood and youth taking care of cows. As times passed cows were looked upon as a symbol of motherhood. Even in the writings of Manu there are specific references to cows, and he forbids the slaughtering of cows. The Rigveda (6:28) reads: "Cows are God; they seem to me to be Indra, the God of Heaven". Vedic Aryans expressed their gratitude and veneration to cow in Rigveda in the following verses: "The cows have come and brought us good fortune. In our stalls contented they may stay! May they bring forth calves for us many colored, giving milk for Indra, our God, and every day! Oh cows! You make famished man slim and strong; to the ugly you bring beauty. Rejoice our homes, lead with pleas and lowing. In our assemblies we lead your vigor" (4:28, 1; 6). Hindu society, specially the Brahmin caste, practices strictly Lacto-vegetarianism enjoying the derived products from cow--milk, yogurt, butter, cheese and ghee (melted butter). They revere cow as the provider of life-essentials. It is their main source of protein and child food. Also Hindus always avoid slaughtering females of any animal species as far as practicable.
Main stream of Hindus still avoid beef, but for some small group of low caste Hindus and hill tribes who do not follow Sanaatana Dharma (Eternal Tradition) and still want to be called Hindus. Hindus do not look down upon any society that consumes beef. They do not look down upon followers of other religions who consume beef including Buddhist Japanese and Chinese though Buddhism prohibits killing of any animal, which is an off shoot of Hinduism preaching extreme form of non violence (Ahimsa). For some strict followers of Hinduism in India, cows are still everything. Slaughtering of cows will be a controversial issue for years to come influenced by these small groups. Ahimsa forbids slaughtering of any kind.
Even among meat eaters only certain types of meat like beef are eaten. Horse meat is not usually eaten perhaps due to sentimental values. During World War I and II, when the question arose as to whether the soldiers could be fed on horse meat, the non-vegetarians themselves opposed the idea. At that time, horse was the most useful animal during the warfare, and hence the strong sentiment as their life companion and sometimes their life saver too. Horse is considered "noble animal" in the West World. A thorough-bred is admired as a fine and extremely valuable animal. Vedic people similarly might have had a kind feeling about cow that ended up as reverence in the hands of some extremists. Also People who think it is civilized to eat fish, birds and animals condemn tribes in some remote land who eat human flesh and call them cannibals.
It is not irrelevant to write here about the human sacrifice to Goddess Kaali, though a thing of the past, now forbidden by law and the animal sacrifice that is still practiced in some Hindu temples. Any offering to God is consumed later by the devotees as blessed food (Prasadam). Hindus generally offer their favorite foods to God during their elaborate worship welcoming the Lord as their guest symbolically and offer their best.
A tribe named Thugs in India used to do human sacrifices to Kaali until 18th century. The British Government in India finally eradicated the whole tribe including women and children. No human sacrifices are performed in any Hindu temples today. No doubt, human sacrifices are there in the history of all religions including Christianity. It is said that one of the Thug's victim happened to be a British Officer and that made Brittan exterminate these gangs to the last woman and child.
Few temples in India who follow Tantric form of worship unfortunately still sacrifice animals. Blood and blood products are not at all allowed in the vast majority of the temples. None of the Hindu Temples in the USA allow blood in any form, even as meat products. People who have wounds and women during their monthly periods do not enter the temple. We have no right to kill the animals for the spiritual betterment of ourselves.
Taamasic is the worst food of all. The stale food that is left over, food that has become sour and contaminated is usually called Taamasic food. These foods are supposed to produce jealousy and greed among men. People who consume such foods are dull and cannot distinguish between good and bad.
Bhagavad Gita, the most popular Hindu scripture, describes the nature of the above three kinds of foods in chapter 17, slokas 8, 9 and 10. It does not specify any specific kind of food.
"Aayuh sattvabalaarogya sukha-preeti-vivardhanaah | Rasyaah snighdhaah sthiraa hridayaa aahaaraah saatvikapriyaah ||"— Foods that promote longevity, virtue, strength, health, happiness and joy are juicy, smooth, substantial and nutritious. Such foods are liked by persons in the mode of goodness (saatvik type).
"Katvamla-lavanaatyushna-teekshna-rooksha-vidaahinah | Aaahaara raajasasyeshtaa duhkha-soekaamaya-pradaah ||"—Foods that are very bitter, sour, salty, hot, pungent, dry and burning; and cause pain, grief, and disease; are liked by those persons in the mode of passion (Rajasic type).
"Yaatayaamam gatarasam pootiparyushitam cha yat | Ucchishtam api chaamedhyam Bhojanam taamasapriyam ||"—The foods liked by the people in the mode of ignorance (Taamasic type) are stale, rotten, refuses and impure.
One should eat Saatvic food for protecting and sustaining life like a patient who takes medicine for protection from diseases, says Mahabharata (12-212-14). Persons in the mode of goodness like Saatvic foods. One can also become noble person by taking Saatvic food, because one becomes what one eats.
The food we eat becomes divided into three constituents. The grossest part turns into feces; medium component becomes flesh, blood, marrow and bone. Semen, the subtlest part, rises upward and nourishes the brain and subtle organs of the body by uniting with the vital forces, says Chandogya Upanishad (6-05-01; 6-06-02). Purity of mind comes from the purity of food. Truth is revealed to pure mind. One becomes free from all bondage after knowing the Truth. (Ch.Up. 7-26-02). Gambling, intoxications, illicit sexual relationships, and meat eating is a natural negative tendency of human beings, but abstaining from these four activities is really divine (Bhaagavata Puraana, 1-17-38). Abstaining from meat eating is equivalent to performing one hundred holy sacrifices (Manu Smriti).
One of the chapters of Manusmriti deals with eatables and non eatables. Manu Dharmasaastra, promoting non violence (Ahimsa) states, "When a man realizes that flesh is the from the slaughtered animal, the cruelty after fettering and slaying corporeal beings, then let him entirely abstain from eating flesh". Many of our scriptures strongly recommend vegetarianism. Early Vedic tradition showed concessions and permitted animal food based on Varna Dharma (professional pursuit) and also their limited use on special consideration, particularly with respect to beef and horse meat. Dharmasaastra has granted concessions to the highly rajasic and tamsic people in order to control their urges and desires. Yet, at the same time, the saastra places many conditions on a particular action. It explains which animal can be eaten, the days of the month when eating meat is prohibited, and what special rituals are to be performed before eating. People in the world develop craving for things, and when they are prohibited from having them, they revolt, and find illegal or wrong ways to obtain and enjoy the things they want. Saastras, therefore, have laid down so many restrictions showing that the ideal is to rise above these cravings. The tradition of eating no meat came much later to Hinduism, which influenced the Brahmin community first. Varna Dharma also slowly changed into illogical caste system based on once birth and not professional practice; the caste system also got multiplied. Brahmin community got strictly disciplined by the religious and spiritual leaders. Jainism had a strong influence on Hinduism. Jainism is an ancient religion and is an off-shoot of Hinduism. Jainism strongly believes in non-injury to all forms of life with the exception of plant-life. Perhaps at the time Jainism was born nobody realized that plants too had life. Even amongst those who claim to be Brahmins by birth, Gowda Saraswat Brahmins in the South and Bengali Brahmins in the North eat fish considering it to be a cold blooded edible animal which is allowed in their religious practices. Also Kashmeri Brahmins eat lamb meat and also offer meat to god in temples. Both Bengalis and Kashmeris follow Sakta form of Siva worship. Those who belong to Sakta sect are allowed to take meat, fish and even concentrated wine. Meat is also offered to Kaali and Maariamman in temples where Sakta form of worship is practiced. They have made the concession granted in the saastras, their privilege.
The three great gurus who founded the Advaita, Vishishtadvaita and Dwaita schools of philosophy promote pure form of vegetarianism, confining to Saatvic food. It may be of interest to know here that Madhwa to appease the strong sentiments of those resorting to animal sacrifice, recommended the use of clay models of goat (aja) to be offered to the sacrificial fire symbolically. Hindus in general harbor strong and negative feelings, even hatred, towards Hindus of other sects who eat other kinds of food. Hindu saints who are above caste considerations have never considered such negative feelings. Swami Vivekananda lamented, "In India religion has entered into the cooking pot". Sri Ramakrishna used to say, "If a person who eats pork can essentially think of God, then he is far superior to a person who eats vegetarian food and yet think of sense objects all the time". Meerabai has also expressed similar thoughts in her Bhajans. According to Hindu saints, eating the right kind of food, though beneficial for spiritual life, is of secondary importance to develop genuine love of God.
Meat eaters have a strong argument that "Like goats, cows, birds and fish we eat, vegetables and cereals also have life". This is true scientifically. Though there is no difference in the nature between them, there is a difference in the degree of violence done to vegetables and animals. Plants have life and feelings like humans but they do not have the sensation of pain to the same degree as the above. Most of the vegetables, except some leafy vegetables and roots, are plucked from plants without killing them. It is like trimming your nail or hair. The cereals are harvested only after the crop is ripe, as also fruits which otherwise would ripe or dry up. Sanaatana Dharma also views human life differently and considers it to be supreme from all other forms of life, gifted with intelligence and thinking power. Life has to come to this final stage, evolve further spiritually to attain salvation.
Hindu scriptures not only give injunctions but also give concessions in its approach as far as diet is concerned as we have seen above. Non-vegetarian food was allowed for a particular class of people, the Kshatriyas, rulers of kingdoms, as well as Soodras, the hard working labor class. For other classes such as business people (Vaisyas) or the philosophers/teachers (Brahmins), hunting and eating meat were not allowed. It depended on the type of work required. Even today doctors prescribe different diets for different people depending on the type of work they do or the need to correct deficiencies. People with tendencies for spiritual or scholarly studies were not allowed to eat meat because their mind needs to be very quiet and subtle for this type of work.
The injunction given in the scriptures is not to eat meat; and when special permission is given to eat it, this is only a concession depending on the nature of seeker, the time, the place and so on. We should not be confused as to which is injunction and which concession is. Hindu scriptures understand the weakness of the human mind, and give instructions accordingly. They have given instructions according to individual needs or Dharma.
Although life must be sustained with life, be it a plant or animal it should be done causing the least pain and disturbance of nature and ecology. This means, even when we eat vegetarian food we should eat moderately and with discrimination. Even from an anatomical point of view, the body structure of a carnivorous animal is meant for eating meat, even as raw, whereas the human body is not. That is why we have to take much time and care in preparing the non-vegetarian food, and be choosy in the type of meat whereas we can live healthy even with uncooked vegetables and fruits. From the medical stand-point also many people are advised today to reduce their fat and cholesterol intake, which generally means the reduction of red meat in the diet. Not only meat eating, but excessive eating of any kind is not good for physical health. Non-vegetarian Hindus, with their religious bent of mind in India, avoid meat many days in a year as per their religious sanctions.
Hinduism, in its pursuit of Bhaktimarga (devotional form of worship) has progressively built in sufficient checks and balances in its diet regulation. Faithful followers of Hindu religion observe strict fasting on certain days in a week or month. Periodic fasting controls passion, checks emotions, and controls senses. It overhauls the respiratory, circulatory, digestive and urinary systems. It destroys all the impurities of the body and all sorts of poisons. Manu prescribes fasting for the removal of five capital sins. A complete fast is generally desirable for all to keep up good health to give adequate rest to internal organs and maintain celibacy. Fasting makes a man strong both spiritually and mentally. All diseases have their origin in over eating. Meat eating is also avoided on certain days of the week. During fasting days, pious vegetarian, either completely goes without food and avoids rajasic type of food ingredients like garlic, onion, spices, or live only on fruits and milk. Strong rajasic food ingredients are also avoided in food offered to God which is later distributed to devotees as blessed food (Prasadam). Thus a healthy habit and food culture is built into Hindu religious practices to lead a healthy life. One popular Kannda proverb says: "Eating once a day makes one a Yogi (one who is devoted yoga and spirituality) ; eating twice a day makes one a Bhogi (one who enjoys life); One who eats thrice a day a Rogi (a sick person) ; and one who eats four times a day has already his feet in the grave". "Verily, Yoga is not for him who eats too much, nor who abstains to excess, nor who sleeps too much, nor to the excessively wakeful" says Bhagavd Gita. Moderation in everything is necessary to lead a healthy yogic life. To practice Yoga and be successful in meditation, it is mandatory to be vegetarian.
Summing up, many taboos exist in Vedic culture even today with regard to food since it was believed during the Vedic period that food affected the mind also. Pure food was conducive to purity of mind in their thinking. Hence, rules and regulations were set out about what to eat and what not to eat; how to eat and how not to eat and so on. Maamsabhojana (eating of flesh) was common during the Vedic period. However, it was later on discouraged—though tolerated—due to the influence of Jainism and Buddhism. Though suraapaana (drinking of wine) existed, it was severely condemned as heinous sin. Somapaana (drinking of the soma juice during sacrifices) was highly eulogized. However, the soma juice was not an intoxicating drink as some seem to misunderstand. Dhoomapaana (smoking of fragrant substances) and use of snuff (special medicinal powders, only for curing certain diseases) have been mentioned in Ayurveda. Smoking and snuff, as we know them today, did not exist. Tobacco was introduced into India by the Westerners in the 15th century.
There are pious good Hindus who eat meat and there are not-so-good Hindus who are vegetarians. Vast majority of Hindus, around 80% are non vegetarians. Even vegetarians follow moderation being lacto-vegetarians. Percentage of non vegetarians is going down. All Hindu non vegetarians avoid beef and restrict their red meat urge to chicken, sheep and goat. The need for vegetarianism, knowing its benefits, is growing all over the world; more so to reduce the red meat consumption to lead quality life, long and healthy. While 25 gallons are needed to produce one pound of wheat, 5000 gallons of water is needed to raise one pound of beef in USA. 33% of all raw materials are consumed by USA, in live stock production for meat, whereas only 2% are used for complete vegetarian diet. Reduction in red meat consumption will bring down incidences of cancer, cholesterol level in individuals, increase natural resources, help ecology, reduce the risk of consumption of higher quantities of deadly pesticides, and avoidance of antibiotic containing meat and meat products for human consumption. There is an urgent need to improve the quality of life by practicing moderation in our food consumption and choosing the right food to lead a long and healthy life. A wise guideline for leading a pure vegetarian life is given in Hitopadesa: Mitralaabha, 68--"Khachchanda vanajaatena saakenaapi prapooyate | asya daghodarasyaarthe kah kuryat paatakam mahat || (Why
on earth one commit such a heinous sin for this wretched stomach, which can be filled with vegetables and greens growing lush in forests ?)
on earth one commit such a heinous sin for this wretched stomach, which can be filled with vegetables and greens growing lush in forests ?)
This lecture has been prepared by N.R. Srinivasan for the Vedanta Class of Sri Ganesha Temple, Nashville, TN, by suitably extracting, editing texts from the following sources which are gratefully acknowledged:
- Swami Bhaskarananda, The Essentials of Hinduism, Sri Ramakrishna Math, Mylapore, Chennai 600004, India.
- Swami Tejomayananda, Hindu Culture, Central Chinmaya Mission Trust, Mumbai 400072, India.
- Ed. Viswanathan, Am I A Hindu? Rupa & Co., New Delhi 110002, India.
- Ramananda Prasad, The Bhagavad Gita, American Gita Society, Fremont, CA, USA.
- Dr. Anantha Rangacharya,N.S., Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, Bangalore, India.
- Dr. Ravindran K.G., Ayurveda for Life's Enhancement (Tamil), Vikatan Publications, Chennai 600002, India.
- Himalayan Academy, Ten Questions about Hinduism, and How to Win an Argument with a Meat Eater, Hawaii Ashram, Honolulu, Hawaii.
- Swami Sivananda, Hindu Fasts and Festivals, Divine Life Society, Shivanandanagar, 249192, India.
- Swami Harshananda, An Introduction to Hindu Culture, Ramakrishna Math, Bangalore, India.
- Jagadguru Chandarasekaranada Sarasvati, Dharma, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mumbai, India.
Do the Vedic Literatures Allow Eating Meat?
Posted by Chaitanya Charan Das | Sep 11, 2015 | 289 views
Question- Are there references for eating meat in the Vedic literature? Is the adoption of vegetarianism within Hinduism a later feature caused by the influence of Buddhism? Does the Vedic literature directly recommend vegetarianism?
Answer- First question, are there references to eating meat in the Vedic literature? Yes, there are. But these references are not recommendations. They are concessions. So there are references from Rig Veda, from Manu Samhita, from extensively from the Mahabharata and also from Srimad Bhagavatam; the Bhagavat Puran. So these four literature are considered to be ones which have influenced modern day Hinduism to a large extent. Rig Veda is considered by scholars to be oldest of all scriptures which is preserved even today in its letters. Manu Samhita is widely recognized as law book for Hinduism. Mahabharata is a veritable compendium of traditional dharma. And the Srimad Bhagavatam is considered to be the ripened fruit of the devotional essence of the Vedic literature.
So you will find that there are so many references that, if by example Manu Samhita says man should never obtain food that is got by injury to other living beings. Once we understand the disgusting origin of flesh and the cruelty of slaughtering and slaying other living beings, why should one eat meat at all. One should give it up entirely. So there are multiple references here. He who permits the slaughter of animal, he who cuts it up, he who kills it, he who buy or sells meat, he who cooks it, he who serves it up, he who eats it, must all be considered the slaves of the animals.
There is no greater sin on that man who though not worshiping the God or ancestor seeks to increase the bulk of his own flesh by the flesh of others, Manu Samhita 5.51-52. Further Bhishma Pitamah specially Anushasan parva, when he is instructing Yudhisthir Maharaja in the Mahabharata extensively recommends vegetarian food. So you can have a look at these references yourself. But coming to the important point, these references do exist. Some people who want to justify their meat eating habits may find out some references which also allow meat eating. If we look at those references practically all of them are in the context of Yajnam or sacrifice. So in the verse which I read out in Manu Samhita also, it is said that if one is sacrificing for the God’s then and then alone meat is allowed. Killing animal is allowed and then the meat can under certain circumstances be consumed.
Why was this sort of statement given in the Vedic literature? The Vedic literature are not just offering spirituality in one form. The spiritual processes offered in the Vedic literature are not uniform but omniform. Uniform means it is only one form, for example we had the religions; Jesus is the only way. Follow Jesus and you will go back to God otherwise you are going to hell. Mohammad is the zeal of all prophets. If you don’t follow Mohammad you are going to go to hell. So this is only one way path. The Vedic literature don’t talk about only this way or hell otherwise, my way or the highway. The Vedic literature recognize that different people have different levels of adhikar. Adhikar means, capacity to practice spiritual life. And based on their individual capacities they can follow recommendations at different levels. That is why for those who are addicted to meat eating, meat eating is allowed under certain restricted conditions. So these statements in the scriptures are concessions, not recommendations.
What is the difference between a concession and a recommendation? If a patient goes to a doctor, the doctor tells him you have diabetes. You take this medicine in morning and evening and you absolutely avoid all sugar. So among the two things the doctor had said the taking medicines is the recommendation. That’s what the doctor wants the patient to do. On the other part don’t take sugar. The patient said I can’t live without sugar. No, I can’t live without sugar. I must take sugar. Doctor is OK, you take sugar. Take one sweet once a week. Then the patient comes back and starts telling oh! The doctors has instructed me to take a sweet. Now that is not instruction. That is a not a recommendation, it is a concession. Concession means that what is not necessarily good for me but because I want it I am allowed to do it. Recommendation means I am told to do it.
So the Vedic literature recommendation is be vegetarian but the concession is you can be non-vegetarian under certain circumstances. What are those circumstances? They are if we perform yajna in which the animal is sacrificed and then after that the animal is offered to Kali or some other Devi or Devata and then that food is taken that meat is consumed. So this creates certain restrictions. That only on the holy days related with the Devi. Only when the proper yajna or proper worship and sacrifice is happening at that time the animal can be sacrificed. So just as the doctor’s purpose is to restrict the eating of the sugar. He would prefer, he would recommend not taking sugar at all. But if the patient is not capable of following that instruction, doctor recommends that you take the medicines regularly and he allowed as a concession to take sugar occasionally.
Now if the patient comes back home and starts telling, my doctor told me to take sugar. That’s his instruction. All of you had make arrangements for giving me sugar. And not only that, he not only misrepresents, the doctor did not recommend, doctor gave a concession but he says he changes it not once a week but every day. Not every day, every day morning, after noon evening doctor instructing him to take a sugar. That is not at all true. So in such a situation the doctor may come and tell that nothing doing, sugar should not be taken at all. Sugar is very harmful. Sugar should not be taken at all. And strongly he rejects. He realizes that the concessions that he had given were misused. And then he dispenses away with the concessions entirely. This is exactly what happened with Lord Buddha.
Now the acharyas in the Vedic tradition recognize Lord Buddha to be an avtar of the Lord, as he is mentioned in the Bhagavat Puran, as he is mentioned in Jaideva Goswami’s Geet Govinda and several others scriptures. But, when Lord Buddha came he rejected the Vedic literature because people were misusing there concessions for meat eating and converting them into licenses and justifications for meat eating. So Buddha said ahimsa paramo dharmo, no meat eating at all. And historically speaking Buddhism also attracted a lot of followers. And then because of the influence of Buddhism when to the natural human moral conscience, the obvious reality of the violence that is involved in killing animals and eating them, even in non sacrificial contexts became obvious then even the Hindu leaders reformed themselves and then they started emphasizing vegetarianism much more strongly. So people who were getting attracted to Buddhism, they were told if you think Buddhism is good because there is vegetarianism in it.
Vegetarianism is there in Vedic literature also. So it is not that Hindus adopted vegetarianism because of their influence of Buddhism. The influence of Buddhism brought to fore front what was originally there in the Vedic literature but what had been side lined, what had been neglected. So yes, the development of Buddhism did lead to the increased emphasis on vegetarianism. But that doesn’t mean that vegetarianism is not mentioned in the Vedic literature. It was as, you can see from all these references. But Buddhism did the service of getting back to the fore front in their Hindu tradition.
Now moving forward several of the acharyas starting from Shakaracharya, Ramanujacharya, Madhvacharya, these were three great systematizes of Hinduism. In fact from the fifth century B.C to fifth century A.D, Buddhism practically predominated India, and to some extent Jainism also in some parts of India. But from the seventh century onwards when Shankaracharya appeared, there was a great revival of Hinduism. So because still substantially there were people who were Hindus and they were saying that the Vedic literature tell us to eat meat so therefore we have to eat meat. Then the acharyas introduce some further modifications as this based also on the verse which I read out from Manu Samhita- That if at all you say that you have to sacrifice animals, make animals out of clay, make animals out of wheat flour. So if you have to sacrifice a goat, this is not exactly a invention of the acharyas. These references are there in the scriptures but they were brought to the fore front again.
Those who started saying that how can you say that meat should not be eaten because the Vedic literature say that in yajna animals have to be sacrificed. So then the acharyas showed references, that indicated that one need not kill living animals. One can just make replica of animals using clay or specially wheat flower.
Similarly in the Kali temple instead of offering Her blood many temples now offer hibiscus flowers. So hibiscus is red in color. Blood is red in color. And Goddess certainly pleased by offering of the hibiscus flower also. Actually the Goddess never wants any meat or blood. But because the worshipers want it, to keep them under regulation, the sacrifices were originally started. Now in the original Vedic literature where are the animals cut and eaten? There are different kind of yajnas depending on the modes of the people who are involved.
So the highest level of yajnas are, there if at all animals is used, the animal is put to death using the power of the mantra and then he gets the new body which everybody else sees and he gets the human body or a celestial body and he continues onward getting a jump start, getting a rapid leap forward in the evolution through the Vedic species. But in some other sacrifices, yes because the sacrifices were involving people who wanted to eat meat, so when the animal would be killed, the meat would be eaten also. This was for those people who are in rajo guna and specially in tamo guna, in the modes of passion and especially ignorance. But even these sort of sacrifices were stopped by the acharyas who systematized and revived Hinduism.
Now at present the Hindu tradition is largely vegetarian. And all over the world people are recognizing the value of vegetarianism because of the substantial ecological problems created by trying to eat meat.
You can refer to the article food for health which is posted below, which give the brief analysis of the problems because of which the world is turning over towards vegetarian food. The Vedic tradition, the Hindu tradition, pioneers in this context. And rather than searching out obscure verses from some Vedic literature to justify ones meat eating. Let us recognize the Vedic tradition, acclaimed vegetarianism right from the beginning. And it was brought into the fore front by Buddhism and now it has become the torch bearer for the rest of the world where the vegetarian alternative is not just the alternative but it is the necessity for the survival of our planet and for the survival of humanity.
Why Are Onions and Garlic Not Good For Spiritual Health?
Posted by The Editor | Dec 22, 2015 | IndiaDivine.Org
Many people across the world use garlic and onion regularly in their cuisine to enhance taste and flavor. These edible plant offerings along with others like shallots, chives, scallions and leeks belong to a genus known as alliums.
Most plants of this group are ornamental though some of them are edible. Several schools of philosophy attach negative qualities to such vegetables. Alliaceous plants are said to create ignorance and diminish intellect. They are also believed to breed sinful attributes such as anger, lust and passion.
Many Hindu and oriental religious sects grounded in Vedic and Buddhist principles practice staunch vegetarianism. These groups completely discard onion and garlic from their cooking. Let us understand why onions and garlic are said to hinder spiritual growth. In Ayurveda, the holistic medical science of ancient India there is a comprehensive explanation as to why these vegetables get in the way of spiritual stability.
Ayurveda classifies three food categories, namely sattvic, rajasic and tamasic. Each has its own properties. Sattvic foods have positive effects on the body, mind and spirit. They are pure, light, and fresh while promoting body equilibrium, awareness and serenity.
This group includes grains, cereals, legumes, beans, herbs, dairy products like milk, ghee and most fruits and vegetables. Pure Ayurveda diet is popular in the Brahmin style of cooking and Vaishanavas, namely followers of Lord Vishnu, Lord Rama and Lord Krishna; they only cook Sattva food.
Rajasa foods are okay for the body but should not be consumed in great quantity but in moderation. Moreover the consumption of Rajasa food depends on the time of day. These include coffee, tea, chocolate, hot spices, alcohol, nicotine and others. They create mental disturbance, depression, turbulence and anxiety.
Then there are the dull or Tamasa foods which are not good for the body or mind. They create weariness and heaviness. Red meat, fish, poultry, eggs etc. are Tamasa foods. Rajasa and Tamasa foods have detrimental effects on spiritual practices like meditation and devotional penance. This is why yogis are forbidden from eating onion and garlic which have both Rajasa and Tamasa qualities.
They root the consciousness more firmly in the mind and don’t let one enter higher planes of thought. A spiritual kitchen will not allow Rajasa or Tamasa foods as they are unable to offer the same to the deities.
Ancient Ayurveda texts also stated that alliaceous plants produce offensive breath as well as create foul smelling precipitation and body odor. They induce aggravation, apprehension, anxiety and bellicosity, thereby affecting one’s physical, mental, spiritual and emotional equilibrium.
The five major alliums are each said to have a detrimental impact on five of the major organs. Onions are said to cause trouble to the lungs, garlic to the heart, leeks to the spleen, chives to the liver and spring onions to the kidneys. They should not be consumed in the raw form at all. Red onion is said to induce fever, dry cough, moist eyes, runny nose and such maladies. Recent studies also suggest that allium vegetables especially the onion bulb has cardiovascular and cancerous implications.
It is said to aid the lowering of organic bile and lipids in the body which is important for body functions.
Garlic also has a very negative effect on the body. It not only just destroys all the harmful bacteria but also goes on to kill the beneficial bacteria. As these are important for the proper functioning of the digestive system and bowel movements, it leads to complications. So, garlic is not scary only for vampires but for human too.
Jokes apart, one should understand the intrinsic qualities of these vegetables in order to plan a better diet.
At the very basic level the three major pillars of the human life force are nutrition or ahara, sleep or nidra and celibacy or Brahmacharya. Alliaceous plants are a component of diet (aahaara) which is introduced in the body as food. When this enters the body it begins to tamper with the dhatus and ojas at the very fundamental level of the body.
This is due to the stress that they pose in the central nervous system. This in turn plays a role in igniting the stimulation. It creates lust due to the aphrodisiac properties that affect the aspect of celibacy and leads man to temptation. On the contrary Ayurveda in fact recommends onion and garlic as a tonic for men who are losing their sexual potency or have high nervous tension during sex.
In ancient scriptures there is a little legend about the origin of garlic and onion. Lord Vishnu as Mohini was serving ambrosia, the nectar of eternal life to the Devas (gods) and the asuras (demons). It was then that he decided to play a trick to deny the demons the sacred nectar.
He handed out the demons ordinary water in place of the elixir. This was detected by the demon called Rahu. He decided to hide between Lord Surya, the solar deity and Lord Chandra, the lunar deity to get his share of the nectar. The two gods realized that it was Rahu sitting between them and at once informed Mohini.
At that very instant the nectar had reached Rahu’s mouth and not his stomach. Upon realizing this, the Lord used his Sudarshan chakra and decapitated the demon. Rahu Asura’s neck fell on the earth with a thunderous sound. From the demon’s flesh emerged blooms of onions, garlic and other alliaceous plants. Hence, eating onion and garlic is similar to eating flesh.
This is the reason as to why vegetarians are advised not to consume the same. A combination of nectar and demonic flesh is the reason for its manifestation into an aphrodisiac.
Whether you consider the myths of yore or the scientific truths of Ayurveda, both throw light on the fact that onions and garlic do nothing special for the body. Instead they cause much harm. So make sure to use other great spices in your cooking like ginger, fennel, cumin, turmeric, coriander and more, than opting for these two dangerous ones.
Why Ayurvedic Cooking Recommends No Onion and No Garlic?
Posted by Deepanshu Soni | Aug 27, 2015
You may know that onions and garlic are botanical members of the alliaceous family (alliums) – along with leeks, chives and shallots. According to Ayurveda, India’s classic medical science, foods are grouped into three categories – sattvic, rajasic and tamasic – foods in the modes of goodness, passion and ignorance. Onions and garlic, and the other alliaceous plants are classified as rajasic and tamasic, which means that they increase passion and ignorance.
Those that subscribe to pure Brahmana and Vaishnava-style cooking of India – followers of Lord Vishnu, Rama and Krishna – like to only cook with foods from the sattvic category. These foods include fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs, dairy products, grains and legumes, and so on. Specifically, Vaisnavas do not like to cook with rajasic or tamasic foods because they are unfit to offer to the Deity.
Rajasic and tamasic foods are also not used because they are detrimental to meditation and devotions. “Garlic and onions are both rajasic and tamasic, and are forbidden to yogis because they root the consciousness more firmly in the body”, says well-known authority on Ayurveda, Dr. Robert E. Svoboda.
Some branches of western medicine say that the Alliums have specific health benefits; garlic is respected, at least in allopathic medical circles, as a natural antibiotic. In recent years, while the apparent cardiovascular implications of vegetable Alliums has been studied in some detail, the clinical implications of onion and garlic consumption from this point of view are still not well understood.
Nevertheless, there are still many adverse things to say about garlic and onions. Not so well known is the fact that garlic in the raw state can carry harmful (potentially fatal) botulism bacteria. Perhaps it is with an awareness of this that the Roman poet Horace wrote of garlic that it is “more harmful than hemlock”.
It should be pointed out that Garlic and onion are avoided by spiritual adherents because they stimulate the central nervous system, and can disturb vows of celibacy. Garlic is a natural aphrodisiac. Ayurveda suggests that it is a tonic for loss of sexual power from any cause, sexual debility, impotency from over-indulgence in sex and nervous exhaustion from dissipating sexual habits. It is said to be especially useful to old men of high nervous tension and diminishing sexual power.
The Taoists realized thousands of years ago that plants of the alliaceous family were detrimental to humans in their healthy state. In his writings, one sage Tsang-Tsze described the Alliums as the “five fragrant or spicy scented vegetables” – that each have a detrimental effect on one of the following five organs – liver, spleen, lungs, kidneys, and heart. Specifically, onions are harmful to the lungs, garlic to the heart, leeks to the spleen, chives to the liver and spring onions to the kidneys. Tsang-Tsze said that these pungent vegetables contain five different kinds of enzymes which cause “reactions of repulsive breath, extra-foul odor from perspiration and bowel movements, and lead to lewd indulgences, enhance agitations, anxieties and aggressiveness,” especially when eaten raw.
Similar things are described in Ayurveda. ‘As well as producing offensive breath and body odour, these (alliaceous) plants induce aggravation, agitation, anxiety and aggression. Thus they are harmful physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually’.
Back in the 1980’s, in his research on human brain function, Dr. Robert [Bob] C. Beck, DSc. found that garlic has a detrimental effect on the brain. He found that in fact garlic is toxic to humans because its sulfone hydroxyl ions penetrate the blood-brain barrier and are poisonous to brain cells.
Dr. Beck explained that as far back as the 1950s it was known that garlic reduced reaction time by two to three times when consumed by pilots taking flight tests. This is because the toxic effects of garlic desynchronize brain waves. “The flight surgeon would come around every month and remind all of us: “Don’t you dare touch any garlic 72 hours before you fly one of our airplanes, because it’ll double or triple your reaction time. You’re three times slower than you would be if you’d [not] had a few drops of garlic.”
For precisely the same reason the garlic family of plants has been widely recognized as being harmful to dogs.
Even when garlic is used as food in Chinese culture it is considered harmful to the stomach, liver and eyes, and a cause of dizziness and scattered energy when consumed in immoderate amounts. Neither is garlic always seen as having entirely beneficial properties in Western cooking and medicine. It is widely accepted among health care professionals that, as well as killing harmful bacteria, garlic also destroys beneficial bacteria, which are essential to the proper functioning of the digestive system.
Reiki practitioners explain that garlic and onions are among the first substances to be expelled from a person’s system – along with tobacco, alcohol and pharmaceutical medications. This makes it apparent that alliaceous plants have a negative effect on the human body and should be avoided for health reasons.
Homeopathic medicine comes to the same conclusion when it recognizes that red onion produces a dry cough, watery eyes, sneezing, runny nose and other familiar cold-related symptoms when consumed.
The International Year of Pulses--2016
The International Year of Pulses 2016 (IYP 2016) was declared by the Sixty-eighth session of the United Nations General Assembly. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has been nominated to facilitate the implementation of IYP 2016 in collaboration with governments, relevant organizations, non-governmental organizations and other relevant stakeholders. Its aim is to heighten public awareness of the nutritional benefits of pulses as part of sustainable food production aimed towards food security and nutrition. IYP 2016 will create an opportunity to encourage connections throughout the food chain that would better utilize pulse-based proteins, further global production of pulses, better utilize crop rotations and address challenges in the global trade of pulses. India is the largest producer and consumer of Pulses.
Here is a good news for vegetarian Protagonists. Pulses are an affordable alternative to more expensive animal-based protein, which makes them ideal for enhancing diets in poorer parts of the world. Pulses are important food crops for the food security of large proportions of populations, particularly in Latin America, Africa and Asia, where pulses are part of traditional diets and often grown by small farmer. They have been an essential part of the human diet for centuries. Yet their nutritional value is not generally recognized and is frequently under-appreciated.
According to FAO pulses including all kinds of dried beans and peas, are not merely cheap and delicious; they are also highly nutritious source of protein and vital micro-nutrients that can greatly benefit people’s health and livelihoods, particularly in developing countries. There are hundreds of varieties of pulses grown throughout the world. Popular ones not only include all varieties of dried beans, such as kidney beans, lima beans, butter beans and broad beans but also chickpeas, cowpeas, black-eyed peas and pigeon peas.
Pulses have double the proteins found in wheat and triple the amount found in rice. They are also rich in micronutrients, amino acids and vitamins. Pulses are the key ingredients in many national dishes across the world – from Falafel to Dahl and baked beans.
FAO also added that as an affordable alternative to more expensive animal-based protein, pulses are ideal for improving diets in poorer parts of the world, where protein sources from milk if often five time more expensive than protein sourced from pulses.
Mr. Ban Ki Moon added that pluses contribute significantly in addressing hunger, food security, malnutrition, environmental challenges and human health and also are a vital source of plant-based proteins and amino acids.
“Despite strong evidence of the health and nutritional benefits of pulses, their consumption of pulses remains low in many developing and developed countries. The International Year can help overcome this lack of knowledge,” said Mr. Ban.
Further, he also said that pulses impact the environment positively due to their nitrogen-fixing properties, which increase soil fertility.
The UN chief also called for collaborative commitment and concrete action by all relevant actors within the UN system, farmers’ organizations, civil society and the private sector, to make the International Year of Pulses 2016 a success.
In India, The World’s First Vegetarian City
Posted by The Editor | Mar 07, 2015IndiaDivine.Org
After Jain monks went on a hunger strike to push for a citywide ban on animal slaughter, the local government declared Palitana a meat-free zone. But the city’s Muslims are not happy. Jainism is one of the oldest religions in the world and preaches a path of non-violence towards all living beings. In India, about 5 million people practice it.
“Everyone in this world — whether animal or human being or a very small creature — has all been given the right to live by God,” says Virat Sagar Maharaj, a Jain monk. “So who are we to take away that right from them? This has been written in the holy books of every religion, particularly in Jainism.”
The mountainous town of Palitana in the state of Gujarat is home to one of Jain’s holiest sites, and many residents don’t want any kind of killing happening here. Recently, 200 Jain monks began a hunger strike, threatening to fast until death until the town was declared an entirely vegetarian zone.
“Meat has always been easily available in this city, but it’s against the teaching of our religion,” says Sadhar Sagar, a Jain believer. “We always wanted a complete ban on non-vegetarian food in this holy site.”
They have gotten their wish. On Aug. 14,2015 the Gujarat government declared Palitana a “meat-free zone.” They instituted a complete ban on the sale of meat and eggs and have also outlawed the slaughter of animals within the town’s limits.
It’s a victory for vegetarians, but bad for business for others. Fishermen such as Nishit Mehru have had to stop working entirely. “We have been stopped from selling anything in Palitana,” he says. “They shouldn’t have taken this one-sided decision. How will we survive if we are not allowed to sell fish? The government should not make decisions under pressure.”
On behalf of other fishermen, Valjibhai Mithapura took the issue to the state’s high court, which has called on the state government to explain the ban put in place locally. It will then make a decision about whether this regulation is legal. Gujarat is ruled by the Hindu nationalist BJP party, whose leader is Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The population of Palitana is 65,000 and about 25% of them are Muslim. Local Muslim religious scholar Syed Jehangir Miyan disagrees with the ban. “There are so many people living in this city, and the majority of them are non-vegetarian,” he says. “Stopping them from eating a non-vegetarian diet is a violation of their rights. We have been living in this city for decades. It is wrong to suddenly put a ban on the whole city now.”