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By Gaurav Sharma
Food occupies a central position in the annals of the Vedic literature. “People are released from all kinds of sins because they eat food which is offered first for sacrifice. Others, who prepare food for personal sense enjoyment, verily eat only sin”, says Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad-Gita.
As part of the Vedic thought, food occupies a predominant position in the evolutionary process of living entities.
Reasons supporting Vegetarianism
The purpose of food, according to Vedic scriptures is not limited to just increasing the duration of life and aiding bodily strength, but also includes purification of the mind.
Purification of mind means to go beyond the three modes of material nature; goodness, passion and ignorance. In this context, the Vedic scriptures, unambiguously propound the idea of vegetarianism as a prerequisite to self-realization.
“One who is always eating meat or drinking liquor, which is eating and drinking in passion and ignorance, must give these things up so that his real consciousness may be awakened. In this way one may become peaceful and refreshed.
The mode of passion and ignorance, imply excessive attachment, pre-domination of desires and violence, envy. Working under these qualities, the living entity is kept tightly bound within the fetters of the Karmic cycle or the realm of actions.
In other words, the food that we intake involuntarily shape our mood, personality and mind, all critical instruments in molding and directing our consciousness towards a subtle dimension of life.
Also, since meat-eating, necessitates killing of animals, it is invariably connected to Himsa or violence against the creatures so slayed. Negative karmic influences inevitably follow when violence is committed against any living entity.
The law of karma, or the principle of causality is not only cited in the Vedic books, but is further echoed in the Bible, in the form of the proverbial saying: Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap (Galatations 6:7).
Flesh eating, therefore, is one mode in which humans enslave themselves to suffering.
Is meat-eating ethical?
Another contention against meat-eating is the ideal of compassion. A lot of people in the West, after seeing the cruel treatment meted out to animals in the slaughterhouses, have shunned non-vegetarian diet from their system.
Kept in cages, unable to move around, the animals cum prospective meat are traumatized to live amidst their own faecal matter.
Calves are isolated from their mothers and the same reproductive slavery is enforced upon them as their mothers. They are chained and injected with heavy chemicals to make their flesh tenderer, before they are slaughtered.
Foie de Gras, a French delicacy comprising of liver of a duck or goose is a testimony to the cruel discrimination carried out against other life forms.
In order to fatten the liver of the birds, they are force fed more than what they would normally eat, either in the wild or domestically. After the disdainful feeding, they are slaughtered to guarantee the buttery consistency that the taste buds of gastronomes so wishfully desire.
When animals are subjected to such a horrific treatment, we humans, in our short-sightedness, become oblivious to the cosmic law of cause and effect.
By engaging in meat-eating and, by inference, supporting animal slaughter, the concept of compassion central to the Buddhist way of living, is grossly violated.
The Mahaparanirvana Sutra candidly warns against such indulgent abuse, “The eating of meat extinguishes the great seed of compassion.”
The injunctions of all great Vedic scriptures are the same; killing other living entities amounts to killing oneself.
The Mahabharata, Anushasana Parva 115.33, proclaims, “The sins generated by violence curtail the life of the perpetrator. Therefore, even those who are anxious for their own welfare should abstain from meat-eating.”
Therefore, the maxims mentioned in the Vedas against meat-eating are not meant to infringe upon our personal rights, but rather to uplift us from an ignorant and violent mode of functioning to a more peaceful and compassionate way of life.
Arguments against Vegetarianism
The most obvious question raised by libertarianists against vegetarianism is that killing plants is also a form of violence.
While it is true that when plants are cut for supplying food, violence is committed against them, but comparatively the pain inflicted on plants is much less compared to the agony experienced by animals when being tortured for skinning their flesh.
Plants lack a central nervous system and a brain to process pain, and consequently their level of experience is minimal as compared to human beings or animals, although they undoubtedly experience some discomfort.
Moreover, a lot of fruits fall off naturally when they are ripe. Animals do not drop their body parts at any point of maturity.
The current scenario, making choices
In the present age, most people are non-vegetarians. Part of the reason can be justified on the basis of the persons’ regional tradition and geographical location. For example, coastal Brahmins have always espoused the idea of fish as a vegetarian delicacy.
Lately, however, there has been a surge in non-vegetarian propaganda, largely due to the Westernized idea of complete and unquestionable ‘freedom of choice’, along with the widespread use of media to propound such an ideology among the masses.
Television advertisements make good use of making animals appearing like packaged food products. Companies have become adept at painting non-vegetarian food as the natural food choice.
Will Tuttle, an American writer in his book The World Peace Diet rights, “As infants, we have no idea what ‘veal,’ ‘turkey,’ ‘egg,’ or ‘beef’ actually are, or where they come from. … We find out slowly, and by the time we do, the cruelty and perversity involved seem natural and normal to us.”
The meat industry has now become an integral part of corporatized India. The torture and violence are carried out against animals as a means to garner more and more profit for the corporate bosses who fund the politicians in return.
As a result, life itself has become appropriated by the corporate lobby, and our ideas of non-violence have become completely distorted and hypocritical.
An individual survives by committing violence against another individual.
However, as part of their discerning intellect, humans have the special ability to make trade-offs regarding the amount and type of pain inflicted on other living beings, by choosing wisely their own dharma or way of living.
"In India, to be born as a man is a crime, to question a woman is an atrocious crime, and this all because of those women who keep suppressing men in the name of feminism."
Feminism, a worldwide movement that started to establish, define and defend equal rights for women in all sections- economically, politically, and socially. India, being a patriarchal society gives a gender advantage to the men in the society thus, Indian feminists sought to fight against the culture-specific issue for women in India. Feminism itself is nothing but a simple movement that pursues equal rights for women (including transwomen) and against misogyny both external and internal. It states nowhere that women should get more wages than men, that women deserve more respect than men, that's pseudo-feminism.
Pseudo feminists state that women deserve more respect and rights, any other gender deserves no respect. They feel that women should be the ones ruling the world and at higher positions. When feminism takes a turn for extremities it becomes pseudo-feminism and people who label themselves as feminists will bash anyone who speaks against even the wrongdoings of a woman. They'll bash women who're wife and sisters for not speaking up and support any women criticizing political leaders even if it's completely irrational. This is where hypocrisy and pseudo-feminism merge with each other.
They take advantage of the rights given to women to protect themselves to threaten other genders. The rights given to women are supposed to make them feel reassured that they can reach out to the judiciary if their rights are being hampered not to threaten to make the victim sound like the culprit.
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Indian Feminist Movement has made significant progress however, even in the modern world women are still unsafe and are discriminated against when it comes to getting a job, land ownership, and access to education. While filling the official papers it is still asked "Wife of /Daughter of:….."
People in India still continue the practice of sex-selective abortion, abandoning the girl child, not letting girl child study instead they should learn household chores, they are seen as a burden to the family. Such injustices make feminism such an important movement, gender equality is worth fighting for to create a safe environment for women. Feminists over the years have been criticized for focusing on the rights of privileged women and not giving equal representation to poorer and lower caste women, which has led to separate caste-specific feminist organizations and movements.
Some notable milestones in the Feminist Movement
- Raja Ram Mohan Roy campaigned against Sati Pratha (practice in which a widow sacrificed herself by sitting atop her deceased husband's funeral pyre) and child marriage
- Savitribai Phule started the first school for girls at Bhidewada in Pune city in 1848.
- In 1972, SEWA, the biggest trade union for women was set up by Ela Bhatt for women working in the informal sector.
- The Chipko Movement was launched and led by women in 1973.
- #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and abuse was started in 2006 and revived in the year 2015.
People in India still continue the practice of sex-selective abortion, abandoning the girl child, not letting girl child study instead they should learn household chores, they are seen as a burden to the family.Unsplash
Feminism is often misunderstood as pseudo-feminism and hence, becomes the target for public hatred and is accused of wronging other genders under the façade of feminism. It is misunderstood by Indians as female domination instead of gender equality. Indian society and Indian feminists believe that only men are perpetrators of a heinous crime like rape and they refuse to even recognize the men who say they were raped and it's the toxic masculinity in the society that believes how can a woman rape a man? Reality is different from what we believe, women can be the perpetrator too, women threaten to file a case of domestic violence, or sexual assault against innocent people just to fulfill their ego.
Thankfully feminism and pseudo feminism are two separate concepts and feminism is just about equality and not judgment. Indian society and feminists actually need to understand the difference between the two and stop tarnishing the Feminist Movement as a whole.
Keywords: Feminism, World, India, Pseudo-Feminism, Gender
Kerala is a land of many good things. It has an abundance of nature, culture, art, and food. It is also a place of legend and myth, and is known for its popular folklore, the legend of Yakshi. This is not a popular tale outside the state, but it is common knowledge for travellers, especially those who fare through forests at night.
The legend of the yakshi is believed to be India's equivalent of the Romanian Dracula, except of course, the Yakshi is a female. Many Malayalis believe that the Yakshi wears a white saree and had long hair. She has a particular fragrance, which is believed to be the fragrance of the Indian devil-tree flowers. She seduces travellers with her beauty, and kills them brutally.
Yakshi idol in Veroor, Sri Dharamashastha temple Image source: wikimedia commons
The Yakshi is believed to live in a palm tree which can appear like a palace. Victims are taken here before they are killed. Travellers on highways are often advised not to stop near heavily forested areas, or speak to anyone who closely resembles a Yakshi. Some believe she can change form, while other hold to the belief that she doesn't. after securing her victim, the only trace left behind is body parts like hair, nails, and teeth.
They say, like other ghosts, a Yakshi's feet will not touch the ground. This is something to look out for. Mysterious deaths have been reported across the rural areas in Kerala, and all these have been attributed to the legend.
Keywords: Legends, Yakshi, Urban legend, Ghost, Kerala, Myth, Vampire
The LGBTQ+ acronym stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and others. In India LGBTQ+ community also include a specific social group, part religious cult, and part caste: the Hijras. They are culturally defined either as "neither men nor women" or as men who become women by adopting women's dress and behavior. Section 377 of the India Penal code that criminalized all sexual acts "against the order of nature" i.e. engaging in oral sex or anal sex along with other homosexual activities were against the law, ripping homosexual people off of their basic human rights. Thus, the Indian Supreme Court ruled a portion of Section 377 unconstitutional on 6th September 2018.
But the question is, "was India always against homosexuality"? Has the concept of homosexuality being unnatural existed forever? No, in Indian history and Hinduism homosexuality has never been an offense, in fact in several instances it has been depicted how people embraced their identity, be it sexual identity or gender identity. Section 377 was brought to India by the British in 1862, while India was colonized. Even after the Independence, it was only in 2018 that the Supreme Court ruled it as irrational and illogical.
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Homosexuality in Ancient India
When Supreme Court decriminalized homosexuality in India, there was an uproar about it being a western ideology and liberalism. But in reality, homosexuality has existed since the time of the Vedas. The Gay and Lesbian Vaishnava Association (GALVA) researched and discovered that it was around 3102 B.C. (during the Vedic Age) that homosexuality or non-normative sexual identity was recognized as "Tritiya Prakriti", or the third nature. Ancient India not only made mentions of homosexuality but accepted it as well.
Hinduism is the most vastly followed religion in India. Hinduism does not explicitly mention homosexuality however it does contain a homosexual theme and characters in its text. There have been various instances in our scriptures and texts that have introduced us to LGBT+ characters such as the androgynous form of Shiva and Parvati Ardhanariswara meaning "the half-female lord". One of the most popular and ancient texts on sexuality, eroticism, and emotional fulfillment of life, "Kamasutra" has a complete chapter dedicated to homosexuality and homosexual sex. Numerous Hindu sculptures and temples have statues depicting homosexual activities.
Numerous Hindu sculptures and temples have statues depicting homosexual activities. Facebook
Our Mughals were Queer
Mughals are often seen under the light of cruelty, rigid ethics, nobility, and polygamy. Simultaneously, Mughals are also the ones credited for the emergence of Sufism, abolished jizya tax, love beyond religion, classes, and gender.
In the Baburnama written in memoirs of our very first Mughal ruler Muhammad Babur, several instances documented Babur's infatuation and affection towards a teenage boy named Baburi. We also have multiple Persian couplets as evidence of Babur's affection for Baburi. Mughals engaged in homosexuality and pederasty, and they believed that later was a form of "pure love".
But as time passed homosexuality was suppressed more and more though people practiced it in secret if revealed they were punished. According to the Fatwa-e-Alamgiri Sharia-based text of the Mughal Empire, there is a common set of punishments for homosexuality, which could include 50 lashes for a slave, 100 for a free infidel, or death by stoning for a Muslim.
British Raj and Independence of India
In 1862, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalized homosexual sex came into force. Even after Independence in 1947, the section remained a part of the Indian Constitution. There were protests all over the country to give people of the LGBT+ community basic human rights but it was not until 2018 that The Supreme Court of India ruled the portion of Section 377 has unconstitutional and struck it off. One judge said the landmark decision would "pave the way for a better future.". With Section 377 gone are LGBT+ people allowed to fall in love freely? No, people are still afraid to love because of the stigma in our society when it comes to homosexuality; they are seen as lesser humans.
ALSO READ: Significant Support for Rights for LGBTQ+
Although the Supreme Court has decriminalized homosexual activities, same-sex marriage remains illegal in the country. Homophobia is still prevalent in India, and homosexual children would rather commit suicide than come out to society with their true identity, that's how harsh of a world we live in. Lacking support from family, society, or police, many gay rape victims do not report the crimes. In 1977, writer and Indian mathematician Shakuntla Devi published "The World of Homosexuals". It was the first study in the Indian context; the book contains interviews with homosexual men set in the years of Emergency. She wrote, "rather than pretending that homosexuals don't exist it is time we face the facts squarely in the eye and find room for homosexual people." We've had small victories in our fight against homophobia and getting LGBT+ community the rights they deserve as humans, but we still have a long and exhausting fight ahead of us.