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Vegetarianism: The Vedic ideal upholding the cosmic law of causality

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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.

-Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.2.20)

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.

The After-Effect

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.

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Are We Hindus If We Live in India? The Answer to Contentious Question is Here

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hindus
Hinduism. Pixabay

Oct 06, 2017: Have you ever wondered what being a Hindu means? Or who is actually fit to be called a Hindu? Over centuries, Hindus and Indians alike have asked this question to themselves or their elders at least once in their lifetime.

In the 1995 ruling of the case, “Bramchari Sidheswar Shai and others Versus State of West Bengal” the court identified seven defining characteristics of Hinduism but people are still confused to what exactly defines being a Hindu in the 21st century. It’s staggering how uninformed individuals can be about their own religion; according to a speech by Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya there are various common notions we carry about who a Hindu is:

  • Anyone born in India is automatically a Hindu
  • If your parents are Hindu, you’re are also inevitably a Hindu
  • If you believe in reincarnation, you’re a Hindu
  • If you follow any religion practiced in India, you’re a Hindu
  • And lastly, if you are born in a certain caste, you’re a Hindu

After answering these statements some fail to remove their doubts on who a Hindu is. The question arises when someone is unsure on how to portray themselves in the society, many people follow a set of notions which might/might not be the essence of Hinduism and upon asked why they perform a particular ritual they are clueless. The problem is that the teachings are passed on for generations and the source has been long forgotten, for the source is exactly where the answer lies.

Religion corresponds to scriptural texts

The world is home to many religions and each religion has its own uniqueness portrayed out of the scriptures and teachings which are universally accepted. So to simplify the dilemma one can say that determining whether someone belongs to a particular religion is directly related to whether he/she follows the religious scriptures of the particular religion, and also whether they abide to live by the authority of the scriptural texts.

Christianity emerges from the guidance of the Gospels and Islam from the Quran where Christians believe Jesus died for their sins and Muslims believe there is no God but Allah and Mohammad is his prophet. Similarly, Hinduism emerges from a set of scriptures known as the Vedas and a Hindu is one who lives according to Dharma which is implicated in the divine laws in the Vedic scriptures.By default, the person who follows these set of religious texts is a Hindu.

Also Read: Christianity and Islam don’t have room for a discourse. Hindus must Stop Pleasing their former Christian or Muslim masters, says Maria Wirth 

Vedas distinguishes Hindu from a Non-Hindu

Keeping this definition in mind, all the Hindu thinkers of the traditional schools of Hindu philosophy accept and also insist on accepting the Vedas as a scriptural authority for distinguishing Hindus from Non-Hindus. Further implying the acceptance of the following of Bhagwat Gita, Ramayana, Puranas etc as a determining factor by extension principle as well.

Bottom Line

So, concluding the debate on who is a Hindu we can say that a person who believes in the authority of the Vedas and lives by the Dharmic principles of the Vedas is a Hindu. Also implying that anyone regardless of their nationality i.e. American, French or even Indian can be called a Hindu if they accept the Vedas.

– Prepared by Tanya Kathuria of Newsgram                                                                

(the article was originally written by Shubhamoy Das and published by thoughtco)

One response to “Are We Hindus If We Live in India? The Answer to Contentious Question is Here”

  1. Hindu is a historical name for people living “behind the river Indus”. So, everyone living in India is a Hindu, eventhough he might have a different faith.

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Find out why Hinduism always emphasizes on being a vegetarian

The non-vegetarian foods make the mind restless, disturb to concentrate in worship, study or meditation

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Vegetarian Food and Hinduism
Indian food, Wikimedia

August 15, 2016: Vegetarianism is linked to numerous religions but it took shape in India as- Buddhism, Jainism, and Hinduism. There are instances of having non-vegetarian food but from the ancient times, Hindu community people have always supported the vegan way of living and have always fought against violation of animal rights.

The Hindu text, Vedanta teaches that the only goal of a life is ‘Atmanam Bodhi’(self-realisation). It shows the path to a person who can experience being Atman (eternal soul), the indivisible part of God, that has never been born or will never die. As every person is compositive of mind, body, and soul; it is necessary to control the mind to come into direct contact with Atman or soul.

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Swami Vivekananda explains the control of mind with an analogy,”Get hold of the mind. The mind is like a lake, and every stone that drops into it raises waves. These waves do not let us see what we are.” Thus the thoughts- fears, desires, and attachments create waves in our mind, which can be mastered by control on food habits. Food habits change the mind and personality as claimed by Swami Chinmayananda (Founder of Chinmayananda Mission). He says,“Non-vegetarian food is laced with many toxins that create agitation and disturbance in the mind.” The non-vegetarian foods make the mind restless, as a result one fails to concentrate while they worship, study or meditate. So to know the true self and get liberated from the cycle of birth and death, Hinduism always emphasised on Sattvik food (vegetables).

Meditation, Wikimedia Commons
Meditation, Wikimedia Commons

Swami Avedananda (a direct disciple of Paramahamsa Shree Ramakrishna) said,“A Hindu is a vegetarian from the standpoint of Love. Love means an expression of oneness.” Hinduism defines that the whole universe is originated from non-materialised consciousness, Brahman. Chandogya Upanishad recites, “Tat Twam Asi” means, which unifies a person with every animal.

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Apart from these spiritual realisations, Hinduism always nurtured the idea of ‘Ahimsa’ (non-violence). Yajur Veda advises, “You must not use your God-given body for killing God’s creatures, whether they are human, animal or whatever.” In Mahabharata, Ved Vyasa stated, “Ahimsa Parmo Dharma“(Non-violence is the primary religion).

George Bernard Shaw once said,“My stomach and body are not a crematorium or cemetery for killed or dead animals. While we ourselves are living graves of murdered beasts, how can we expect any ideal conditions on this earth?”

Mot only him, but the great scientist Albert Einstein said, “Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.”

Hinduism gives the theory of Karma (cycle of work and result), and considers slaughtering of animals as sinful. One can understand, how modern is the faith, if one delves into it. In Hindu texts, to protect the nature- it is personified as the mountains, rivers, air etc. and worshiping animals as the deity, is a known fact to all.

– by Priyanka Saha of NewsGram. Twitter: @priyanka140490

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Hafeez Jalandhari: The Man behind Pakistan’s National Anthem also Wrote Urdu Poem-Krishn Kanhaiya to Praise the Hindu God Krishna

Decoding Hafeez Jalandhari's 'Krishn Kanhaiya'

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Hafeez Jalandhari wrote Krishn Kanhaiya, praising Hindu God Krishna
Hafeez Jalandhari wrote Krishn Kanhaiya, praising Hindu God Krishna. Pixabay
  • Hafeez Jalandhari weaved a poem that has a political and devotional angle to it
  • Hinduism uses sight as a way to connect with the almighty
  • The poet doesn’t refer to Krishna as a God but he says that Krishna represents glory and majesty of God

New Delhi, August 31, 2017: This year, Pakistan’s 70th Independence Day coincided with Hindu Festival Janmashtami (a festival to celebrate Krishna’s birth). Both were on 14th August. The famous Urdu poet Hafeez Jalandhari wrote the Qaumi Taranah, Pakistan’s national anthem. But not many people know that the same poet penned Krishn Kanhaiya, a unique Urdu poem beautifully describes the greatness of the Hindu Deity.

The idea of a Muslim poet in today’s time writing on a Hindu God raises all sorts of reactions (some of which are negative) coming from different ethnic groups in South Asia: suspicion, anger, surprise, joy or mere curiosity.

There is much more nuance to the poem Krishn Kanhaiya than what the reader thinks on its first reading. This is not just a devotional poem. Jalandhari had a political bend of mind be it him as a thinker or a writer. So, even this poem of his is not an ordinary one, it talks about Krishna’s grand persona, Hindu idol worship, what makes him different, his righteousness, describing the role he played in a Hindu epic Mahabharata.

He weaved a poem that has a political and devotional angle to it. The hidden meaning of it, when compared with Qaumi Taranah, is that it tells about the cultural politics of South Asia- in the 20th Century and has relevance today.

Decoding the poem:

Idol Worship

In the first line of the poem, the poet says “O, onlooker”- he might be saying this as he’s talking about a Hindu God and Hinduism gives importance to seeing a God, they believe in Idol worshipping, Hindu Gods have a form, a face. Thus, Hinduism uses sight as a way to connect with the almighty. The poet wants the readers to have mental darshan of Lord Krishna by saying, onlookers. Jalandhari wants the readers to have a mental image of Krishna in their minds.

Krishna is a form of light

The opening lines of the poem are a bit abstract and don’t talk of Krishna; in further lines, the poet asks whether Krishna is a reality or a representation. He refers to him as a “form of light” and then asks is he fire or light. Referring to Krishna as light might indicate to Islamic scholars who said that “Krishna was a righteous prophet sent to the people of the subcontinent.”

Jalandhari finally gives a description of Krishna that we are more familiar with- him being a “flute player” and a “cowherd of Gokul.” The poet doesn’t refer to Krishna as a God but he says that Krishna represents glory and majesty of God.

In the tenth stanza, the poet says that – “Inside the temple / the sculptor of beauty himself / entered and became the idol”. He is talking about Idol Worship done by Hindus who pray to their God in a temple, having a belief that the deity resides in the temple in the idol itself.

ALSO READ: Hindu Temple in Aldenham (UK) Hosts Global Visitors for Largest ‘Hare-Krishna’ celebrations in the world

Krishna Leela

Then we get a glimpse of ‘Krishna Leela’ as the poet talks of Krishna’s playing and dancing around with gopis (cowherd girls), on Yamuna river bank that he describes as a “rare happenings”. He is youthful and charming, to set the tone of the scene, phrases like “intoxicated winds” and “waves of love” are used that there was something heavenly in the atmosphere.

The sound of Krishna’s flute is described as “neither intoxication nor wine / it’s something beyond.”  Such phrases transport the readers into Braj (Krishna spent his childhood and adolescence years here) and they get blissfully lost in the divine sound of Krishna’s flute.

Cheer-Haran of Draupadi and Krishna being her savior

The poem from here takes a serious transition into a serious mood. Here the poet talks of a famous Cheer-Haran (disrobing) scene from Mahabharata as the five Pandavas have lost their kingdom and Draupadi in the dice game. Draupadi is dragged into the court by Duryodhana, the eldest Kaurava, she prays to Krishna to help her.

It is said that Lord Krishna came to her rescue and due to God’s grace, her sari turned into a never ending piece of cloth as when the Kauravas tried pulling it off, more fabric draped her body and saved her dignity.

With this scene, Jalandhari begins to bring a political angle to the poem as Draupadi says, “These beloved princes (her husbands), have all become cowards!” It seems that Jalandhari is accusing India’s rulers, monarchs who behaved like cowards at the time of British Rule.

Some even argue that the poet is referring to all Indians who worked under British Rule as cowards. The poet uses the phrase “the light of India” for Krishna, this seems more of a political symbolism.

Preparations for the Mahabharata war

In the next scene, the poet takes us to the preparations for the great Mahabharata war, where he writes worryingly, “Duryodhana seems victorious.” Duryodhana (eldest kaurava) symbolizes British Rule over India which continued for a pretty long time, like the Mahabharata war.

The irony is that Kaurava army was much larger in number than Pandavas whereas Britishers were very less in number than Indians. But with Krishna’s arrival on the battlefield (from Pandavas side) and how he preached Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna, changes the anxiety and sorrow to much-needed enthusiasm: “the divine decree has been pronounced, the sword has been swung!”

This Krishna is very different from the young playful one which the poet has described earlier. Here, he symbolizes great strength and power: on his “face shines a bright gaze” also his “virtues burn enemies.”  He is so powerful that when he is angry, he can shower lightning. Thus, this Krishna can easily be an icon used for anti-colonial nationalism.

ALSO READ: If you are a Devotee of Lord Krishna, these 10 Lesser Known Facts Will Surprise You!

Relating Mahabharata with British Rule

After this, Jalandhari paints a picture of India suffering under colonial rule, using Vrindavan as a symbol for India. He says that once the joyful Yamuna is now silent, the waves are weak now. The gardens which were earlier beautiful are now ruined and the gopis symbolizing people of India are feeling helpless without their Krishna, their savior.

So, Jalandhari makes a personal plea to Krishna: “Oh king of India, come just once more.” He begs Krishna to return to Mathura (Mathura symbolizes India) and become the King again: “If you come, glory will come, if you come, life will come” With his plea to Krishna asking him to liberate India from British rule, Jalandhari ends his nazm.

If we compare Krishn Kanhaiya to Jalandhari’s more famous work (Pakistan’s National Anthem), we can learn a lot about the cultural politics which has influenced South Asia over the 20th century and continues to do so even today.


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