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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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8 Amazing Facts About Lord Hanuman That Will Astonish You

The glorious tales of Lord Hanuman is mentioned in several texts, such as the Mahabharata, the Puranas, the Buddhist and Sikh texts

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Hanuman is the son of Anjana and Kesari. Wikimedia Commons
Hanuman is the son of Anjana and Kesari. Wikimedia Commons
  • Once Lord Hanuman assumed a very rare form of Panch-Mukhi Hanuman to kill the demon Ahiravan
  • Hanuman was kind of a naughty kid in his childhood and he often used to tease the meditating sages in the forests
  • Agni blessed Lord Hanuman, Saying, “Fire will never burn you

Lord Hanuman was a passionate devotee of Lord Rama and one of the crucial characters in the various versions of the epic Ramayana found in the Indian subcontinent. The glorious tales of Lord Hanuman is also mentioned in several other texts, such as the Mahabharata, the Puranas, the Buddhist and Sikh texts.

As per several other texts, Lord Hanuman is also presented as an incarnation of Shiva. Hanuman is the son of Anjana and Kesari. He is also taken as the son of the wind-god Vayu, who according to several stories played a role in his birth.

Hanuman Jayanti

The Hanuman Jayanti is also known as Hanuman Janam-Utsav. Hanuman Jayanti is a Hindu religious festival that celebrates the birth of Lord Sri Hanuman, who is immensely venerated throughout India and Nepal.

During the Pandavas' exile, Hanuman masked as a weak and aged monkey to Bhima in order to subdue his arrogance. Wikimedia Commons
During the Pandavas’ exile, Hanuman masked as a weak and aged monkey to Bhima in order to subdue his arrogance. Wikimedia Commons

Hanuman Jayanti is celebrated on different days in different parts of India. In many states, the festival is observed either in the day of Chaitra Pournimaa or in the month of Vaishakha. In a few states like Kerala and Tamil Nadu, Hanuman Jayanti is celebrated in the Hindu month of Margazhi.

Hanuman Chalisa

The Hanuman Chalisa literally means forty Chaupais (chapter) on Lord Hanuman. It is a Hindu devotional hymn addressed to Lord Hanuman.

Traditionally, it was believed that Hanuman Chalisa was authored by 16th-century poet Tulsidas in the Awadhi language and is his best-known text apart from the Ramcharitmanas.

The word “Chalisa” is derived from “Chalis”, which means the number forty in Hindi. So does the Hanuman Chalisa has 40 verses.

Here, we have compiled some interesting facts about Lord Hanuman which will surely amaze you.

  1. Lord Hanuman’s battle with Lord Rama

The sage Vishwamithra ordered Lord Rama to kill Yayati. Sensing the gravity of the situation, Yayathi pleaded Lord Hanuman for help. The Yayati was promised By Hanuman that he would save Yayati from any kind of danger.

In the battlefield, Lord Hanuman did not use any weapon. Hanuman stood chanting Rama’s name and the arrows from Lord Rama’s bow did not have any effect on him

Finally, Lord Rama had to give up and sage Vishwamithra relieved Rama of his word seeing the courage of Hanuman.

Once Lord Hanuman assumed a very rare form of Panch-Mukhi Hanuman to kill the demon Ahiravan. Wikimedia Commons
Once Lord Hanuman assumed a very rare form of Panch-Mukhi Hanuman to kill the demon Ahiravan. Wikimedia Commons

2. Hanuman’s hunger saga

Once Lord Hanuman visited Sita Mata in sage Valmiki’s cottage and expressed his desire to eat some food cooked by Sita. Sita Mata started cooking many dishes and started serving Hanuman.

But Hanuman’s hunger was unquenchable and the entire rations of the house were coming to an end and finally, Sita Mata had to pray Lord Rama. Then Lord Hanuman suggested Sita Mata serve a morsel with a Tulsi Leaf and then his hunger was finally satisfied.

Also Read: Saphala Ekadashi: Significance, Celebrations, Rituals, Festival Timings and Dates

3. Five headed Hanuman

Once Lord Hanuman assumed a very rare form of Panch-Mukhi Hanuman to kill the demon Ahiravan. Ahiravan was the younger brother of Ravan, who kidnapped Ram and Lakshman and took them to the Netherworld. The only way to kill Ahiravan was to extinguish 5 lamps in 5 different directions, which Lord Hanuman did with Panch-Mukhi form.

The other five faces of Hanuman, apart from himself are that of Narasimha, Garuda, Varaha and Hayagriva.

4. Demise of Rama

Lord Ram would have lived more only if Lord Hanuman wouldn’t have allowed Yama to enter Ayodhya to claim Ram.

Lord Ram diverted Hanuman’s attention by dropping his ring through a crack in the floor and asked Hanuman to fetch it back for him. Lord Hanuman immediately reached the land of serpents and asked their King for Ram’s ring and the king showed Hanuman a vault filled with rings all of which were Ram’s.

Hanuman challenged Arjuna to build a bridge like the one Lord Rama made. Wikimedia Commons
Hanuman challenged Arjuna to build a bridge like the one Lord Rama made. Wikimedia Commons

5. The curse on Hanuman

Hanuman was kind of a naughty kid in his childhood and he often used to tease the meditating sages in the forests. Finding Lord Hanuman’s unbearable acts, but realizing that he was but a child, the sages placed a mild curse on him by which he became unable to remember his own ability unless reminded by another person.

The curse of the sages is featured in Kishkindha Kanda and Sundara Kanda when Jambavantha reminds Hanuman of his abilities and encourages him to go and find Sita.

6. God’s blessing to Hanuman

After the birth of Lord Hanuman, Varuna blessed Lord Hanuman with a boon that he would always be protected from water and Agni blessed him, Saying, “Fire will never burn you.” Surya blessed him with two siddhis of yoga namely “Laghima” and “Garima”(“Laghima” could help him to attain the smallest form and with “Garima” the biggest form of life).

Vayu showered Lord Hanuman with more speed than he himself had and Yama (the God of Death) blessed him with a healthy life.

Also Read: Diwali 2017: Significance of the Diwali, Celebrations & Rituals, Date & Diwali Recipes

7. Lord Hanuman and Bhima confrontation

Hanuman is also appraised to be the brother of Bhima as they had the same father, Vayu. During the Pandavas’ exile, Hanuman masked as a weak and aged monkey to Bhima in order to subdue his arrogance.

Hanuman put his tail by blocking Bhima’s way. Bhima, unaware of his identity, tells him to move it out of the way but was refused by Lord Hanuman. Bhima wasn’t able to move the tail by himself, despite his great strength.

Lord Ram would have lived more only if Lord Hanuman wouldn't have allowed Yama to enter Ayodhya to claim Ram. Wikimedia Commons
Lord Ram would have lived more only if Lord Hanuman wouldn’t have allowed Yama to enter Ayodhya to claim Ram. Wikimedia Commons

8. Mahabharata’s relevance

During the illustrious battle of Kurukshetra, Arjuna made his way into the battlefield with a flag displaying Hanuman on his chariot.

Earlier, after one of the encounters between Hanuman and Arjuna, Hanuman appeared as a small talking monkey before Arjuna at Rameshwaram, where Rama had built a bridge to cross over to Lanka.

Hanuman challenged Arjuna to build such a bridge alone when Lord Hanuman found out that Arjuna’s was wondering aloud at Rama’s taking the help of monkeys rather than building a bridge of arrows.