Are Gods Non-Vegetarians?
Yesterday, a person from my neighbourhood and his friend (unknown to me) – who work in favour of banning cow slaughter and use of beef came to see me. Their purpose was to invite me to preside a meeting on this hot subject on June 1st.
“Udayji, you have been a great advocate of vegetarianism and have written many popular articles as a proponent of vegetarianism. Lots of youngsters follow you. It would be great if you can preside the meeting and deliver a speech about how our scriptures insist on vegetarianism. As you know Hindu Gods are vegetarians and will get angry if you kill animals and birds.”
“Ji, generally I avoid most of the meetings. Further, I will be in Chennai on June 1st, so I can’t come. I have not seen any of the Gods eating food. So, I can’t say if they are vegetarians or not. And to the best of my knowledge, no Hindu scriptures insist that you should be vegetarian…”
“Mister, have you not read Bhagavad Gita? It clearly says that one has to be vegetarian…” his friend told me.
“I don’t remember reading such things in Gita. Can you please elaborate?”
“Lord Krishna in Chapter 6 and 17 says that one has to be a vegetarian…”
“In Chapter 6, Krishna tells about “Yukathaharam” (Proper and sensible food) – he doesn’t say it as “Sasyaharam” (Vegetarian food). Yukta means suitable for your body. One can eat anything that’s suitable for his body, depending upon Varna (job/profession) Ashram (age/life status), kala (time/season) and desa (Location). Vyasa is not a fool or fanatic like you…”I replied.
“Udayji, can you please explain that?” my neighbour asked.
“It is self-explanatory. Just common sense. A person working in the field under hot sun and a person sitting in A/C room living a sedentary life style cannot eat the same type of food. One should eat according to his Varna (profession). Similarly a young student has more digestive power than a retired man, therefore one should eat according to one’s age (Ashram). Food intake should vary according to the season(Kala). Hence, the food you eat during winter is different from what you eat during summar. A person in Iceland cannot eat like a person living in Sahara desert. Eating should thus depend on the geographical area (Desa) you reside. Vyasa says scientifically, but your friend uses it for political purpose…”
“No…No…You are wrong Mister Uday…In 17th chapter Krishna clearly instructs that you should be vegetarian…”
“Krishna didn’t say that in Gita. In Chapter 17 he talks about food. He has divided food into three: Sattvik, Rajasik or Tamasik. He says you should follow a sattvik life style for living happily…”
“Then why do you blindly promote vegetarianism? You know how to convert the qoutes in favour of your theory…”my neighbour said.
“Yes. I am a vegetarian and promote ONLY vegetarianism. But, for my purpose, I neither can mis quote nor follow anything unscientific. A Sanatan Dharmi should be truthful and scientific. So, let’s not mix up our beliefs with what is factually said in the scriptures. Krishna explains what’s Sattvik food…”
“What’s that?” he asked.
“Krishna says rasyaaha (tasty) and snigdhaaha (fatty/lipid) as Sattvik food. Now, who decides taste? The person who eats it.”
“What’s it other than vegetarian? Its interpretation is vegetarianism only” suddenly his friend asked.
“Sir, if that is the case, please name one plant that produce fat or lipid….” I asked him.
He looked at my neighbour helplessly.
“It’s shocking Udayji. You mean Krishna said one can eat non-veg fatty food? What’s more, scientifically speaking fat, oil and cholesterol are bad for health. You mean to say Krishna was unscientific? Being a Krishna Bhakth how can you say this, even if it may be true?” my neighbour asked.
“You are being jumpy. Whatever Krishna said stands for ever. Who told you fatty food and cholesterol are bad for health? Some stupid medical company sponsored research and their marketing team of doctors. Our body needs almost 50 grams of oil every days. Fatty food in moderation won’t bring any diseases. And no plant, repeat NO Plant, produces cholesterol…”
“Oh, you don’t know about human body Mister Uday…So don’t comment on what do you don’t know…”
“I don’t need to know. We have medical experts for that. My ancestors, Ayurveda experts, told that there is no harm in oil. In fact an expert told me that if you drink a teaspoon Gingelly oil (known as Ellenna, Nallenna, Sesame oil) mixed with 2ml of natural honey that would provide you essential Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and Omega-3 fatty acid for the body…”
“Oil causes heart failure and death, he doesn’t know a thing….” the friend told the neighbour, “if there is no fat in plants where else should we get fat from?”
“Milk and its products. Seed oils…”the neighbour said and turned to me: “We are moving away from the subject…You were talking about 3 types of food as per Krishna’s advice”.
“Yes, the next one is Rajasik – essentially spicy food. Foods that are too bitter, too sour, salty, pungent, dry and hot come under this category.”
“And the third one?”
“Thamasikam. That which is “Yama Matra Dooshitam”. That’s any food after almost 4 hours becomes Tamasik. So, if you keep Sambar (fully vegetarian) in the refrigerator it becomes Tamasik and according to Gita, you shouldn’t eat such food…So, How can you claim you follow Krishna’s advise of being Sattvik, even if you eat vegetarian food…”
Both kept mum for a minute. Then my neighbour asked: “Udayji what sort of food our scriptures and puranas advocate? What according to our Dharma is Godly or divine food?”
“Of course, all scriptures advocate Sattvik food. Ayurveda, Vedas and Puranas have beautifully introduced a concept of Ashwini Kumaras (Ashwini Devathas) as the doctors of Gods and devas of Ayurveda medicine. The twin Gods of health represent Hitaharam (proper food) and Mitayasam (adequate exercise). Our ancestors said one who follows these twin principles will never have to depend on a Physician (Vaidya). For, he will be free from diseases! In short, if you take appropriate food and do controlled exercises (both based upon Varna-Asharama-Kala-Desa), you will have ayur-arogya-soukhyam. Our sages or scriptures didn’t specify that one has to be a vegetarian….Sanatana Dharma is not a prescriptive religion with codes or commandments and threats. It advocates individual freedom with responsibility…”
“Now he will say Vedas allow animal sacrifice…” his friend said in an arrogant tone.
“Wrong guess. Our scriptures anywhere do not support animal sacrifice…” I said.
“But our academicians say that Vedas call for sacrifice of goats and killing of cows…” my neighbour asked.
“Those are mis-interpretation of paid historians and academicians or die-hard fans of invaders. I have explained this in many articles. They have taken words out of context which were used for different meanings. For instance, the word “cell” is used in chemistry, biology, physics and history with totally different meaning. Similarly they used the words like cow and goat…”
“Udayji, then why do you follow vegetarianism and propagate it?” the neighbour asked, “our scriptures don’t say you should eat veg food.”
“Our scriptures do not say you should eat non-veg food either. Here is where you have to use logic and reasoning. And of course, common sense to understand what they said. There are NO final authoritarian scriptures in our Dharma. All the scriptures show the way to living in accordance with cosmic principles. It doesn’t treat you as kids who need moral codes or a set of dos and don’ts. We have to understand the broader principles and take up Dharma, that’s our duty, privelage and responsibility….”
“Can you be more specific on this subject, Udayji?”
“Scriptures are not our final authority. Dharma is. All our scriptures talk about non-violence. It says violence may be used ONLY to protect non-violence or to protect Dharma. Firstly, I follow a path of non-violence. Killing animals and birds involve violence and I cannot be a party to that. I don’t want to participate in Adharma of killing any creature. Secondly, I don’t like eating dead bodies or parts of dead body. Finally and most importantly, I follow a tradition in which my parambara (lineage) has not used anything other than vegetarian food for at least traceable 200-300 years. There is no reason for me to violate that good tradition for a worst one…”
“Is it a personal choice for you Mister?…” his friend asked.
“Not just that. In that case I wouldn’t have insisted my children to be vegetarians. Being vegetarian is part of our Dharma. I tell everybody to be vegetarian. When Sanatan Dharma evolved, our homo sapiens moved from being carnivorous (some of them are man-eaters) to civilized vegetarians. The easiest way of adapting to Sattvik food is start eating vegetarian food. There are so many examples in Puranas that, Dharmic people always preferred veg food. For instance, Rama was a Kshatriya who supposed to eat non-veg food, but he preferred to be vegetarian. Same goes with Krishna. And Veda Vyasa was also a vegetarian.”
“Vegetarianism is connected to the caste?”
“No. Caste is a new thing in Hinduism. According to our scriptures, those who followed non-violence and sattvik life style traditionally were classified as Brahmins. During 1000s of years of evolving, they understood that everyone should thrive to be a Brahmin – that is, lead a Sattvik life. Hence the Dharmic Brahmins became vegetarians. The great Brhaminism should not be mixed up with today’s baseless birth and caste based Brahmins. They just use the word Brahmin and eat non-veg, the way some political leaders use Gandhi’s legacy and involve in corruption and violence. So caste Brahmins have nothing to do with vegetarianism or Sattvik food style.” ( http://udaypai.in/what-will-happen-if-a-brahmin-eats-n…/ )
His friend suddenly beamed. “Aha, so, you are sensible than I thought. Isn’t it true that you become what you eat? And you must understand that animal eaters will become like animals – cruel and violent. Like a lion kills deer with so much cruelty…”
“You are wrong again. It’s just your fanatic perception. If one becomes what he/she eats, I would have become a vegetable now. Do I look like Brinjal or Snake gourd? And, did lion tell you that it kills deer with cruelty? It’s a third person’s (yours) opinion. Any hungry animal or human when seeing food will not have cruelty but only happiness. So, it is not factual to say that Lion kills deer with cruelty…”
“Hmmm Udayji, you are really an unbiased analyst who goes only by truth and not by belief…”
“Not true. I prefer go by truth, but I follow many beliefs that my ancestors followed. Even if there is no science base in such beliefs, I follow it – because I cannot find any better alternatives for that…”
“Whatever, I liked you Mister Uday…You have totally different viewpoints altogether…”
“Thank you for liking me. But it is immaterial for me whether you like me or not. I don’t do or say anything to please or displease you. Thanks for visiting my humble abode” thus I ended the conversation.
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