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From: Mani Varadarajan (mani_at_be.com)
Date: Wed Jul 29 1998 - 11:51:38 PDT
Parthasarati Dileepan wrote: > In Srimad BG our Lord Himself urges Arjuna to enter the > battle and provide extreme _himsai_ to his near and dear > ones, let alone some unknown animal. I do not see how it follows that because Krishna urged Arjuna to wage war in a particular situation, under a particular set of rules, with people ready to do battle, it then behooves one to rationalize harming an animal. In fact, ahimsA is extolled as a great virtue at least 2 or 3 times in the Gita. In the Mahabharata, of which the Gita is the essence, it is very clearly stated, "ahimsA paramo dharma" -- non-injury is the greatest dharma, and in the bRhad-AraNyaka-upanishad it is stated that one should never hurt any creature, the exception being the Vedic sacrifice. > Further, our own > Sri Ramanuja says that animal sacrifice as in Agnishomiya > is good for the animal. Ref: Sri Rmaanuja Githa Bhashya > Chapter 2, Verse 31. And while Ramanuja did say this, one should ponder whether the acharya himself ever sacrificed an animal, or after doing so, ate its remains. I seriously doubt it. Ramanuja's adherence to the validity of animal sacrifice is not so much a commandment that we perform the same, but belief in the validity of the Vedic method for some purpose. Anything that can be achieved by animal sacrifice can be achieved by non- violent worship. Further, the very thought of harming even a plant, even out of "AcArya-kainkarya" (service to one's guru) would cause the venerable Kuratt-Alvan to faint. It is said that Alvan would faint at seeing someone cut down a banana tree for its leaves, in utter sympathy for the plant. > Then, we have the examples of Guhan and Dharmavyadhar. > Dharmavyadhar says, > > "The one who consumes meat after > offering it to Devas and Pithrus will > not incur any sin." We have to make a serious distinction between "no sin" and the "right thing to do". There is a difference. There are many things that are not sinful -- selfless action of any sort does not incur sin. One can kill an innocent someone without any self-interest; this may not be sinful, but it certainly isn't the right thing to do. The Gita and the Bharata can be easily misunderstood to mean that cold-blooded, calculated murder is OK, but a crime of passion is not, because the former is selfless but the latter is not! This could not be further from the truth. > Thus, there is no blanket injunction > against himsai as in Buddism and Jainism. Yes there is! At all costs we are to avoid violence -- except when it is absolultely mandatory to preserve a higher good. In this context, Vedic sacrifice is no longer necessary, and while not sinful, is deprecated. Waging war, while it may not be sinful, is not the right thing to do when the same can be accomplished at lesser cost by peaceful means. > Please permit me to present another angle. Those who offer > meat to the Lord and then consume it as "prasadham" is a lot > better off than those who live as strict vegetarians without > ever touching even eggs, but have no time for perumaaL. What about those who engage in "bhUta-kainkarya", and avoid meat, without thinking about God too much, but those who slaughter animals mercilessly, and offer a little bit to God to appease their conscience? I would rather spend time with the former, as they are selflessly worshipping some mode of God in truth. We can talk all we want about lions, but I refuse to believe that it is the natural state of some human beings to consume meat, and that it therefore should be tolerated. There is much evidence in sAstra against such a position. > In summary, please consider the possibility that it is possible > for prapannas to use silk for the pleasure our Lord Sriman Narayana. We can rationalize all that we like, just because it has tradition or the world's opinion in its favor. But I find it very hard to accept that SrIman nArAyaNa is happy with us causing unnecessary harm to thousands of His creatures, very often for us to "prove" our devotion by spending more money. Mani P.S. It should be noted that Sri Madhvacharya believed that grain models of animals could be used in sacrifices instead of real animals, and that this was the better way of conducting a Vedic sacrifice.