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Re: use of silk etc.,

From: Kadambi (kadambi_at_monmouth.com)
Date: Wed Jul 29 1998 - 18:55:18 PDT

Dearest bhaagawatas,

Please permit me to present some (I confess, pedestrian) views.

I have no comment on whether the sacrifice of animals according to
vedic injunction will actually be good to the jeevatma resident in the
animal's body and the jeevatma of the sacrificer.

However, history has it ( ... and there is no solid proof of this
other than texts) that such sacrificial practices were grossly misused
by the then-caretakers of the vedas.  The karma kaaNDa of the vedas
seemed to be all the vedas represented.  The Buddha avataara became
essential in reversing this abominable trend.  Then, again, when
Buddhism's concept of nihilism became rife, there was a need to
reverse that trend since that representation of the "TRUTH" was at
best incomplete.  However, note that Buddhism did accomplish what it
set out to do.  Then came Sankara's illustrious avataara which set out
to prove through the age-old upanishadic system of thought that the
concept of Brahman was a Reality.  This revival was again absolutely
essential since vedic thought had been rudely pushed to the
back-burner.  This time, however, it emerged as pure vedAnta.  How
could Sankara have convinced the people that animal sacrifice was okay
when Buddhism was so prevalent?  Sankara accomplished what had to
be accomplished, and left the rest to Ramanuja.  Ramanuja's work was
already half done - Vedanta had re-emerged on Indian soil.  All he had
to do was to prove that the philosophy and religion expressed in the
karma and jnana parts of the vedas was consistent.

Given the fact that the human kind has erred so prodigiously, I have
no doubt that we at the verge of the millennium are no better informed
and no less sinful than others we choose to comment upon.  I think the
aacharyas of any faith work with a plan to influence the people they
have to deal with in the most appropriate fashion.  They are, in a
sense, politicians and manipulators of the highest order, except that
such manipulation is done out of selfless love and compassion towards
the society (loka kalyaaNa).  Even though Ramanuja truthfully
translated and commented upon the Geeta and has talked positively
about the sacrifices, one must realize that the practice of senseless
animal sacrifices probably had disappeared from the scene, thanks to
Buddha.  Given this, it does not really matter whether sacrifices of
this nature are right or wrong.  Ramanuja just wanted to show how the
two kaaNDas of the vedas form one coherent piece of knowledge.

To conclude ... although "sastra-prescribed himsa" is technically
correct, it should be treated as a non-issue.  It does not apply to us
here in 1998.  If Ramanujacharya says something, he says so with a
purpose, and the purpose is more important than the words.  Ahimsa is
to be practiced with utmost care - ("ahimsa prathamam pushpam" - The
first flower you can offer to the Lord is ahimsa.  In that sense,
ahimsa is THE injunction.

In my humble opinion, the use of silk, deer skin (krshnajeena), and
other such products has always repelled me.  Deer skin, I can
understand.  Probably it is obtained from the carcass of a dead deer.
With silk, I have a big problem.  Also, I think the saastras say
"peetambara" which means yellow cloth (not necessarily silk from a
hapless silkworm).  One of our erudite members should comment on this.

|| sarvam sree krishNaarpaNamastu ||
 -- murali kadambi