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Re: use of silk etc.,

From: Krishna Susarla (
Date: Wed Jul 29 1998 - 16:34:25 PDT

Hare Krishna.

From: Mani Varadarajan <>

>In the Mahabharata, of which the Gita is the essence, it is
>very clearly stated, "ahimsA paramo dharma" -- non-injury is
>the greatest dharma,

I have heard this verse before. Can you please provide a specific verse
number in which it can be found?

and in the bRhad-AraNyaka-upanishad it
>is stated that one should never hurt any creature, the exception
>being the Vedic sacrifice.

I don't doubt this is stated there, but again, can you please provide a
specific verse number?

>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.

It is interesting to note that Sri Chaitanya, in a context not unlike this
one, quoted the Brahmavaivarta PuraaNa to this effect:

ashvamedha.m gavaalambha.m sannyaasa.m palapaitR^ikam |
devareNa sutotpatti.m kalau pa~ncha vivarjayet ||

In this age of Kali, five acts are forbidden: the offering of a horse in
sacrifice, the offering of a cow in sacrifice, the acceptance of the order
of sannyaasa, the offering of oblations of flesh to the forefathers, and a
man's begetting children in his brother's wife (brahmavaivarta puraaNa).

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.

Of course, the important point of waging war in the context of Bhagavad-Gita
was that Arjuna should wage war because, ultimately, it was Lord Krishna's
desire to do so. As long as he was fully surrendered to the Lord and doing
as He ordered, He could incur no sin.

>> 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.

Personally I have some doubts about this. I remember reading somewhere a
statement to the effect that the animal-killer is the only type of sinner
who cannot appreciate the message of the Bhaagavatam. Furthermore, it's not
clear to me that offering meat to the Lord can even be considered devotional
service. I for one would think that the Lord would regard it as offensive.
At least, if someone were to put meat on my plate and put it in front of me,
I would be pretty disgusted.

>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 fact, there is plenty of evidence against it. In Srila Prabhupada's
translation of Shriimad Bhaagavatam, this subject comes up in at least two
places which I am aware of.

For example, in the 11th skandha, the Yogendras are describing to Maharaja
Nimi the fate of those who abandon Vedic regulations in the age of Kali.
They say:

loke vyavaayaamiShamadyasevaa nityaa hi jantorna hi tatra chodanaa |
vyavasthitisteShu vivaahayaj~na suraagrahairaasu nivR^ittiriShtaa || Bhaa P
11.5.11 ||

loke - in the material world; vyavaaya - sex indulgence; aamiSha - of meat;
madya - and liquor; sevaaH - the taking; nityaaH - always found; hi -
indeed; jantoH - in the conditioned living being; na - not; hi - indeed;
tatra - in regard to them; chodanaa - any command of scripture;
vyavasthitiH - the prescribed arrangement; teShu - in these; vivaaha - by
sacred marriage; yaj~na - the offering of sacrifice; suraa-grahaiH - and the
acceptance of ritual cups of wine; aasu - of these; nivR^ittiH - cessation;
iShTaa - is the desired end.

In this material world the conditioned soul is always inclined to sex,
meat-eating and intoxication. Therefore religious scriptures never actually
encourage such activities. Although the scriptural injunctions provide for
sex through sacred marriage, for meat-eating through sacrifical offerings
and for intoxication through the acceptance of ritual cups of wine, such
ceremonies are meant for the ultimate purpose of renunciation. (bhaagavata
puraaNa 11.5.11)

yad ghraaNabhakSho vihitaH suraayaastathaa pashoraalabhana.m na hi.msaa |
eva.m vyavaayaH prajayaa na ratyaa ima.m vishuddha.m na viduH svadharmam ||
Bhaa P 11.5.13 ||

yat - because; ghraaNa - by smell; bhakShaH - the taking; vihitaH - is
enjoined; suraayaaH - of wine; tathaa - similarly; pashoH - of a sacrificial
animal; aalabhanam - prescribed killing; na - not; hi.msaa - wanton
violence; evam - in the same way; vyavaayaH - sex; prajayaa - for the
purpose of begetting children; na - not; ratyai - for the sake of sense
enjoyment; imam - this (as pointed out in the previous verse); vishuddham -
most pure; na viduH - they do not understand; sva-dharmam - their own proper

According to the Vedic injunctions, when wine is offered in sacrifical
ceremonies it is later to be consumed by smelling, and not by drinking.
Similarly, the sacrificial offering of animals is permitted, but there is
not provision for wide-scale animal slaughter. Religious sex life is also
permitted, but only in marriage for begetting children, and not for sensuous
exploitation of the body. Unfortunately, however, the less intelligent
materialists cannot understand that their duties in life should be performed
purely on the spiritual platform (bhaagavata puraaNa 11.5.13).

Thus, even when shaastric injunctions provide for some opportunity to
sacrifice an animal, it is to be understood that such sacrifices are
ultimately for renunciation of the proscribed activity. Furthermore,
sacrifices like the ashvamedha yaj~na (which are performed for the sake of
getting some material benefit) are still not to be performed in the age of
Kali. The idea is that there simply are not brahmins who can perform those
sacrifices properly, and thus performance of such sacrifices will cause the
practitioners to incur sin (hence the quote from the Brahmavaivarta).

>> 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.

As do I. And while that may make things inconvenient for us, it is important
to realize that devotional service to the Lord is rarely convenient.
Sometimes it's more rewarding to go through the hardships of performing
everything properly, rather than trying to perform devotionals service
according to our own self-imposed limitations.

>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.

Is this so? I would appreciate if you could provide some evidence. In which
of his works did he state this? I don't doubt that he would say such a
thing, but if he did, then it's quite probable that there is scriptural
evidence to back it up.


-- K