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Re: use of silk etc.,

From: Parthasarati Dileepan (Dileepan_at_utc.edu)
Date: Wed Jul 29 1998 - 21:08:45 PDT

At 11:51 AM 7/29/1998 -0700, Mani Varadarajan wrote:
>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.

You have used the phrase "under a particular set of rules" 
for the convenience of your argument.  Please permit
me the same liberty.  "Under a particular set of rules" 
Arjuna was indeed urged to kill his grandfather, brothers, 
uncle, etc.  "Under a particular set of rules" Sri Ramanuja 
also says,  animal sacrifice is not himsai to those animals.  
I hope you see the relevance to topic under discussion.  
More about what the topic is later.  It is clears to me that 
there is much confusion about this.




>> 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 

I would like to request Sri Mani to stick to what was said.
Nowhere did I say, either directly or indirectly, that
Sri Ramanuja himself performed such acts or encouraged
other to do so.  I find such unprovoked speculation insulting.  
What I _should_ ponder upon and what I _should_ not is best
left to me.   Let us stay focused on what the position of our 
poorvaacharas were when it comes to "ahimsai".  The fact is, 
Sri Ramanuja has written that "himsai" given in the course 
of yagnas as prescribed by sasthras, is not "himsai" at all.
Further, it would be of benefit to such animals.  This is clear 
from Sri Rmaanuja Githa Bhashya  Chapter 2, Verse 31.
In this context Kulasekaraazhvaar is quoted in the bhashya
as follows:

   "vaaLaal aruththuch sudinum, maruththuvanpaal
    maaLaadha kaathal nOyaaLan pOl".  

  "even as the physician cuts our body with their scalpel 

   and burn us, we still love them they cure our illness,.."



>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.


Sigh!  I wonder whether this is deliberate or just careless.
Even a cursory reading of my post would indicate that
I was only trying to point out the difference between how "himsai"
is viewed by Sri Vaishnava acharays as opposed to others such
as Buddhists and Jains.  I did not advocate, either directly or
indirectly, that animal sacrifice is great and everyone should run
out and start performing them.  



>  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.

There is no quarrel here.  However, this has no bearing 
to the main point of discussion, which is, is there a blanket
injunction against "himsai" in the same lines as Buddism 
and Jainism.  More about this later.


>
>> 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.


More of irrelevant stuff.  I have not said or implied any of this.
All that I tried to say was that our Sampradayam does not prohibit 
all violence at all times under all circumstances, no matter 
what.  Can you deny this?  If you deny this, then you have 
to reject Srimad BG as well.


>
>> Thus, there is no blanket injunction
>> against himsai as in Buddism and Jainism.
>
>Yes there is! 

If you think that Sri Ramanuja's view of what is 
himsai is the same as that of Buddism and Jaininsm, 
then you are wrong.


> At all costs we are to avoid violence --
>except when it is absolultely mandatory to preserve a higher
>good. 

You are contradicting yourself.  How can you say that 
there is blanket injunction against himsai in our religion 
and in the same breath say it is allowed to preserve
a higher good.  If there is a blanket injunction as you 
claim, then there is no higher good than "Ahimsai". 

Here it is relevant to note that Sri Ramanuja makes 
a distinction between bodily ahimsai and spiritual 
ahimsai.  Bodily himsai perfomred in the course of 
sasthric yagna will result in the animal reaching a 
higher spiritual plane.  Thus, it is Sri Ramanuja's 
view that, this particular type of bodily himsai is 
no himsai at all.


> 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.


This is more fluff.  Once again, the point of the debate 
is not whether one should start sacrificing animals, or 
even whether sacrificing animals is better than non-violent 
forms of worship.  It is a subtle thing.  What is our view 
about animal sacrifice?  Buddhism and Jainism totally 
reject it out of hand.  We don't.  Do you see what I am 
trying to say?


>
>> 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.

You may very well do that, but that is not the comparison I made.
Once again, you are twisting what I said.  Sigh!!  My point was, 
between people like Dharmavyadhar and Guhan on the one hand, and 
strict vegetarians who have no time for perumaaL on the other. 
If you start blurring the contrast with "without thinking about 
God too much" and "offer a little bit to God to appease" then 
you are really trying to be smart with me.


>
>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.

This is really getting tiresome.  I am fairly certain now that
you have completely misunderstood what I was trying to say.


>
>> 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.  


What will make Sriman Narayana happy can be understood by 
approaching a qualified Acharya with humility and pondering 
over what he teaches.  Sriman Narayana Himself urged Arjuna 
to cause bodily harm to thousands of His creatures.  Why did 
the Lord urge Arjuna to do that?  When are such acts necessary?  
Why are even seemingly noble acts such as total avoidance of  
himsai to other living things is not effective when it comes 
paramapurushartham?

Also, please note that perumaaL and Thayar routinely adorn silk
garments in many of our dhivya desams.  Our Acharyas sit on
top of tiger skin mat.  The first yagyopaveetham comes with a small
peace of deer skin.  All these are current practices in kali yuga
accepted and encouraged by our Acharays.



>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.

This is not accepted as Vedically valid by Sri Vaishnavas.
I can try to get the proper references if there is inteterest
and if I have the time.