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Re: Vegetarianism - Plants have life too. (Seek Answers)

From: Lakshmi Narasimhan Venkatapathy (
Date: Wed Nov 07 2001 - 23:45:22 PST

Shrimathe Raamanujaaya Namaha.
Dear Sir,
My sincere pranamams to you and all the bhagavathas in this list.
I have some information to share with you regarding this message.

You had mentioned that - One of the Basic Tenets of VEDICS (Vaishnavaism) is Vegetarianism.
I slightly differ from this. Vegetarianism is One of the Basic Tenets of VEDICS (Brahminism). The Brahmins(the knowledge caste) have to remain vegetarian so as to sustain the saatvika gunas in them. In fact there are some exceptions in the vegetables too like onion, garlic, drum-stick, raddish, vegetables that grow under the earth that the brahmins should not eat, so as to maintain the saatvika character. If they eat meat the rajasa and the thamo gunas will enter them.

Vaishnavism has nothing to do with vegetarianism. Guhan, who helped Sri RamachandraMurthy a lot, ate and served meat to the lord. He is still one of the well known Vaishnavas that the vaishnava community has known.

Vaishnavism in fact doesn't belong just to human beings but also to all living beings in this universe(famous example - gajendra the elephant). It is not specific to any of the 4 varnas (the 4 castes namely Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Kshudra). Under Vaishnavism, everyone(including the non-human living beings) are considered to be Baghavathas, those who surrender everything to the Lord(saranagathi) and claim that whatever they do is a service to the God.

Hence, Vaishnavism and Brahminism shouldn't be confused. We have lot of examples of people who weren't Brahmanas but were Vaishnavas like Vibheeshana(asura community), Arjuna(Kshatriya community), many azhwars etc.

Vedas recommend eating meat to the appropriate caste. We should go through the explanation of the Vedas by our aacharyas to understand the same. If we read anybody else's explanation we would fall into the illusion of their interpretation of what the Vedas mean, rather than understanding the actual intention of the same.

Coming to the trees and the animals, yes it is definitely correct that they have life.
So, how do the brahmins(not vaishnavites) justify that eating the plants alive is correct. I have few thoughts on this and if they are wrong I request the great scholars in this list to excuse me and feel free to correct the same.

The basic concept of life in this world is (Scientifically and Logically) LIFE EATS LIFE and all the living beings in this world have to abide this rule. This is the law of nature. When we say that life eats life, very few exceptions are taken into account like great saints who just breath/eat air, drink water and survive for ever and the plants which doesn't eat any other life rather they eat the minerals, water, light, air etc - which are nothing but the basic five elements of this prakrthi - the panja bhoothas.

Let me first define what is meant by living to understand the following better:

Living means to eat, to grow, to reproduce and to die.

A -- THIS world is made of 2 things:
1. Non-living - those that donot eat, grow, reproduce and die - made of the different combinations of the basic five elements - scientifically agreed. EX: Water, minerals etc.
2. Living - the one that lives, eats, grow, reproduce and die - scientifically agreed

B -- The Living beings are categorised into 2:
1. The one that cannot move, see, feel etc - plants which eat the non-living, like water, minerals etc - scientifically agreed.
2. The one that can move, see, feel etc - animals which eat the living beings(including plants) - scientifically agreed.

The plants are considered to be inferior to the living beings as they cannot move, see, feel etc.

C -- The animals (living beings that can move, see, feel etc) are again categorised into 2:
1. Non-humans - which cannot think or rather which donot have the sixth sense - scientifically agreed.
2. Human - which can think or rather which have the sixth sense - scientifically agreed.

The Non-humans are considered to be inferior to the Human as they cannot think.

According to the law of survival every living being has to eat something(Brahmins are no exceptions to this). The basic design of the human is such that human cannot just eat the non-living(the minerals, water etc the combo of the five elements) alone to survive.  
So the human have to eat living beings too.
So the question at this point is, why do brahmins(the vegetarians) eat plants and not animals. This is justified by the point B mentioned above. Plants are inferior to animals. They don't see or feel. They don't feel hurt. So, when compared to eating animals, eating the plants make better sense. This may be one of the possible ways, by which, being a vegetarian shall be justified.

In that case why the other 3 caste people don't follow this? This cannot be answered scientifically at this point because the concept of the Saatvika, Raajasa and the Thamo gunas, the concept of aathman etc have to be first understood by going through the proper explanations and justifications from the Vedas through our Aacharya's explanation. Also, it is not within the scope of the current context.

Hope the above mail was useful to atleast a little extent.

If I had made any mistakes it is purely out of my ignorance and if I had given some fruitful reply it is because of the blessings of my lord Sriman Narayanan and my aacharyar Shri Raamanujar.

Thanks for reading my mail with patience.

Sarva aparaadhaan kshamasva...

Aazhwar Emberumanaar Jeeyar Thiruvadigale Saranam.
Raamanuja Daasan,
Lakshmi Narasimhan

----- Original Message -----
From: Pattangi
Sent: Thursday, November 08, 2001 1:27 AM
Subject: Vegetarianism - Plants have life too. (Seek Answers)

Why Vegetarianism?

Dear Devotees: Humble Pranams:

adiyEn has the bhagyam of working with some kids in the Universities in the Chicago area.

One of the Basic Tenets of VEDICS (Vaishnavaism) is Vegetarianism.
Now the Kids normally ask plants have life too, how can you kill or eat the plant alive.

We normally say that plants do not have a Central Nervous System to feel the pain.
(Minimal suffering to all beings)

Now is there any other explanation. (that would make sense to kids)
If we dig in the Vedas there are so many places where meat eating is allowed, and recommended.
(Thank god these kids do not have access/knowledge of these, but adiyEn would like to get
answers that would satisfy the scientific mind)

azhwAr emberumAnAr JeeyAr thiruvadigalE saranam

adiyEn rAmAnuja dAsan
Mukundan Vangkipuram Pattangi

           - SrImate rAmAnujAya namaH -
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