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

From: K. Sadananda (sada_at_anvil.nrl.navy.mil)
Date: Fri Nov 09 2001 - 04:19:05 PST

>Why Vegetarianism?

I wrote couple of articles related to why Vegetarianism several years 
ago in response to some questions in alt.hindu.  I am reproducing 
them without editing since it address some of the issue raised. 
Would respond to any questions on these articles leisurely when I 
find some time. PraNaams.
Hari OM!
Sadananda
------------
Here is Article I

Sub: Does Hinduism require one to be a vegetarian

Recently two questions were asked - Does Hinduism require one to 
believe in God? Does Hinduism require one to be a vegetarian? In a 
recent article, I have addressed the first question.  Here I will 
provides some thoughts for the second question.

In relation to the first question, I have discussed what Hinduism 
stands for and who is truly a Hindu.  In essence, Hinduism is 
Sanatana Dharma, and that Dharma is from time immemorial - it 
involves pursuit for Moksha.  Therefore the one who is seeking for 
Moksha is a true Hindu, irrespective of the nationality, caste, creed 
or gender.  With that catholic understanding, one can see that 
Hinduism becomes a way of life because the pursuit of the essential 
purpose of life is the goal of the Hindu life.

With that perspective, it is easier to analyze all other questions 
including whether Hinduism requires one to be a vegetarian.  Since 
the purpose of life is securing liberation or Moksha, until we reach 
that we need to live.  Only death is the death of the ego that 
happens in the spiritual awakening.  Hence, keeping the body alive by 
nourishment is the our Dharma.  That means one has to eat to live 
(not the other way - living for eating sake!)

Life lives on life. That is the law of nature.  Whether I eat an 
animal or plant I am destroying a life. Among all life forms Man is 
different from the rest of the life kingdom.  He has the capability 
to discriminate the right from wrong.  That also gives him the 
freedom of choice.  Plants have just body and perhaps a rudimentary 
mind. Animals have both body and mind to express  feelings and 
suffering, but rudimentary intellect.  Man has not only body, mind 
but also well developed intellect to discriminate, decide and to 
choose.  He always has three choices - Karthum sakhyam, Akartum 
sakhyam and anyatha karthum sakhyam meaning he can choose to do, not 
to do and do it other way.  For animals and plants there is no 
freedom of choice.  They  are instinctively driven.  Cow does not sit 
down before meals, and inquire whether it should be a vegetarian or 
non-vegetarian.  So is a tiger.  For a Man the discriminative 
intellect is very evolved. Plants and animals do not commit sin in 
their actions because there is no will involved in their actions. For 
a human, the story is different.  You may wonder why I brought sin in 
the argument.  Let me explain.

Sin is nothing but agitations in the mind.  It is these agitations 
that prevent me in my journey to Moksha. Mind has to be pure (meaning 
un-agitated) for me to see the truth as the truth.  (Bible also says 
Blessed are those whose minds are pure).  To define sin more 
scientifically - it is the divergence between the mind and intellect. 
Intellect knows right from wrong - but we feel like doing things even 
though we know they are wrong - that is, the intellect says 
something, but mind which should be subservient to intellect rebels 
and does whatever it feels like.  This divergence is sin.  After the 
action is performed - there is a guilt feeling, because intellect, 
although was overruled, does not keep quite, it keep prodding " I 
told you it is wrong. Why did you do it?" With peace of mind gone Man 
goes through a "Hell".  Man is not punished for the sin, he is 
punished by the sin. - Think about it.  

All yogas, if you analyze clearly, are bringing this integration 
between the body, mind and intellect.  For a Yogi - What he thinks, 
what he speaks and what he does are in perfect harmony or alignment 
(Manasaa vacha karmana). In our case, we think something but have no 
guts to say what we think, our lips says something different from 
what are thinking - if you watch the lips and the actions that 
follow, they are again different! - There is no integration any 
where. We live a chaotic life.  Besides deceiving others, most 
pathetic is we deceive ourselves, and the worst thing is we don't 
even realize that. 

Now, when a tiger kills and eats, it does not commit a sin.  Because 
its intellect is rudimentary, and it does not go through any analysis 
before it kills - should I kill or not to kill - Should I be a 
non-vegetarian or should I be vegetarian".  When it is hungry, to 
fill the natures demand, it kills it pray and eats what it needs and 
leaves the rest when it is full.  It is not greedy either.  That is 
its Swadharma. It follows a beautiful ecological system.

It is only man who destroys the ecology by being greedy.  "Should I 
be a vegetarian or non-vegetarian?" is asked only by a man.  Why that 
question comes?  Because man has discriminative intellect, and he 
does not want to hurt others to fill his belly.  He learns what 
`hurt' means because he surely does not want others to hurt him. 
Plants are life forms too, should one hurt them?.  You may ask.  If 
one can live without hurting any life forms that is the best, but 
that is not possible.  Life lives on life - that is the law of 
nature.  My role as a human being with discriminative intellect is to 
do the least damage to the nature for keeping myself alive.  At 
least, I am not consciously aware of suffering of the plants.  That 
is why eating to live and not living to eat is the determining 
factor. 

In Bhagawad Geeta, Krishna emphatically says that a Sadhaka (one who 
is in pursuit of Moksha) should have a compassion for all forms of 
life - Sarva Bhuuta HitErathAH.  In the spiritual growth, one 
develops subtler and subtler intellect (Sukshma Bhuddhi in contrast 
to TeeKshna Buddhi, i.e. sharper intellect). That is, the mind is 
becoming quieter, calmer and self-contended.  Your sensitivity to 
suffering of others also grows.  Hence it is advisable to be a 
vegetarian. 

Even the traditional non-vegetarians repel against eating dogs and 
cats or other human beings! Why?  Meat is a meat after all!  But with 
familiarity grows compassion. 

There are many two legged animals in human form with rudimentary 
intellect.  They behave like animals, as we heard a case recently in 
Michigan of man-eating humans keeping them in the refrigerator.  But 
in the evolutionary ladder one develops subtler and subtler 
intellect, then it is advisable to be a vegetarian - only taking from 
nature what it needs to keep the body going.  One should not hurt any 
life forms to satisfy the craving of ones tongue.

Should Hindu be a vegetarian? Since such a question already arose in 
your mind, you have a degree of sensitivity not to hurt other living 
forms to satisfy your belly. Then you may be better off not eating 
meat and you will be at peace with yourself.   Since you are 
sensitive to this the intellect directing you one way and your mind 
wants some baser pleasure and directing you the other way. When you 
go against your own intellect you commit sin. That is against your 
SWADHARMA as Krishna puts it. Swadharma in a nut shell is what your 
intellect or conscious believes in.

Besides, now, even the traditional non-vegetarians are choosing 
vegetarianism not because of any compassion to other animals but they 
are recognizing that it is not good for their health. 

I have already mentioned that Hinduism do not overemphasize the doos 
and don'ts, as commandments,  but you determine your own doos and 
don'ts based on your intellectual values, culture, education and 
primary goal in life.  You will find that following your Swadharma 
makes you comfortable with yourself. It is not others to judge, it is 
for you to judge.  If you are agitated, that means you are loosing 
peace of mind for these and that is a sin!  Imagine your self that 
chicken or cow that you are eating.  Would you not advice the guy who 
is eating you to be a vegetarian instead and spare its life.  Do not 
say you are not killing the animal yourself, and killing will go on 
whether you eat or not.  If you don't eat, one animal is spared. 
This is the demand and supply.  I may not be stealing my self, but if 
I buy the stolen property knowing that it was stolen, it is a crime! 
Is it not?  Now there are imitation meats too - so why the crave for 
a dead meet.  Why do you want your stomach to be a burial ground for 
a dead animal. 

 From Hinduism point, it does not really care.  All it wants is for 
you to pursue the path towards the Sanatanadharma.  So do what is 
needful to keep your mind calm and un-agitated.  Purification of the 
mind is the means for attaining salvation, and that is the goal of 
human life.  Since by willful actions we got ourselves into this mess 
of SamsAr, or suffering,  it is by willful Sadhana (your efforts) 
only we can get out of it. Lord has given us the intelligence to 
accomplish this - Krishna declares - you are better off following 
your swadharma than paradharma.  Swadharma (is not just what caste 
you belong or what religion you belong) in the final analysis it is 
what your intellect or conscious dictates.  Because, after the action 
is performed, it is your mind that has to settle accounts with your 
intellect.

Do yourself a favor - eat only what you need, I do not think eating 
meat comes as your essential need.  In fact it could even be harmful 
for your body if not to the mind.  

  Hari Om and Tat Sat. - Sadananda


-- 
K. Sadananda
Code 6323
Naval Research Laboratory
Washington D.C. 20375
Voice (202)767-2117
Fax:(202)767-2623


[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]



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