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Re: Vegetarianism

From: Rajaram Venkataramani (
Date: Tue Nov 20 2001 - 01:02:44 PST

 Dear Srikant - 
When Lord Krishna talks about food items in Bhagavad Gita, he essentially talks in terms of sattvic, rajasic and tamasic food - not in terms of vegetarian and non-vegetarian. We are advised take saatvic food so that our brain tissues are well honed for understanding spiritual subjects. We support vegetarianism only because most vegetarian food is saatvic. And the Lord and acharyas have all unanimously prescribed offering only saatvic food (incl. vegetables, leaves, grains and milk products)  to the Lord and eating the remnants. Animal killing in yajnas is prohhibted by sastras and acharyas in the age of kali. 
I too do not know of any injunction against killing plants like in Jainism. But I have come across anecdotes where sages eat only fruits that fallen from the trees etc. so that they do not cause harm. But this standard of ahimsa is not expected of every one. 
I agree that Islamic injuction against killing is nowhere close to the compassion or spiritual basis of vedic injunction. However, I was just trying to communicate that even in religions meant for mlechaas and yavanas (Christianity & Islam), there are restrictions with respect to killing. Even if a Muslim or Christian argues based on Bible or Quran that he is entitled to non-vegetarian  diet, we should point out that his own scriptures have put down restrcitions. Most of them place the argument, "We eat animals because God made them for us to". The fact is they cannot control the senses enough so God has given easier restrictions. This is nothing new to vedic thought. We also have exceptions for people in the lower modes of nature. (ref. Markandeya purana). 

           - SrImate rAmAnujAya namaH -
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