some dharmic questions
M. S. Ravisankar
ravi at AMBAA.ORG
Thu Apr 17 17:53:55 CDT 2003
I dont think such rules exists for pictures. Typically they do such things
for vighrams made of clay, etc. But this issue could be a sentimental one.
To borrow Sri Ramakrishna's approach: What will one do if he has a lot of
pictures of his wife or child. Certainly one would not like to throw it away
in garbage container.
In the case of pictures of devata-s and saints. There is a good way. Once
you have enough of them to give it away. Mail it to a maTha or temple,
explaining your predicament and include a donation. This might work. At some
point I had few vighraha-s I could not maintain, I gave it to kAnchi maTha,
they gladly took it from me.
If I am not mistaken, kAnchi maha periyavaa -- shrii shrii
chandrasekharendra sarasvati swamigaL requested his followers not to use
I have been told that it is easy to maintain maDi (ritual purity) rules with
silk. Some consider silk maintains/insulates certain bodily currents and
favourable for yoga (see Autobiography of Yogi). If you can, it is best to
avoid it. If someone gives you as gift, then it is better to use it and
praying to lord for atonement (with request not to give such gifts)
You can buy cruelty free products. They are available in west. In India,
Khadhi craft sells leather items made from (naturally) died animals.
Traditionally, in India, people always made use of leather from dead animals
and did not kill them for that. But it was used. For instance, using skin
for meditation or deer skin in upaviitam of brahmachaari-s.
Killing and getting killed is a natural part of life. How many ants, bugs,
etc. have we killed using chemicals. If someone kills for food, using the
other products of the same animal is OK. There is life everywhere and there
is a competition between them. Considering this duHkha in this samsaara, one
has to seek a quick escape from it. In the Ch 2 of giita offers counsel,
nevertheless killing of self preservation does cause suffering.
Eggs are prohibited. But they are easy to avoid. The products in which eggs
find its place indirectly as cakes are often unhealthy (i used to eat eggs,
but I stopped in 1991 and I have not missed it at all. It is easy to avoid).
But our dharma suutra-s prohibit many things including some vegetables,
depending on how is prepared, stored, served, etc. See books like
vaidyanaatha diixitiiyam. Such rules are very very difficult to follow.
Besides, if you are living in west, they add animal products in everything.
For instance, most of the milk sold in US has additive derived form fish for
vitamin D. If you go to vegetarian pages you will see the big list.
I asked this egg question to a sannyAsi few years back. He told me that for
one year, he tried living only on raw fruits, nuts, and vegetables, and
eventually fell sick. His guru advised him not be a "food fanatic", eat a
healthy balanced food without greed and for the purpose of maintaining
healthy body. One can always pray to God while eating and ask for
forgiveness. These days I try my level best to thank and pray mentally when
I try to eat or drink (coffee, water, etc) something. I used to be a food
fanatic. Before I started Advaita-L, first list I started was Veggie-L. But
I have learnt to overcome that.
Rules prescribed in shaastra-s are "almost" impossible to follow. One can
try his best. Our inability should help us reallize our inner weakness
(kaarpaNyam) and lead to a complete surrender to God. Bhagavan takes over
there. That is what arjuNa did saying I am afflicted by kaarpaNya doshha, I
do not know what to do, you guide me and I surrender to you (maam tvaam
prappannam), only then bhagavan started his giita.
My few cents.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: List for advaita vedanta as taught by Shri Shankara
> [mailto:ADVAITA-L at LISTS.ADVAITA-VEDANTA.ORG]On Behalf Of ravi
> Sent: Thursday, April 17, 2003 8:51 AM
> To: ADVAITA-L at LISTS.ADVAITA-VEDANTA.ORG
> Subject: Re: some dharmic questions
> Dear All,
> I have some questions that have been on my mind for
> some time.
> 1. There are pictures of dieties on calenders,
> wrappers, old panchangas, etc. This leads to a lot of
> paper accumulation. I was told by a temple
> representative at the Sri Venkateswara Temple in
> Pittsburgh a few years ago said in India the proper
> way to dispose pictures in those forms is to throw it
> in a holy river. I would like to know what is the
> proper way to dispose of these items(i.e. , is it a
> transgression to throw in the garbage), esp in the
> 2. We wear a lot of silk items: ties, shirts, dhotis,
> saris, etc. This involves boiling of silkworms; is
> this allowed per our shastras ? Are certain castes
> allowed/forbidden to wear silk items ?
> 3.Are we allowed to wear leather items ?, it seems
> almost ubiquitous (car seats, shoes, wallets). Here
> most likely leather is obtained from cow slaughter;
> supposedly in India it is obtained from naturally
> dying cows. My next question is if leather is ok, does
> it depend on how it is obtained ?
> 4. Many vegetarians justify egg consumption since it
> doesnt involve killing life, as these are
> unfertilized. What do our shastras state ? I remember
> reading in a book that Gandhiji stated that these
> types of eggs are ok to eat. Is there a caste
> restriction on who can consume eggs ? My
> understanding id that eggs are tamasic.
> Ravi Chandrasekhara
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