[Advaita-l] Food habits

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at yahoo.com
Wed Jan 26 13:46:55 CST 2005

--- S Jayanarayanan <sjayana at yahoo.com> wrote:

> --- Sankaran Aniruddhan <ani at ee.washington.edu> wrote:
> > namaste,
> > 
> > >The contradiction is in these verses:
> > >MS 5.35: "Consecrated meat (i.e. meat from a YaGYa) should be
> > eaten."
> > >MS 5.52: "Unconsecrated meat (i.e. meat not from a YaGYa) should
> not
> > be
> > >eaten."
> > >MS 5.56: "There is no fault in meat-eating...but abstinence bears
> > great
> > >fruit."
> > >
> > >Note that the meat that is being referred to in MS 5.56 can be
> > neither
> > >consecrated nor unconsecrated.
> > 
> > Kartik, can MS 5.56 be interpreted in the following way (I have
> added
> > modifiers in "()" braces):
> > 
> > "There is no fault in eating (consecrated) meat (this is mentioned
> > explicitly so that people don't get misled by MS 5.52). However,
> > abstinence (in performing a kAmya yajna that involves animal
> > sacrifice)
> > bears great fruit..."
> > 
> Note that the "faultless action" that is being talked about in MS
> 5.56
> is "meat-eating". So the word "abstinence" must refer to the *same
> action*, otherwise the verse doesn't make sense. In your
> interpretation, the "faultless action" is taken to be "eating
> consecrated meat", but the "abstinence" is that of "performing kAmya
> karmas that require animal sacrifice". 

The commentary of MedhAtithi on the MS can be found online at
http://www.payer.de/dharmashastra/dharmash00.htm . The webpage is
mostly in German, but contains Ganganath Jha's translation in English
too. Here's what it says regarding 5.56:


'There is no sin in the eating of meat.' This assertion stands on the
same footing as verse.32 above. What we learn from the present verse
(in addition to what we know already) is that 'abstention is conductive
to great rewards. ' By various deprecatory texts the impression has
been produced that 'no meat should be eaten.' But by way of providing a
means of living for living beings it has been asserted that 'there is
no sin in the eating of meat' ; which means that there is no sin if one
eats such meat as is the remnant of the worship of Gods, etc., or what
is eaten at the wish of Brahmanas, and under such similar circumstances
specified above ; but this only if he wish to eat it.

'Abstention'—taking the resolve not to eat meat and then to abstain
from it—this is 'conducive, to great reward.' In the absence of the
mention of any particular reward, Heaven is to be regarded as the
reward. So say the Mîmâmsakas...

But there are nitya karmas that require animal sacrifice and therefore
meat-eating. How can one take the vow of abstention from meat-eating
and fail to perform the nitya karmas?

> Besides the above verse, several verses in MS also speak of
> meat-eating
> outside of a Vedic YaGYa:
> MS 5.18: The porcupine, the hedgehog, the iguana, the rhinoceros, the
> tortoise, and the hare they declare to be eatable; likewise those
> (domestic animals) that have teeth in one jaw only, excepting camels.
> Are there any Vedic YaGYas that require the sacrifice of a porcupine,
> hedgehog, iguana, rhinoceros, tortoise, or a hare? If not, why are
> the
> animals mentioned as eatable - such animals can never be sacrificed
> in
> a Vedic YaGYa, and so their meat should automatically be forbidden as
> per MS 5.52.

MedhAtithi doesn't really answer the above question in his commentary
on verse MS 5.18:


Among five-nailed animals, the Porcupine and the rest are fit to be

In another Smrti, there is option regarding the Rhinoceros. Says
Vasishtha (14-47)—'They dispute about the rhinoceros.'

With the exception of the camel, all those animals are fit to be eaten
which have only one line of teeth ; for instance, the cow, the goat and
the deer.

"In as much as the present verse specifies the porcupine &c. as alone
fit to be eaten, among five-nailed animals,—it follows that all the
other five-nailed animals are unfit to be eaten ; so that the
prohibition of 'all five-nailed animals' becomes entirely superfluous."

There is nothing wrong in this. When the prohibition is stated in so
many words, our comprehension of it is direct; if on the other hand, we
were to derive our knowledge of what should not be eaten from the
specification of what should be eaten, our comprehension of the
prohibition would be only inferential, indirect ; and this would be a
complicated process.

[Übersetzung: Manu: Manu-smrti : the laws of Manu ; with the Bhasya of
Medhathiti / transl. by Ganganatha Jha. - Calcutta : University of
Calcutta. -- Vol. III,1. --1922.  -- z. St.]


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