[Advaita-l] Food habits

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Wed Jan 26 14:35:53 CST 2005

On Mon, 24 Jan 2005, Anand Krishnamurthy wrote:

> What do our shastras say about vegetarianism? I have a
> very close Bengali Brahmin friend, whose family
> associates itself with the Puri Math. He tells me that
> his family has always been consuming meat with taboo
> on beef consumption. I think most other communities
> also consume meat. Is the origin vedic or jaina?

Interestingly the Ramakrishna Mission translation of the popular Nyaya
work Bhasa Pariccheda by the 17th century Bengali scholar Vishvanatha
Nyayapanchana has this to say about the author:

  "Vishvanatha also wrote another work called Mamsatattvaviveka--an
  interesting treatise on Smrti.  The work was written as the result of a
  controversy with the Pandits of Maharashtra with a view to vindicating the
  custom of meat-eating among the Brahmins of Northern India...The author
  shows vehemence in his advocacy of the custom, which prevails particularly
  in Bengal, and ridicules the South Indian Pandits, who deprecate
  meat-eating, as followers of the Buddhist tenets."

Dharmashastras say that the Brahmanas south of the Vindhyas, the Pancha
Dravida (Dravida, Karnataka, Andhra, Mahratta, and  Gurjara) should be
vegetarian while those north of the Vindhyas, the Pancha Gauda (Gauda,
Kanyakubja, Maithila, Utkala, and Vanga) need not be.  As your friend
noted beef is forbidden for everyone though in extremely ancient times it
seems to have been allowed.

The above quote shows that even prior to the modern historians some people
associated vegetarianism with Buddhism.  But then how do you explain that
not one traditionally Buddhist country has anywhere near as many
vegetarians as India?

>From the viewpoint of Advaita Vedanta, I think even if meat-eating is not
a sin for a particular person, it should still be given up because a
sadhaka should cultivate the sense of friendship to all sentient beings.

Attempting to stop meat-eating thorugh revulsion as in the link Aravind
posted works for some people and does meet the short-term goal, but in my
opinion doesn't create the feeling of friendship which is a more stable
basis in the long run.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>
It's a boy! See the pictures - http://www.braincells.com/nilagriva/

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