[Advaita-l] vedic yajna

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Sun Nov 27 17:47:20 CST 2011

> Adi Sankaracharya was a great person and he could have realised that the recommendation
> for eating veal (calf-meat) and not just any cow's meat, by a pregnant woman was only for a
> very specific purpose and that had merit only for that special case. 
I have no real desire to continue on this thread, but I must set right several misconceptions above.

Firstly, the bRhadAraNyaka upanishad is not talking of a pregnant woman at all. I already touched
upon this earlier. The specific reference in the text is to the end of the three nights of a monthly
cycle of a sacrificer's wife - yasya jAyAM ArtavaM vindet ... tri-rAtrAnte Aplutya vrIhIn avaghAtayet.
The whole ritual is in preparation for conception, not after pregnancy is established. The sacrificer
is told to eat the evening meal along with his wife and offer ritual oblations on the morning of the
fourth day according to the rules of the sthAlIpAka gRhya ritual. (Normally, sthAlIpAka is observed
on pUrNimA and amAvAsya days, just like the Srauta darSa-paurNamAsa yajna-s.)
Secondly, there are five separate additions to rice mentioned for the meal in question - milk, curd,
only water, sesame or meat - as per the desire to get a son versed in one veda, or two or three
or a learned daughter or a son versed in four veda-s. There is nothing here about meat and its
role in nutrition during pregnancy. Four out of five cases described in the text involve no meat.
Thirdly, the reference is to ukshA, glossed as secanasamarthaH, or Rshabha, which is adhikavayAH.
Neither kind of male animal is a source of veal. ukshA is a young bull that has attained maturity, 
and is already capable of procreation, while Rshabha is an older bull. Adi SankarAcArya does not
see a reference here to veal at all. Veal is a particularly cruel variety of beef, obtained by killing
calves (usually male) that are only a few weeks to few months old, certainly not male calves that
have been raised to maturity.
Finally, the veda is what it is and the bhAshya is what it is. We need to understand them without
judgement on these kinds of issues. Coming up with "naturalistic" or "scientific" explanations for
one or the other detail in the vast corpus of the veda may be appealing for whatever reason, but
it only ends up trivializing the content of the scripture and the intent of the commentary.

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