[Advaita-l] vedic yajna

Venkatesh Murthy vmurthy36 at gmail.com
Wed Nov 30 22:01:02 CST 2011

Namaste Sri Vidyasankar

I want to make a simple point because I also want to  end  this long
debate. There is misunderstanding of my point. Sruti describes Brahma
and Dharma. But I firmly believe the Dharma Sastras must come to our
rescue when we read Sruti Vakyas on Dharma and Achara and Vyavahara
matters. If Vedanta is talking Brahma but not Dharma and Achara no
need to consult Dharma Sastra. But if Sruti starts to say something on
Dharma, Achara and Vyavahara we have a lot of Dharma Sastra sources
coming to our rescue. Because Dharma keeps changing. Sruti says
something but thing may not be Dharma today.

Take the example in Bruhadaranyaka Upanishad 6-4-7 it is asking the
man to strike his wife with a stick or hands if she is not yielding to
have sex with him to produce a son. He can strike her and make her
yield to sex desire. Can you follow this Sruti Vakya today? Many times
a wife is not interested in sex when a husband is asking. Should he
strike her for not being interested? I think if a man strikes his wife
for not having sex, he may be committing a wrong act. In cities and
foreign countries like USA, she can lodge a police complaint and they
will come to arrest him. If someone beats his wife for refusal of sex
and the police come he cannot say he has not committed any mistake
because he has followed Sruti. Can you try this argument with the
police? This is a good example here Sruti is talking Dharma not Brahma
and Dharma is changing. We have to be careful in following Sruti Vakya

 We have to use Dharma Sastra and other laws of the country and modify
the Dharma, Achara, and Vyavahara points in Sruti to match our Desha
and Kala Dharma. If we don't do it we may not be doing Dharma but
Adharma only. Some parts of Dharma depend on Desha and Kala but others
are not and there is no issue with them. Meat eating is Desha and Kala
dependent. We have to carefully understand meat eating points in
Sruti. Beef eating is against Dharma according to Dharma Sastra. If
Sruti is saying eat Bull meat we have to modify it using a substitute
only. If Adi Sankara said Bull meat can be eaten we have to again
modify it to suit our times. Substitutions are already done for
Sraddha and Bali like in Navaratri. I am not saying something new.

On Wed, Nov 30, 2011 at 8:52 PM, Vidyasankar Sundaresan
<svidyasankar at hotmail.com> wrote:
>> I am repeating earlier statements. We have to follow Sruti keeping
>> respect for Desha and Kala Dharma also.
> This post is meant primarily to address Sri Venkatesh Murthy's points, in the
> course of which Sri Ravi Chandrasekhar's points will also get addressed. I
> hope this will be my last post on this thread and that we can move on to
> matters more pertinent to advaita vedAnta.
> 1. Yes, ahimsA is a great ideal that we should all incorporate into our lives.
> But this does not mean that one interprets the veda as and how one pleases.
> It also does not mean that we can cast doubt on SankarAcArya's explanation
> with some weak appeal to his having taken to saMnyAsa directly from the
> brahmacaryA stage. That is my foremost objection to Sri Venkatesh Murthy's
> remarks.
I agree Adi Sankara may have accurate knowledge of matters for
interpreting Sruti. But he has allowed re interpretation of his
Bhashya if needed to suit Desha and Kala Dharma.
> 2. Yes, SishTAcAra is to be followed, and Sri Murthy, you have done a great
> job citing some names. However, your attitude towards the entire issue of
> dharma, the meaning of the upanishad and bhAshya, the role of deSa and
> kAla, has several internal contradictions. Dharma, or righteous conduct, is to
> be decided with respect to deSa and kAla, and SishTa-s are one's best guides
> in this. The intrinsic meaning of the veda and the bhAshya are, however, not
> deSa-kAla dependent. If you have a doubt about what a particular sentence
> means, then by all means approach SishTa-s to get instruction and clarification.
> Do not decide, a priori, that such and such is the right meaning and then make
> blanket statements that make no sense.
Simple question. Do you sincerely think Sistas of today will say we
can Bull Meat?

> 3. Let me give you an example of the internal contradictions in your perspective.
> You said that the word aghniyAH in the very first yajur vAkya tells us not to kill
> cows (or any member of the bovine species). You also agreed that in times
> past, the meat of ukshA and Rshabha (bulls) were sacrificed and consumed
> and that goat meat should be substituted, or better still, meat should be done
> away with. You have also said that what the veda says is independent of yuga
> restrictions. Therfore, you have said that at all times, from kRta to kali yuga,
> the meaning of aghniyAH means that no animal should be killed, whether for
> a vaidika ritual or otherwise. By this, you have accused (a) SankarAcArya of
> not taking the force of aghniyAH into account in his comments on the bR.Ar.up.
> passage in question, and (b) the entire history and tradition of Srauta sacrifices
> and dharmaSAstra-s of contradicting the very first few words of the yajurveda.
> Thereby, you are accusing every adhvaryu in every sacrifice in history of having
> committed himsA to the sacrificial animal. Please ask yourself whether this
> contradiction lies in your view of the matter or in the entire tradition of the veda
> and Srauta/gRhya yajna-s. You seem to want to overlook your own internal
> contradictions by talking of the tapasyA of Rshi-s in earlier times and our current
> inability to do the same. The unsaid assumption in your attitude is that the tapo-
> bala of the Rshi-s somehow excused or expiated the sins they committed by
> eating meat. My point is that it was not a sin in the first place, and that you have
> misunderstood the meaning of the word aghniyAH in the yajur-veda, when you
> take into account the proper context of yajna, medha and the consumption of
> the mAMsa of the paSu.
Misunderstanding. Rishis did not commit sin eating meat. I said Tapas
to show if we follow them in meat eating we should follow their good
practices like Tapas also. I am not saying Adi Sankara is not looking
at Aghniya but he is writing custom of some other Yuga in eating Bull
Meat. In Kali Yuga his statement has to be modified.
> 4. The only way you can walk out of this is to claim that animals were never
> sacrificed and that all references to mAMsa, go, ukshA, Rshabha, aSva, aja etc.
> are actually to plants/herbs/juices/soups/puddings, much like what Pt. Haridas
> Sastri argues in his review cited by Rajaram on this list. If you do, then at the
> very least, you have to give up your understanding of what the past practice was
> and what the current substitution needs to be. You will have to do a lot of special
> pleading like this Sastriji does, e.g. in the bR.Ar.up passage that we have been
> discussing, mAMsa is the fleshy portion of a fruit or other plant part, whereas in
> the mahAbhArata description of rantideva's kitchen, mAMsa is pAyasam and
> elsewhere it is something else. Anything but the direct meaning of the word as
> has been understood for centuries on end. Take your pick. And of course, you
> will be forced to agree that all the smRti statements about yuga-dharma for the
> kali age are indeed meaningless, given that according to this highly creative
> reinterpretation, no animal was supposedly sacrificed even in kRta, tretA and
> dvApara yuga-s. Is that really the case?
I am not saying that. They may have used in animals in other Yugas but
our Dharma Sastra granthas like Nirnaya Sindhu are prohibiting
Ashwamedha and killing Bulls now. Brahmins should not eat meat. Cows
were not killed because they are Aghniya. In Ramayana also they have
written Bull meat was used. But this was Treta Yuga.
> 5. Moreover, you seem to be under the mistaken notion that all that I have said
> on this list on this issue is somehow an argument in support of meat eating (or
> beef eating in particular) on a regular basis today. It is not. I am not at all saying
> that it is okay to chow down on a burger or steak, merely to satisfy one's hunger,
> without regard for the cruelty involved in the process. However, I distinguish the
> vaidika ritual context clearly from our usual secular lives. Even within the vaidika
> context, this particular case is a kAmya karmA, not nitya or naimittika karmA.
> There is no vaidika injunction that everyone should do this. And even with this
> kAmya karmA, there are five possibilities, depending on the particular icchA of
> the parents-to-be, four out of which involve no meat. However, the fifth instance
> definitely calls for it. All that I have emphasized all along is that the words ukshA
> and Rshabha in the bR.Ar.up. refer to youthful bull and older bull. The upanishad
> and its bhAshya should be understood properly and their meanings should not be
> twisted to suit one's convenience. The mAMsa in question here is definitely beef,
> particularly from the male of the species, but it is not veal. The mAMsa is question
> here is supposed to be consumed by both husband and wife, in a ritual context,
> prior to conception and it has nothing to do with diet and nutrition in pregnancy.
> These sorts of supposedly scientific explanations ultimately trivialize the veda
> and will not be acceptable to anyone who is moderately familiar with the details
> of the vaidika ritual tradition.
The Upanishad and the Bhashya have to be modified for our Desha and
Kala even for the fifth possibility. No Sruti Vakya can ask us to act
against Yuga Dharma.

> 6. All that said, finally, if today, someone wants to observe the ritual and hope
> for a son who is a master of four veda-s, samitiMgama etc., by all means, go
> to the SishTa-s and get proper guidance. I don't think anybody on this list is
> qualified in this matter, and personally, I can't presume to speak on this count.
> However, I can guarantee that if you were to go to a traditional SishTa and
> ask, you will first be asked about your adhikAra to do the rite as described.
> For example, have you established the three vaidika ritual fires in your home
> and are you doing the agnihotra as prescribed? Are you strict in observing the
> anushThAna-s that have been prescribed? How much of the veda have you
> yourself mastered properly? The answer to what should be done and how it
> should be done today will depend a lot on what answers you can give to these
> questions. A desire is a necessary condition to do a particular vaidika kArya,
> but it does not automatically confer upon you the qualification to do it. That
> is why alternative means have been suggested by the learned, over time. That
> is how deSa and kAla have a role in modifying the dhArmika course of action,
> not in reinterpreting the veda and the bhAshya-s as merrily as one pleases.
Even if a strict Agnihotri knowing all four Vedas today wants a
learned son he cannot eat Bull Meat because Dharma Sastra tells him it
is prohibited.

> Therefore,
There is a problem in Principle. Even  the strictest Vaidika today
cannot eat Beef under any circumstances. He may eat other meat only in
a Yajna but he can avoid that also if Pashu made from flour is used.
Substitutions are necessary. This is according to Dharma Sastra.

> Regards,
> Vidyasankar



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