[Advaita-l] Vegetarianism

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Fri Apr 20 08:54:50 CDT 2012

> It is correct to say meat eating is allowed in Yajnas than meat eating
> in secret. Many people say meat eating is bad in open discussion but
> in private life they take meat when nobody is watching. 
If you think about it, on this list, no one who responded on this thread 
probably eats meat in private or in public. Yet we are saying that meat
eating should not be judged negatively at a universal level. We are not
on this list to police or to judge the private actions and public hypocrisy
of other people. Our own hypocrisies and our own actions, public or 
private, are more than sufficient fodder for examination in the context
of advaita vedAnta.
To say that only a small amount of meat is to be consumed after a
yajna may be description of the practice, but it does not at all address
why an animal is prescribed to be killed for that yajna in the first place.

The moral and ethical concerns about taking life, which stem from a
secular humane thinking, are all well and good. Which is why I said to
Rajaram that his heart is in the right place. However, the point I and
others have been making from the perspective of the vaidika yajna is
that the SAstra governing the yajna trumps all such concerns. It is not
as if a paSu sacrifice in a yajna is an allowable instance of himsA. The
point is that as per the SAstra, there is a higher concern that makes
the sacrifice not himsA in the first place. This may be difficult to accept
or even partially understand for those who are so confident in their own
thinking and instincts that they judge all sorts of things, so all we have
emphasized is that SAstra is an indispensible guide that needs to be
understood well before making those judgments. 
It is not as if every vaidika yajna is to be performed only by "selfless"
agents and only for "the good of the world". There are any number of
yajnas that involve paSu sacrifice and are meant to serve the saMkalpa
of individual yajamAna-s. After all, svargakAmo yajeta pertains to one
person who has kAma for attaining svarga, it does not address the need
for that person to give up even this kAma (ihAmutra bhoga virAga) and
the world goes along on its course. It does not attain to any larger good
because of one person desiring svarga. Similarly, from a discussion of a
few months ago, it is an individual father-to-be's desire for a particular
kind of child that is addressed in the sthAlIpAka ritual described by the
bRhadAraNyaka upanishat. And that ritual involves meat in at least one
case, depending on the specific nature of the desire behind the action.
Maybe the world would benefit from the learning attained by a caturvedI
added to its population, but that is purely secondary. The primary reason
for the ritual, as prescribed and as described, is not a desire for world
good, but one person's desire for accomplished progeny. Without that
desire, neither is there a need for the ritual, nor is there any world good
that may or may not be achieved.

All in all, the two major points being made are that (a) SAstra has a sure
role in deciding the what, why, when and how of himsA and (b) there is
no need to "explain away" the sacrifice of animals and eating of their meat
in the context of the yajna. All these amount only to special pleading,
because the fact of animal sacrifice in some vaidika yajnas remains. To
plead that only a small amount of meat is taken as yajna-prasAda does
not negate the fact of paSu sacrifice in any way, at any time.
Now, whoever is looking for "saner" responses to emotional arguments
and specious reasoning is welcome to try and come up with measures
of sanity that would satisfy themselves, but as I mentioned earlier, this
list is not primarily a yajna discussion list; it is certainly not a list meant
for discussing vegan/vegetarian diets vs. meat eating, and it is certainly
not a list for talking about kosher and halal rules, growth of populations
of non-Hindu religions etc. All I can tell people who talk of the Buddha
and Sankara as "reformers" of vaidika sacrifice is to open up their minds
a wee bit, get their brains unwashed and to try and find out what the
Buddha aimed at and what Sankara actually said about vaidika sacrifice. 
Sorry to be harsh, but of late, I have discovered that gentle and subtle
ways of speaking are lost on many frequent posters on this list.

This is an advaita vedAnta list and speaking both as a moderator and a
member, I would like posters to focus their arguments to the context of
what is necessary for that purpose ALONE. If someone wants to make
a point about the importance of sAttvika dietary habits in the context of
sAdhana, that is most welcome. If someone wants to talk of the virtue
of ahimsA, satya, Arjava, amAnitva etc in the pursuit of jnAna and if
that involves something about avoiding killing animals and meat-eating,
that is also quite okay. Those kinds of context are the only reason why
we have allowed these discussion threads historically on the list.

As we have explained time and again, we NEVER actively moderate any
discussion on this list, except to ask people to put an end to acrimony if
and when necessary. 

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