[Advaita-l] Question about vegetarianism

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Tue May 5 16:48:12 CDT 2015

> Date: Tue, 5 May 2015 03:36:38 +0000
> To: srirudra at gmail.com; itswhateva at gmail.com; advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org; advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org; jaldhar at braincells.com; vadhula at yahoo.com
> Subject: Re: [Advaita-l] Question about vegetarianism
> From: advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org
> Dear Jaldhar and all,
> Do shastras differentiate meat eating (for food) versus that obtained from yagna ? If so, then does meat eating contradict Manu Smriti statements condemning meat eating ?Does meat for food need to be obtained only via yagna ?
> Also in prior posts over the years, on this list, meat eating is based on jaathi/varna shistachaara and not necessarily based on region of residence or one's occupation.
> Ravi Chandrasekhara 

Dear Sri Ravi Chandrasekhara,
While pursuing this line of questioning, one must apply some common sense about societal structures and practices,
as well as a certain specific kind of sense to the SAstra-s.
Firstly, when we read descriptions of kshatriyas (like Dushyanta and Rama) hunting, the obvious conclusion has to be
that the game was eaten. No specific yajna is prescribed for such activities. Contrast that with the specific instructions
pertaining to parts of an animal sacrificed during a yajna. This is the common sense approach.
Now the specific sense - most textual instructions in the dharmaSAstra-s are not directed to all varNa-s and all ASrama-s.
There is no general rule about or against meat eating or for vegetarianism that you can find, addressed to all human
beings. Every rule is context dependent. For instance, many texts include meat in the description of madhuparka, which
is to be offered to a honored guest. Now, is this meat eating meant for general food or is it a yajna? If you take the view
that no Ahuti in agni is needed for offering madhuparka to a guest, then it is not a yajna. On the other hand, if you take
the view that feeding an atithi is part of the panca mahAyajna-s, then it is a yajna. Making something special called
madhuparka is nothing more than marking the special character of specific atithi-s. So, it depends on what perspective
you take. We already have a general solution as well, in case there is doubt about what to do - yathA te tatra/teshu
varterann, tathA tatra/teshu vartethAH, in the taittirIya upanishat. This solution is what elevates SishTAcAra as a role
model to follow.
Finally, note that one cannot separate jAti/varNa SishTAcAra from region of residence or one's occupation. The customs
of people belonging to the same jAti/varNa, but from different regions of residence can be extremely different. 
Best regards,Vidyasankar 		 	   		  

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