Meat Karma and the Philosophy of Food

What with wrong in consuming meat and other animal products?

A significant number of people of the Sanatana Dharma (a.k.a Hinduism), wonder and ask if they are ‘allowed’ to eat meat and other foods derived from birds and cow02animals. The other question they ask is, ‘Don’t people ‘kill’ plants, vegetables and fruits in order to eat them?’

At the outset, one needs to recall that the Sanatana Dharma is NOT a cult with dos and don’ts. There are no commandments and there are also no secret people filming acts of humans and writing them down in order to be used against them on some imaginary judgement day. In the Sanatana Dharma there are no such things as an original sin, the tribunal of penance or the crack of doom, the eternal damnation, or an eternal heaven where there are angels flying all around and also where ‘blessed’ members could take a dip in rivers of wine. According to Dharmic scriptures such as the Srimad Bhagavad Gita, all acts committed by humans are recorded by the mind and these collectively contribute in forming the character and nature of a person. This ‘Karmic memory’ is carried by the Soul from the body it has left to the new one it occupies.
SBG 15:08 “When the soul which is the master, acquires a body, it takes the mind and the five senses from the body it has left, just as the wind takes different odours along with it.”

The Sanatana Dharma is not based on any single ‘Holy Book’ or rule book like it is in the case of many foreign religions. This fact may be good in one way but it also has its own disadvantages, for eg. there are no fixed sets of rules that people who adhere to the Dharma could follow.

Here are two frequently asked questions

a. Don’t  vegetarians and vegans participate in the ‘killing’ of plants and animals by consuming plant-based foods?
b. Do we collect negative Karma by consuming animal products?

a. Don’t  vegetarians and vegans participate in the ‘killing’ of plants and animals by consuming plant-based foods?

lamb-and-piglet-01Human beings don’t have canines or claws like the ones that predator animals possess. Humans ‘usually’ can’t chase a cow, pounce on it, bite it, kill it with their canines, rip it apart with their nails, eat the raw flesh and digest it in their small and large intestines that are designed to digest plant-based foods. Humans need weapons to kill an animal, tools to rip them apart and cut the meat out, a fire, some water, a pinch of salt, and if possible, some spices to cook and eat it. Therefore, humans who consume plant-based foods, most of which can be ingested in their natural form without altering their state, do so because that’s how nature has designed them to be. People born and raised following the nondualistic philosophy of the Sanatana Dharma, teach their children the habit of respecting food. It is not about ‘killing’ plants but it is about respecting nature, and taking only that which nature naturally offers to herbivores. There is no need to be apologetic about consuming plant-based foods and coming out with excuses such as, “Plants do not have a brain or central nervous system and therefore cannot feel pain the way animals do”, or any other such frivolous reasons. The reason for human consumption of plant-based foods is pretty simple – it is because that is what nature has ordained for humans.

b. Do we collect negative Karma by consuming animal products?

Why do people eat meat and why do meat-eaters have a strong desire to eat meat? In fact, it is nothing but a matter of habituation or something that one feels they have alwaysroosters01 done. If you offered a piece of fried chicken to a person who has always been a strict vegetarian, you may cause him or her to throw up but the same piece of avian meat when offered to a person who eats meat, could set that person drooling. Food traditions originate from climatic conditions, particular professions and spiritual factors considered by different communities of people.  However, communities of people evolve over periods of time and their dietary habits too change. When an important person in a community does something new, people tend to emulate that person and that causes changes in traditions followed by that group of people.

Choices about food stem from the basic nature of a person. The Bhagavad Gita talks about three different Gunas or natures of people.
SBG 14:05 “The three Gunas or qualities, are Sattva which is the quality of goodness; Rajas which is the quality of passion, and Tamas, which is the quality of ignorance. They are born of Prakriti or Nature and they bind the Self in the body.”

vegetable-png-pictureHumans are the only beings that can have the quality of Sattva. A typical carnivorous animal such as a lion that kills and eats a cow, is only behaving as per its nature according its own Karma and the cow by being killed and eaten by the lion, is in turn, balancing its Karma. But a human, who has no need to kill and eat an animal, by doing so, creates new Karma and sets off a new pattern which needs to be balanced some day or the other or rather, in some Janma or the other.

There is a story about king Dhritarashtra and his one hundred sons. How could a man be blessed with a hundred sons?! What kind of great Karma must he have had in order for him to have a hundred sons and how and why on earth should he lose all of them in one battle?

In one of the previous lifetimes or Janmas of Dhritarashtra, he was a heartless and brutal king who derived pleasure from seeingswan01 others suffer. During one of his hunting ventures, he saw a beautiful swan with its little ones that numbered a hundred. The cruel King had the eyes of the beautiful swan stabbed and its little ones killed. He did all that simply because he enjoyed killing.

When the great battle of Kurukshetra came to an end and when the Kauravas were totally defeated, the blind King Dhrtarashtra asked Bhagavan Krishna the Karmic reason behind the perishing of his one hundred sons, and all the other events that happened in his life. Bhagavan Krishna informed him about that particular Janma of Dhrtarasthra fifty Janmas or lifetimes ago, in which he was the brutal king who blinded the innocent swan and killed all its one hundred little ones. Dhrtarashtra was shocked to know that he had done such a cruel thing to innocent birds. He then asked Krishna why he had to wait fifty Janmas in order to balance the negative Karma created by that horrendous act of his. Bhagavan smiled and said, “In order for you to reach the high Karmic position of being blessed with the one hundred sons you first needed to collect all the positive Karma for it. It was because only if you had a hundred sons would you be able to be in a position to experience the loss of all of them.”  That’s precisely how Karma works and how its balancing is done.

Every action causes a reaction and there are no exceptions to this natural rule. It would therefore be sensible to think clearly before performing any action. Another clever trick to do would be to ‘outweigh’ negative Karma by accumulating more positive Karma through positive thoughts, words and deeds.

Experts have confirmed that humans do not need meat at all. It has been proved time and again that all the hype made about dairy products, meat and poultry are untrue. They are actually harmful to health. Animal products have also been proved to be carcinogenic. It is so very unfortunate that the minds of people are fully controlled and manipulated by the media which is directly under the control of a handful of international organisations that have a hand in every other business in the world.

vegetable-free-download-pngRespecting nature and following its rules devoutly, guarantee great health and longevity and all that with a crystal clear conscience.
SBG 17:03 “Foods which increase life, purity, strength, health, joy and cheerfulness, which are savoury, substantial and agreeable, are dear to Sattvic people.”

Whenever you eat the flesh of an animal, do try to remember that before your hunter, butcher, adventurer or whoever it was who captured it and killed it, the innocent creature was a happy being; probably with a mate and a few young ones, and was living life just as you too do with your own loved ones. That creature certainly did not intend sacrificing its life for you and filling your plate with its dismembered body parts! Also that the poor animal would have surely tried extremely hard to save its own life!

That supreme force called ‘LIFE’ in a human being, in an animal and also in an insect is absolutely the same. Compare a dead fly with a dead man – what difference can you see apart from the difference in size and appearance of the mortal remains and in the number of people that sit around those remains of the person? But both have one striking similarity – they do not possess that one common force called life and if that force were still there in them, neither of them would be dead. The force or energy called life in every living being is not different in diverse species but is absolutely the same. Life is Divine. It is the unperishing Divinity in all perishable bodies.

SBG 06:31 He who worships Me residing in all beings becomes a Yogi and, whatever circumstances he may be vegetable-free-png-imagein, resides in Me.

SBG 11:55 He who is engaged in doing My work and considers me Supreme, is free from contamination of the mind with previous activities and doubts, he who is free from attachment, he who has no enmity towards any creature, he who is friendly with every living entity certainly comes to me, O Arjuna.

SBG 13:15 The Supreme Truth exists both inside and outside of all moving and non living beings and as it is subtle, is far away from material senses to be seen or known. Although the Supreme Truth is far away, it is near to all.

pup-and-ducklingsSBG 13:27 The person who truly sees is the one who sees the Supreme Truth, existing equally in all beings,  the unperishing within the perishing.

SBG 18:20 That knowledge by which one sees the one indestructible Reality in all beings, undivided among the divided – is Sattvic or pure.

“Some people think the plant-based, whole-foods diet is extreme. Half a million people a year will have their chests opened up and a vein taken from their leg and sewn onto their coronary artery. Some people would call that extreme. ~ Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn”

“People often say that humans have always eaten animals, as if this is a justification for continuing the practice. According to this logic, we should not try to prevent people from murdering other people, since this has also been done since the earliest of times. ~ Isaac Bashevis Singer”

“Of all the creatures, man is the most detestable. Of the entire brood, he’s the one that possesses malice. He is the only creature that inflicts pain for sport, knowing it to be pain. The fact that man knows right from wrong proves his intellectual superiority to the other creatures; but the fact that he can do wrong proves his moral inferiority to any creature that cannot. ~ Mark Twain”

Plutarch-A human body in no way resembles ...

People find it cruel, inhuman and beastly when someone chucks a dog down from a building, or clobbers a cat to death, but the mass murder of millions of animals everyday in abattoirs all around the world somehow does not affect them. It stems from what is known as ‘speciesism’ that Merriam-Webster defines as “prejudice or discrimination based on species especially : discrimination against animals.” Another interesting term is ‘carnism’, which was coined by social psychologist and author Melanie Joy. The term has been popularised in her book “Why we love dogs, eat pigs, and wear cows.”  Should you be interested in her thought provoking TEdx talk on the brutal human nature of ‘carnism’, all you would have to do would be to search for “Toward Rational, Authentic Food Choices by Melanie Joy – TEDx”

cow03Remember, when you consume the meat of a creature, it is just one meal for you but it is the innocent animal’s whole life. There is no doubt that the snatching away of the life of a living being through merciless, ruthless and cold blooded murder, is always the first step in preparing a meat dish. Apart from collecting negative Karma for being a part in the killing of a voiceless animal, the colon of the person eating the flesh of the ill fated animal, bird or fish, will carry its rotting remnants for years and cause the person serious health hazards.

Stop creating new negative Karma, care for your health, stop being brainwashed by the media and the food industry, and give up being a victim of the medical industry.

I sincerely suggest the film called “What the Health” by AUM Films. The 97 minutes you spend on watching the film, apart from saving the lives of a number of animals by preventing your direct or indirect participation in their slaughter, are sure to add more quality years to your own life and to those of your loved ones who might join you in learning the philosophy of food taught and prescribed by nature.

In case you are not yet VEGAN,

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