To meat or not to? – Is that a question?

I have wondered this – Why is it that some of us Hindu Nationalists make a fetish of diet? Or is my question wrong? Are these proponents of vegetarianism trying to convey some message that meat eaters must imbibe to their benefit?

Is it un-Hindu to eat meat? Obviously not. Is it “higher” Hinduism to eat plants and desist from meat? Perhaps. Is it important to desist from eating meat in order to scale the heights of a ‘higher” Hinduism? I’m not convinced.

Since most of the time I’m learning things new and anew…I will mostly sound illiterate in such discussions. But there must be, I think, some truth behind the energies expended. I don’t know for sure.

Here is an article posted by Shri Deepak Kamat on his website and my tete-a-tete with him on the subject.

– Namaste

USING HITLER TO MALIGN VEGETARIANS

No sooner that you mention that you are a vegetarian, the leftists have got a ready answer to malign you, “Even Hitler was a vegetarian”.

As Khushwant Singh once told L K Advani, “You don’t smoke, drink, eat meat or womanise, then you are a dangerous man”.

Even Hitler didn’t smoke, drink, eat meat and was loyal to his girlfriend Eva.  So in case, you don’t have the good qualities of non-veg, booze and hoes, you are a dangerous man.  Swell logic.  Isn’t it.  To top it all, Hitler was an Aryan and used the Hindu symbol Swastika.

Too bad if you are a Hindu. You have to prove that you are not a Hitler.

This is the way the leftists backed by Christians insultl Hindus.  (Remmeber, Muzziz, Christians, Leftists and all other lobbies are united against Hindus in India). 

Now for the facts.

  • Hitler was not a vegetarian.  He only tried to be a vegetarian for a brief period.  However, his non-veg palate could not tolerate it.  So he was back to the eminently Christian bacons and Hams.
  • Hitler had no love for the Hindus. He simply believed the discredited Aryan invasion theory and falsely conceived of the Swastika as a German symbol (read Aryan).
  • Hitler was eminently Christian, although he didn’t like the Church as he reportedly told the Pope, “I have only done what the Church has only done — only better”.
  • While it is true that Hitler was a one-woman man, that has more to do with his secretiveness and lack of trust.  It is evident in the way he poisoned his fiancee first before killing himself.

So Hindus have got complaints against all those Lefitsts/Christians/Muslims/other lobbies who are unjustly comparing Hindus to Hitler.

The Swastika is ours.  Vegetarianism is a by-word for non-violence.  Please don’t compare peaceful Hindus to a crank called Hitler.  We are wise in our own rights.  If you still want to spread those Hitler canards, do it.

YOU WILL HAVE NO TAKERS.

–Varta–

I open my part of the discussion with Shri Deepak –

Hello Deepak – This is my first visit here. I’m sorry if my first comment is a criticism but why do some Hindus take it upon themselves to relate Hinduism or Hindutva with vegetarianism? So what if Hitler called himself a vegetarian or not? Do you seriously believe now that you have proved Hitler a meat eater, all meat eaters will go into depression?

There is this great halo around vegetarianism that is not shared by a great number of Hindus. I feel we must not alienate meat eating Hindus in this manner.

We have bigger fights to fight…and least of all over diet!

Shri Deepak responds –

You have to set the record straight.  Vegetarianism is a by-word for ahimsa (non-violence).  If somebody goes around maligning a decent person without reason, it is time for us to undo the wrong done.

Vegetarianism is a virtue indeed.  We have to defend it.  Yes, I agree, not everybody is capable of vegetarianism, just as everybody is not capable of doing great works.  But we should promote dharma to our best.

Pala S replies –

Thank you Deepak, for responding. However, my point is just that. It seems some Hindus have, in their eagerness to promote vegetarianism, made it a fetish whose very mention repels. These are strong words but please bear with me. 

In my opinion, varieties of diet should not become hard to discuss and debate. It should not become political.

Non-vegetarians are not devoid of decency too. Vegetarianism may be preferable but just that. Let’s leave food to Hindus to choose from.

Nowhere does Dharma demand vegetarian diet. In fact meat has it’s own value in our lives.

My request is let’s leave diet out of our debate. Most staunch Hindutva -vadis are meat eaters.

Shri Deepak says –

It is the left propaganda which has made veg activists seem like fundamentalists.

Actually, our scriptures emphasise on sattvic diet — of which veg is a part.  Meat is tamo-rajo gun.  It has animalish quality.

The higher realms of Hinduism demands vegetarianism.  For instance, if you go for yoga and pranayama, the demand is vegetarianism.  As for meat eating, it is allowed mainly for those who are into hard labour and fighting.  Evolved Hinduism is invariably vegetarian.  However, it is a fact that Hinduism does not force.  As you evolve, you automatically become a vegan.  That is a fact of life.  There is always a difference between an evolved person and a brute.  Vanar se nar and nar se narayan (From animalish instinct to human instinct to divine instinct).  That is the evolution of Hinduism — although Hinduism does not condemn.

I explain –

Deepak – Please allow me to explain.

It is not left propaganda that insists on non-vegetarianism. On the contrary, all over the world it’s the leftists that insist on vegetarianism. Take your PETA and the rest of the animal rights brigade.

My point is different and in an important way, you have touched upon it already.

There is a higher Hinduism we all aspire to, but there is no higher occupation and lower occupation.

Please re-read what you say –

“As for meat eating, it is allowed mainly for those who are into hard labour and fighting.  Evolved Hinduism is invariably vegetarian.”

This means a farmer or a soldier cannot even aspire to a higher Hinduism while on his occupation. I contest the assumption that a higher Hinduism is ascetic Hinduism.

Otherwise it does not make sense then to aspire for something higher in Hinduism since this will only encourage us to give up our worldly goals.

If I am correct then we have not learnt from our past blunders. If I am wrong then I do not understand your connexion of vegetarianism to occupation.

And Smt Larissa adds –

Brahmins in Kashmir, Nepal, and Himanchal enjoy eating meat. People who live in very cold climates need meat…Yes vegetetarianism evolved out of respect for animals and for life…even Einstein respected vegetraianism and people like George Bernard Shaw. As much as I respect vegetarianism not all HIndus are vegetarians…read Rig Veda where Yajnavalkhya says he eats “meat” in this case beef….Hindus originally ate cattle, but later developed vegetarianism…This is a fact….I respect vegetarianism as a evolution of higher ethics i.e. not harming life, but do not think it should be imposed on all Hindus. Even the Buddha is said to have died after eating a hearty dish of mushrooms or some contexts say pork? If some people want to be vegetarians let them be so, but if others need to eat meat let them do so.

Shri Deepak looks closely at my argument –

I have found slight errors in your words.
Error 1: It is not left propaganda that insists on non-vegetarianism. On the contrary, all over the world it’s the leftists that insist on vegetarianism. Take your PETA and the rest of the animal rights brigade.
Reality: Leftists are of different hues and views.  Most of them justify non-veg asa natural food cycle and that evne plants have lives.
Error: This means a farmer or a soldier cannot even aspire to a higher Hinduism while on his occupation. I contest the assumption that a higher Hinduism is ascetic Hinduism.
Reality: I wonder why veg is confused with asceticism.  Veg is highly nutritious and tasty.  So that is a long stretch of imagination to say that Veg is ascetic Hinduism.
Error: Otherwise it does not make sense then to aspire for something higher in Hinduism since this will only encourage us to give up our worldly goals.
Reality: We need not give up our worldly goals.  Hinduism stresses on Purushartha — Dharma, Artha, Kama, Moksha.  It was the Buddhist view that spirituality is a full-time job.  They are entitled to their views.  But Hindus at large don’t endorse it.  In fact, vairagya is a fruition of celebration.  It is not life negative.
Error: If I am correct then we have not learnt from our past blunders. If I am wrong then I do not understand your connexion of vegetarianism to occupation.
Reality: The propaganda that vegetarians are weak has entered our subconscious.  Remember, strength is not in food.  It is in an indomitable will.  Is not elephant vegetarian? 

Conclusion: In the name of moral relativity, let us not kill facts. It is a fact that vegetarianism is a thousand times more noble than killing animals and eating it.  As for enforcing vegetarianism, I must say that it depends on the culture.  Let us not ignore facts.  Vegetarianism is sattvic and is closer to divinity.  It makes a person ripe for higher values.  Just by saying this, I don’t become a veg fundamentalist.  I am not a person who will kill non-vegetarians for eating meat.  But we all advise our children to be noble.  Is it not?  Why not try it on ourselves first.
Having said this, I must say that there are some persons for whom non-veg is a must.  I won’t intefere in their affair.  You may call it genetic or habits.

And Shri Deepak responds to Smt Larissa –

Error: Even the Buddha is said to have died after eating a hearty dish of mushrooms or some contexts say pork? If some people want to be vegetarians let them be so, but if others need to eat meat let them do so.

Reality: Buddha was begging.  And he was fed pork.  He died of indigestion as he reportedly told his non-vegetarian disciple — No living being in three world can digest this pork”  But he was a monk.  He did not refuse pork that was givne to him as food.  He ate it and died.

As for choice, that is always there.  But the quest for higher values is quite human. Is it not?

I am here defending my argument –

Shri Deepak – If I may respond point by point.

1. Its like I said. Leftists do not have a definitive stance on diet. However organizations that do espouse Vegetarianism are avowedly leftist. In India the position is reversed for greater part. Its the Hindu Right that makes a fetish of diet not realizing that a major segment of its own side is meat eating.

2. But you did not speak of nutrition. You spoke of some occupations that required meat eating. Even here I find the nutrition argument troublesome. Empirically, meat eaters per your logic would never be able to do manual labor since they would be weak. That’s obviously not the case given the requirement of their occupations. I can make a better case in the reverse. I can say vegetarians “become” as they move away from occupations that need strength because they progressively lose strength due to their diet. Logical?

3. You are correct about the Purusharthas. But all Purusharthas cannot be worked on at once. Therefore you have the Ashramas. In a sense your vegetarian stance is truly “Buddhist” or rather Jaina. You seem to make no distinction in required stages of life. A vegetarian student per your argument might be assumed already purer than his non-vegetarian counterpart. That’s not making any sense to me.

4. I’m not making the propaganda that vegetarians are weak but you seem to be in a difficult position. You seem to be vouching for vegetarianism as a better diet than meat eating. If you speak of the elephant, which by the way is an uncalled for analogy; can I not speak for the crocodile that is older…much older and still amongst us, thus obviously stronger?

5. I am uncomfortable with the “nobleness” of diet. It may be true that vegetarianism may not involve killing of animals but how that makes anybody purer and nobler is something we will have to sit out on.

You also say this – “Having said this, I must say that there are some persons for whom non-veg is a must.  I won’t interfere in their affair.  You may call it genetic or habits.”

– Does this mean such people cannot ever be noble? Here is where I lose you completely.

On the Buddha don’t you find it odd that he did not seem to refuse meat on the way to or rather more accurately after having attained Nirvana?

Shri Deepak responds –

Let me also respond to your queries point:

You said: Its like I said. Leftists do not have a definitive stance on diet. However organizations that do espouse Vegetarianism are avowedly leftist. In India the position is reversed for greater part. Its the Hindu Right that makes a fetish of diet not realizing that a major segment of its own side is meat eating.

My position: It is not a question of majority opinioin or majority habits.  if 90 percent of people in the world are liars, it does not mean that lying is a virtue.  So also, even if majority of Hindus are non-veg, that does not mean that eating non-veg is nobility.  We have to respect nobility for what it is.

You said:  But you did not speak of nutrition. You spoke of some occupations that required meat eating. Even here I find the nutrition argument troublesome. Empirically, meat eaters per your logic would never be able to do manual labor since they would be weak. That’s obviously not the case given the requirement of their occupations. I can make a better case in the reverse. I can say vegetarians “become” as they move away from occupations that need strength because they progressively lose strength due to their diet. Logical?

Reality: Another misnomer that vegetarians are weak.  I don’t endorse this.  Strength is dependent on will power.  It is like saying that wild animals are stronger than domestic animals.  Not necessarily.

Your reply: You are correct about the Purusharthas. But all Purusharthas cannot be worked on at once. Therefore you have the Ashramas. In a sense your vegetarian stance is truly “Buddhist” or rather Jaina. You seem to make no distinction in required stages of life. A vegetarian student per your argument might be assumed already purer than his non-vegetarian counterpart. That’s not making any sense to me.

My response: Whether you agree with it or not, a vegetarian diet makes you fresh.  Try to check your emotion after drinking butter milk or after a heavy non-veg diet.

4. You said: I’m not making the propaganda that vegetarians are weak but you seem to be in a difficult position. You seem to be vouching for vegetarianism as a better diet than meat eating. If you speak of the elephant, which by the way is an uncalled for analogy; can I not speak for the crocodile that is older…much older and still amongst us, thus obviously stronger?

My response: I would say that vegetarianism involves noble quality like compassion which comes as you respect life.  It is about aestheticism.  If you want better argument for being a vegan, there are other websites too and giants like Shaw.

5. You said: “I am uncomfortable with the “nobleness” of diet. It may be true that vegetarianism may not involve killing of animals but how that makes anybody purer and nobler is something we will have to sit out on.
My response: Atleast, the decision not to kill to eat is noble in itself.

6. You said: “You also say this – “Having said this, I must say that there are some persons for whom non-veg is a must.  I won’t interfere in their affair.  You may call it genetic or habits.” – Does this mean such people cannot ever be noble? Here is where I lose you completely.

My response: We are all born equal.  But some are more equal than others.  An Einstein is certainly more equal than a retard.

7. You said: On the Buddha don’t you find it odd that he did not seem to refuse meat on the way to or rather more accurately after having attained Nirvana?

My response: It is history which I quoted.  I don’t endorse the Buddha.  I find him more theoretical now.

My reply to Shri Deepak –

Very quickly and to the point;

1. I don’t see nobility in diet. I see nobility in purposive action.

2. I’m not saying to be vegetarian is to be weak. When you spoke of the elephant, you implied strength to vegetarians. I simply said the reverse can be more true. This is not my argument.

3. Well, I feel the same way after eating anything heavy. Vegetarian or non-vegetarian.

4. I’m saying a vegetarian diet does not guarantee compassion. Of course there is compassion in the singular act of not killing an animal for food but no more than that. I don’t think we can read anything more into it.

5. On the other hand I can simply be vegetarian because I was brought up that way. In other words I don’t realize a value in non-killing an animal for food. I remain unaware of any noble act committed by myself. I think nobility comes through conscious action. Not unconscious submission to habit. Similarly I may have been brought up eating meat. I may yet be very kind to animals and even save them from various dangers. However, I can still be eating meat for food. Think about it.

6. Agree about Einstein and the retard. How does this compare with non-vegetarians? Unless your calling them retards? People excel or don’t due to their purposive actions. Not due to the choice of their diet. This is simply not making any sense.

7. On the Buddha, many have a different opinion from what you do. However, the historical fact of meat eating is there for all to see. You must reconcile this logically instead of brushing it away. This case weakens your argument more.

8. Your last point in the next post makes better sense. Let’s not malign meat eating also. Human beings may be better judged on more worthy parameters.

Thank you

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