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Does beef eating harm the Hindu cause?

This post is in response to a friend’s query – “Don’t you think eating beef will harm the Hindu cause”?

Perhaps perturbed over the fact that I eat beef and have spoken in favor of not necessarily abjuring from it as a part of our diet. But why?

This is a delicate issue for Hindus but not for all Hindus. At an empirical level, I should say in excess of 20-25% of the Hindus eat beef. The rest also eat meat. Again, I would think of close to 20-25 % as vegetarian. So I’m disputing the common assumption or supposed fact that a majority of Hindus are vegetarian and a minuscule number consume beef.

Some readers might wonder what the big deal is. Diet is a big deal for Hindus and is largely tied in with tradition and spirituality because we believe that what we eat has the power to mould our thoughts and actions. Particular foods are part of our festivals and we abjure from meat of any sort on most festivals. This latter norm includes meat eating Hindus too.

I believe it’s important to recognize tradition and articulate an argument on the subject, within the traditional framework.

Let’s look at our options:

  • Tamasic food is leftover, stale, overripe, spoiled or other impure food, which is believed to produce negative emotions, such as anger, jealousy and greed.
  • Rajasic is food that is believed to produce strong emotional qualities, passions and restlessness in the mind. This category includes meat, eggs, fish, spices, onions, garlic, hot peppers, pickles and other pungent or spicy foods.
  • Sattvic, is food that is non-irritating to the stomach and purifying to the mind; it includes fruits, nuts, whole grains and vegetables. These foods are believed to produce calmness and nobility, or what is known as an “increase in one’s magnetism.”

By the looks of it, beef would fall within the Rajasic category. However, the Cow is respected and adored as the Mother or provider, by Hindus. Obviously those Hindus that eat beef would not view the Cow as “Mother” but more as a provider.

I have felt it futile to look to history for any justification for abjuring from beef/meat eating or for favoring vegetarianism. It’s not that history and tradition holds no lessons or guidelines for us but only that history and tradition speaks for both as is evident from the above dietary categories.

My view is that a Sattvic diet serves the purposes of those so inclined. A Brahmanical lifestyle – simple, devoted to study; intellectual pursuits – these require a calmer mind. Since pursuit of spiritual knowledge was also involved, this made sense.

Rajasic diet is for those so inclined towards activity and perhaps, aggression. In fact, such folks would naturally take to Rajasic foods. (This is another blow for the correct understanding of Varna)

Tamasic foods are obviously out. However, our poor have little choice. It is here that we need to focus our corrective efforts. Hindu organizations are doing commendable work in this field. More should be done.

It is obvious that Hindu Dharma needs people of the Sattvic and Rajasic mind-set. The case against beef eating seems more emotional (and has done us terrible harm in the bargain. All one had to do to convert a Hindu or make him lose his religion and alienate him from his own society, was to feed him beef), but otherwise imbued with environmentalism too. I have no argument against a vegetarian viewpoint if it is thought to be good for individual selves. But I would speak against a general abolition of beef eating because to a Hindu who traditionally viewed the cow as provider, the Cow would lose all its uses if suddenly viewed as “Mother”. More, beef is also Rajasic and I would argue for its retention accordingly.

For a long time now, beef in Hindusthan was mainly a Tamasic food available only upon the death of heads of cow and then this meat would be eaten by folks of “lowly” professions – a very probable reason for the rise of “untouchability”. . That’s not the case today. If anything, it would be our duty to rid all Tamasic foods and imbibe Rajasic foods in its stead.

On another plane, I would say that Sattva cannot be an ideal for everybody. It is an ideal for those that are inclined toward it. Rajas is an important ideal to be nurtured by a significant number of our people. To confuse the two states or mix up our understanding would not do either any good. Tradition pushes us toward achieving balance. Here is a good path to take.

So to respond to the question my friend asked, I should say no. Beef eating does not harm the Hindu cause.

– Namaste

Ps – I have edited slightly and clarified my thoughts further.


Palahalli S writes – Perhaps the best would be a healthy mix of Sattva and Rajas. Human life in our times would take kindly to such a combination. Many folks who prefer less spice in their meat are probably already on that track.


2 Responses

  1. Most red meats, in particular beef and pork are Tamasic according to Ayurveda and not Rajasic as your article claims. White meats and fish are Rajasic.

    To answer your question, yes beef eating will harm the Hindu cause. Looking at nations with high numbers of DAILY beef and pork eaters you will find a extremely low fertility rate among the population, a staggering amount of heart and cancer related diseases and a high number of drugs and alcohol adicts. Why you may ask? Since beef and pork create Tamasic minds, people develop depression related illneses for which they try to escape by using drugs and alcohol. This harms the formation of families among young people resulting in population decline. Such countries are found regularly in Europe.

    In contrast countries with many vegetarians, people who eat fish and white meats have high fertility and stronger mental health and community values. This is what we want for the Hindu cause, isn’t it?

  2. […] never run dry and always find its level Leave a Comment  Visiters can read the older debate here. […]

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