Beef and Hindus – a brief summation

The discussion thus far – here

I think with all that has been discussed till now, we can safely zero in on the following conclusions;

1. The Cow was/is seen as a sacred animal by the Hindus

2. The sacredness of the Cow did not bar it from being an offering for sacrifice – it was a condition of it

3. Hindus who worked with dead animals, while consuming it’s meat – were regarded as unclean

4. I propose that these “unclean” sections of our people transformed into “untouchables” upon the advent and rising popularity of Buddhism with it’s insistence of non-killing of animals (sacrificial or otherwise). It helped elevate further, the already elevated status of the Cow and made any killing of it a grave sin

5. Vedic Hinduism seems to have “mellowed” under Buddhist influences – not excluding the new found status of the “protected Cow”

6. When seen from the point of the “sacrificial rite”, the object of sacrifice takes on a higher purpose and meaning. Therefore I can understand when Shri Kedar and others make the point that what was sacrificed was “not the” Cow and it was for a higher purpose – “universal peace etc”. One may only deduce from this the understanding that consumption of (sacrificial and otherwise) grain or meat including beef was imbued with meaning and was not frivolous akin to gluttony we witness these days

The discussion has not ended but I just thought I’d sum up my understanding of it so far.

Shri Kedar writes –

That is an agreeable milestone in the discussion.

Further aspects:

1) After Mahabharata war and Emperor Janmejeya’s sarpasatram, history suddenly falls asleep, and when it wakes up after (at least) 1500 years later, we suddenly find ourselves in 5th century BCE.

It is important to understand the kind of Vedic Hinduism that was present in 5th century BCE:

The mImAmsakAs were interpreting the Vedas in a highly ritualistic manner. All spiritual and metaphysical aspects were put aside. “perform yajnas, go to heaven” was the chant. The brAhmanAs stopped meditating upon the inner meaning of the Vedas. kshatrIyAs were equally decadent. They were feuding with one another for petty gains and indulging in personal pleasures. There was no one kingdom with a dhArmic Emperor at the top. varNAs were already frozen and decided by birth. Untouchability was already rampant. Humane nature of vaidhika dharma was replaced by bureaucratic ritualism. Dharma, naturally, was at its weakest. bhArat was desperately looking for a saviour who can overhaul the whole system. (Pala S – Could this have been caused by the growth and spread of population? The fact that there was no centralized regulatory authority?)

Something happened in those dark unknown centuries that changed vaidhika dharma from its peak into this sort of decadence.

It was at this time that Gautama Buddha came onto the scene and he gave the much needed medicine to our system in his unique way.

We need to realise that our own weakness caused our fall, and the treatment of Buddha was a much needed dose. Of course, Buddhists after Buddha did not understand Buddha at all and there was confusion, competition, and chaos. And bhArat was put on course to a 1000 years of slavery under foreign rule. It took a superhuman like SrI Adi Sankara to restore sanity to the situation.

2) Giving too much credence to Aurobindo-school renders any sociological discussion on Vedas void, because then any reference would be transformed into an AdhyAtmika phenomenon, which though quite exquisite, is not useful to the discussion at hand. (Pala S – I can agree with this even though I find Sri Aurobindo’s insights very valuable)

Shri Mike K writes –
I don’t see the logic in the statement here: a Rajasic personality better appreciates the value of the Cow and does not do anything that might degrade or devalue it’s existence.

Does this mean that by killing you respect a Cow more than by not killing? That’s a quite awkward statement similar to the one I encountered from a manager of a meat wholesaler. He explained that since animals can not say that they don’t want to be killed it is ok to kill an animal. Though, this argument can be extrapolated to human beings who speak another language. And it has been: since African tribes were unable to explain that they didn’t like to shipped to America for the purpose of slavery it was considered ok by many to be in this business. (Pala S – No, my reasoning is not the Manager’s or the slave owner’s. I’m simply agreeing with Shri Anil Chawla’s correct assessment when he says that greater utility creates greater demand and greater demand creates motivation to keep up utility. A better analogy to the meat wholesaler and the slave owner would lie in them maintaining the quality of their meat and strength of their slaves – because they cannot be sold otherwise)

In Hindusthan, due to Cow slaughter either being legally banned or forced underground or socially scorned, the utility of the Cow is limited to it’s run of health. This primarily translates into it’s capacity to provide milk. When this is no longer possible the Cow is left to fend for itself because feeding a Cow that no longer provides milk is a drain on the owner’s resources. In order to circumvent this reality, organizations like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad propose to set up Go-Shalas or Cow shelters that are then maintained through donations and State contribution. I think this is a mindless display of sentimentalism that will only encourage hypocrisy and greater corruption)

Furthermore, heavy meats are not Rajasic by Tamasic according to Ayurvedic literature. Hence beef is Tamasic and not Rajasic as this article suggests. The article is well written though many issues remain debatable. For instance the statement that Cows have no value for Rajasic personality if not eaten (I have to repeat beef as a red meat is Tamasic) is certainly not correct. Whereas dairy products provided by Cows help to strengthen both bones and muscles of human beings because of calcium and protein, meat only contributes by adding protein. Weight lifters concentrate more on white meats which are Rajasic and far more easily digestible compared with red meats as beef and pork. The creme de la creme of the sporting elite focuses on a diet that is easily digestible for power and fitness. Why wrongly prescribe red meats as the solution for Hindus? Such information is simply incorrect. (Pala S – I have to disagree. Goat meat is red too. Hindu laborers routinely eat red meat since this is what keeps them going. Beef is also less expensive compared to mutton or pork; of course this may well be due to it’s subdued demand. A favorite soup amongst red meat eaters is what we call “paya” or bone-soup. It’s very rich in calcium)

22nd Oct ’09

Shri Kedar writes –

1) You said:

“I think this is a mindless display of sentimentalism that will only encourage hypocrisy and greater corruption”

My response:

I would like to know what is your alternative? In the sense, do you have a, sort of A-B-C step, algorithm which, you believe, can improve the situation? (Pala S – As I read this, I read what is written below)

Now whatever you propose, please bear in mind that–

i) Most of the cow-slaughter is done by muslims and christians. It is this that VHP is against. The beef that you eat might be coming from a muslim slaughter-house for all you know. So, if you are not against cow-slaughter, who are you supporting? (Pala S – I cannot believe the VHP will support Hindu butchers of Cows. On another note, what you have just stated, even if correct, only shows how much ground Hindus have ceded Christians and Muslims in the business of meat processing. So, is the “VHP” guilty of keeping some Hindus economically impoverished? What should the answer to this question be?)

ii)It is clear if you do NOT agree that comsumption of beef as a result of cow-slaughter is not allowed in Hinduism, eventhough all of the references from either side till now referred to ritualistic or as a medicinal situations, except for that poor bull that got slaughtered because some guests had arrived. Now, I may be nit-picking, but bull is not cow, (is the meat of bull called as beef as well? I dont know) and bull is not praised in the Vedas as much as the Cow is, by any means (though Nandi is a bull). And both kAmadhEnu and her daughter nandinI-dhEnu are shown without their consorts. (Pala S – I would be somewhat comforted if you had said; let’s allow for “bull slaughter” at least. But your not saying that and so I must conclude that this is a red herring. Truth is commentators have mentioned the Cow as favorite offering on arrival of guests. Now we know that beef was part of ritual sacrifices, diet at homes and recommended for medicinal applications.

There are two facts that stare us in the face – 1. Ancient Hindus did NOT think that beef should be abhorred 2. Ancient Hindus did not consider those handling meat and beef in specific, untouchable. It occured to me that ritual slaughter happened on the site of the Homa-kunda. So people who were given the job of slaughtering were on-site and interacting with the Yajamana and his officiating priest)

2) You said:

” greater utility creates greater demand and greater demand creates motivation to keep up utility.”

My response:

Has any research been done on how cows were looked after and how (if at all any) profits were made on gO-shAlAs in the past (say, during SrI Adi Sankara’s time or roughly thousand years ago during the chOLa’s age in the south)–a time when there were plenty of gOshAlAs, no muslims and christians yet, and beef was still not allowed(as it still isnt, but no one bothers now) in Hinduism in India? (Pala S – I don’t know if the Go-Shalas made profits but from what you have just said it does seem to me that the State used it’s resources to maintain old and (young?)Cows that were given up to it by farmers. So the State used public revenue to make ends meet. This however does not explain the existence of communities that handled dead Cows. Was the State giving up these dead Cows for further processing by these communities? I’d gather some anti-slaughter enthusiasts might have studied this subject, but I don’t know)

Final comments:

As I see it, we may agree to disagree and leave it there, or one of us might unearth an new shred of evidence that would completely destroy the theory of the other. But the fact is, very very few in the bhArat as of now is interested in this conversation. (Pala S – As things stand, we know what beef meant to our ancients. They hold the key to Hindu cohesion and greater sense)

Have a look at whats happening: Gougram

This is what people want, and this is where they will go, myself included. And readers of this blog (if > 2), can actually contribute to the cause of our mother and Goddess gOmAta if they want to serve the interest of our nation. (Pala S – Shri Kedar, trust me, there are many people who are reading our discussion. Especially this debate.

I spent a lot of time going through the website you linked and I have taken away from it two negatives;

1. The increased reliance on the State and it’s revenues for maintainance of this project – Legislation on Cow slaughter, shelters etc

2. The resort to unfounded and embarrassing “story-telling” to sell the scheme to Hindus. Reviewing the linked list one would think the VHP thought highly of the Mughals and assorted Muslim rulers – because they banned cow-slaughter (!!!). Iran and Cuba banning slaughter and beef?? I hope to show you the deception inherent in adopting anything unnatural.

The only positive I took away from it was the constructive produce coming out of Cow-research. We’ll just have to see how lay Hindus react to such produce. I’m not entirely convinced that if it were left to the VHP, they would not enforce the stocking and purchase of these items. That’s a very sad thought.

Shri Mike K writes –

HIGH-PROTEIN DIET ELIMINATES CALCIUM—An important point concerns the fact that humans do not need a high-protein diet, and it is actually not good for them!

A high-protein diet robs the body of calcium. Healthy young adult men were given carefully controlled diets for nearly four months. During this entire time, they were consuming 1,400 mg. of calcium daily. Their protein intake was also carefully regulated. Test studies revealed that those who ate 48 g. [grams] of protein per day gained 20 mg. [milligrams] of calcium each day. Those who ate 95 g. lost 30 mg. of calcium. Those who ate 142 g. lost 70 mg. of calcium (H. Linkswiler, M.B. Zemel, et al., “Protein-induced hypercalciuria,” Federal Proceedings, July 1981).

The researchers concluded their study with this statement: “The calcium loss of 84 mg. daily, which occurred when the high-protein diet was fed, was substantial and, if continued over a period of time, would result in considerable loss of body calcium.” The average American intake of protein is 105 g. per day (USDA, Home Economic Research Report, No. 52, September 1994).

Where did that calcium, lost to the body by eating too much protein, come from? It came from their bone reserves. This is an obvious conclusion, since 99% of the calcium in our bodies is in our bones. The high-protein intake group was losing calcium every day, simply because of their high protein consumption. The excessive protein was leaching calcium from bones, even though they were getting plenty of calcium in their diet (1,400 mg. of calcium daily, when the RDA recommended daily allowance is 1000 mg. for women). In contrast, those on the lower-protein diet helped maintain thicker and stronger bones.

Further he says –

I like to stress that a strong body depends on strong doshas (body energies or tissues) and not just strong biceps. The human body has to have a balanced make-up of doshas to be strong and healthy. Regarding the bone supporting “paya” soup, how come that Anglo-Americans and other red-meat eating populations have the highest rate of osteoporosis? Scientific research shows no support for the positive contribution of high protein intake such as meat for healthy bones. On the contrary, it signals increased changes for osteoporosis. (Pala S – I would like to keep away from any debate on the relative merits and demerits of particular diets. I say this because it’s fruitless. It will not take long for me show you very healthy meat eaters who have lived long lives. Moreover it’s true that meat-eating human beings are omnivores and not carnivores.

I hope this is a fair position to take)

Since people in Western countries care for pets until they die, why would Cow shelters be such a sentimental idea? Religious values aside, Cows provide many material benefits for human beings during most of their lives. Personally I consider Cow shelters to be more civilized than the passion to pursuit monetary rewards from animals during their entire lives. Furthermore, it is hard to calculate the real value of what Cows or other animals provide during their life times. What we do know however is that the benefits of dairy products is not to be underestimated. While vegans who don’t have consume any animal products have a lower life expectancy compared to meat eaters, vegetarians have the highest life expectancies of all food “demographics”. This due to the effects of dairy products in their diets. (Pala S – If Cow shelters gain popularity amongst Hindus then they will thrive. However, any reason Hindus will support such ventures would have to be based on benefit to them. That’s only reasonable. None should expect common farmers to maintain non-productive Cows by spreading their already meagre resources thin. More, in the Hindu context, the abhorrence of beef has proved to be very costly in social terms)

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5 Responses

  1. That is an agreeable milestone in the discussion.

    Further aspects:

    1) After Mahabharata war and Emperor Janmejeya’s sarpasatram, history suddenly falls asleep, and when it wakes up after (atleast) 1500 years later, we suddenly find ourselves in 5th century BCE.

    It is important to understand the kind of Vedic Hinduism that was present in 5th century BCE:
    The mImAmsakAs were interpreting the Vedas in a highly ritualistic manner. All spiritual and metaphysical aspects were put aside. “perform yajnas, go to heaven” was the chant. The brAhmanAs stopped meditating upon the inner meaning of the Vedas. kshatrIyAs were equally decadent. They were feuding with one another for petty gains and indulging in personal pleasures. There was no one kingdom with a dhArmic Emperor at the top. varNAs were already frozen and decided by birth. Untouchability was already rampant. Humane nature of vaidhika dharma was replaced by bureaucratic ritualism. Dharma, naturally, was at its weakest. bhArat was desperately looking for a saviour who can overhaul the whole system.

    Something happened in those dark unknown centuries that changed vaidhika dharma from its peak into this sort of decadence.

    It was at this time that Gautama Buddha came onto the scene and he gave the much needed medicine to our system in his unique way.

    We need to realise that our own weakness caused our fall, and the treatment of Buddha was a much needed dose. Of course, Buddhists after Buddha did not understand Buddha at all and there was confusion, competetion, and chaos. And bhArat was put on course to a 1000 years of slavery under foreign rule. It took a superhuman like SrI Adi Sankara to restore sanity to the situation.

    2) Giving too much credence to Aurobindo-school renders any sociological discussion on Vedas void, because then any reference would be transformed into an AdhyAtmika phenomenon, which though quite exquisite, is not useful to the discussion at hand.

  2. HIGH-PROTEIN DIET ELIMINATES CALCIUM—An important point concerns the fact that humans do not need a high-protein diet, and it is actually not good for them!

    A high-protein diet robs the body of calcium. Healthy young adult men were given carefully controlled diets for nearly four months. During this entire time, they were consuming 1,400 mg. of calcium daily. Their protein intake was also carefully regulated. Test studies revealed that those who ate 48 g. [grams] of protein per day gained 20 mg. [milligrams] of calcium each day. Those who ate 95 g. lost 30 mg. of calcium. Those who ate 142 g. lost 70 mg. of calcium (H. Linkswiler, M.B. Zemel, et al., “Protein-induced hypercalciuria,” Federal Proceedings, July 1981).

    The researchers concluded their study with this statement: “The calcium loss of 84 mg. daily, which occurred when the high-protein diet was fed, was substantial and, if continued over a period of time, would result in considerable loss of body calcium.” The average American intake of protein is 105 g. per day (USDA, Home Economic Research Report, No. 52, September 1994).

    Where did that calcium, lost to the body by eating too much protein, come from? It came from their bone reserves. This is an obvious conclusion, since 99% of the calcium in our bodies is in our bones. The high-protein intake group was losing calcium every day, simply because of their high protein consumption. The excessive protein was leaching calcium from bones, even though they were getting plenty of calcium in their diet (1,400 mg. of calcium daily, when the RDA recommended daily allowance is 1000 mg. for women). In contrast, those on the lower-protein diet helped maintain thicker and stronger bones.

  3. 1) You said:
    “I think this is a mindless display of sentimentalism that will only encourage hypocrisy and greater corruption”

    My response:
    I would like to know what is your alternative? In the sense, do you have a, sort of A-B-C step, algorithm which, you believe, can improve the situation?

    Now whatever you propose, please bear in mind that–

    i) Most of the cow-slaughter is done by muslims and christians. It is this that VHP is against. The beef that you eat might be coming from a muslim slaughter-house for all you know. So, if you are not against cow-slaughter, who are you supporting?

    ii)It is clear if you do NOT agree that comsumption of beef as a result of cow-slaughter is not allowed in Hinduism, eventhough all of the references from either side till now referred to ritualistic or as a medicinal situations, except for that poor bull that got slaughtered because some guests had arrived. Now, I may be nit-picking, but bull is not cow, (is the meat of bull called as beef as well? I dont know) and bull is not praised in the Vedas as much as the Cow is, by any means (though Nandi is a bull). And both kAmadhEnu and her daughter nandinI-dhEnu are shown without their consorts.

    2) You said:
    ” greater utility creates greater demand and greater demand creates motivation to keep up utility.”

    My response:
    Has any research been done on how cows were looked after and how (if at all any) profits were made on gO-shAlAs in the past (say, during SrI Adi Sankara’s time or roughly thousand years ago during the chOLa’s age in the south)–a time when there were plenty of gOshAlAs, no muslims and christians yet, and beef was still not allowed(as it still isnt, but no one bothers now) in Hinduism in India?

    final comments:
    As I see it, we may agree to disagree and leave it there, or one of us might unearth an new shred of evidence that would completely destroy the theory of the other. But the fact is, very very few in the bhArat as of now is interested in this conversation.

    Have a look at whats happening:
    http://gougram.org/

    This is what people want, and this is where they will go, myself included. And readers of this blog (if > 2), can actually contribute to the cause of our mother and Goddess gOmAta if they want to serve the interest of our nation.

  4. I like to stress that a strong body depends on strong doshas (body energies or tissues) and not just strong biceps. The human body has to have a balanced make-up of doshas to be strong and healthy. Regarding the bone supporting “paya” soup, how come that Anglo-Americans and other red-meat eating populations have the highest rate of osteoporosis? Scientific research shows no support for the positive contribution of high protein intake such as meat for healthy bones. On the contrarory, it signals increased changes for osteoporosis.

    Since people in Western countries care for pets until they die, why would Cow shelters be such a sentimental idea? Religious values aside, Cows provide many material benefits for human beings during most of their lives. Personally I consider Cow shelters to be more civilized than the passion to pursuit monetary rewards from animals during their entire lifes. Furthermore, it is hard to calculate the real value of what Cows or other animals provide during their life times. What we do no however is that the benefits of dairy products is not to be underestimated. While vegans who don’t have consume any animal products have a lower life expectancy compared to meat eaters, vegetarians have the highest life expectancies of all food “demographics”. This due to the effects of dairy products in their diets.

  5. So you DONT have an alternate plan to that of the VHP or gougram. OK.

    1) You said:
    “So, is the “VHP” guilty of keeping some Hindus economically impoverished?”

    My response:
    If you concede that the VHP is so powerful to keep 70-80 crores of Hindus impoverished, I am impressed. Perhaps I need to resign from my job and join VHP :). Also, it just proves how helpless you are against this torrent of a massive organisation that wants to do exactly opposite to what you believe. That admission alone is enough to put things in perspective regd. what happens on the internet vs. what happens in the real world.

    2) You said:
    “Now we know that beef was part of ritual sacrifices, diet at homes and recommended for medicinal applications.”

    My response:
    No point in running away from facts, but I do want to make sure the reference is correctly translated and not misused. If it is found to be correct, I will definitely allow for that. At the same time,
    i) there is no dhArmic sanction for what they did. Vaidhika dharma was not imposed like the “halal” aspect of Islam, so people were free. But your own reference states people (regardless of varNa) were constantly exhorted to eschew all kinds of meat.

    ii)Just like the reference to Madhuparka and bull-slaughter, there are many stories from around the same time where people had to perform superhuman acts like bringing down Ganga (one version) from vaikunTha or perform a tapasya or risk carrying the gohatya sin to the next janma. Now which is right?

    2) You said:
    “what you have just said it does seem to me that the State used it’s resources to maintain old and (young?)”

    My response:
    I said what? Where did the State come from? My point was: most houses had a gOshAla a thousand years ago, though not all people were affluent. How did they manage to make ends meet without slaughtering the cows?

    3) You said:
    i) “Ancient Hindus did NOT think that beef should be abhorred”

    My response:
    As I said above, there are both kinds of references.

    ii) You said:
    “Ancient Hindus did not consider those handling meat and beef in specific, untouchable. It occured to me that ritual slaughter happened on the site of the Homa-kunda. So people who were given the job of slaughtering were on-site and interacting with the Yajamana and his officiating priest”

    My response:
    well… there you go again regarding the “net net” logic! But did they actually slaughter the animal for sacrifice? I came by this reference recently:

    Rigveda I-162-22:
    na vA u EtamriyasE na riShyasi devAnidEShi pathibhih sugebhih |

    Meaning (translation is indeed from Griffith, but I confirmed it from the learned):
    “No, here thou diest not, thou art not injured: by easy paths unto the Gods thou goest.”

    This verse is from one of the suktas for aSvamEdha. The aSva was supposedly operated upon and a part was removed. Now thats new! it actually goes against even what I said before– that animals were actually killed during sacrifice. But yes, meat and beef was handled in some way on-site.

    4) You said:
    “We’ll just have to see how lay Hindus react to such produce.”

    My response:
    Wherever the Vishwamangala gougram yAtra goes, people are turning up in huge numbers.

    5)You said:
    “As things stand, we know what beef meant to our ancients. They hold the key to Hindu cohesion and greater sense”

    My response:
    Hindus (excluding your minority) will not eat beef whatever you tell them. Now what do you do?

    Finally:
    Please dont forget to include your alternate plan for “Hindu cohesion” in your reply.

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