Beef and the Hindus – Closing arguments and rejoinders

The debate so far – here

This continuing debate has been the longest on this website. I’m deeply thankful to all who have participated and continue to participate in the discussions.

I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate that no comment has been moderated and if at all I have thought a comment unworthy of the participant’s stature; due to it’s flippancy – I have merely struck it out, not deleted it.

I am under no false illusion about this website’s popularity and so have avoided any airs about my own supposed debating skills and other such prowess. I’m humbly thankful that knowledgeable readers have thought it worthwhile to debate on this forum. It is my hope that they will share their insights on other topics that are published here from time to time.

Let us now continue :

Since I was travelling today, I could not help but respond to some comments via email. I will treat these comments and the responses they have elicited as part of the ongoing discussions.

Post my last comment on the 2nd Nov, Shri Kedar responded – (The interjections in my name are the ones I responded by email)

1) “There is also the stipulation that there should be no copulation with a woman until the sacrifice ends. This does not mean the yajamana and his priest were bachelors. More likely this was the discipline.”

If it means there should be no copulation until the sacrifice ends, it means exactly that. People can hold their urge for a few hours (or even a few days), you know. In the same manner, if it says na maamsam ashneeyuh, it means exactly that– No meat until the ritual ends.

(Pala S – Precisely. It does NOT mean no meat at all. No one has heard of prasada being received during a sacrifice. It is only after)

2) Regarding madhuparka, I proved that there is no word in either Asvalayana Asvalayana gruhya sutra or its very first bhashya that says kill/immolate the cow. If Asvalayana wanted to say immolate/kill, he would have said it directly as in other instances. If cow sacrifice was so common in those days, where was the need to hide it using another word?

(Pala S – I think you are making an untenable assumption here. Please show me which other pashu was employed in sacrifices? Where else has Asvalayana spoken about sacrificing some other animal? Or are you saying no animal was sacrificed?)

2) “however, it is more likely that the term utsarga can mean “gifting” in many ways.” utsarga = setting free, causing to go, liberate, presenting, giving daana to a brahmana.

I will say this: Our vedic rishis have never lied or hid behind euphemisms.

(Pala S – I at least am not saying they have lied or hidden behind euphemisms. However they seem to have employed styles of language to get across their intent. Therefore “utsarga” can be said to mean liberating through sacrifice?)

3) “That’s the ritual. It does not necessarily mean the pashu had to agree to being sacrificed”

I am a Hindu. To me, the vedas are apourusheyas–eternal truths revealved to tapasvi rishis after ardent japa, tapa, yama, niyama, indriya parigraha, etc. When they say that a samjnaapana is made with an animal, to me, it suggests more than just a euphemism by dishonest priests wanting to sink their teeth into the animal’s innards.

(Pala S – I cannot understand why your bent on assuming the worst of intentions. Why should the priests have cooked up something like this? It is perfectly possible that they were convinced of the pact. This does not however, change the fact of the act)

You are questioning a core belief of my faith. If you do not believe that there was an agreement between the pashu and the priest, then please end this debate and claim victory. It is your blog and you have your compulsions of not daring to lose ever. I understand that. I am happy in believing that the rishis that gave our country the vedas were capable of certain siddhis. On any given day, shraddha, aasthaa, and bhakti carry more importance for a Hindu like me.

(Pala S – This is no argument. Anything can become possible with such  “truths”.

Moreover you have not explained how less of a Hindu were Shri Shastri and Shri Sharma. Why should I not trust their proven scholarship the same way you seem to insist on yours? Surely you do not suggest that they were incompetent or malicious?

It’s like I said earlier, why would a (non-beef eating)traditional Hindu consciously place a Cow where it simply is not, in the original?

We have indeed travelled far from MUM accepting Shri Sharma’s thesis as one of three main reference points. Were they also non-Hindu in their impulse?

I wonder what you would say against the Paramacharya of Kanchi’s “blunders” with Sanskrit grammar and interpretation?)

Swayamsevak writes – (My interjections as detailed, were on email)

Hi Palahalli

With all due regards to your vast knowledge and references, if you do not understand samskrit or cannot yourself translate the verses yourself, then at least be open to listen to what Shri Kedar is saying.

(Pala S – I’m a lay Hindu trying to understand better this phenomenon of sacred Cow leading to non-slaughter of the animal. The Cow protectors often claim that our scriptures have been mis-understood or have been mis-interpreted in a malicious manner, to prove that Cow sacrifice took place, where there was none. This seems to be Shri Kedar’s position and his is not a unique instance.

Now, I don’t have anything against Shri Kedar’s grasp of Sanskrit and his manner of textual interpretations. I’m sure they are excellent. However what should be done when Shri Kedar’s opinion is pitted against traditional scholars of Sanskrit? Even against his own references (MUM)?  What side should I take?

Therefore I use my common sense and logic)

In the Devaswamin bhashya I have provided, which is the basis for the Narayana Vritti bhashya, it explicitly states in simple samskrit (as Shri Kedar has clearly put it) above – “na ityuchyatE”.

Do you think there is any specific reason that a commentator should emphatically deny any ‘misinterpretation’? Yes, when there is a ‘possibility’ of misinterpretation. This is exactly what has happened when “nAmAmsa” was conveniently substituted with “namAmsa” omitting one negation out of a double negation!

(Pala S – On your query I believe I have already made my reasoning clear in my response to Shri Kedar)
—-
Also, if you could explain your thought train that took you from:
“reference of meat is present in this text (Grhya Sutra) and its properties are discussed (like in the Susruta Samhita reference)”

to

“cow meat was surely a part of hindu DAILY DIET”

(Pala S – If you could kindly point me to where I have said this, I might be able to show context and reason)

Shri Kedar summarises via email – (My interjections are made along-side)

Regarding Madhuparka, I have provided all the information that I have. I have nothing to add and all I can do now is summarise my observations:

1) I have shown that there is no word that says kill/slaughter the cow in the  Madhuparka context of either Asvalayana Gruhya Sutra, or its very first bhashya.

(Pala S – And yet there are references to pashu bali during yagnas. It is not my argument that all yagnas involved pashu bali, however those that did, involved the sacrifice of animals. Wrt animals, there is no mention of the types or kinds of animals that may be sacrified. Perhaps we need to look more closely; but what is glaring is the constant mention of cattle including the Cow. The stipulation that madhuparka may be taken with or without meat is besides the point and procedural. The point is the meat that is eaten)

2) I have shown that meat was not to be consumed during Madhuparka ritual. Prasadam is an integral part of any Hindu ritual.

(Pala S – Absolutely. Prasada is certainly integral to sacrifice and ritual. However, my point was that prasada is a ritual end-product and not given or accepted during or at the beginning of a ritual or sacrifice. Therefore the fact that prasada meat was not consumed *during* madhuparka ritual is only proper)
 
3) Not every yajna needs pashu-bali. I have already provided previously two other instances where Asvalayana talks about pashu-bali.

(Pala S – I agree)

4) You have not presented a single evidence that either my translation or my grammatical analysis of original samskrta texts is wrong.

(Pala S – I don’t need to disagree with your Sanskrit translation or grammar. I have shown my case stands even with your interpretations)
 
5) Regarding my analysis disagreeing with those of N.N.Sharma’s and Satya Vrat Shastri’s, it doesnt matter at all. Bhashya-karas often disagree too. Dharmasastras often disagree with one another. Simply disagreeing doesnt make anybody a communist. Just to make it clear: I have the highest regard for N.N.Sharma and Satya Vrat Shastri.

(Pala S – That’s good to know. What is more difficult to understand is that a Mahapataka, as you called Cow slaughter, can be referred to by traditional Hindus without more search and an observation that this was indeed aDharmic. Why did they not do this? I cannot believe it was a slip. So, was it a Mahapataka at all?)
 
6) Talking of disagreements, you would find yourself in perfect disagreement with everyone among Asvalayana, Devasvami, Naidhruva Narayana, Oldenberg, Satya Vrat Shastri, N.N.Sharma, and myself in one context: All of us assign the meaning of utsarga in this context as giving away the cow in daana “alive”.

(Pala S – That’s not a problem to the well being of my main argument)
 
7) Finally, like crores of other Indians, my belief in the capabilities and siddhis of my nation’s munis, rishis, raja-rishis, maharshis and brahma-rshis in unshakeable. Every country in this world has had some great kings and emperors. But no other country in this world has equivalents of my nation’s great tapasvi, mantra-drashta, vishva-kalyaana-kaami rishis. If you do not have faith in this one unique aspect about our country, I do not want to say anything about it.

(Pala S – I mentioned to you another great seer. You seem to have missed my reference to the  the Paramacharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham. I shall post his speech on the subject right after this)

Since I have presented my closing arguments on Madhuparka, I will not talk about it anymore. The blog is yours, the debate is unmoderated, the conclusions will obviously be yours, and so it will not be surprising if you have the last laugh in this matter.

(Pala S – What will always matter is how the debate was conducted and the quality of argumentation. When anybody will laugh seems less important)
 
I will now move on to sushruta samhita to summarise my observations on that as well.

(Pala S – I shall wait eagerly. Thank you Shri Kedar)

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