In the words of Albert Einstein " It is my view
that the vegetarian manner of living, by its purely physical effect
on the human temperament, would most beneficially influence the
lot of mankind…"
Ayureveda strongly recommends vegetarianism
.For a person practicing vegetarianism far as the
daily protein requirements of the human body are concerned these
can be easily met by making fruits, vegetables and nuts a part of
our daily intake, it recommends a wholesome vegetarian diet based
on different types of fruits and nuts that are available in plenty
during their season.
Despite all the available evidence that points to
no extra nutritional, physiological or psychological justification
for meat eating millions all over the globe continue unabated.
So why do we continue to do so is what comes to one's
mind instinctively. Two simple reasons seem to account for this
irresistible urge. One could be a habit and conditioning and secondly
because some simply savor the taste of it and relish it to temptation.
Well then we must have the courage to admit it and
not attempt to justify it for reasons of health. However if you
decide to practice spirituality, meat eating is one of the habits
you need to necessarily drop before you embark on this journey.
It implies not just killing life, which violates one of the primary
rules of right conduct, but also creates Heat in our body wasting
away in the process loads of bodily energy which otherwise would
have been used for better digestion.
The Hindu Dharma Sutras (Code-books) have prescribed
rules of conduct, duties, rights and obligations for us to follow.
Non-violence (ahimsa) is one of the prescriptions in there for the
eternal way of living happily in this world as we humans do not
have the moral right to take away a life or cause sorrow to others.
It is a simple dharma to live by, for if we destroy
others for the sake of our own pleasure , we are cutting at the
very root of human life's glory and thereby degrading ourselves.
Even though life exists in all beings, in both the vegetable and
animal kingdoms, there are degrees of evolution and in the manifestation
The degree of feeling and understanding, of mental
and physical pain, is less developed in plant-life as compared to
the animal-life. According to our dharma sastras, the purpose of
human life is to know the Truth. In order to know the Truth, we
must sustain our lives, but with proper discrimination.
Although life must be sustained with life, it should be done by
causing the least Pain and disturbance to nature. This means that
even when eating vegetarian food we should eat moderately. From
a medical standpoint also many people today are advised to reduce
their fat and cholesterol intake, which generally means the reduction
of red meat in their diet.
These scriptural injunctions make us wonder at times
if people strictly practiced vegetarianism back in the vedic ages
or were they too meat eaters like us.
The vedas and the dharmasastrs both prohibit it, except
under certain circumstances as a concession to human weakness, which
sometimes makes us incapable of living up to a higher ideal. The
sastras explain for instance, which animals can be eaten on which
day of the month, when eating meat is prohibited, and what special
rituals are to performed before eating meat.
These facts and restrictions in our sastras were meant
to help them rise above craving and ideally practice vegetarianism.
Non-vegetarian food was, however, allowed for a particular class
of people, the ksatriyas,or the ruling class.
For other classes, such as the business people (Vaisyas) or the
philosophers/teachers (Brahmins), hunting and meat eating was not
allowed. Why was this distinction made? The kshatriyas nature of
work required them to have the strength to fight for their nation.
They underwent training in defense (hunting) and needed animal protein
for physical strength.
Yet the kshatriyas too were told that after a certain
age even they should ideally renounce that type of life, take to
sannyasa (the order of renunciation), and go to the forest for contemplation.
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