Monday, April 18, 2016

Does Hinduism require one to be a vegetarian?

Excerpted from

Does Hinduism require one to be a vegetarian?


K. Sadananda

Recently two questions were asked –
Does Hinduism require one to believe in God?
Does Hinduism require one to be a vegetarian?
In a recent article, I have addressed the first question. 
Here I will provides some thoughts for the second question.

In relation to the first question, I have discussed what Hinduism stands
for and who is truly a Hindu. 
In essence, Hinduism is Sanatana Dharma,
and that Dharma is from time immemorial –
it involves pursuit for Moksha.
Therefore the one who is seeking for Moksha is a true Hindu,
Irrespective of the nationality, caste, creed or gender. 
With that catholic
understanding, one can see that Hinduism becomes a way of life
because the pursuit of the essential purpose of life is
the goal of the Hindu life.

With that perspective, it is easier to analyze all other questions
including whether Hinduism requires one to be a vegetarian. 

Since the purpose of life is securing liberation or Moksha,
until we reach that we need to live. 
Only death is the death of the ego that happens in the
spiritual awakening. 
Hence, keeping the body alive by nourishment is
our Dharma. 
That means one has to eat to live
(not the other way – living for eating sake!)

Life lives on life. That is the law of nature.
 Whether I eat an animal or plant I am destroying a life.
Among all life forms Man is different from the rest of the life kingdom. 
He has the capability to discriminate the right from wrong.
That also gives him the freedom of choice. 

Plants have just body and perhaps a rudimentary mind.
Animals have both body and mind to express
 feelings and suffering, but rudimentary intellect. 
Man has not only body, mind
but also well developed intellect to discriminate, decide and to choose. 

He always has three choices –
Karthum sakhyam, akartum
sakhyam and anyathA karthum sakhyam –
he can choose to do,
not to do and
do it other way. 

For animals and plants there is no freedom of choice.
They are instinctively driven. 
Cow does not sit down before meals, and
inquire whether it should be a vegetarian or non-vegetarian.
So is a tiger. 
For a Man the discriminative intellect is very evolved.
Plants and animals do not commit sin in their actions
because there is no will
involved in their actions.
For a human, the story is different. 
You may wonder why I brought sin in the argument. 
Let me explain.

Sin is nothing but agitations in the mind. 
It is these agitations that
prevent me in my journey to Moksha.
Mind has to be pure
(meaning un-agitated)
for me to see the truth as the truth. 

To define sin more scientifically - it is the divergence
between the mind and intellect.
Intellect knows right from wrong –
but we feel like doing things even
though we know they are wrong –
that is, the intellect says something,
but mind which should be subservient to intellect rebels and
does whatever it feels like. 
This divergence is sin. 
After the action is performed -
there is a guilt feeling,
because intellect, although was overruled, does
not keep quiet, it keeps prodding
" I told you it is wrong.
Why did you do it?"
With peace of mind gone Man goes through a "Hell". 
Man is not punished for the sin,
he is punished by the sin! –
Think about it.

All yogas, if you analyze clearly, are bringing this integration
Between the body, mind and intellect. 
For a Yogi - What he thinks, what he speaks
and what he does are in perfect harmony or alignment
(Manasaa vAcha karmana).
In our case, we think something but have no guts to say
what we think, our lips says something
different from what are thinking –
if you watch the lips and the actions that follow,
they are again different! -
There is no integration anywhere.
We live a chaotic life. 
Besides deceiving others,
most pathetic is we deceive ourselves,
and the worst thing is we don't even realize that.

Now, when a tiger kills and eats, it does not commit a sin. 
Because its intellect is rudimentary,
 and it does not go through any analysis
 before it kills –
“should I kill or not to kill –
Should I be a non-vegetarian or
should I be vegetarian?". 
When it is hungry, to fill the natures demand,
it kills it pray and eats what it needs and
 leaves the rest when it is full. 
It is not greedy either. 
That is its Swadharma.
It follows a beautiful ecological system.

It is only man who destroys the ecology by being greedy. 
"Should I be a vegetarian or non-vegetarian?"
is asked only by a man. 
Why that question comes?
Because man has discriminative intellect,
and he does not want to
hurt others to fill his belly. 
He learns what `hurt' means because
He surely does not want others to hurt him.

Plants are life forms too, should one hurt them?. 
 You may ask. 
If one can live without hurting any life forms that is the best,
but that is not possible. 
Life lives on life -that is the law of nature. 
My role as a human being with discriminative intellect is
to do the least damage to the nature for keeping myself alive. 
At least, I am not consciously aware of suffering of the plants.
That is why eating to live and not living to eat is
the determining factor.

In Bhagawad Geeta, Krishna emphatically says
that a Sadhaka (one who is in pursuit of Moksha)
should have a compassion for all forms of life
Sarva Bhuta HitErathAha

In the spiritual growth, one develops
subtler and subtler intellect
(Sukshma Bhuddhi in contrast to TeeKshna Buddhi, i.e.
sharper intellect).
That is, the mind is becoming quieter,
 calmer and
Your sensitivity to suffering of others also grows. 
Hence it is advisable to be a vegetarian.

Even the traditional non-vegetarians repel against
eating dogs and cats or
other human beings! Why? 
Meat is a meat after all! 
But with familiarity grows a compassion.

There are many two legged animals in human form
with rudimentary intellect.
They behave like animals. 
But in the evolutionary ladder one develops
subtler and subtler intellect,
then it is advisable to be a vegetarian
only taking from nature what it needs to keep the body going.
One should not hurt any life forms
to satisfy the craving of one’s tongue.

Should Hindu be a vegetarian?
Since such a question already arose in your mind,
you have a degree of sensitivity not to hurt
other living forms to satisfy your belly.
Then you may be better off not eating meat and
You will be at peace with yourself. 
Since you are sensitive to this your
intellect directing you one way and
your mind wants some baser pleasures
and directing you the other way.
When you go against your own intellect
you commit sin.
That is against your SWADHARMA as Krishna puts it.

Besides, now, even the traditional non-vegetarians
are choosing vegetarianism
not because of any compassion to other animals
but they are recognizing that it is not good for their health.

I have already mentioned that
Hinduism has no doos and don'ts,
but you determine your own doos and don'ts
based on your intellectual values,
culture, education and primary goal in life. 
You will find that
Following your Swadharma makes you comfortable with yourself.
It is not others to judge, it is for you to judge. 
If you are agitated, that means
you are loosing peace of mind for these and
that is a sin! 

Imagine yourself that chicken or cow that you are eating.
Would you not advice the guy who is eating you
to be a vegetarian instead and spare its life? 

Do not say you are not killing the animal yourself,
and killing will go on whether you eat or not.

If you don't eat, one animal is spared.
This is the demand and supply. 
I may not be stealing myself,
but if I buy the stolen property knowing that it was stolen,
it is a crime!
Is it not? 
Now there are imitation meats too –
so why the crave for a dead meet?   
Why do you want your stomach
to be a burial ground for a dead animal?


Food for Thought:-

Manu Samhita says

5/51. He who permits (the slaughter of an animal), he who cuts it up, he who kills it, he who buys or sells (meat), he who cooks it, he who serves it up, and he who eats it, (must all be considered as) the slayers (of the animal).

5/52. There is no greater sinner than that (man) who, though not worshipping the gods or the manes, seeks to increase (the bulk of) his own flesh by the flesh of other (beings).


சரவணன் said...

Wonderful article Madam... Perfect wordings to give a perfect meaning.... That too, when you explain about the sins, really its amazing to understand the concept of sin. The explanation, "Man is not punished for the sin, he is punished by the sin!"....Chance illai madam, superb... simple sentence telling a bigger meaning. kalakkunga. But at the same time, this explanation should not be taken as granted by the Heartless persons, to prove that they are good at what they are doing. Excellent work mam... Keep it up...

jayasree said...

Mr Saravanan, your praises must go to Mr K. Sadananda, the writer of this article. I picked up this article from google search. Really very impressive and convincing arguments against meat eating. In the next few days, I will be posting another article on the same lines with good logic. Please stay tuned.

Jay said...

While this author, Sadananda acknowledges reality better than Jayasree, he got almost 70% right but erred thereafter. His logic is only partly true because there is a fundamental flaw in his conclusion, which also is abundantly evident in Jayasree's opinions. Being short of time currently, I will address it with a response to her previous article in the next couple days.

jayasree said...

Mr Saravanan,
The article that I promised to post in my comment above has been posted now. You can read it at

சரவணன் said...

Thank you mam...I'll read the same. By the way, I have a question here. It's just a rough outcome of some readings & thinking. Generally we all know that sound waves / vibrations play an important role in our day to day life. So, I used to think that, when a living being killed, it generates a kind of vibration due to pain (Marana vaedhanai), which imprints in its flesh or so called collections of cells. In turn, when we eat those flesh, those negative vibration mixes up in our blood & cells. And this guy passes the same to his generation. When such people goes to temple (where full of positive energies), I feel they may not get the actual benefits of the temple.
Whenever I go to the shops of chicken or goat or by seeing the lined up fishes for sale, I used to think that DEAD BODIES ARE ARRANGED FOR SALE. There is no big difference between vulture & us. We just cook the dead bodies with masala & eat. That's the difference between us & vulture. (I accept & apologize that am a non-veg guy, but trying to minimize and quit completely).
I used to think about the Muslim's way of killing animals (some cruel guys kill humans They used to tell some sentences while cutting (Halal). So, my question is, do they tell such things, to nullify the negative effects? Pronouncing such high vibration wordings do suppress the ill effects?
Apart from the above, Once I heard from a colleague, that its not strictly told in our religion to avoid animal as food, it was advised to go nature way only (means try to eat plants, fruits, vegetables). If there is a situation (drought or calamities) to eat animal, it was advised to consume only the veg eating animals (Deer etc.,. )
May be my statements were not link with each other, as I informed it's just a rough thought...

jayasree said...

Mr Saravanan,

Thanks for writing and happy to note that you have started asking yourself whether it is right to eat meat. Ultimate evolution of man is to evolve with divinity that requires one to be compassionate to all beings around us. Most importantly not to grow one's life with the life of another.

You have explained nicely how the marana vedhanai of the dying animals come to invade the cells and through that how it invades the eater and his offsprings who inherit his body parts. Whether one prays / utters some sentences can not nullify that pain and the act of snatching away a life for a selfish purpose. Please read the other articles under the tag "vegetarianism" where most of your doubts have been answered.

My next article under this tag is by one who was a meat eater once but gave it up to become a vegetarian. I will post the link here once I publish it. That article too is sure to be insightful.

Jay said...

I have posted my response to Jayasree's incorrect opinions. Mr. Saravanana, please read my response to her article on story told by Sita to Rama. Sanatana Dharma permits meat eating. Per Vaalmiki, Sri Rama ate meat and so did Sri Kirshna and Yudhistra and pandavaas in Vyasa Mhabharata. Have no doubts or fear, eat meat of deers, goat/lamb and fish without any concern, Sanatana Dharma permits eating meat of such animals.

jayasree said...

Mr Saravanan,

Posted the article by a once- meat eater who calls for vegetarianism as the goal of Hinduism.
The link is

jayasree said...

Mr Jay, you have not yet produced the verses from Valmiki Ramayana that says that Lakshmana cooked fish and fed them to Rama.

decefriteen said...

While it is a democratic world,pls do support your comments with facts.
Madam Jayasree has been writing for so many years and featuring some of the most interesting insights supported by research and proofs.Kindly do not belittle her thoughts with mere words.

Jay said...


Can't you pick up a gita press or another publisher book on Sanskrit verses of Valmiki Ramayana? See the last sargaas in Aranya Kaanda for where Sri Rama eats fish.


Yes, Ms. Jayasree has done and is doing a lot of research and publishing her opinions and reproducing others' articles for a long time. Except for her incorrect assumptions on 1) meat eating and vegetarians and 2) superiority and pre-eminence of Tamil over Sanskrit language, I accept pretty much all of her other views. What, I beg, have you done other than taking her opinions as yours and like a parrot parading them as yours? Go pick up valmiki ramayana with sanskrit verses and learn the truth for yourself please.

jayasree said...

@ Jay,
I repeat that you write down the Aranya khanda verse from Valmiki Ramayana here and show that the verse says that Rama ate fish.