Philosophy Behind Vegetarianism
Vegetarianism is not merely a code of eating habits. There is a grand philosophy behind it which demands deeper understanding. Vegetarian food can develop the finer structure of the mind which is helpful in the realisation of the final end of humanity. The capacity of the mind to grasp purer ideas and develop on subtler lines is amply increased by the intake of Satvic food. The mind itself is the reflected experience of life in the body. Purity of the mind depends on the purity of the body also. Hence the relevance of Satvic food is implied. The mind grows steadfast and is never shaken by evil impulses. The relation of the mind to the cosmic purpose of creation is evident from the following paragraph. Indian philosophy attempts to reconcile every movement in the world with the cosmic purpose. Not a single element is relegated to the background. ‘Annat Bhavanti Bhootani’.
Status of the Animal World
All forms of life, as integral parts of nature, must be respected. Indian religious system insists on the recognition of the sub-human levels of existence. An appreciation of all forms of life is essential to transcend the domain of nature. In our metaphysical quest as such, we may respect the laws of nature and pass calmly through her. Eating of meat is violation of nature and leads to the degeneration of human nature. The animal world has also to be preserved to serve the divine purpose behind creation. Imbalance in nature is never in favour of the preservation of the world.
Life on the Watery Level
Plants and shrubs are of more watery content than the animals. Pain is absent on the watery level. The vegetable world is more serene and nobler that a moderate consumption of vegetables does not send acute pain through the inner and subtler region. The concept of causal waters (Karan Jalam) is a dominant factor. All the pain and agony of phenomenal existence is ultimately merged into the primordial waters at the phase of total dissolution. This dissolute waters turns into life waters at the beginning of creation, out of which is projected the different stages of the created world. The all embracing power of the causal waters also sends its pure force through the vegetable world. At the time of creation space is issued out of the principle of ‘Ahamkara’ (ego). Air proceeds from space, Fire from Air, Water from Fire and finally Earth from Water. This process favours the concept of the self-same base, the primal substratum of the universe. Space gives rise to the quality of Sound, Air to Touch, Fire to Form, Water to Taste and Earth to Smell. This is all described in the Bhagavatha Mahapurana. It is clear that water is a finer element than Earth. Man plucking and eating vegetables seldom disturbs the balanced state of the created world.
Man Not Carnivorous by Nature
The structure of the human body is not in favour of eating flesh. The sharp claws and the pointed teeth are remarkably absent in man. Carnivorous animals are endowed with suitable intestines, kidney and liver in order to support their meat eating habits. The small intestines in the carnivorous animals are conspicuously shorter and unbelievably lengthy in man. Even carnivorous animals eat the herbivorous ones not the carnivorous species. The herbivores feeding on herbs and shrubs are supported by nature and in turn helping the carnivores. Thus the herbal system (cyclic system of life remembered) serves as a living link between the herbivores and carnivores. The structure and function of the human organs are different and destined to be softened in the context of finer tastes and discrimination. Man is more resourceful in adjusting himself with any circumstance
The variegated seasonal yields of nature provide abundant foodstuff for man. The blessed nature cannot be depicted as a temptress. She, the empress of divine glory supports her progeny with the endless gifts of the Almighty. Man may not yield to momentous pleasures, forgetting his supreme position in the hierarchy of created beings.
The medicinal value of herbs and plants are well known. The Sanskrit word for herbs and plants is ‘Oushadhi’. ‘Oushadham’ made out ‘Oushadhi’ means medicine. Remedy for all known diseases can be found in nature, in the vegetable world. The vedas and the Upanishads contain clue to this. Rishis of ancient India who are the advocates of Ahimsa, are great physicians also. Nature cure is a recognised system of medicine in India and the rest of the world.
Bad Effect of Eating Flesh
Animals facing slaughter develop a chain of psychological infirmities. A serum forming out of fear would poison the blood and flesh of the killed animal. This acts as a negative force and is harmful to health. Part of life of the animal will be shattering through the skin pores of the body and the nature of fear accumulated in the process of killing and deposited on the flesh will never help a meat eater. Meat eating has a bad effect on the working of the mind. The chain of frustration and ultimate agony will disturb the subconscious level of the universal mind. The individual mind and the Universal mind are one and the same in the final analysis. Any excess of bad impressions is sure to upset the ideal balance of the total mind stuff. A part of bad impressions would get entangled with the mangled flesh of the slain animal, the earthy aspect dominating there. Moreover the negative force (Papa) of life would settle wherever the same frequency of thought waves is existent. As a result the killer and the eater will go degenerate in their subconscious levels. Scientists and doctors do not encourage the tendency to meat eating. Vegetables can provide the required substance for a healthy life.
All Passing Through the Medium of Vegetables
Animals ceasing from life, pass through the medium of vegetables. Plants grow on the ruins of dead animals. Thus all forms of life, disintegrating, are transformed into the five elements, the gross aspect sticking to the earth. According to the Adhyatma Ramayana (Kishkinda Kandam - Sampathi Vakyam) the Jiva, deprived of merit (Punya) falls down from heaven. It has a short life in the lunar world (the moon is the symbol of mind). Then continuing its course, the Jiva sprouts as rice plant on earth. Rice becomes food, semen and falls into the womb of woman. The life cycle ultimately depends on the medium of vegetables. ‘Jiva......ksheenapunya padatyarvaganichha Karmachoditha Patitva mandale chendostato neeharasamyuta, Bhoomau patitva vreehyadau tatra stitva chiram puna Bhootva chaturvidham bhojyam purushai bhujyate tata Reto bhootya punastena streeyoni samchita’ (Adhyatma Ramayana) The concept of time in measuring the course of a Jiva is indefinable. Some moments in the higher celestial worlds are equal to millions of years on earth. There is an episode in the Bhagavatha Mahapurana. King Revata passed a few minutes with his daughter Revathi beside the seat of Lord Brahma in the Sathya Loka. The music that was going on, ceasing, the supreme Lord heard the prayers of the king. The perusal of the horoscope of Revathi graciously granting the Lord drove the king to the fact that twenty eight chaturyugas had already passed on earth since his departure from his earthly city. ( 28 x 12,000 x 360 human years ). The inscrutable play of time passes the understanding of the most refined mind. It is against such immeasurable and inconceivable background that the merit and defect of human beings tending to go vegetarian or non-vegetarian should be considered. Argument both ways is not advisable. This is not the plane of reason, but the plane of intuition
Although hinted at in the beginning of this essay, the spiritual relevance here demands serious understanding. Ahimsa and vegetarianism is the basic concept of Vidika Sanathana Dharma. Ahimsa is the primary equipment for spiritualism. ‘Ahimsa Paramo Dharma’. Ahimsa (non-violence) is a nobler concept than the so called olerance. Ahimsa aims at purity and balance, the satvic quality. Certain varieties of vegetables such as onion and garlic are predominantly rajasic and are avoided in a spiritual life. Thus ahimsa and vegetarianism are inseparably connected with the Sanathana Dharma. Also consider the selfless service, the vegetable world is rendering. The Sanathani conception prohibits taking food from selfish and impure agents. The innocent animals, mostly the object of man’s avarice, craving for their life are most selfish and form the most impure food when slaughtered. Here doctrine of Ahimsa should do justice to the animal world and declare its affinity with vegetarianism
Yajna Concept and Universal Mind
Yajna concept or service pattern of the of the vegetables is fundamental to the life system. ‘Sarvam Yajne Pratishtitham’. The green world makes the earth fit for life of the animal world ranging in variety from from the smallest unit of life to man. The vegetable and the animal regions are harmoniously interwoven into a single household. The distributory system of service in the cosmic pattern is meant to help each species to cross through its present status to a higher level. This process will continue without hurting any aspect of the universal life system. The balancing of Punya (merit) and Papa (defect) is possible through this mechanism. Punya can be defined as the positive force of life distributed in the physical system of the universe which helps to pass through all the barriers of worldly existence and culminates in the most purified form of life, rid of all Vasanas (instincts). The negative force of life absorbed by the life system unknowingly, owing to the impetus of the dominant force of the material world is called Papa which breeds relative and binding forces. The implied balance of Punya and Papa may not be disturbed. Selfless action arouses purified regions in the universal mind and is blessed and blessing. Selfish impulses have the same negative impact. Man, on account of his superior power for reasoning, is expected to maintain this Yajna concept of the nature and act as a conscious agent for the spiritual well-being of the world. Impact of the individual mind on the universal mind has already been asserted. This essay proposes to halt, inviting a reference to the well known experiment conducted under the sun. Certain young rabbits were separated from their mother, taken far away under the sun and killed. The psychological change over the mother rabbit was closely measured simultaneously. The convulsion and agony that overtook the mother was so remarkable that the subtler link connecting the feelings of two minds placed at distant places is baffling the intellect of man. The concept of Yajna that is manifest in the world serves the supreme divine purpose and finally rests on and merges into the supreme Brahman.
Annat Bhavanti Bhootani
Yajnat Bhavanti Parjanyo
Karma Brahmodbhavan Viddhi --- ( Bhagavad Gita )
Courtsey: Shree Rama Dasa Mission