Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Veg vs Non-Veg: Killing of plants justified??

Question:

As we know that we kill plants and animals for food. But Is Killing them so that we stay alive is justified? We are told to be compassioante for all living beings. Is this compassion and love is restricted to human beings only. Also we realise or worship the God within every creature.


I agree that killing a creature for defense is right but killing plants and animals for food is which I feel something wrong. I know it is necessary to kill them for food but will it not lead to bad karma right from our birth. if this is the case then I wonder why the system has evoloved like this? Is Darwin theory of survival of the fittest makes us to stay and others to perish.Even Plants and animals have the right to live.Please if you all can enlighten me as this question is coming again and again in my mind.

My reply:


>>>But Is Killing them so that we stay alive is justified? I know that human beings are the most intellect and superior living beings on earth.But does that give us the license to kill or is it because that only we can realise God spiritually.

You are looking at only external life- but what about internal life. If starving and suicide not a form of violence?

The first requirement to get a clearer idea of this topic is to drop the barriers between internal and external. Whether seen from the lofty ideals of Advaita that there is no difference and all that exists is divine- both inside AND outside or even general common sense POV where world is a continuous existence of life.

Hence there is no “outside” and “inside”.

Now coming to non-violence. Firstly we should ask ourselves whether total non-violence is possible? If we do not consume plants, then we kill ourselves and there is still violence there. Then the plants and animals etc also form their own food cycle. A tiger may live on a deer; a deer may live on a tree; a tree may live by suppressing other plants.

Hence, whether you life it or not, there is always an element of violence involved in some form or other. Hence the next best thing we should aim is not “eliminate” violence, but minimise it. This is done by balancing the internal violence with the external violence. Different people may have different levels of cut off- some of them being:

1. The worst form is to breed, raise animals to only kill them. This is more rampant in Europe etc. They breed animals in excess to their natural ability just for the sake of killing them for food.

2. The next level is to form a part of natural food cycle. A tribal man might not be breeding animals for killing, but will consume them just like any other animal might consume it.

3. Then comes the attitude where you don’t kill any animal or in any way influence in the killing of an animal, but if somebody does kill it, then there is no harm in taking it. Buddha and Buddhists are known to follow this level. They do accept non-veg food as biksha coz the animal has not been killed coz of them, but irrespective of them and the excessive wasted food is being offered to them as biksha.

4. Then is the level of most vegetarians- do not consume animal meat in any manner, but cultivate plants to eat.

5. Then is the level of Sages who live in forests etc. They do not cultivate plants for food, but rather consume whatever has naturally fallen from trees etc.

6. The final is the way some of the Jain monks do- totally abstain from food, lest you kill someone. This again in the other extreme in my view.


There are no hard and fast rules- where you draw the line is something dependent on the nature of the person.

>>>I mean will it not lead to bad karma?

That’s a big subject in itself. The results of Karma do not dependent on the physical acts, but the attitude of the person in doing so (refer to this post for more on that subject).

One accumulates bad karma NOT by bad action, but by bad thought. In most day to day cases, bad thought precedes a bad action, hence people naturally identify bad action with bad karma. However the subtle difference needs to be maintained.

Let me give an example- take all the poltugiri steps that Pandavas take in Mahabharata under the guidance of Krishna to kill Kauravas. They are surely bad actions in the physical sense. However, the Pandavas did not accrue any bad karma coz they were not motivated by bad thoughts- i.e., the motive for their actions was not selfish, but unselfish upholding of Dharma.

In the same manner, if food is consumed with a sense of enjoyment (as they say, some people live for food, instead of food for living) then it accrues bad karma, for the motive there is enjoyment. But if it is consumed with a sense of duty, as a means to sustain this body, the perfect instrument given to us for Moksha, then it accrues no bad karma at all.

8 Comments:

Blogger Sandeep said...

Hey buddy, so many posts all of a sudden! Anyway, here you can find excerpts from Greek historian Megasthenes' book Indika that point to the existence of the kind of sages you mentioned in point #5 - to quote :

There is among the Brachhmans in India a sect of philosophers who adopt an independent life, and abstain from animal food and all victuals cooked by fire, being content to subsist upon fruits, which they do not so much as gather from the trees, but pick up when they have dropped to the ground, and their drink is the water of the river Tagabena. Throughout life they go about naked, saying that the body has been given by the Deity as a covering for the soul. They hold that God is light, but not such light as we see with the eye, nor such as the sun or fire, but God is with them the Word,--by which term they do not mean articulate speech, but the discourse of reason, whereby the hidden mysteries of knowledge are discerned by the wise. This light, however, which they call the Word, and think to be God, is, they say, known only by the Brachhmans themselves, because they alone have discarded vanity, which is the outermost covering of the soul. The members of this sect regard death with contemptuous indifference, and, as we have seen already, they always pronounce the name of the Deity with a tone of peculiar reverence, and adore him with hymns.

Of course I have included more than what is necessary for that point - since the material quoted might be of interest to you.

BTW are you sure pANDavas did all that unattached? Even Yudhisthira gets punished for the "Ashvatthama...kunjarah" which meant that his mind did have some vikShEpa-kAluShya.

2:27 PM  
Blogger Surya S said...

Hey buddy, so many posts all of a sudden!

Actually my blog is more like my storage can. I don't write something for my blog. Instead whatever I write, I dump it here. Hence this dumping happens in quantum jumps.


BTW are you sure pANDavas did all that unattached? Even Yudhisthira gets punished for the "Ashvatthama...kunjarah" which meant that his mind did have some vikShEpa-kAluShya.

hmmm point r there. so let me rephrase what I said- Krishna told them to do it unattached. They did try their best to practice that theory and succeeded mostly, except for few failures.

2:16 AM  
Blogger Avatar said...

Excellent Surya.
You are the Dude.
Every post I enjoyed reading.
Bravo..You are a new hope to the otherwise
degrading philosophical quest in India.

4:45 PM  
Blogger Surya S said...

Dear Avatar,
Thanks for the kind words. Hope my posts indeed become worthy of your words.

8:37 PM  
Blogger Boka said...

This is very complex topic - I admire that you have handled it skillfully.

Even if anyone argues that justifying killing of beings for food is ultimately selfish as it only helps in a person's pursuit of Mokhsha, then such an arguer has not even understood the concept of Moksha. As one great saint said, "Attaining Moksha means being one with all beings and being part of their sufferings".

-Boka

3:51 AM  
Blogger gaurav pareek said...

My question is whenever i say to the people to stop eating non veg food...then they reply....stop yourself by killing n eating plants..
then i always gets confused....are vegetarians doing the same thing like non vegetarians.....are we equally guilty ???

3:27 PM  
Blogger Dr. Rajesh Subramanian said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1:25 AM  
Blogger Dr. Rajesh Subramanian said...

Killing plants is equally harmful as that of killing animals. Plants and its seeds though sessile doesnt mean they are dead things, it has life in it, we boil them in pressure cooker and kill it. Think of, if thats not boiled and allowed to reproduce... it reproduces a wonderful another life in plants. A small seed of Banyan has all the potential itself into grown and provide shelter to humans, birds and animals for 100 years. So what are you commenting as Non-Veggie.

So, be practical in commenting. If you kill plants you do same sin. Admit that we derive energy from different sources...some from killing plants, some by animals and some through birds...

1:28 AM  

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