Shri Datta Swami

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Posted on: 28 Oct 2015
O Learned and Devoted Servants of God,

Dr Nikhil asked “I am presenting the views of some important persons regarding the non-vegetarian food. They feel that there is no sin in it since several scriptures of various religions mention about the non-vegetarian food taken by very great people. I bring these views to Your notice so that You can throw light on this topic through Your systematic analysis”.

Shri Swami Replied: You are doing great service in the propagation of divine knowledge by projecting the points with careful scientific analysis as background. Today, science is very widely covering basic field of knowledge like logic in the olden days. At present, the concepts of spiritual knowledge enlightened with the scientific analysis as the background is very significant in the propagation of divine knowledge. If the educated public is convinced, general public naturally follow such knowledge. This is the reason why Shankara targeted the topmost scholars regarding the discussions and debates with logical analysis as the background because in those days logic existed in the place of science [of] today. There is no difference between science and logic since both mean systematic and shrewd analysis only. Therefore, at any time, you have to analyze the concept without any blind prejudice and then only accept and subsequently practice it.

The scripture is always respected by all the theists since it is considered to be the voice of God. But, God is unimaginable and hence does not have face and throat to speak something to us directly. The human form of God alone is considered to be the ultimate unimaginable God existing in the human form. God existing in such human form called as human incarnation speaks the divine knowledge through the throat of such human form and hence such speech is certainly the divine message of God. Therefore, we have to respect the scriptures spoken by God through human forms like the Veda through sages, the Brahma Sutras through sage Vyasa, the Gita through Lord Krishna, the Bible through Jesus, the Q’ran through Mohammad, the Gospels through Buddha and Mahaveera etc. Up to this, everything is OK. The problem starts now only from this point. The scripture that is available to us, today, may be pure or may be adulterated by some hands of ignorant or mischievous culprits. This doubt comes because certain concepts do not convince our inner consciousness due to the failure of logic in these concepts. You are forced to accept these concepts because these exist in the scripture. This is the case of a legal document, which is to be sent to the forensic laboratory since verification of the genuine or forged signature is to be done before we accept the doubted document. If we accept the document since it is on the stamped paper, we are drowned, if it is forged. Similarly, a concept in the scripture is like a legal document on the stamped paper. If there is even a trace of doubt about the concept (text of the document), you must send such concept to the faculty of intelligence (forensic laboratory) for systematic verification by sharp analysis. If somebody says “do not send the document to forensic laboratory because you should not doubt it since it is on a stamped paper”, will you accept it? Similarly, if somebody says that you should not analyze and discuss the concept that exists in the scripture, you should simply reject such a stupid fellow. There is no need of any fear about analysis (forensic laboratory) because the concept (document) will come out with flying colours if it is genuine. If you force Me to accept the doubted scriptural concept (stamped document) without verification through analysis (forensic laboratory), certainly, the concept (document) is wrong (forged). If your scriptural concept is really genuine, you will encourage its analysis without any fear and reservation. Blind faith in either ancient scripture or modern book is foolishness. You should have faith only after analyzing the concept deeply through discussions. All the old is not gold and all the latest is not the best. An old or new concept may be completely right or wrong or may be partially wrong. You have to analyze the concept impartially and patiently without any prejudice to old or new time. Charvaka is an old sage speaking in old Sanskrit language, but, he and his concepts are totally wrong. Vyasa is also an old sage speaking in old Sanskrit language and what all He spoke is correct and He is the human incarnation of the God. A modern atheist speaking nonsense in his regional language is also totally wrong. A modern theist speaking in Sanskrit language is totally correct. Shri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa is a recent person speaking in regional Bengali language. What all He spoke is perfectly correct and He is also the human incarnation of God. Therefore, neither the old or modern time nor the language decides the truth of the concept. There is a saying that a blind believer drinks salt water from the well saying that it was dug by his father (Tatasyakupoyamiti...)!

Even Good Person Tempted to Sin in Tempting Atmosphere

Apart from the above side of the coin, the other side is that the scripture may speak about a good person doing good thing or a bad person doing bad thing or a good person doing bad thing or a bad person good thing due to temporary influence. You have to analyze the case according to the context and take the message. The scripture speaks about both good Rama and bad Ravana. Since both are spoken by the scripture, you cannot take both as good. If the scripture says that a good person killed a living being for food, you should not take it granted that killing a living being for food is correct. The point of the scripture may be that even such a good person is tempted to do the sin and therefore, the message is that you may be a good person, but, you have to be very careful about the tempting atmosphere. Without taking the final aim, your selection of a part of the concept is for supporting your selfish sin. Some quote that sage Visvamitra also ate the mutton of a dog in drought. People quote this superficially to support their non-vegetarian food. There are so many points in this incident. The sage neither killed the dog nor purchased the mutton of the dog from a butcher encouraging him to kill dogs for food. A dog died and fell on the way due to absence of food in the drought. The sage ate the mutton of dog to save his life in the drought. Eating the non-vegetarian food is not at all a sin because there is no difference in the components present in vegetarian and non-vegetarian foods. The sin comes only when you kill the living being for food. When you purchase the mutton from the butcher, you are encouraging the butcher for killing the living beings and hence you are a partner of that sin. A sin is always a sin whether it was done in the ancient time or is done in the modern time and whether it is done by an ordinary person or a great person. The three qualities, Sattvam (good quality) and Rajas and Tamas (sinful qualities), existed from the beginning of the creation and hence you cannot say that a person in the beginning of creation is always good and whatever done by him or her must be good. The very first couple of the creation (Adam and Eve) erred. From the first day of creation till today, both good and bad exist simultaneously like day and night. Hence, your effort to get the sanction of sin to be good from the examples of ancient persons is futile.

Any concept should be decided as good or bad just by powerful torchlight—analysis only and neither scripture nor the examples of ancient people can be of any use in such effort. Once the analysis ratifies the merit of the concept, you can quote from the scripture as supporting evidence. There are four authorities: 1)Shruti, spoken by God 2)Smruti, spoken by scholars 3)Yukti, the sharp analysis and 4)Anubhava, the experience. Out of these four, Shruti should be tested by analysis for the probability of adulteration and Smruti should be also tested by analysis for the possible error of human beings. The experience is the last powerful authority, but, it should be also tested by sharp analysis since there may be wrong experience in the case of a defective person like the vision of two moons by a person with defective eyes. Hence, the logical analysis to discriminate the truth and false is the only single authority that gives life to all the other three authorities. Hence, Shankara took this single authority only in the four requisites selected by Him for a person to proceed in the divine path (Sadasat vivekah). He did not touch the other three authorities here.

Some people argue that plants also are living beings and hence the vegetarian food is also sinful. This is a wrong conclusion resulting due to imperfect and non-scientific analysis. A living being is characterised by the awareness, which is the neuron form of the energy existing in the presence of nervous system as mind, intelligence, memory and self-identity. These four are called as the internal nervous instruments (Antahkaranams). The neurons create the field of awareness through various thoughts by modulations and de-modulations involving changes in phase, amplitude, frequency etc. It is transformation of one form of energy in to another form of energy. But, after transformation, the specific form of energy has its own individual significance and cannot be treated as the other form of energy. The food is converted in to blood. A patient in need of blood cannot be treated by supplying food to him. The activity of neurons exists even in an unicellular organism like amoeba through the response of its pseudopodium. Even in multi-cellular plants such system of neurons does not exist. This difference brings the appearance of two different departments called as Botany for plants and Zoology for birds, animals, human beings etc. Of course, Shri Bose, tried to show the awareness in plants, but his experimental conclusions were not universally accepted. We can respect him stating that the awareness is just budding in plants, which is in very undetectable primitive state. This is the reason why the plant does not experience pain at all while cutting it. The absence of experience of pain by the faculty of mind, which is almost undeveloped in plants, is the main reason. However, respecting even the possible trace of awareness in plants, cutting a green tree is also said to be a sin. The grain-plants get ripened in the end of the year, loose chlorophyll becoming unable to do photosynthesis, are said to be dead. We can be convinced to believe that in plants only respiration (Pranamayakosha) exists and the awareness (Manomaya and Vijnanamaya koshas) does not exist. The respiration is just an inert process of taking oxygen and leaving carbon dioxide and does not involve the awareness of nervous system. The respiration is also important because the oxidation of food liberating inert energy is essential for awareness, which becomes the nervous energy (specific work form) liberated by the transformation of inert energy entering the specific nervous system. But, mere liberation of inert energy is not awareness. A Robot does not have respiration and digestion to generate inert energy since the inert energy is directly supplied to it as electricity. The nervous system as the computer chip-programme works due to the inert electricity in the robot. This is an example of awareness without respiration and digestion. In natural systems of Zoology, both systems liberating inert energy (respiration and digestion) and conversion of inert energy in to nervous energy (nervous system) co-exist. Plant is an example of mere respiration and digestion without awareness of nervous system. Therefore, the plant is said to be a living being based on respiration that is associated with digestion only and this is in loose sense. In strict sense, the presence of awareness alone makes a perfect living being. In natural systems like Zoological examples, the system of awareness is simultaneously associated with system of respiration and digestion for the generation of inert energy and hence a living being really characterized by awareness is misunderstood as its associated respiratory system also. If you grasp this sharp difference, you can easily understand that a plant is not strictly a living being due to the absence of main nervous system, which is called as living being in loose sense only due to the existence of only respiratory system that is always associated with nervous system in natural examples. But, this association is not mandatory since in a Robot the nervous system functions without the respiratory system. In the case of souls associated with energetic bodies in the upper world also, there is no generation of the energy through respiration and digestion. Their food is directly the energy from the cosmos. Such energetic forms (the departed souls) contain only very subtle nervous system having awareness to enjoy the fruits of deeds in the upper worlds. Due to absence of respiration, can you call them as non-living?

The pain is experienced by animal or bird when you cut its throat, which weeps by crying. Even a human being cut cries like this only. You must keep yourself in that place and experience the pain. In the Mahabharata, Vidura says that the real justice is to imagine the pain by keeping yourself in the place of your victim. Experience is said to be most important authority. You say that even hurting a co-human being by words is a sin. Imagine the degree of sin in cutting the throat of a living being, that too, for your food. There is no difference between an ordinary human being and animal/bird. In both cases, both mind and intelligence exist. In a scholarly human being, the intelligence is more developed. The mind is developed to the same extent in bird/animal or ordinary human being/scholarly human being. It is the mind that undergoes the pain. Hence, from the point of the suffering in mind, there is no even trace of difference in all the examples of Zoology. The only difference between bird/animal and human being is that the pain is expressed through sound (cry) from throat generally in all the cases, but sometimes the human being expresses the pain in language before the actual cut of the throat. This is immaterial because the experience of pain in suffering is one and the same in all the cases. God has created plenty of food through the kingdom of plants. Medical education also says that non-vegetarian food is not good for health since you are taking secondary proteins through it. God as Buddha and Mahaveera propagated this non-violence, which is the highest justice (Ahimsa paramo...).

Sinner Supports Wrong Concept Based on Scripture Alone

If you try to establish the validity of the concept saying that it is valid because its source is the scripture, it is totally wrong. Can Ravana be a good person because his father is a good sage? A concept may not be from the scripture, but, is valid if its merit is proved in the logical analysis. Prahlada is good because of his own merit and cannot be treated as bad since his father is a demon. Hence, the concept is good or bad by its own merit or defect that can be enlightened only through sharp analysis. A concept proved good in the analysis can be quoted from the scripture (its source) also as supporting evidence. The greatest sage Dattatreya is the son of the great sage Atri. Here, apart from the merit of the sage Dattatreya, the additional merit is that He is the son of sage Atri. You can condemn a wrong concept by virtue of its defect proved through analysis and in addition for support, you can also say that such concept is never told by the scripture. Duryodhana is bad and in addition you can say that his father (Dhrutarashtra) is also not good. Therefore, everywhere, the concept is decided good or bad based on its own inherent merit or defect and to support this point, the source of the concept can be also quoted at the end. If a hero says to heroine that she should love him because he is the son of the king, it is absurd. She should love him based on his inherent merits and the point that he is son of the king should be always hidden by a real hero. Later on, the heroine may come to know that he is the son of the king and may become more happy. If the hero is bad with all defects, he should not say that he is the son of the king (which is the only merit of him) trying to win her love through that single point. No good heroine will love him. If the heroine loved him based on that single point, she is a prostitute only, whose love is simply based on wealth only. Similarly, a sinner will always support a wrong concept, which is very much convenient for him, based on the single point that it is quoted in the scripture. A non-vegetarian tries to quote the scripture and also tries to show that even great people practiced it. He will say that Shirdi Sai Baba was a non-vegetarian. Of course, Rama and Jesus were non-vegetarians and both are incarnations of God. The weak human being should not imitate them since misunderstanding them is possible due to lack of analysis (Seedatyavarako janah, Avaradaurbalyaat—Gautama Dharma Shastra). If you analyze this, God tries to mix with sinners following their ignorance, for some time, to become friendly with them and slowly convert them.

A real scholar always explains the merits of the concept and wins your heart quoting the scripture at the fag end only to get additional support. An ignorant person appearing like scholar will not explain the merits of concept and quotes the scripture in the beginning itself trying to force you to accept it. After dictating the Gita, the Lord said that Arjuna should analyze it with sharp analysis and then only accept it finally (Vimrushyaitadasheshena...), which means that he should not accept the Gita because it is told by Lord Krishna. Shankara spread the divine knowledge through sharp analysis projected in debates and discussions only. Swami Vivekananda boldly told that a concept referred by a scholar against his speech is wrong. It means that Swamiji will accept the concept based on its inherent merit only and not because it is told by Shankara. This is the inner meaning. Even Shankara said that Sankhya cannot be accepted because it is told by the human incarnation, Kapila. He criticized it and enlightened its defects. You should not doubt that the defect should not come because the speaker is God Kapila. The reason is that there is probability of two possibilities in this context: 1) The statement proved wrong through analysis might have been inserted by some ignorant fellow in the writing of Kapila in due course of time or 2) The statement of Kapila may be genuine, but, you might have misunderstood it due to wrong interpretation supplied by your wrong brain or supplied by some wrong scholars, which can be clarified through sharp analysis only.


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