“When animals are killed in a slaughterhouse, six people connected with the killing are responsible for the murder. The person who gives permission for the killing, the person who kills, the person who helps, the person who purchases the meat, the person who cooks the flesh and the person who eats it, all become entangled in the killing. Narada Muni wanted to draw the King’s attention to this fact. Thus animal-killing is not encouraged even in a sacrifice.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 4.25.8 Purport)
Friend1: I hope this bothers me as much as it does you.
Friend2: What is that?
Friend1: When you are presenting Krishna consciousness philosophy to a person, who is hearing it for the first time, and the initial response you get is a series of questions relating to what you cannot do.
Friend2: You mean along the lines of, “Does your religion allow that; does your religion allow this?”
Friend1: Exactly. It bothers me because there is so much more to the presentation. I wouldn’t even consider sanatana-dharma to be a religion.
Friend2: It is the eternal way of living, matching the living force, chetana, who has specific characteristics, dharma, that defines its existence, jivana.
Friend1: The one that gets me most upset is about meat-eating.
Friend2: Where they ask why you can’t eat meat?
Friend1: Or, “Why are you guys vegetarian?” Let me tell you something. I never once think about my diet during the day. Like I don’t think to myself, “I am a vegetarian. I am special. I don’t eat meat.”
Friend2: Right, because it’s simply a way of life. You would think others are the oddballs, the weird ones, since they sanction the killing of innocent animals.
Friend1: And they have every excuse in the book. They say that vegetables are life, too. Killing them is the same as killing animals.
Friend2: Or that animals in the jungle kill other animals. A fish eats other fish. What is wrong if the human being does the same? Benjamin Franklin poked fun at himself for using this justification when abandoning a vegetarian diet at a young age.
Friend1: I know that the proper explanation is the verse from the Bhagavad-gita, where Shri Krishna explains what kind of food He accepts.
पत्रं पुष्पं फलं तोयं
यो मे भक्त्या प्रयच्छति
तद् अहं भक्त्य्-उपहृतम्
patraṁ puṣpaṁ phalaṁ toyaṁ
yo me bhaktyā prayacchati
tad ahaṁ bhakty-upahṛtam
“If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit, or water, I will accept it.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.26)
Friend2: Yes, but others may take that as dogmatic insistence. Their objection means nothing to us, but you could still convince them on other grounds.
Friend1: Through what, though? Karma? If they kill, then they will have to suffer the same fate going forward?
Friend2: For sure. That is only fair. Vegetables, grains, water, milk and the like are fit for human consumption. There is rational thought for a reason. We can question every aspect of living, from what kinds of food we eat to the number of hours we sleep. The sober person understands that there is something not right about killing something that eats, sleeps, mates and defends in similar ways to the human beings. Children understand this without instruction; it is not until after years of habit that they abandon the concern.
Friend1: Is there more to the karma angle? How do we prove that the rebound effect occurs?
Friend2: His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, relying on shastra, mentions six categories of people implicated when an animal gets killed unnecessarily; like with what goes on in a slaughterhouse.
Friend1: Oh, interesting. Obviously, the person doing the killing would be at the front of the line.
Friend2: Well, first there could be the person who gives permission. This is like the sanctioning body; the government.
Friend1: Most people would overlook that, I think.
Friend2: The second is the person killing, as you said. The third is the person who helps.
Friend1: Like holding down the animal and such?
Friend2: Rounding them up. Keeping them in a cage.
Friend1: What is the fourth? The person who eats the flesh?
Friend2: You are missing the person who buys the meat and then the person who cooks it.
Friend1: Really? Even if I am a vegetarian, by cooking the meat for someone else I get implicated?
Friend1: Wow. I did not see that one coming.
Friend2: I mean the same network of action-reaction, of connected individuals, is there with any type of activity in karma.
Friend1: I guess so. That’s why a lot of these boycotts seem silly to me. If I refuse to purchase items from a particular business that I have a problem with, there are still many other ways that I support them. Indirectly, if I hire a company that does business with them, I am still giving them money in a way.
Friend2: For sure. Karma is difficult to decipher in that way. Know that if you take up bhakti-yoga, you can use the intersectional nature for your advantage.
Friend1: How so?
Friend2: Because everyone who had a hand in your successful engagement in glorifying the Supreme Lord gets some credit. The parents, the spiritual guide, the sadhus, the people who put shastra into written form.
Friend2: We can take the lesson from the gopis. When they would hear the amazing sound from Krishna’s flute, they would immediately recognize the associated parts and glorify them. They would praise the flute itself, the wood used in its construction, the tree from which the wood came, the surrounding flowers and grass, the nearby body of water, and so forth. This is one byproduct of the spiritual vision. You see things properly, how everything in nature is connected. From this vision it is easier to follow the righteous path, without others necessarily highlighting it for you.
With karmic implications filled,
When innocent animals killed.
Like person the sanction giving,
And change agent from dead to living.
Then one cooking the meat,
At end the person to eat.
Safer with bhakti-yoga so,
Intricacies easily to know.