“The humble sage, by virtue of true knowledge, sees with equal vision a learned and gentle brahmana, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater [outcaste].” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 5.18)
ब्राह्मणे गवि हस्तिनि
शुनि चैव श्व-पाके च
brāhmaṇe gavi hastini
śuni caiva śva-pāke ca
“I really can’t help it. I don’t blame myself, though I am certainly implicated in the actions. While I am only a supposed innocent bystander seated at the dinner table, I am the end of a chain of grossly sinful activities.
“Karma is real. Shri Rama confirms this in the Ramayana. The man-eaters from Lanka thought they were in the clear, free from punishment for their heinous crimes of killing and eating peaceful, non-violent priests in the forests.”
अवश्यं लभते जन्तुः फलं पापस्य कर्मणः।
घोरं पर्यागते काले द्रुमाः पुष्पमिवार्तवम्।।
avaśyaṃ labhate jantuḥ phalaṃ pāpasya karmaṇaḥ।
ghoraṃ paryāgate kāle drumāḥ puṣpamivārtavam।।
“Just as a tree starts to blossom during the proper season, so the doer of sinful deeds inevitably reaps the horrible fruit of their actions at the appropriate time.” (Lord Rama speaking to Khara, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 29.8)
“There is no reason to be upset at others on this issue. They are likely following the traditions of the past. They never had their eyes opened. The acharya sure did get through to me. Now I am not only a believer, but I give a humble attempt at explaining to others.”
1. The fish eat other fish
While Benjamin Franklin intended this anecdote to be a humorous criticism at man’s inability to follow self-imposed austerity, others will certainly use it as justification. The famous founding father in America once tried what he referred to as an “all-vegetable diet.”
Long before vegetarianism was in style in that part of the world, he considered living by the principle of respecting all forms of life to the best extent possible. Then one time aboard a ship he noticed fish being eaten. Upon cutting the fish open, there were so many other living beings inside. In other words, the fish certainly wasn’t following the all-vegetable diet.
Thus the rationale for humans to consume the same was obvious, though Franklin poked a joke at himself by saying that human beings, rational as they are, will find a way to rationalize practically any behavior.
2. The mother cries for only a few minutes
This is in response to the criticism that modern day dairy farming practices involve forced separation of the calf from its mother. Nature certainly did not intend that. The milk is produced from emotion. There is love from the mother. The stronger the love, the more comfortable the cow feels, the more milk is produced. In fact, there are situations where a single cow produces more than enough milk for an entire village to consume on a daily basis.
One justification for the practice is to say that the crying is not long. The mother is upset for only a few minutes and then she gets on with her behavior. The calf gets fed formula milk and both living beings, who show many signs of intelligence, are on their way towards being eventually killed for their meat.
3. How are you going to feed the population?
“If you outlawed animal killing, how would the population survive? There would not be enough food. Mass starvation, and for no reason. God gave man dominion over the entire collection of species. We are the superior race. We are meant to enjoy, in God’s image. We kill animals in order to eat. Those animals are put their for our benefit. Mind you, I am exempting cats, dogs and other household pets, but don’t mention that.“
4. There are animal sacrifices mentioned in the Vedas
“Yajna. This is sacrifice, and there are so many recommended in the Vedas, which is the oldest scriptural tradition in the world. The original language is still intact. Sanskrit. Beautiful hymns, set to the perfect meter, making them easy to remember and reproduce for the benefit of others.
“Animal sacrifice was so common in ancient times that we see many references in the Puranas and Mahabharata. Why, all of a sudden, should we stop? Why not follow the ways of our ancestors, to enjoy in a sanctioned manner?”
The acharya, the one who leads by example for the time and circumstance, is easily able to dispel these false justifications. Just because an animal follows a certain behavior doesn’t mean that a human being should. The tiger is following its nature. So is the fish. The human being can apply discrimination. If killing a cow were no big deal, then the same could be said of killing other children.
If using the Vedas as authority, there is strong condemnation of the practice. The cow is the equivalent of a mother. There is automatic respect warranted. Just from a little protection offered, so many problems are solved. Communities have survived and thrived for centuries without consuming animal flesh.
To say that the mother cow only cries for a few minutes after separation is sufficient justification is ludicrous. If we stole an infant from an adult female human being, she would lament for a considerable period of time. But since a lifetime can be rather lengthy, eventually a person will move on to worry over other issues. The duration of lamentation has no bearing on the sinful or pious nature of the deliberate act.
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada reveals the eye-opening truth that control on eating and sex life is presented in scripture for only one purpose: restriction. That is to say the animal sacrifices of days past are for curbing the appetite for animal flesh. Marriage is for restricting sex life, not encouraging it further.
These restrictions are for my benefit. Ultimately, that is the best justification for living compassionately. It will help me to see the spiritual equality in all beings. It will help me to better understand God in truth, who is known as Govinda for His strong connection to the cows.
When in bhakti’s direction,
Understanding strong connection.
Shri Krishna to the cow,
Justified to kill them how?
Plenty of other food to eat,
And taste’s satisfaction to meet.
Acharya this wisdom sharing,
That for all creatures caring.
Categories: the four