Monday, March 8, 2010

Vegetarianism

Though meat, except for beef, is not prohibited in Hinduism and many Hindus are non-vegetarian, most Hindus respect vegetarianism in one form or the other. Let us summarize the main reasons behind Hindu allegiance to a vegetarian diet.

1. Compassion. Hindus feel that inflicting pain on an animal just to fulfill their appetite is not worth it. In a culture where ahimsa is prescribed at the mental plane, even thinking about bloodshed and reading recipes of non-vegetarian eatables oppose the practice of non-violence.

2. Reincarnation and Karma. Compassion towards animals may not be well developed in all humans. Still, supporters of the karmic law understand that any pain given to another life form, especially mammals, gets recorded as bad karma. The Mahabharata is very blunt in applying the karmic law to a non-vegetarian diet: “Whoever wishes to grow one’s own flesh by eating someone else’s flesh” faces suffering and may “repeatedly wander in the cycle of rebirths.”

The principle of reincarnation tells us that before appearing as a human being, we may have experienced life as a lower life form. Now that we have a chance and a choice to modify our instincts, it may not be a wise decision to revive our past habits of being a carnivore.

 3. God’s choice. In the Bhagavad Gita, Bhagavan Krishna gives detailed instructions on the importance of sattvic food for a yogi. The same is offered to him in temples. Any other diet is not acceptable to God, especially in Vaishnavism, where he simply likes grains, fruits, dairy products, and sweets.

4. Psychology. Ayurveda teaches that whatever we eat influences our mind. For a calm and peaceful mindset, all rajas and tamas foods are to be avoided. Spices can be used as medicines after they have been matched to one’s doshas. Besides, when we eat something that can not be offered to God, we may already be placing sense gratification above our spiritual connection and gratitude.

Please use the comments section to share your own reasons for being a vegetarian.

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