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Saturday, January 28, 2006

Hindus, Vaiṣṇavas and the eating of meat.

While reading a thread on gaudiyarepercussions.com about meat-eating in the Vedic civilization I am wondering if the participants have ever been to India or they have any experience of Vedic life outside of Iskcon at all. No Vaiṣṇava ācārya has ever claimed that the Vedic civilization on the whole is one of pure vegetarianism, nor are Vedic- and Vaiṣṇava culture totally identical or even compatible. One who has lived in India will surely know that most Hindus are not vegetarians, though they will abstain from beef. Scriptures like Harivaṁśa and books about Rāmacandra (haven't seen that myself though, so I can't confirm or deny it) and Brahma Vaivarta Purāṇa (that I did read) may have described Rāma or the Brajabāsīs eating meat. One must understand here that, at least the Brahma Vaivarta Purāṇa (which I can judge) is a Purāṇa in the mode of passion (rajo-guna) and that colors its subjective depiction of Kṛṣṇa līlā as well.

However, the books quoted in that thread are not quoted in the Gosvāmīs' books. nānā śāstra vicāranaika nipuṇau saddharma saṁsthāpakau (Śrīnivāsācārya's Ṣaḍ gosvāmyaṣṭakam - 2) "The Gosvāmīs were expert in scrutinizing various (not all) scriptures to establish the sad-dharma, the true religion." The outcome of their studies is that meat, fish and eggs are not served during Vaiṣṇava feasts, not in Iskcon, but also not in the Gaudiya Maṭha, with the bābājīs, Gosvāmīs or anywhere. It is also mentioned in Bhagavad Gītā (9.26) and the Bhagavat (1.17.38. śūnaḥ prāṇī-vadhah...adharma - 'killing other living beings is adharma', Viśvanātha ṭīkā) that a Vaiṣṇava is to be a vegetarian. Nobody has ever claimed that Vedic civilization itself is or has ever been vegetarian.

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