Such foods are highly nutritious and provide man with all the vitamins and minerals. Only such food is healthy with the ability to give man good health, fitness and long life. Such arguments are only the tip of the iceberg. Many other arguments will be given later as the matter of meat eating needs to be addressed in full. For such reasons meat eating in all avenues of Hinduism is strictly prohibited.
Manu in his Smruti writes:
Anumanta Virasita Vihanta Kayavikrayi |
Sanskarta Choparta cha Svadkascheyti Gatakaha ||
'One who offers meat, who cuts it, who kills, who sells, who purchases, who cooks/prepares, who brings and who cuts meat, all such people are slayers.' Hence it is not a requirement to abstain from eating meat only, but also to refrain from all of the above acts. Manu goes on further to say that meat eaters will never enjoy the peace and tranquillity of heaven - instead they will suffer terribly in the cycle of births and deaths.
The great Bhishma has said to Yudhishtira in Dana Dharma of Mahabharat, 'He who performs monthly, the great Ashwamedha Yagna and who abstains from intoxicants and meat; both of these derive equal fruits for their actions,' hence the greatness of such a Vrata of non-consumption of meat and alcohol. Bhishma adds, 'Great Saints (Rishis) such as Marichi (son of Brahma) and Saptarshis (seven great saints mentioned in Shastras) praise whole heartedly those who refrain from meat and alcohol.'
Shatanand Muni proclaims that abstinence of meat should be three-fold - (1) Not to even think of eating meat - no such wish should even enter the mind; (2) Not to speak of eating meat; and (3) Not to physically eat meat. Such three-fold abstinence of meat will always keep a person pure and in control of himself. Only such people are promoted to the Heavens.
Once our great Rishis asked Vasu Raja, 'Is meat eating acceptable or not?' The Kings reply was, 'Yes it is'. Saying this he fell from his throne to the ground. The persistent answer of the King to the Rishis question then caused the King to be forced to the nether regions.
Smrutis say, 'He who partakes in intoxicants, who eats meat and who intentionally kills (commits Himsa) is considered an Asura (demon).' In Anushasan Parva of Mahabharat the discussion between Brahma and Indra reveals, 'Those who abstain from eating meat reach the greatest of God's Heavens - Goloka,' therefore such a great Vrata is worthy of praise and attention.
Shatanand adds that those who conform to Dharma, who are devoted to their parents, are truthful, praise Brahmins and is good natured, are perpetually reserved a place in Golok Dhaam. Thus Lord Swaminarayan here affirms the Great Dharma of Ahimsa mentioned by the great Shastras, Rishis and scholars alike of the past in this brilliant epistle of precepts.
Vegetarianism and non-cruelty are the foundations of Ahimsa Dharma. It is pleasing to say that this preaching is becoming increasingly popular 'ways of life' for many in the West. It is heart warming to find that people are changing their ways, as they become to realise that Himsa is blatantly inhuman. As a result they take note of what they eat and what they are purchasing - making sure they are both animal-free and cruelty-free.
Great intellects of the past - Phythagoras, Socrates, Da Vinci, Newton and Einstein could not condone the eating of animals. They could not accept that they should fill their bellies by slaughtering innocent animals. We must follow these great intellects of all fields - philosophy, science and the arts in their realisation of the truth.
There are many reasons why man should not eat meat. One argument is for Health reasons. Medical researches have reported that a vegetarian diet is much healthier than a meat based diet. They have linked a meat diet to such killers as Heart disease and Cancer. The Journal of American Medical Association reported, 'Ninety to ninety seven percent (90% - 97%) of heart disease can be prevented by a vegetarian diet.' There is also a link to high cholesterol, high blood pressure and even strokes. The report notes on the causation of Cancer providing a strong correlation between Cancer and meat-eating.
Another argument is that the human body is not designed to consume meat. The intestinal tracks are different for different animals. They are shorter in relation to body size for carnivores and longer for herbivores. A human has a comparatively longer intestinal track comparable to that of herbivores and so it can be logically inferred that humans should be herbivores.
Vegetarian food is the best source of nutrition providing all essential vitamins and minerals. Dr Irving Fisher of Yale University concluded that vegetarian's perform twice as well as meat eaters after his studies for fitness.
There is also a very convincing economical argument. It is far more expensive to produce meat. Extensive data shows that the cost of producing one pound in weight (1lb) of meat is equivalent to producing sixteen pounds in weight (16 lbs.) of grain. Thus the meat industry is wasteful of natural resources. The amount of food, grains etc used to 'fatten' animals for meat production is huge compared to the actual amount of meat derived. This wastage could be employed better elsewhere.
There is also a huge wastage of water. To grow one pound of wheat, sixty pounds of water is required but the production of one pound of meat requires anywhere between two and half thousand to six thousand pounds of water (2,500 lbs. - 6000 lbs.)
Another argument is the Ethical reason why animals should not be killed. This is by far the most important argument or reason why people become vegetarians. It is based on the fact that animals have feelings just as we do, and to deprive them of their God given right to live is utterly wrong on our side. Have we humans become so superior that we out rank even God? This is an argument of compassion that cannot condone the suffering of any form of life.
Meat is produced by slaughtering animals in an unscrupulous way such as hammer blows, electric shocks and concussion guns. Such sick and demented ill treatment of animals is wholly unacceptable. Such thoughts of ill treatment and their inevitable death are disgusting to us and that is why we choose to be vegetarians.
Pultarch wrote, 'For the sake of a little meat we deprive them (animals) of Sun, the light and duration of life that they are entitled to by birth and being.'
Let it be understood that all major religions speak of compassion and non-injury. It is not just Hinduism that has this belief of Ahimsa, but it is only Hinduism that truly enforces all aspects of Ahimsa Dharma. The saying, 'Thou Shalt not Kill' is familiar to all and similar saying in different languages are echoed in every religion across the world, so why aren't people staying true to such a commandment? Sadly it is through ignorance and misinterpretation.
We must never forget that this human body is a temple for the Lord himself has said that He resides in all bodies through the soul. We must not insult this temple by making it a burial ground for dead animals. Through this body we are to perform penance, offer service to saints and to praise the Lord. We must never perceive it to be an instrument of personal satisfaction.
One may feel that I have gone into too much depth here and that such emphasis is irrelevant as most Satsangis are vegetarian anyway. However there is still a very big problem. We are not striving to become Pure Vegetarians. Most people outside Satsang who become vegetarians automatically become pure-vegetarians for they make a conscious decision in their life through realisation of the truth. But as Satsangis we are born vegetarians and so are not always able to bridge this gap to pure vegetarianism.
It is my opinion that today's youth are not fully in touch with the essence of Ahimsa Dharma. Sure they understand the overlying facts, but they are unfortunately not aware of the deep meaning and significance of Ahimsa Dharma. They have lived as vegetarians their whole life but have not bothered to find out why there is this emphasis on not eating meat.
I feel that not questioning the Dharma and improper or incomplete knowledge is where the problem lies. They thus live ignorantly not bothering to read ingredients of food's that come into a house and also not bothering to find out whether these products have been tested on animals, for the industry of testing on animals is also a sickening one where animals are subject to all sorts of painful tests so that humans can 'smell nicer' or 'look nicer'.
They then begin to lapse in the strictness in their vegetarianism that they should always uphold. They don't bother about the purity of foods and thus eat what they want and where they like, thinking that it is vegetarian, but not realising that it isn't pure vegetarian. They are uneducated of exactly what purity entails and they feel that so long as they do not eat meat in it's blatant form, they are doing their bit as vegetarians.
I have added a great deal to the commentary by Shatanand Muni for this Shloka in the hope that youngsters have a better understanding of what our great Dharma of Ahimsa is, in the hope that they make a conscious decision today to change their eating habits.
Now the second important commandment: Na Payam Cha Suramadhampi - to refrain from the use of liquor. Manu first and foremost defines what liquor is:
Sura Vai Malmananam Papma Cha Malmuvyate |
Tasmad Brahman Rajanyau Vaisyacha Na Suram Pibet ||
'Liquor is the dirt or filth extracted from fruit and vegetables. Such filth is considered as a means of sin and therefore members of all four castes should refrain from consuming alcohol.'
Shatanand Muni explains what the three types of Sura or alcohol are: Gauri Madvi Tatha Paishti Vigneya Trividha Sura - Firstly, it can be made from raw sugar (Gor), secondly, from a kind of fruit called Mahudi and thirdly from flour.
The eleven types of Madh or intoxicants are: Panasam Drakshamadhukam Karjuram Talmaikshavam | Madhutham Sairmarishtam Mairayam Nalikerjam || -
(1) a type of fruit called Farnas,
(5) fruits off a palm tree,
(6) sugar cane,
(10) raw sugar
(11) a fruit called Mairaya.
Shatanand says 'Surapaanam Mahapaatakameva' - consumption of alcohol or liquor is a great sin, for Rishi Manu has explained 'the acts of killing a Brahmin, drinking alcohol, stealing and association with a Guru's wife are great sins (Mahapaps).' He further adds 'Even those who associate with these types of people are great sinners.'
Prayaschit for drinking alcohol is extensive, explains Prachetus Muni: 'Those who drink liquor or who associate with a Guru's wife should for twelve years practice the Prayaschit Vrata for committing the murder of a Brahmin.' Even to consume a small amount of alcohol is considered sinful.
Prayaschit for consumption of intoxicants is now given. Brihaspati writes, 'The twice born who unintentionally partake in intoxicants should perform Atikruchra Vrata (special Vrata involving fasting), perform a ceremony of purifying Kings (Raja Sanskar) and they should feed Brahmins.'
Our Shastras have not differentiated between Sura (alcohol) and Madh (intoxicants) and so Mitakshara has said: Brahmanasya Suramadhey Kshatriyavaishyoha Sura Sarvakaalam Sarvathaiva Nishidhvani - 'Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas are prohibited from partaking in alcohol and intoxicants always and in all forms.'
It was commonly thought that Kshatriyas or Kings can partake in such vices, but this is completely untrue. In the Vidurniti it is written, 'Kings should stay refrain from contact with other women, gambling, hunting, intoxicants (alcohol), speaking harshly, punishing harshly and spending unwisely.' He explains further, 'Kings should always refrain from these seven vices for such vices destroy even the Gods.'
Manu Raja has explained eighteen bad habits or addictions of Man, of which addiction to intoxicants he has noted as amongst the worst. Ten of these are evolved from Kama (lust):
(3) sleeping during the day,
(4) slandering of others,
(5) relations with other women,
(7-9) three types of desire for musical instruments and
(10) donating in vain.
Eight of these are evolved from Krodha (anger):
(12) rash thoughtless actions,
(16) spending wastefully,
(17) speaking harshly and
(18) judging harshly.
Mitakshara explains the various Prayaschit for these eighteen addictions. The Vratas last three months and are often intense, thus we should all refrain from such addictions without question.
Even to touch such vices is sinful and destructive to a person says Manu: Madhasya Sparshayapi Doshamaha - 'Those who touch (or come into contact) with intoxicants (or alcohol) should perform a 3 day fast, one day fast or have a bath as a way of Prayaschit if touched above the navel, between navel and knees or below the knees respectfully, in order to cleanse themselves of such impurity.' Harit Muni goes further, forbidding us from drinking water from a vessel or container that has been previously used for storage of alcohol.
Shatanand then forbids all ages from drinking alcohol and the like, and then he explains the effect of sin on different people and thus what Prayaschit is to be performed by various persons. Angira Muni says, 'Those who are eighty and over, sixteen and under, women and those who are ill should perform half the Prayaschit mentioned in Shastras (thus they receive half the sin). The Prayaschit of those who are between the age of five and eleven should be performed by their parents and other family members. Those below the age of five do not receive any sin for their actions and therefore need not perform Prayaschit on their behalf.' (Although some sort of disciplinary action should be practised).
The use of alcohol and intoxicants has been strictly and especially prohibited in this age of Kali for the nature of such vices are damaging to a person. For such reason it's use and even it's touch are forbidden. Mitakshara explains, 'Meat and alcohol are the food and drink of Asuras and Rakshas' (demons) and so should never be consumed by humans.'
Mahabharat's Mokshadharma (ninety second verse) reads, 'This supposed tendancy of eating flesh is disgusting and unpraiseworthy. Alcohol, fish, intoxicants, meat and wine have all been famed and accepted to be consumable by those who are deceitful shrewd and wrong. Under no circumstance have the Vedas endorsed this act.'
It is written that those who drink liquor are consigned to Hell where they are forced to drink burning hot liquor. They are then reborn upon the earth as an animal. Bhaarat's Anushasan Parva explains, 'Those who go on pilgrimage to Holy places with liquor or meat in their body never derive any fruits for their pilgrimage.' Thus all should accept that those who perform Vratas, Tapa, Pooja, Seva etc. but have meat or alcohol in their body (in any shape or form) do not receive the desired fruits of their action.
Finally, offerings of alcohol and meat should never be made to God or received by Satsangis. The reason for this is that the Gods are Sattva (pure), man is Rajas (worldly) and the Asuras are Tamas (impure): Devaha Satvika Rajasa Manusyastamasa Asura - and so offering meat and alcohol which are Tamsik, food and drink of Asuras can never be offered to the Gods, who are always Satvik - pure.
The great Vaishnavacharya Vallabhacharya has said: Yagno Vai Vishnuriti - explaining that Satvik foods such as fruit, vegetables etc, offered to Lord Vasudev and then consumed as Prasad is pure enough to destroy the sins of man.
Anushasan Parva adds, 'A Yagna (fire sacrifice) is accepted as Lord Vishnu incarnate, by Brahmins. Only by offering milk, rice preparation and flowers, does one please God.' Swami Shatanand concludes his Bhasya by saying: Tasmadevniveditmapi Suramadham Na Peyamiti Shri Swamicharanam Sidhantaha - 'Thus not accepting alcohol or intoxicants even if they're offerings to Gods, is a firm teaching of Lord Swaminarayan.'
It is displeasing to have to announce that man in this age of Kali has fallen servant to alcohol and other intoxicants. Most youngsters today are taking to drink as a way of making themselves more socially acceptable. Many youngsters drink without their parents realising.
In the West there is a very strong pressure to act a certain way. There are pleasures of being in the right crowd. Pressures to go certain places and in order to enjoy these pleasures many are beginning to drink - these social circles outline a way to behave, a way to look, a way of being and ultimately it is a way out from parental pressures.
Alcohol is a drug. It is addictive and we must find a way of pulling our children from the clutches of these addictions and find another focus for them. This is a widespread problem that has hit society in general. We have already looked at the religious problems of Alcohol. I would like to give a number of arguments that are more 'meaningful' to man today.
Alcohol is Unhealthy - health risk from alcohol consumption include damage to the liver and brain, stomach disorders, high blood pressures, strokes, cancer of the mouth and throat, breast cancer, pancreatitus and ulcers. Indeed the long-term problems are widespread with various health risks involved.
Alcohol and the Brain - there is a slowing down of certain brain functions. Since the Brain is very important it isn't wise to subject the brain to such lapses. Changes in concentration and co-ordination are apparent which raise the chances of an accident especially when driving. It also affects speech, memory and judgement. As a result you may take risks or act in a way you might not have otherwise done.
Alcohol and your moods - alcohol sometimes makes you relaxed and happy but sometimes makes you feel miserable, argumentative, tired or low since alcohol is a depressant. Thus mental health problems include anxiety, tension, depression and paranoia.
Alcohol and your weight - alcohol can be high in calories leading to weight problems. Alcohol dependency leads to malnutrition as alcohol is substituted for food.
Alcohol and the family - this is by far the strongest argument. The effects of drinking alcohol have repercussions on others around you - especially your family. Financial problems are involved, arguments and relationships between people suffer as a result. It can make a person violent and uneasy, which family members have to endure. Thus this irrational behaviour affects all the people around you.
It can leave a person staggering with double-vision, unbalanced and sometimes unconsciousness. The fact is that alcohol has great adverse effects on the system as a whole. It is an object that leaves the mind in tangles for such reason it doesn't suit a person. A drunken person or a person who drinks has no place in society. He is undependable and untrustworthy. His conduct is poor.
Only a person who is alert at all times is worthy of praise. He can only promise such behaviour if he never drinks. All must realise that our ultimate aim is to reach the Heavens, where we will be able to find the true pleasure of serving the Lord. We will not be deriving pleasure through consumption of alcohol there and so we must focus our mind in finding pleasure in devotion upon this Earth, if we are ever going to secure a place in the Heavens. We must learn to leave these addictions of drugs and alcohol and become addicted to Bhakti - devotion.
It is very important that we reject those social circles which are based on drinking, going to pubs, night clubs, who eat and do what they please, disregarding true Vedic teachings. Even a drop of alcohol in the system affects the body adversely according to the teachings of our saints and Shastras and therefore to say that sensible drinking is acceptable, is utterly wrong.
In peoples quest to become socially 'with-it' they lose sight of who they are, their heritage and their true purpose of life. We must counter act this propensity for people, to fall in this vortex of drink and other vices. Parents must wake up to themselves and be able to spot whether their child is on the right path or not. If not, they must have the necessary ability to pull back their children from ultimately the clutches of Hell.
It is even more saddening to have to say that girls are also taking to drink. Women are the very representation of Moksha or salvation. They are praised for their motherhood and they are depended upon for the very upbringing of society. For nine months they bear a child within such time they are asked to live such pure lives so that the child in the womb isn't subject to impurities, which can ultimately affect the foetus.
Mothers who drink alcohol, whose womb is impure with alcohol, can never house such luminous, pure, great children. As a result, from such a mother are born disrespectful, wicked children. For this reason women must never fall servant to such bad vices for once in the blood it will surround the whole body and subject a child to such defective blood and hardship.
Drinking alcohol serves no advantage. It brings misery to those around you. It causes a person to lose control of their mind, body and speech resulting in foolish behaviour. It can be dangerous to you and to those around you. There is a 'feel-good' factor associated with drinking but it is false and temporary. Only devotion to God can bring happiness that is permanent. In the long run it does more harm than good.
For these reasons all must make a conscious decision to never drink, or to stop today if you do drink.