In the previous episode we had a continued discussion on why is food an important phenomenon in the overall development of a human being. We’re having close to 3-4 episodes on this same subject since this is extremely important for all of us. In that way yesterday, the message for all of us was that we should strive to avoid or atleast slowly start reducing our intake of non-vegetarian food items. This is good for our physical health, mental health and also this practice would pave the way for our spiritual growth.
However, one might immediately be tempted to ask a follow-up question to the above discussion – How does this practice of avoiding non-vegetarian food aid our spiritual growth? There are multiple dimensions of looking into this question. Let us explore them today.
Before going into this discussion we should first clarify which of the food items would classify themselves into the “non-vegetarian” category. Let us discuss this in detail now. Basically those food items that are derived out of killing a living being, is considered to be non-vegetarian. This includes various kinds of fish, meat, beef, chicken and eggs. I include eggs in this category because, we are destroying a chick even before it is hatched and born. Nowadays, many people talk about a new category called “Eggitarian”, apart from vegetarian and non-vegetarian. Strictly speaking, “Eggitarians” are also considered to be non-vegetarians only. There cannot be a classification like this, because as I explained earlier – We process and make the egg edible by killing and denying a small little bird to be born out of it.
Now immediately some people will ask – Will milk also come under the non-vegetarian category, because milk is also obtained from the cow, wherein we deny the milk to its own calf. Here is a small clarification – Milk is obtained from the cow, only after its calf feeds on it. Moreover, if we do not extract the milk from the cow on time, it becomes detrimental for the cow’s health. Hence it is a must that all of the milk from the cow be extracted, so that it stays healthy and generates more milk. Thus since we are not hurting the cow in anyway by churning milk from it, milk cannot be considered to be a non-vegetarian food item. Same is the case with fruits and vegetables too – If we do not pluck the vegetables from the plants on time, the plant gets rotten and eventually dies. Moreover, even if we pluck the fruits and vegetables from the plants, they are going to regenerate again. Thus in any way, we are not killing plants by plucking vegetables or fruits from them. Hence fruits and vegetables fall under the vegetarian category.
Thus the distinction is now very clear – Vegetarian food items include milk, fruits, vegetables and other allied items that we get naturally without harming any living being in this world. Whereas non-vegetarian items including fish, eggs, meat of various animals, beef, etc. are obtained by torturing and killing living beings.
Now having cleared the air on the differentiation, we shall now look into the reasons why we should avoid non-vegetarian food, so as to grow spiritually.
One of the most important and a primary reasons why we should avoid non-vegetarian food is because, if we need to progress higher in the path of spirituality, we should refrain from hurting or killing other fellow living beings. When I say living beings, it includes all living organisms from ants to elephants! The moment we are resorting to eating something that is from a killed living being, the sanctity of the food is lost, because food is considered to be “Brahman” or Bhagawan himself.
In our Hindu Sanaathana Dharma, nowhere it is mentioned that food should be prepared by killing other living beings. It is an unfortunate misconception that some other preposterous religious groups are spreading across today. Thus if we consume food that is prepared out of an innocent animal’s flesh, we are doing a disgrace to our fellow living beings. Importantly, Bhagawan never likes or approves of this behavior. We need to respect animals as they are and we should never disturb their freedom of living their life. Just like how our life is precious for us, isn’t their life precious for the animals as well? Hence by consuming non-vegetarian food, we are openly denying animals to live their life peacefully and thus it disturbs the ecosystem in the world.
Second perspective as to why should we avoid non-vegetarian food items for growing spiritually – Whenever we kill an animal for its flesh or meat or whatever, do we think that the animals die happily in our hands? Do we ever realize that the poor animals die such a painful death? We cut the body of the poor animal mercilessly with the knife and the blade. Nowadays people talk of “Halal” foods – What nonsense is this? Can we justify killing of these poor living beings by any means? Death is death and killing is killing. Then what is the point in killing animals “with mercy” and “without mercy”? Moreover when these animals die of a painful death, they sob within themselves that they are leaving behind their kith and kin like an orphan! Eventually when their soul splits off from its body, it curses us for the misdeed of killing them for no mistake of theirs! This curse is not only for the butcher who cuts the animal into pieces. This curse transcends to all those people who consume these cut pieces of the animal! The side-effects of this curse are disastrous. According to the law of Karma, for every misdeed there is a punishment. For this particular misdeed that we are doing day in and day out, the punishment is that, in our next birth we would be born as a handicapped person or an animal and undergo all the sufferings that we have given this poor animal in this birth. I suppose all of us know what kind of sufferings one would have to undergo if handicapped. Hence let us realize what kind of a big mistake we are doing and let us correct ourselves to escape from this great danger lying in front of us.
Third important perspective of looking at this is that, the more we consume non-vegetarian food, the more we move away from Bhagawan. This is because our mind becomes “Thaamasic” or “Lethargic” and lazy, that we totally lose our focus towards Bhagawan. And moreover, if we have to do a prayer for Bhagawan, it is said that we should always do it without consuming non-vegetarian food. If we happen to go to many professional astrologers, they would advice this – If we have to do a “Parihaara” for coming out of a “Dosha” due to an unfavourable planetary position, the first thing that we should do is to stop consuming non-vegetarian food. This is because of the fact that if a prayer or a “Parihaara” is done with an impure heart, it has no effect. If we are consuming non-vegetarian food, our heart automatically becomes impure because we’re eating food that is derived out of killing!
Hence the important message from today’s episode is that, given all the above-mentioned perspectives, we should try and avoid consuming non-vegetarian food items and if we fail to do so, it is going to be detrimental to our spiritual growth as well. Let us think and reflect upon ourselves today with this important point. We shall wait till the next episode to witness Vidura’s next explanation. Stay tuned! 🙂