Importance of Being Vegetarian

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Swami Bodhichitananda explains the importance of being a vegetarian and the karmic consequences that can accrue from eating meat. More information on english language seminars at Yoga Vidya. For english videos, blog posts, discussions on all topics related to yoga please browse this website.

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  • dear atanasov
    there is a saying of an indian saint/yogi siva vakkiar , don't differentiate food and fight, milk is what, but cows blood

  • Satyam Atanasov replied:

    Om Namo Narayanaya!

    Dear Swami Bodhichitananda,

    Thank you for your reply. Citing the practices of Jesus, Moses, Taoist masters and Sufis is irrelevant, because their are not a Vedic sampradaya. Christiany, for example, says that meat-eating had been blessed by God and we therefore should not renounce it. I recognize the authority of the Vedas, of which Buddhism is more or less a part. Buddha is considered an avatar of Vishnu. Shankara restored the authority of the Vedas. Swami Sivananda writes :It was only Shankara who gave the unshakable concrete form to Hinduism and established the unity and purity of enlightened Hindu thought and culture. Superstitions and corrupt practices melted away in no time." Shankara says that there are exceptions that allow animal sacrifice. The justification of animal sacrifice, practised by qualified Brahmins in Vedic times, was that it secures a higher birth for the animal. I would support animal sacrifice, only if I am convinced that the priest performing it is indeed qualified and is a pure and saintly personality.

    Eating the meat of an animal thus sacrificed is unnecessary, although Krishna says in Bhagavad Gita that saintly persons eat remnants of sacrifice. So, I would agree that such meat might be Sattvic.

    I strongly believe in Sutra II. 31 of the Yoga Sutras.

    Om Shanti

    Yours in the service of Vishnu

    Satyam Emil K. Atanasov

  • Om Namo Narayanaya!

    Dear Swami Bodhichitananda,

    Exonerating meat-eating on grounds of latitude, air humidity and/or altitude is in contravention with the Sutra II. 31. of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. It states “ These are the greatest vows, unbounded by birth, space, time and any other circumstances.” “These” refers to the 5 yamas, enumerated in the preceding Sutra.
    I strongly disagree with you that one can be spiritually enlightened and be a meat-eater at the same time. Apart from the bad Karma that meat-eating incurs, meat can never be categorized higher than rajo guna.

    As to spatial derogations of ahimsa: Suppose humans one day settle on the moon. And one day their supplies run out. Are they going to cannibalize each other or are they going to come back to earth to replenish their supplies? Even nowadays they live on the International Space Station, where there are neither plants, nor animals.
    Same with the Eskimos, either they resettle in a region where they can have vegetarian food or they come back to replenish their stock of vegetarian food on and off, if they want to live in the Arctic.

    As to the Tibetan Buddhists eating meat, this is the first time I have ever heard it. No one can claim to be a Buddhist and be a meat-eater at the same time. Yaks are a local animal in Tibet, aren’t they? And they give milk, don’t they??? And there must be some grain in Tibet, isn’t there???
    Dalai Lama eating meat, because his doctor told him to!!!
    What the heck can be derived from meat that cannot be derived by the variety of plants?!?! Iron is the only thing I can think of that meat is valuable for, but iron can be derived from vegetables too. I know at least two psychiatrists who say that vegetarians, per se, are mentally ill. Maybe this is another reason for Dalai Lama to eat meat. What a disgrace on him!!!

    Swamiji replioed:

    Dear One, Emil, i also can not eat meat, nor do i wish to partake of animal products, as i don't wish to enslave animals or domesticate them to fulfill my desires. Domestication of animals changed them evolutionarily to such a point that you cannot find cows in the wild any more, nor could they survive without dependence upon man. Can you call this love for our fellow being? Also domestication of animals, cows and goats especially has been the single most contributor to environmental degradation. I don't think extremist views will help us spread Dharma. It is a fact that many saints ate meat, such as Jesus, Moses, Tibetan Yogis, Taoist Masters, Sufis, and many Benagali saints. If you know our Vedic history(here i'm referring to time of Vedas), you will know that animal sacrifice was common, and it was Buddhism's and Jainism's emphasis on ahimsa that brought vegetarianism to popularity in India. Of course Patanjali Yoga Sutras was post Buddhist and heavily influenced by Buddhism. with love for All, Swamiji

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