Shortly, there was a discussion started on our Forum by one devotee who asked a query whether a Brahmin incurs more sin than a low caste man if he eats meat?
This discussion after some time was taken by few members at that point where they declared that if a person of low caste comes to Krishna consciousness and continues eating meat, Krishna will have mercy upon him and accommodate him in His abode.
These members had a soft corner for ‘devotees of Krishna’ eating meat. They seemed to support their view by quoting Bhagwad Gita. They talked about Varnashram dharma. They talked about being ‘frog of an ocean’. They denounced being ‘frog of a well’. They considered their understanding as akin to ‘pearl’ and considered the devotees who supported the views of Vedic literatures as ‘pigs’.
It is understandable these members were new to Krishna consciousness and had retained previous nature (gunas) and opinions.
I don’t have any personal dislike towards them as I might have been like them thousands of year ago. Through association of Vaishnavas in previous lives, I have gradually come to a position where following the regulative principles and chanting 16 rounds is normal. I have developed this nature (or swabhava) after a considerable duration of lives, so will these above said members.
However, I have message for these devotees. I desire to make them understand the regulative principles from scriptures point of view.
Firstly, let us all accept the need to accept the supremacy of scriptures. Accepting the supremacy of scriptures does not make one ‘well frog’ and defying the scriptures does not make one ‘ocean frog’. Whatever, ethical decisions we make should have support of scriptures. As we follow a Vedic way of life, naturally we would consider the Vedic literatures as most sacred. Thus, quoting these scriptures, we should decide whether meat eating by a devotee is OK or not.
What is the position of the Vedic scriptures regarding meat eating? Does it allow meat eating?
Let me summarize the position of Vedic literatures briefly. Those who are interested in verification of quotes can contact me later. I would provide them every references as possible.
Position of Vedic literatures regarding meat eating :
As per the Vedic literatures, meat eating is permitted only for non-Vaishnava Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and the Shudras. For Brahmins, it is a big ‘NO’. This is because, Brahmins are supposed to be sattva-guna predominant and meat being a tamasic food, is strictly not permitted to Brahmins. However, they can perform violent sacrifices on behalf of non-Vaishnava Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and the Shudras. Yet, they can not partake the meat prasadam.
Although, violent sacrifices are allowed in the shastras, they are not counted amongst the virtuous acts. The one who eats the meat prasadam does incur a sin (lesser than a non-sacrificed meat). So, why they are prescribed in the shastras when they are not virtuous?
The reason is, there are some classes of men who take great pleasure in eating meat but they don’t have any interest in religious rituals i.e Yagnas or sacrifices. In order to make them interested in following Vedic principle of sacrifice (Yagna), these people have been ordered to perform animal sacrifice. They can later take the meat prasadam. The intention of scriptures is to bring them into the Vedic fold.
Originally, the Vedic Yagnas were completely non-violent. Barley, ghee etc. was used in the Yagnas. Thus, there used to take sattvic sacrifices.
The demigods too are sattva guna predominant. They never partake the meat and alcohol offered in violent sacrifice. It was at a later stage that foolish people started putting meat and alcohol in the sacrificial fire to satisfy demigods. As per the scriptures, one can incur a seriously bad karma in performing such an act.
In the violent sacrifices, only the shudra devis and devatas (like Kal Bhairava etc.) are supposed to be pleased.
The performers of such violent yagnas never attain the spiritual abode of Lord Krishna. They may go to Bhuvar-loka, presided by impure deities or at best Swarg loka. These lokas have been described in scriptures as ‘hell’ as compared to the spiritual abode of Lord Krishna. Thus, such violent sacrifices make the souls wander in this maya due to karmic reactions. Scriptures also say that those who sacrifice the animals in violent sacrifices are eaten by animals when they go to hell.
Those who wish to go to the Krishna loka or Vaikuntha planets should have a certain amount of eligibility. Just anyone can not enter this divine abode.
On the spiritual path, there are several reasons why a person is recommended to be vegetarian. One primary reason is that we need to see the spiritual nature within all living beings, and that includes the animals and other creatures as well.
Universal brotherhood means nonviolence to both humans and animals. It consists of understanding that animals also have souls. They are alive, conscious, and feel pain. And these are the indications of the presence of consciousness, which is the symptom of the soul. Even the Bible (Genesis 1.21; 1.24; 1.30; 2.7; and in many other places) refers to both animals and people as nefesh chayah, living souls.
Those who eat meat, however, because of their desires to eat animals or see them as a source of food for one’s stomach, are not so easily able to understand the spiritual nature of all beings. After all, if you know that all living entities are spiritual in essence, and that all living beings that are conscious show the symptoms of the soul within, then how can you kill them unnecessarily?
Any living creature is also the same as we are in the respect that it is also a child of the same father, a part of the same Supreme Being. Thus, the killing of animals shows a great lack in spiritual awareness.
Many portions of the Vedic literature describe how the Supreme Being is the maintainer of innumerable living entities, humans as well as the animals, and is alive in the heart of every living being. Only those with spiritual consciousness can see the same Supreme Being in His expansion as Supersoul within every creature. To be kind and spiritual toward humans and be a killer or enemy toward animals is not a balanced philosophy, and exhibits one’s spiritual ignorance.
The next reason for being vegetarian is to consider the amount of fear and suffering that animals experience in the slaughter industry. There are countless stories of how in fear cows cry, scream, and sometimes fall down dead while inside or even before they are taken into the slaughter house. Or how the veins of dead pigs are so big that it shows they have practically exploded from the fear the pig felt and the adrenalin that was produced while it was being led to slaughter. This certainly causes an immense amount of violence to permeate the atmosphere, which goes out and falls back on us in some form.
I hope that these words are sufficient to change the minds of those who said that it is OK for Krishna devotees to eat meat.