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Thursday, July 16, 2015

To Eat or Not to Eat; the war goes on

When Shri Ram struck eliminated Bali, the latter accused him for foul play.
During his accusations, he said one thing-

'We Vanars are of no use to you as our skin as well as skeleton is prohibited within you people. Even for such a noble person like you, eating of flesh is forbidden then for what purpose did you shoot me?
The three varns i.e. kshatriya, vaishy and shoodr can eat only five animals among the ones who have five nails, vanaars are not counted on those either
With reference to the last blog, we know how Shri Ram countered all his allegations and we also came to know about the golden necklace, the real culprit.
But, this dialogue; this seems to have ignited lot of questions in the minds of readers. The ongoing battle between the vegetarians and non-vegetarians from eternity and the question of 'paap' and 'punya' by consuming any food and so on.
I remember attending a marriage of my friend a while ago; he is a bengali brahmmarn. There I saw something that astounded me; a custom for the bride and the groom during their dinner. Their dinner included fish and they had to consume it or at least taste it, including the eye. Well yes, Bengalis are non-vegees, but fish in a custom, that too in a marriage. Then someone told me that fish was considered auspicious. Okay.

Though I am strictly a vegetarian(an indirect eggetarian actually, hard to resist cakes you see) and don't promote meat, but facts are facts. So, if non-veg was common in old times then why such brouhaha.  
First we will examine Bali's dialogue- 
  • As told by the dying vanar, eating meat was a common and usual thing those days; also, among the five-nailed animals, only five animals were allowed to consume . Those being - rhinoceros, tortoise, porcupine, rabbit and khoh and hence, vanars were not allowed to be hunted for food. 
  • We also came to know that Brahmmarns were strictly vegetarian, other castes were free to chose. 
  • Shri Ram, was a vegetarian. The reason given was that he was a noble person.
We must see that a civilization depends upon the available resources for its living. The same goes with regards to the edible resources. A prime reason why people living in the coastal areas consume meat(remember the Bengali marriage) irrespective to their caste and creed. I say so due to the misbelief that people who eat non-veg food are bad; character-wise(yupp, a adarshwadi friend of mine had, had such school of thought).  

The reason as other varns or castes were allowed to eat meat but the brahmmarns was due to their ritualistic responsibilities. Those days brahmmarns used to have holistic routine; worshiping their deity, teaching and preaching and meditation as well. It is known that whatever food intake we have, it affects our behavior, the routine of brahmmarns requires a lot of focus and self-control so they had to be selective of their diet. Also hygiene is also one of the reasons as the place of worship should be free from meat and blood.

Talking of diet, three kinds of foods had been identified through our vaids; satva or sattavik, tamas or tamsik and rajas or rajasik

Satva means balance, order, purity- for e.g. dairy products, vegetables, fruits and grains etc.
Tamas means darkness, dull, negative- for e.g. meat and other non-veg., onion, garlic etc.
Rajas means creation, passion- for e.g. chocolate, over spicy food, caffeinated drinks etc.

Whatever we eat affects our body and mind and ultimately our conduct.

Sattavik food is considered the best as they have a calming effect to our mind and soul, they don't disturb our senses, but balances them, hence helping us in focusing or meditating with positive energy.
Tamsik diets are considered negative, detrimental. A good intake of them slowly turns our instincts towards negative, rather wild. The calmness is reduced and a certain aggression is formed in our temperament. The rakshasas are the best ones to illustrate, they even fed on humans and their temper; sanguinary, destructive.
Rajasik foods are rather considered neutral, but they are also stimulating. They lead the mind towards Maya; temptation, lust, greed that in the end play with our very character. 

Now we have realized our elders promoting vegetarian and the rationale behind that. I do not intend to interdict non-veg as it is on personal choice. The only thing is now you know about it, you know where to give more weightage for a healthy body and mind. Nor I am endorsing 'sattavik-only' diet as that will create an imbalance as well.
We also understood as why brahmmarns were strictly veg. and over too that strictly sattavik. Shri Ram was a kshatriya but a noble being as well, the one who had won his senses and that is why he was a vegetarian, he directed the world towards an ideal and healthy lifestyle. We also know that a carnivorous is not necessarily a bad being, otherwise; Guh, Shri Ram's mate and a tribal head was a non-vegetarian, yet a good man. He helped Shri Ram during his exile.

Before we end, I would like to clear a major misunderstanding. According to few "intellects", the brahmarns used to eat beef. Really feel sorry for humanity, as now you can understand how impossible is that. Au contraire, cow is considered holy and I don't need to explain why. The other varns also didn't feed on beef.

"Cooking is an art and has lot to offer us; if we have the right ingredients, we can make our life merry and create a better world henceforth

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