Beef against Beef

“Auschwitz begins wherever someone looks at a slaughterhouse and thinks:they’re only animals.” – Theodor W….

Auschwitz begins wherever someone looks at a slaughterhouse and thinks:they’re only animals.” – Theodor W. Adorno

On 30 September, the Delhi edition of the Indian Express carried an unspeakably revolting story of a man, lynched to death by a mob, in neighboring Noida (Uttar Pradesh), purely on the suspicion of having consumed beef.

Dadri beef lynching

The details appear to be rather hazy and the report seemed eager to conclude hurriedly the absence of any background of violence or conflict in the area.

Soon, the beef-eating angle got quoted enough number of times for it to become self evident truth, as in the false case of broken church windows, earlier in the year. Alas, the news is so disturbing that it makes one want to disbelieve it.

Of course, it goes without saying that regardless of the motive of the murder and any history of localized conflict in the place, the perpetrators of the crime must be booked and the harshest possible punishment, as provisioned by the law, meted out to them.

The ban on cow slaughter is applicable in many states in India, particularly in the North. In Uttar Pradesh, the slaughter of cow (includes a heifer and calf) is totally prohibited under the UttaPradesh Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act, 1955.

Just to emphasize the obvious here, the law is sixty years old, has been enacted at the level of the state and has little to do with the current regime at the Centre.

However, the purpose of this piece is not to delve into the nuances of law but rather to try and figure out the dynamics of morality and social order in the Indian context that necessitated the enactment of such laws in the first place.

In doing so, there is no attempt to recommend a magical solution to the political problem but only the intent to highlight the issue from the Hindu point of view and in this way, provide a much ignored perspective to the debate.

In her meticulously researched book on the place of animals in Hinduism, Nanditha Krishna writes,

The reverence for the [cow] has been one of the central themes of Hinduism since ancient times. The animal is equated to one’s mother, because she gives milk, hence the expression ‘Gaumata’ (cow mother)… the mother because cow’s milk is the first replacement for mother’s milk.”1

Practising Hindus (especially, non vegetarians) are often confronted with questions about their peculiar dietary choice of abstaining from beef consumption. It is a question that stumps many, evoking responses that range from apologist pleas (red meat is not good for health) to clever rationalizations (beef is tamasic, it makes your mind dull), though one must acknowledge both to be valid reasons.

The question, in a sense, is rhetorical. For you cannot expect a single line explanation for a belief that springs from one’s fundamental assumptions about life or from one’s world view. It is like asking someone to pick one from four pre-decided objective choices as to why they love their spouse. Therefore, to get a genuine answer, we must start from Hindu cosmology and dig into puranas and other scriptures.

The churning of the ocean (Samudramanthan) is perhaps the most popular story from the Bhagwata Purana, rich with symbolism on diverse and complex themes such as non duality concealed by polar opposites, different stages of kundalini awakening and the Universe as an expression of divine Yajna.

The very first living being to appear from the act of churning is Surabhi, the wish fulfilling cow. The same Surabhi, in other Puranas, is said to be born of the divine progenitor Kashyapa and his wife Krodhavasa. She is also called Nandini (delight) and Aditi (mother of all cows) and can grant any wish to the true seeker.

Interestingly, there is no temple dedicated to Aditi and she is thus worshipped directly in the form of the living cow. The cow is frequently associated with Lord Krishna, also known as Gopala (cowherd), portrayed as holding a flute while standing beside a cow. Sanskrit synonyms for cow, Aghnya and Ahi, translate to ‘one that must not be slaughtered’. The dharmic outlook finds animals subject to the cycle of death and rebirth, working out their karma just like pretty much the rest of the Universe, humans included.

Hindu (and by extension, Buddhist and Jain) ethics do not privilege human beings over other species and it is hard to miss the keen ecological awareness in the assertions about harmony between panchabhutas (five elements) that constitute all that we can sense.

While there is a remarkable feeling of fraternity with all creatures in general, it is in the veneration of the cow, specifically, that we find the trigger for the larger sense of goodwill towards the animal kingdom and further, for the uniquely dharmic ideal of Ahimsa (non harming), which makes India the country with the lowest per capita meat consumption in the world.2

This is in sharp contrast with the Abrahamic view that declares animals as soulless entities created by the powerful ruler of the Cosmos for use by man, with the result that it has been unleashing uninterrupted violence on animals for the last two millennia.

As Vamsee Juluri puts it,

Watch any wildlife show on TV. The story is told almost always around the hunt, and the act of killing, bloodshed, and dismemberment. A story is a creative selection. There are other ways of telling stories about nature. Yet, our dominant structure is predicated on killing. That’s a hunter-gatherer’s view of nature. Not a Hindu one.”3

While we are indulging in comparisons between the Indian and Western, Hindu and Abrahamic, let us shift our attention to their respective philosophies of social order. The western approach, particularly after European enlightenment, has been the rights based individualistic model, an open departure from the prescriptive morality of the Ten Commandments.

It is a bottom up alignment of needs that exclusively and obsessively focuses on the individual as the ultimate storehouse of life. Taken too far, it leads to absurd conclusions such as “Animals don’t havrights because they don’t pay taxes.”

In the western imagination, largely unchanged by the healing touch of evolutionary scientific thought yet, a forest is only a collection of individual trees just as society is only a collection of individuals. The whole is not greater than the sum of its parts, in fact less so, for it lacks the volition of the individual.

Therefore, the individual becomes the reference point for all rational examination. On the other hand, the Indian view is based on the supremacy of Dharma and the imperative to uphold it under all circumstances.

One of the most powerful expressions of the commitment to protection of the Dharma is the martyrdom of the ninth Sikh Guru, Tegh Bahadur at the hands of the Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb.

Social customs, laws and educational policies are built around Dharma, with the explicit motive of establishing a society whose members are virtuous rather than materially successful.

 Professor Kapil Kapoor, in this eloquent presentation, talks about the complexity of the concept of Dharma, interpreted in accordance with the particular context as attribute, function, duty or intrinsic nature. But as Rajiv Malhotra warns us,

The frequently leveled charge of moral relativism against this contextual morality is inaccurate because the conduct and motive are considered consequential in judging the ultimate value of statements. The degree of common good is the universal standard, and the well being of all creatures, in terms of non-harming (ahimsa), is the highest truth.4

Sadly, in the political discourse in India and elsewhere, Dharma is simplistically mapped on to the alien category of Religion.

In his fascinating work on morality in American politics, Jonathan Haidt uses his MoraFoundations Theory to investigate the causes of the ever sharpening divide between the politics of liberals and conservatives.5

Liberals tend to score higher in the care / harm and least in the sanctity/degradation foundation while conservatives tend to have a more equitable preference for most of the six defined foundations.

The use of the western terms of right and left, however, leave much to be desired in the Indian setting. Clearly, with Ahimsa as the highest ideal, Dharmic ethics are strongly biased towards the care / harm foundation even while remaining broadly committed to other foundations as well, though it is another matter that the very definition of some foundations may require amendments, when spoken of in the Dharmic context.

A cursory assessment of contemporary political discourse in the mainstream media reveals a misinformed attempt to club the Hindu ethos with the conservative politics of White Protestant Christians by labeling it as Right Wing.

In the light of the decidedly Indian pursuit of higher states of awareness through Yogic and other practices, prevalent among common Hindu folk in varying degrees, there is perhaps a need to develop an Indic Y-axis to complement the left-right one-dimensional categorization of the political number line of the west, to give a more accurate account of one’s coordinates on a globalized moral map.

Another fact mostly ignored in the popular media discourse is the history of cow slaughter, especially under Muslim dynasties between the 13th and 18th centuries. It is an incontestable fact that Hindus were intimidated and converted, often by brutal attack on this vital point of Hindu sensibilities, the holy cow.

Whether it was Sikander Butshikan, the iconoclast of Kashmir or Firuz Shah Tughlak in Kangra, cow slaughter, followed by force feeding the meat to Hindus, seems to have been a powerful strategy to effect mass conversion.

It is also recorded separately how Christian missionaries, starting from the Goa inquisition, often tested the loyalty of the new converts by asking them to partake of a meal whose carefully chosen ingredient was beef.

Goa Inquisition

Ironically, Goa derives its name from the original ‘Gomantaka’, translated as the ‘region of cows’. It is hardly surprising that despite numerous systematic attempts at whitewashing Indian history, Hindus continue to retain a sense of soreness when it comes to matters concerning the slaughter of cow.

It must be also mentioned that while the slaughter of cow is a touchy topic, not many care for the well being of the stray cows that are abandoned by the predominantly Hindu farmers as soon as they stop producing milk.

Not surprisingly, it is in this utter disregard for the well being of the stray cow that we find a common ground between the beef-devouring rebel and the beef-banning radical, simply because none of them has ever had an intimate contact with the animal, to know and acknowledge first-hand, the transformative potential of an adoring relationship with the cow.

On the other hand, take the example of the Bishnois, a Hindu community from Rajasthan, who maintain the age old tradition of nurturing and protecting all plant and animal life around them.

In 1730 CE, 363 Bishnois sacrificed their lives to protect the Khejri trees from felling, proudly proclaiming that their lives were a small price to pay for protection of the forest. The astounding depth of ecological bond that this community formed with their environment was the seed that germinated the much-celebrated Chipko Movement centuries later.

The astonishing commitment of the Bishnois is a good starting point to enter into a philosophical debate about what really constitutes that we call our right of ownership and the right to consumption.

If the western mode of individualistic morality, which essentially fuelled colonial expansion, is applied, then it is fair to say that whatever we can control, conquer or usurp rightfully belongs to us.

However, from a Dharmic perspective, all life is sacred and it is in upholding the natural order of the Universe, through the principles of Ahimsa, that limiting concepts like ownership and possession can be transcended.

For a Hindu, the cow is the gateway, the threshold to a non-harming peaceful co-existence on this planet. This spiritual reverence for the cow simply cannot be allowed to be reduced to sectarian hatred for the perceived other.

At the same time, a Hindu is also duty bound to protect the animal from all kinds of harm, including abandonment, slaughter and mistreatment. To a Hindu, this vow is hardly majoritarian tyranny, driven as it is by the need to protect powerless animals and not to impose dietary restrictions on non-believers in the Abrahamic sense.

Any conversation on this matter needs to take this into account. But is our sensation driven corporate media tuned in to this?


 

References

  1. Nanditha Krishna, “Sacred Animals of India”, Chapter: Cow
  1. Report by Food and Agricultural Association, United Nations, 2007
  1. Vamsee Juluri, “Rearming Hinduism”, p 90, Chapter: The myth of Vedic violence
  1. Rajiv Malhotra, “Being Different”, p 196, Chapter: Order and Chaos
  1. The book referred to is ‘The Righteous Mind: Why good people are divided by politics and religion”
Ashish Dhar, a Mechanical Engineer and an entrepreneur, lives in New Delhi. He is co-founder of pragyata.com, an e-learning portal dedicated to Indic knowledge systems.
  • Savarkar’s Disciple

    Is Meat Eating a Matter of Personal Choice? A Scientific Analysis – Dr. Kulshrestha – Full Talk
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-VO_zZBBt8

  • Ankur Sethi

    The focus on the cow should be broader. It does not have to be about religion. The cow gives human society food not only by milk but by fertilizer. India will become a desert if it does not protect the cow and encourage the village culture and dependence on cows.

  • guest
  • Shiju Rajan

    Any reason the the about us link does not work.

  • Shankar M

    A good one. Thanks for the info.

  • Arun

    Hi,
    Kindness itself, love of animal life itself, though valid would not fully explain the cow’s position. It is really an aspect of ‘bhava’, a worshipful attitute which others may or may not appreciate. If you have grown up being nourished by cow’s milk, she also has status as a mother hence gow mata.
    Also, this could have started from cow dung and cow urine and the numerous uses to which these are put to. To highlight just one or two aspects, Cow dung, has remarkable insect repellant properties. Even now I have seen houses (Coimbatore outer to be more precise) where cow dung paste has been used as a disinfectant and sanitizer and it works spectacularly, without damaging the environment. Cow urine has many medicinal properties and goes into making of many medications. This is just 1-2 aspects, which I am readily recalling.
    Now in a physiological sense, dung and urine is the waste of the cow’s body, in most cases are referred to pejoratively pee and shit.
    Now If the waste pee and shit of the Cow’s body you are using to heal yourself as a medicine, and a sanitizer (to name just 2), then how much more worthy of adoration and worship that creature itself must be ?, From here grows the legend of Holy Cow.

  • Pingback: The Spirit of Shambo (2007) Lives on: The Bull about Beef and a Metaphor for Dharmic Ethics | featuresgalleried()

  • Sunil P S

    The following quotes are attributed to Swami Vivekananda (Source:http://www.swamivivekanandaquotes.org/2013/12/swami-vivekanandas-quotes-and-comments_25.html)
    Madhuparka was a Vedic ceremony, usually in honour of guest, in which a respectful offering was to be made consisting, among other dainties, of beef.
    The Brahmins at one time ate beef and married Sudras. [A] calf was killed to please a guest. Sudras cooked for Brahmins.[Source]
    There was a time in this very India when, without eating beef, no Brahmin could remain a Brahmin; you read in the Vedas how, when a Sannyasin, a king, or a great man came into a house, the best bullock was killed; how in time it was found that as we were an agricultural race, killing the best bulls meant annihilation of the race. Therefore the practice was stopped, and a voice was raised against the killing of cows.[Source]
    You will be astonished if I tell you that, according to the old ceremonials, he is not a good Hindu who does not eat beef. On certain occasions he must sacrifice a bull and eat it. That is disgusting now. However they may differ from each other in India, in that they are all one — they never eat beef. The ancient sacrifices and the ancient gods, they are all gone; modern India belongs to the spiritual part of the Vedas.[Source]

  • Pingback: The Spirit of Shambo (2007) Lives on: The Bull about Beef and a Metaphor for Dharmic Ethics | IndiaFactsIndiaFacts()

  • Kedar Kelkar

    Anything living should not be killed for consumption by humans. How about killing living plants and vegetables? They are not counted because they do not move?

    • guest

      do a bit of research on this. This is the most common come back from meat lovers. there is a reason for that too. plants are living too, but with lower consciousness. life lives on life. but by eating plants we reduce the harm caused. an animal feels more pain. anyway, read up on it, if you want to learn

  • Sunil P S

    Some eminent historians beg to differ- Please read the following:

    Hindu right wrongly says Muslims brought beef-eating — Hindutva history is a mystery: D N Jha

    October 7, 2015, 12:06 AM IST TOI Q&A in The Interviews Blog | Edit Page, India, Q&A | TOI

    D N Jha is a historian, former member of the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) and expert on ancient and medieval India. Speaking with Eram Agha, Jha discussed how researching beef led him to live with police protection, why beef-eating raises certain hackles — and why he thinks Hindutva’s history is a mystery:

    What did you face when researching the history of beef consumption in India?

    I faced difficulties when my book Holy Cow: Beef in Indian Dietary Traditions was published in 2001. A Hindutva brigade vandalised my house, burnt copies of my book and demanded my arrest — I received threats of all kinds, including death.

    I remained under police protection for over two years. A Hindutva organisation filed a case against me and got an injunction on publication and circulation of the book, thus effectively banned.

    But I challenged the ban and succeeded in getting it lifted. I also got the book published from London.

    Thus, I defied the ban — but was in police protection for years.

    Why has beef become such a big issue today?

    Well, my book based on textual studies shows beef-eating was quite common in the Vedic period when cattle were sacrificed frequently. But it appears from a close examination of texts that the practice was gradually given up by Brahmins, who relegated it to untouchable castes. During the medieval period, the practice of killing cows for food came to be associated also with Muslims.

    Since the late 19th century, the cow was increasingly thought of as a mark of ‘Hindu’ identity — Muslims have been stereotyped as beef eaters and the Hindu right always asserted, wrongly, that Muslims brought beef eating to India.

    With BJP coming to power, beef has assumed unprecedented importance in contemporary Indian politics. Beef ban politics is part of BJP’s attempt to project India as a country of vegetarians, evident from restrictions on non-vegetarian food in educational institutions.

    Why are India’s leaders obsessed with the past? Well, who are these leaders?

    They belong to the Hindu right. Their obsession is understandable — with no participation in India’s freedom struggle, they are seeking legitimacy from the past. In the process, they are concocting history.

    The past as seen by the Hindu right is a negation of the progress Indian historiography made since Independence — it’s a denial of rational, scientific methods of writing and researching history.

    Loud proclamations of ancient India’s achievements in plastic surgery, stem cell and aeronautical science, the effort to push back the Vedas’ antiquity, declarations of ancient rishis as scientists, exhibition on ‘Continuity from the Vedas to Robotics’, are examples of their forays into ‘history’ — but their ‘history’ is a mystery because it does not lend itself to any rational analysis.

    What are your thoughts on revamping Nehru Memorial Museum & Library (NMML)?

    This was headed by reputed scholars — Mahesh Rangarajan’s resignation does not augur well. The declaration to convert it into a museum of governance means it’ll become an instrument of propaganda.

    Also, going by the ‘revamping’ of ICHR, one need not have any doubt about the nature of revamping in NMML.

    DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.

    • prashants5 .

      The leftist historians have not studied the Veda correctly. They simply copy and paste from their Western Masters who read and translated into English by misinterpreting and misrepresented Veda. In order to understand and interprete Veda not only one needs to be an Scholar of Sanskrit but also deep life experience of Hinduism. The Vedic and Sanskrit Scholar’s interpretation is sharply contrast with this historians.

      Veda/Manusmriti etc strictly prohibit Animal Sacrifices and eating meat. And his interview sounds pure political that lack substance. The media needs sensatinalization for the TRP and hence they will get such people on board.

      For example, the Western Morons translated “Ashwamedha” as Sacrifices of Horses just because there is “Ashwa” in the word.

      • Sunil P S

        Al right, one more here, not from the western morons this time-follow the link below: https://in.news.yahoo.com/did-he-actually-say-this-about-beef-113859009.html Would love to know the truth about `Ashwa Medha Yaga`

      • Sunil P S

        The followings are reported to be from the works of Swami Vivekananda (with pointers to the Sources):
        Madhuparka was a Vedic ceremony, usually in honour of guest, in which a respectful offering was to be made consisting, among other dainties, of beef.)

        The Brahmins at one time ate beef and married Sudras. [A] calf was killed to please a guest. Sudras cooked for Brahmins.[Source]

        There was a time in this very India when, without eating beef, no Brahmin could remain a Brahmin; you read in the Vedas how, when a Sannyasin, a king, or a great man came into a house, the best bullock was killed; how in time it was found that as we were an agricultural race, killing the best bulls meant annihilation of the race. Therefore the practice was stopped, and a voice was raised against the killing of cows.[Source]

        You will be astonished if I tell you that, according to the old ceremonials, he is not a good Hindu who does not eat beef. On certain occasions he must sacrifice a bull and eat it.

  • Shaasa

    60 Islamic countries do not allow to eat pigs.
    So what’s the problem if one country, India, does not allow, additionally, to eat cows? There is plenty of other foods to eat. Come on!

    • uday

      The problem is that India is not a religion-based country.

      And before you point it out, it works both ways: UCC should be brought in.

  • prashants5 .

    Everyone is encouraged to see this newly released movie ( available on Netflix and other media with Hindi Subtitle as well). This movie will tell you how the natural disaster and the dangerous environment conditiion we have made in last few decades by producing and consuming Beef at Global level.

    http://www.cowspiracy.com/

    Since the Iron is hot now on this subject, please share it on social network and other places for information and lesson. Our ancient people were much more smarter realizing this fact, than the so called intellectuals of modern days.

  • Chanak

    It is about human conscience that is imbibed in Sanatan Dharma. Kamadhenu is worshipped for all the virtues that elevates human thought and conscience.

    The cultural sensitivities of people must be respected.

  • Dr. MS

    Much of UP, Bihar, Rajasthan and parts of Punjab, Haryana, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh have lost its intellectual class, and those with average or above average intelligence, with ethics, in positions of power. What you have, like in some badly managed home for the mentally challenged, or what used to be called “Home for People with Retardation”, you get a lot of fights, yelling and physical violence replacing passionate sensible verbal arguments or debates. The brawn, the aggressor, the thug and the mob wins.

    I meet sweet migrant boy-workers from UP and Bihar in Chennai, who tell me that by the time they are fifteen or sixteen they have been beaten by everyone (including parents, uncles, neighbors and teachers). And many have also been raped by men in their communities. And by marrying many women, like Muslims do ; cousins marrying cousins and marrying young…children produced by these men, even before they are 19 or 20, are of poor intellect, delayed development and have many neurological problems. The cycle of stupidity, low quality life, poor intellect, proneness to emotional outbursts and violence, also connected to poor brain development, continues.

    The brave Hindus, the courageous Hindus, the intelligent Hindus, the thinking or mindful HIndus, the smart sensitive Hindu men, and their smart strong Hindu women allies, have all been massacred in these places…leaving behind passive poorly educated people or highly emotional irrational men and many intellectually challenged aggressive men who turn these regions into “a little better than Waziristan” places.

    Eating no beef or eating lots of beef makes little difference in these places.

  • Rajalakshmi J

    Every Hindu Temple necessarily has a பசுமடம் / Goshala wherein Cows , Calves & Oxen are looked after. For which collections from Temples need to be spent on them. Instead it is anti Hindu political outfits calling themselves “secular” which means anti Vedic but pro muslims , pro christian , pro atheism , pro communism that have been bleeding all Temples by looting all money. It gets spent on “constituency development ” , Haj subsidies etc etc. Plenty of Land belonging to Temples have long been confiscated by people.

    People like us have to buy lots of Bananas , அகத்திக்கீரை (Sesbania Grandiflora) & offer these to Cows regularly.
    Originally what is known as மந்தைவெளி ( Mandeveli) in Mylapore Tamil Nadu was Pastureland for grazing by Cows.
    Now too many buildings have come up. Recently some German said it is butter got from pasture fed cows that contains certain vital ingredients good for one’s brain & that such butter does not have any adverse impact on one’s health.

    Indians also breed cows through artificial insemination which is thoroughly decried by well informed Vedic Scholars.

    Cows & Calves are highly intelligent and affectionate Beings. There are certain people in Tamil Nadu who are taking care of them well instead of sending them to abattoirs. We need to focus more on this area. Than bothering about salman rushdies , taslima nasreens , cricket & film industry.

  • nice_guy

    Excellent article taking into account various perspectives. Shows that the author’s understanding is very clear. Only additional issue that could have been addressed in article is: What about those who claim by giving various references that beef eating has been common in Indian since ancient times? There was an article to the same effect recently on Indiafacts: http://indiafacts.co.in/the-hindu-view-on-food-and-drink/

    • Thank you for the kind words. I didn’t take up the particular issue of references to beef eating in Vedas because I find the argument to be inconsequential, whichever way you look at it. While we benefit a great deal from the wisdom of our ancient scriptures, Dharma has to be upheld according to the imperatives dictated by the present yuga and that is what makes Hinduism a living, breathing tradition of peace and love.

      • Rajalakshmi J

        That (sic) “Beef eating was common in India” is not true. This has been explained very lucidly by Kaanchi Paramacharyar. In contemporary Kaliyugam He says proper adherence to funeral rites & rituals in cremation of dead bodies and that of unclaimed bodies too ( cremating / burying based on their customs) tantamounts to Aswamedha Yagam.

      • Sumathi Megavarnam

        Not only Beef eating , Eating Flesh was not practised…..When the Soul leaves the Body , the Material body(Corpse) becomes Impure & it decays…….Vice versa Consuming flesh of any form is just like eating the Corpse , which in itself is Impure & there by Consuming the Dead ,people become the Carrier/s of Impurity…..

  • Chimppui

    why everybuddy go on vegan for ethical reasons The animals you raise for meat need to eat plants too. The vast majority of the calories that these animals ingest does not end up as calories that can be absorbed through human consumption. Rather, they end up sustaining the animal’s metabolism (especially if the animal is warm-blooded). Many more of these calories also end up sustaining the parts of animals that people won’t eat. As a result, a huge percent of cropland is grown just for feeding animals, rather than for feeding people. In the United States, only 27% of cropland is directly allocated to feeding people.
    So if everyone stopped eating meat, we would be able to support several billion more people with the same amount of cropland (or the same amount of “plant-killing”).
    As for valuing animals more than plants, many do it simply because most animals have central nervous systems, and we know that many vertebrate animals (and cephalopods) feel pain in a similar way that people do. There is suggestive evidence of pain in crustaceans, though this is debated (see Pain in crustaceans). Still though, given the sheer moral importance of preventing unnecessary pain/suffering, some may argue that we should prevent it even if we’re not completely certain that they experience it. After all, it would be a great tragedy if we caused them unnecessary pain/suffering in the belief that they didn’t experience it, when they actually do. And as for bees – while we’re not sure whether or not they can feel pain, they still have behavior sophisticated enough that that we would associate them with consciousness if a human performed such actions.In lower invertebrates with simpler nervous systems, it gets a bit trickier. Peter Singer says that oysters have such simple nervous systems that they probably won’t feel pain, and that eating them is fine. (See It’s OK for vegans to eat oysters.)
    Plants, though, simply don’t have any nervous system at all. That doesn’t entirely exclude the possibility of them being conscious (even Christof Koch raises the possibility that any system with integrated information could be conscious (This is all about consciousness) But their lack of nervous system certainly suggests that their integrated information would be significantly less than that of animals with nervous systems, if they had any integrated information at all. Even the existence of integrated information does not necessarily imply that they can “feel” suffering, or that they had any “desire” to not die. It’s difficult to imagine how plants would evolutionarily “benefit” from sensing pain, simply because they lack the quick nervous responses that would allow them to “escape” the source of pain (which is also true for completely sessile animals like oysters and sponges).
    Also – plants aren’t centralized in the same way that animals are, and it’s very possible to take off chunks of plant tissue without killing the plant or significantly decreasing its in`tegrated information (though you could also argue that for very simple animals like planarians, which do have some nervous system) and we are Every animal Physiological measures of pain confirm this inference injured dogs, just like people, experience an elevated heart rate and blood pressure and release stress hormones into their bloodstream. I’m not saying that a dog’s pain is exactly like human pain, but dogs as well as other animals—not only react to noxious stimuli but also consciously experience pain.

    • Rajalakshmi J

      Swami Vivekananda says animals ( includes Birds , Fish also) are much much more sensitive to pain & pleasure than human beings. If you are familiar with Bhadrachala Ramadasar’s story you would know why He went through severe torture being incarcerated in a prison for twelve YEARS. Later He is told by Lord Ram Himself that as a child he had kept a parrot in captivity in a cage for twelve DAYS.

      Hindus should not give such undue importance to what westerners or similar indian clones calling themselves “educated / modern / liberal ” say all knowingly. We have lots & lots of telling highly edifying stories ( real happenings)in our own Hindu Scriptures ( Upanishads). One such Vidhyarthi ( a Pupil) in a Vedic Gurukulam is negligent while washing the clothes in a pond / river ends up killing many tiny fish. He is cursed by his angry Guru that he be born a pig . Deeply flustered he seeks a promise from his fellow students to identify him as a pig with the help of Incantations & kill then & there so that he is born again a human being. Eventually when they take the permission of their Guru to kill that particular pig , he in the form of a Piglet tells them ( yeah the Pig speaks Walt Disney movies where animals speak came much much later) :- ” Please do not harm me in any way….I am very happy in this skin also …look at my Mother ( pointing to the Sow) who is so much in love with me & all of my siblings..as a human being I did not know …thought a Pig was a lowly creature …I am good…”.

      Lord Ssiva Himself gets into the body of a Sow to suckle & take care of all Piglets as they are left orphaned suddenly by her death. The Lord is unable to bear their pain . Ramana Bhagavan who is Lord Incarnate & his love towards all animals , birds , insects , plants , trees included is LEGENDARY.

      Sringeri Shankaracharya was ENRAGED as NraSimhaMurthy ( an eyewitness has written so) when two Indian Armymen came to catch the fish that were thriving happily in a Pond in His Ashramam. YET , even today lot of people in Tamil Nadu heartlessly ensnare & catch all kinds of fish including THAT particular Fish ( I do not know their name but their cries sound exactly like that of a human being I read). on a daily basis forever complaining as a lobby “boohoo we were held by SriLankan authorities booohooo”. Most of them are converted christians. Evangelical mafia have long conquered our coastal areas. You would find converted christians & muslims heavily outnumber Hindus in Tamil Nadu today. Many are crypto christians STEALING Hindu names. Even most hindus among them are irredeemably christianized / secularized in their minds.

      There is just ONE line in a particular Hindus’ Spiritual Hymn whose explanation runs into many paragraphs . It says a lot about the lifestyles of our Hindu Ancestors , how they lived respecting & caring for Nature with Her varieties of myriad creations. I do not want to name as these rapacious THIEVES called christians unabashedly STEAL everything belonging to us HINDUS claiming them as theirs. Already we have lost heavily to the christian missionary mafia. Who speak Tamil also vomiting the long discredited mendacious Aryan-Dravidian gobbledygook to us .

      That particular line describes how lots of VARIETIES of Fish happily flourished as people ( Hindus) left them undisturbed ; thus how this caring led to bountiful harvest of enormous quantities of Rice , grains , all kinds of legumes , plenty of SUCCULENT fruits etc etc without having any suited booted think tank / kiron mazumdars of biocon / monsanto genetically tinkering with seeds , pesticides manufacturers , magsaysay MS.Swaminathans , amartya sens any degree holders from Purdue Universities , Harvard to “contribute” .

      Much before the Westerners bombarded us with words like ecology , conservation blah blah we Hindus ALREADY were abiding & following all such noble ideals as a matter of routine.

      Fish are but Agni Bhagavan.

      Non vegetarians invariably embroil Vegetarians into vain arguments over physical strength , endurance yada yada.

      In Tamil Literature ‘பரணி’ a form of Poem is sung in praise of a Ruler who with the help of his army slays a thousand Elephants gaining so called ‘victory’ in battles.

      However what is truly riveting is ” மோக வதை பரணி ” sung by a Disciple overwhelmed with Gratitude towards His Guru . It is one’s mind ( Ego is a synonym of mind ) that is the MOST difficult to conquer & slay . Without which SALVATION is unthinkable & impossible. His Guru’s GRACE accomplishes it imperceptibly & hence the impassioned spontaneous outpourings called ” மோக வதை பரணி “.

      Contemporary vainglorious indians ( ramchandra guhas , surjit bhallas , gurcharan dasguptas , shobhaa des , chetan bhagats , barkha dutts , romila thapars ,madhu trehans IITians & IIM ians allopaths & most in the West (bbc very much included) are thoroughly lacklustre & deserve to be spurned . They are that shallow.

      Our SEERS ALONE are to be worshipped.

    • Rajalakshmi J

      As Swami Dayananda ( Arsha Vidya Gurukulam) says ” It is mostly the produce of plants that are harvested by us. …in some cases yes the entire plant gets used up…”. That is the reason Vedas have prescribed extensive & intricate Anushtanams on a day to day basis. Without extensive plantings done concurrently , nobody goes around harvesting the produce. This is why mono cropping has never been the norm in our country. Varieties of greens , vegetables , fruits , herbs , spices , legumes & grains have been cultivated & used.

      Long before the Westerners & their indian clones researched & researched squandering away lots of money calling such profligacy “funding” to pontificate to us Hindus the truly endangered species about the medicinal value of Garlic & Onions we have had them in our Bhagavatham.( evangelicals have stolen coming up with Yesu ( Jesus) bhagavatham). Lord MaHaVishnu as Mohini while ladling out Amrit ( Ambrosia) to the Devas assembled found Rahu belonging to Asura clan also in their midst. The few drops of Amrit which spilled to the ground grew up as Onions & Garlic. Hence their medicinal value. Tamasic owing to their association with Asuric Rahu. I came to know through Ramana Bhagavan .

  • Sanjib Tripathy

    Worth wide spread sharing

  • వెేంకట రఘు పవన్ ముజ్జె

    Well written and articulated – which is open and clear. ! Appreciate the author for well backed research to understand the root cause .But compare the Indian media which is based on dumb journalism and more sensationalism!

  • Chimppui

    after reading the accounts of the terrors and horrors of Mohammedan rule, my wonder is that so much of native virtue and truthfulness should have survived. You might as well expect a mouse to speak the truth before a cat, as a Hindu before a Mohammedan judge. Max muller

  • Mridula Srivastava

    Thank you Ashish for the indepth , lucid ,explanation of our values.!
    Many are at a loss, when questioned, on diversity of Our Religion, where on one hand God can be worshipped in stones, trees, animals & on other hand lofty, ideals of Nirgun Brahm(Formless) & Sant- Mat as taught by Living Masters like Kabir, Nanak, &RadhaSwami of Beas ,& Agra.

  • Mohan Das

    I also appreciate the well written article by Ashish Dhar. I look forward to reading more.

  • naresh4blog

    Nearly 400 yrs of Moghul rule and 200 yrs of British rule, but Hinduism survived. So I am not worried about the fate of this beautiful religion. What worries me is that thinkers like you forget basic ideology of Hinduism in the name of protecting it.
    Hinduism is among few religion which accepts existence of other religion unlike Abrahamic religion. Also unlike Abrahamic religion it is not rigid in its principles. The choice is given to a Hindu. So if a Hindu consumes beef which many do, it doesn’t make them lesser Hindu. And if a Muslim or christian chooses to eat beef, its his choice which as per Hinduism should be respected and not interfered with Ban.
    Let’s not make Hinduism a rigid religion like other religion. It is a religion that’s sanathan – timeless and relevant in all times.

    • prashants5 .

      >>So if a Hindu consumes beef which many do, it doesn’t make them lesser Hindu.

      Does that HIndu really understand what is all “Hindu” about? No they are just as colonized mind and under-informed like you who shoot arm-chair commets that is full of ignorance. And I don’t think you know the huge difference between Dharma and Religion. Dharma and Dharmik principles are unique to only Indic Religions such as Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism and Jainism.

      Unfortunately there is no cure for ignorance. Please so read “Being Different” ( Rajiv Malhotra) to get yourself informed and educated. And also “Breaking India” ( by Rajiv Malhotra ) to educate yourself before carrying your mouse-click activism just to look smart in public forum. Yours is reminding me the story of clever Jackal’s slogan “Basudhaiva Kutumbakam” in Hitopadesh to create a place for himself in the home of the naive deer. Please go read that story as well to understand why I made this perfect anlogy to uninformed and under-informed Hindu like you. I assume you are a Hindu.

      The ban and 60 years old law of the land is about Cow Slauther and NOT about eating Beef. Let the Converted Christians and Muslims of India ( who were Hindu in the past) eat beef. They can import the same from their Islamic and Christian countries and eat….nobody gives a damn about it. In fact it is their basic right what they eat.

      >> So if a Hindu consumes beef which many do, it doesn’t make them lesser Hindu.

      Yep I do see so many “House Indians( Hindus)” in USA and many Anglo-saxon so called Hindu in India do that. And I simply have no issue with it. It is high time the Hindus must get educated first before giving slogans like “Basudhaiva Kutumbakam” that leads to Digestion, Appropriation and finally Self-Destructions. Hindus are already doomed in Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Tamilnadu (and few more states in India) with the Rampant Convesion by the Evangelists.

      • naresh4blog

        Hey Prashant, I hope u made an effort to read my whole statement. Nevertheless I have read Rajiv malhotra and that’s y I said Hinduism is a unique religion because it doesn’t imposes rigidity unlike other religions.
        Cow slaughter is an offence in India not just for 60 yrs but much before that. But does that mean a person should be killed for that?
        Your anger seems to be on the fact that Moguls and British invaded India and converted hindus. I agree this Conversion happens even today. But have we hindus ever asked ourself why Moghuls and britishers were able to rule us? It’s because we were divided in the name of region and caste. Marathas led by Shivaji fought a great battle and weakened Moghuls. How many Hindu kings helped Shivaji and Sambhaji at that time? After Moghuls were dismantled britishers exploited what Moghuls did and ruled us. We still didn’t learn the lesson.
        Even today we give so much of importance to castism and regionalism. Today people who convert are from low caste and lower section of society. The answer to this problem is not in blaming evangelist. The answer lies within Hindu society. We need to reform ourself and stop blaming others first.

    • Amar

      “Nearly 400 yrs of Moghul rule and 200 yrs of British rule, but Hinduism survived. So I am not worried about the fate of this beautiful religion.”

      Before that Mughal and British rule, Pakistan, Kashmir and Bangladesh were Hindu/Buddhist too. And a few hundred years before that, Afghanistan was culturally/religiously Indian as well. So lets not be too complacent.

    • Rajalakshmi J

      Wrong. Do not distort facts giving your own interpretations. You are talking like a politically correct indian communist. Hindus were given NO choice at all. It is Svami Vivekananda who refers to muslim invasions & large scale slaughter of Hindus , forced conversions , plundering of Temples etc as “Holocaust of Hindus”. Ditto for christians. Read on Inquisition by christian missionaries.

      Muslims like tipu sultan etc etc fought to save their own skins . Do not equate them with a RajaRajaChozhan.
      Their ideology does not belong to Bharath. It is NOT indigenous.

    • Sumathi Megavarnam

      Dont be too much worried & Generations of our people have been cheated with these kind of Sugar coatings & Brute force

    • Ankur Sethi

      Religion doesn’t mean do whatever the hell you want. You have fallen prey to foolish ideas about something called “Hinduism”.

      You can call yourself whatever you want. But such foolishness that you preach is also nothing new, many modern so called scholars have preached such idiocy. Many popular godmen.

  • venkatramanshenoy

    A well researched, well argued article by Ashish Dhar. I Look forward to reading more from him.

  • guest

    Just checked your pragyata.com excellent site….and good information. may it flourish. will be sharing it with people…

  • JayZ

    Well written.Thank you sharing.

  • Sharan Sharma

    Thank you for a very nice article!

  • Rama

    Very good article, should share it with all

  • bharatpremi

    great one. should be widely shared

  • subodh1945

    very interesting piece on hindu philosphy on reverence of cows

  • yogesh

    Very well written piece Ashish.

  • Samir

    Thanks Ashish Dhar for such well documented and finely argued piece. great…