Clarifying the Hindu View

Co-authored by Hari Ravikumar Our previous article titled ‘Hindu View on Food and Drink’ understandably received…

Co-authored by Hari Ravikumar

Our previous article titled ‘Hindu View on Food and Drink’ understandably received a fair bit of outraged reactions from a section of readers and was the subject of much debate.

While none of them could produce any sort of scriptural or other evidence to counter our points, it became clear to us that we had offended a lot of people, unfortunately so, because our intention continues to be to provide an overview of what Hinduism has to say about some of important topics that are raised in our modern world (and not to offend anyone).

Having meticulously gone through most (if not all) of the comments, we found that the objections could be classified into three major themes which we shall examine here.

The Arya Samaj View

A few comments were raised in the light of Dayananda Saraswati’s interpretation of the Vedas.They brought forth Swami Dayananda’s interpretation of those verses that we had quoted from the Vedas as well as other verses that ran counter to some of the points we raised.Note that these were not translations of those verses but Swami Dayananda’s interpretation of them.

Swami Dayananda Saraswati

When we study the historical context of the birth and growth of the Arya Samaj, we learn about the yeoman service done by Swami Dayananda to the Hindu cause as well as the blunders he made while reinterpreting the Vedas.

In 19th century India, with the onslaught of Christian missionaries as well as Islamic radicalism, there was a great need to protect and preserve Hinduism and Hindu ideals.

The method employed by Dayananda was to reinterpret the Vedas in light of the accusations hurled at Hinduism by the pastors and the mullahs which can be summed up thus: “Hinduism’s blind belief in idol worship, its barbaric animal sacrifices, its misguided social structure, and its lack of a foundational text.”

By means of semantic jugglery and interpolation, Swami Dayananda successfully reinterpreted the Vedas to suit his need of countering the Semitic faiths.

In this process, he not only went against hundreds of generations of commentators on the Vedas (like Veṅkaṭamādhava, Mahīdhara, Uvaṭa, Bhaṭṭabhāskara, Śaunaka, and Sāyaṇa) but also ignored the living practices of Hinduism.

He also considered only the Saṃhitā texts as revealed wisdom and discarded the Brāhmaṇas, Āraṇyakas, and Upaniṣads, which have, since time immemorial been considered as part of the Vedas.

He brushed aside the Purāṇas, the Rāmāyaṇa, and the Mahābhārata. He dismissed many works of the Vedāṅgas like those on Sikṣa (phonetics) and Kalpa (ritual), especially the Smṛtis, the Dharmasūtras, the Gṛhyasūtras, and the Śrautasūtras. In addition, he denounced the Āgamas, the temple tradition, and Murti Puja.

Thus, much of the Hinduism that we practice even today is not Hinduism in the eyes of Dayananda.

In his quest for defending Hinduism against Abrahamic onslaught, Swami Dayananda ended up making the Vedas a Hindu equivalent of the Bible or the Qur’an. He was even willing to sacrifice the universal values of Sanātana Dharma in his interpretations.

His slogan “Back to the Vedas” was a sort of affirmation to the 19th century Indian society that the Hinduism practiced then was not the real Hinduism but rather what was said in the Vedas – as he interpreted it – was the true Hinduism.

Given this reality, we cannot take Dayananda’s interpretation of the Vedas seriously for any scholarly work on the subject.

That said, it is important to mention here that Dayananda’s approach does not amount to blasphemy as far as Sanātana Dharma is concerned. Everyone has the freedom to explore the Hindu tradition through their own lens.

Just like the Arya Samaj, the Ramakrishna Mission too, has its own interpretation of Hinduism. As seekers of truth, we should not be blind to such interpretations. At the same time, one cannot claim that their school of interpretation is the last word on Hinduism.

If the supporters of the Arya Samaj make Swami Dayananda as some sort of a Hindu equivalent of a ‘last prophet,’ then much of the beauty, colour, and magnanimity of Hinduism will be lost.

Consequently, we will have to forget Rāma and Kṛṣṇa, Ayodhya and Mathura. However, the internal fortitude and openness of Hinduism helped us take the best of Dayananda’s teachings and filter out the rest.

The Rationalist View

Others have commented that in the modern society, which is built on secular values, we don’t need any religion by its brand name. They have opined that we have sufficient collective wisdom that will guide us towards greater good. Their argument seems to be, Why do we need the Vedas to tell us whether or not to eat beef?

But isn’t it true that millions of people around the world take refuge in their religion and look for divine dictates in matters of lifestyle, particularly to help them make the ‘right’ choices in their lives?

When we seek a ‘Hindu View,’ we have to rely on the various foundational texts of our tradition – the Vedas and Upaniṣads, the Purāṇas, the Darśanas, the Dharmaśāstras, and our epic literature, among others.

With regard to our approach to religious texts, there are four possibilities:

Discard all religious texts; we don’t need them

This is the view of the atheists, rationalists, and communists. Such an approach is akin to throwing the baby with the bathwater. It is impossible to discard completely the texts that have laid the foundation for a certain religious tradition. Further, many universal values found in these ancient texts can be a great guide to us even today.

Adhere to the text completely, without questioning or debate

This is the view of the Semitic faiths. Such an approach is akin to holding on to both the wheat and the chaff with no regard for changing times. It becomes terribly inconvenient for such people to adapt to social and cultural changes, especially in the wake of the modern inter-cultural societies. This naturally leads to an intolerance towards those outside the faith.

Selectively choose from the texts, and leave out the rest

Jain Monks

This is the view of many of the Oriental religions like Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism, as well as the liberal-minded people from other faiths. Such an approach is akin to separating milk from water, drinking the milk and throwing out the water. This is a utilitarian approach and is bound by spatio-temporal constraints. Since everyone is free to pick and choose, this naturally leads to the questioning of choices. Further, if the cherry-picking has been done by a renowned spiritual leader in the tradition, it gradually evolves into a new religion or sect.

Adhere to the text when it makes sense and transcend the text over time

This is the view of Hinduism. Such an approach draws its strength from a spiritual tradition that is magnanimous enough to embrace differences in physical manifestations but never loses sight of the greater truths. It makes provisions for the lay person who seeks a guide for his/her life as well as the realized ones who no longer need a special text to guide them. There is a subtle difference between this approach and the previous one in that there is dynamism inherent in this– it holds on to the fundamental principles while constantly allowing for change in contextual, worldly matters. In some sense, this is what we may call apauruṣeya (coming from a source beyond humans).

Once we understand these four modes, it becomes clear that while Hinduism has many texts, the wise men and women are constantly trying to transcend the text and lead their lives governed by the fundamental principles of dharma instead of being driven by a book or a prophet. It would be pertinent in this context to refer to our introductory articles, specially the one titled Foundational Texts of Hinduism, where we have discussed the topic of transcending the text with illustrative examples.

The Blind Conservative View

A few scholars agreed that our sources and arguments were rock-solid but said that it was inappropriate to dredge out uncomfortable truths from the past – especially in the wake of the beef-ban and its aftermath. They also accused us of adding to the confusion on this issue.

There is little doubt that the issue has been highly politicized and ever since the serial Islamic invasions of India, the slaughter of cows has been used simply as a perverse tool to wantonly offend Hindus.

Further, in the modern Hindu society, the cow is regarded as a sacred animal that should not be killed or harmed in any way. That said, there is no running away from the past and it is our responsibility to present an unbiased picture of our tradition.

Sure, there are uncomfortable truths in the history of Hinduism but it is impossible to cover them up – they can be accessed by anyone with a basic internet connection. And only when there is confusion do we need to write about it, instead of pushing it under the carpet.

It’s doubtless that there are several anti-Hindu forces using the same data and painting incomplete pictures of Hinduism. When this is the case, we can neither remain silent nor force-fit Vedic texts to suit personal or institutional biases and conservatism. A rational, scientific, and compassionate approach to the traditional texts is the need of the hour.

We take solace in the inspirational words of Swami Vivekananda who said,

Swami Vivekananda

“Tell the truth boldly, whether it hurts or not. Never pander to weakness. If truth is too much for intelligent people and sweeps them away, let them go; the sooner the better. Childish ideas are for babies and savages; and these are not all in the nursery and the forests, some of them have fallen into the pulpits. It is bad to stay in the church after you are grown up spiritually. Come out and die in the open air of freedom.”

We go a step further and urge these scholars to take a bolder stance while writing or conducting public discourse about Hinduism. They too have a responsibility in clearing the confusions that have been created. And clearly, this cannot be done by selectively quoting any text or any author.


In our previous article, we neither advocated meat-eating and alcoholism nor encouraged their prohibition. We just gave a holistic view of what Sanātana Dharma says about food and drink. And for those who might be interested, the authors are neither meat-eaters nor alcoholics and deeply revere the cow.

In this series of articles, we are trying to bring forth the varied views of our ancient seers, poets, philosophers, and lawgivers on specific topics. While they are unequivocal about universal wisdom – the sāmānya dharma part of it – they have diverse and even contradictory views on the contextual principles – the viśeṣa dharma part of it.

We will present an overall picture of what they have to say and let the readers come to their own conclusions.

The famed Kannada litterateur Dr. S L Bhyrappa says in the introduction of his 2007 novel Āvaraṇa that the present generation cannot be held responsible for the mistakes of their ancestors but if they engage in wholehearted and approving adulation of their ancestors without acknowledging their blunders, then they too partake in a share of the blame.

Keeping this is mind, let us explore the ideas and views of our ancestors – praise them for their brilliance, point out their blunders, and also understand those aspects which might have worked for them but are no longer relevant to us.

In the words of Prof. M Hiriyanna,

“When a new stage of progress is reached, the old is not discarded but is consciously incorporated in the new. It is the critical conservatism which marks Indian civilization.”

Unless we develop the capacity to stare at our society and tradition with confidence, integrity, criticality, and genuine affection, we cannot overcome the challenges we face.



  • Bhyrappa, S L. Āvaraṇa. Bangalore: SahityaBhandara, 2007
  • Hiryanna, M. Popular Essays in Indian Philosophy. “The Value of Sanskrit Learning and Culture.” Mysore: Kavyalaya Publications, 1952. p. 81
  • Shourie, Arun. Eminent Historians: Their Technology, their Line, their Fraud. New Delhi: ASA, 1998. p. 172
  • Shourie, Arun. World of Fatwas or the Shariah in Action. New Delhi: ASA, 1995. pp. 143-64
  • The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda. Vol. 7. Inspired Talks. <>
  • The History and Culture of the Indian People. Ed. Majumdar, R C. Vol. 10: British Paramountcy and Indian Renaissance, Part 2 [1818-1905]. Bombay: Bharatiya VidyaBhavan, 1951
Dr. Ganesh is a Shatavadhani, a multi-faceted scholar, linguist, and poet and polyglot and author of numerous books on philosophy, Hinduism, art, music, dance, and culture.
  • proudhindu81

    Instead of debating over what was food practice 3000 years ago , we should respect what are the views of Hindus now , cow is worshipped all over india and considered sacred , and this is one big uniting factor , except some hindu communities like keralites or certain dalits , so this prevailing view should be respected , because this has been the view for atleast 2000 years and probably much earlier and still , so cow slaughter should be banned .

  • ~rAGU

    Namaste Ganesh avre, thank you for this article. I noticed you explained ‘apaurusheya’ briefly.
    Koenard Elst in an article referred to it as ‘supernatural origin’ That, I thought, was incorrect. I sought some help validating my understanding I got it now in your article (sort of). Thank you. It may be worth elaborating. Really appreciate if you can help understand more about ‘apaurusheya’ when you find time.

  • Hariharan B.

    Mr. Ganesh, Vedas are completely different and it tells about the experience of the seers, called seers or riks. And vedas cannot be used for interpreting and
    judging various mundane matters which cannot be classified as vedas at
    all in the first place. There are lot of literature in this regard like
    smritis, etc., but which would have been altered/interpolated in later
    times. If you interpret based on this then you can prove/disprove anything. So this article loses all its base for its argument.

    • kangdev

      i’ve seen some hilarious things in my life.. but this nincompoop trying to lecture “Mr. Ganesh” about Vedas and riks and smritis takes the cake. ha ha.

      • Hariharan B.

        Very good, you are proving yourself to be a first class idiot and not me. Is Mr. Ganesh the authority on vedas? He is using vedas indiscriminately for everything. And what meat eating habit has got to do with vedas? Is there any logic in this? You have to read the vedanta acharyas for that. There a so many literature all coming under vedas, but not all are vedas obviously. Tell your points and argue. Keep your hero worship to yourself.

        • kangdev

          | Is Mr. Ganesh the authority on vedas?

          In a word. Yes.

          • Hariharan B.

            Then you and your guys are all wrong.

  • @colonelgerard

    Thanks to the authors for this beautifully written follow up piece. Completely agree that our approach – even on uncomfortable topics – must combine criticality, integrity & genuine affection.
    It is worth remembering that the original intent of the 1st article – which so many needlessly outraged over – was to present a summary of the Hindu view on food & drink over the centuries. It had nothing to do with the present events in the country & the disturbing manner in which they are being politicized by those who bear an antipathy towards Hindu culture & ethos. As a society, we need to distinguish between how to respond in face of this vicious manufactured outrage and the natural course of evolution of Hindu society.
    The learned authors have given us the unassailable facts. Based on this we must form a matured view on the subject without being distracted by the present politicization of various issues. Dear Authors, your approach of using primary sources & actual textual data is highly appreciated because it makes the discussion very objective & balanced.
    As such, it was outside the scope of the 1st article to delve into the topic of how forces hostile to the Hindu civilization may exploit the ambivalence of Indians towards beef (diverse as our society is) to wilfully offend Hindus & smother Hindu sensitivities. That needs to be dealt with at a different level and there are historical examples like Shivaji taking a stand in the very heart of the Adilshahi metropolis

    • @colonelgerard

      One last point: Saw a few comments where some would have preferred a more prescriptive approach. That’s where, as can be gauged from the various citations first article, things were never prescriptive in the Hindu view & views have gradually evolved over centuries, with various influences. So, we should look up to this articles to provide us the facts, not a top down prescription of what the Hindu view should be. With these facts, Hindus will indeed be equipped to take a more informed position 🙂

      • _chAyA_

        We may individually chose to take an informed position but that will not help us to take a “collective” stand. Isnt that what Hindus are always blamed for, their inability to take a stand collectively?

      • Jishnu

        “things were never prescriptive in the Hindu view”

        smRti-s, dharma SAstras, gRhya, dharma SUtras etc are all prescriptive. In fact mImAMsa itself divides instructive statements into vidhi, nishedha. One can at most say none of these prescriptions are written in stone for all time and space and can be contextualized, but it definitely cannot be called non-prescriptive.

    • Jishnu

      “was to present a summary of the Hindu view on food & drink over the centuries”

      As I said the problem is not with what was said but what was not said. It makes several assumptions about the nishedha without mentioning, which is problematic. For instance when it says “even cow”, does it not imply that there was indeed a special treatment that the “even” is trying to extend to? Was such special treatment mentioned? Similarly when SatarudrIya says “Svebhya” and “Svapatibhya” as “even dog-eaters” in the list along with vrAtya-s, taskara-s etc, is that not taken for granted to be negative and outside the valid/acceptable/praiseworthy? So there definitely was originally and is today, a known set of what is to be eaten and what is NOT to be eaten. And what is not to be eaten is never listed as not to be eaten – it is only indirectly said as a part of derogatory references to those to eat, as part of extensions such as “even that is eaten” and so on. These are implications that hint us at those prevailing standards and practices. So it is not as simply as saying “we had freedom” and “did not have hard and fast” rules. So the facts covered in the first article are rather superficial and far from complete or comprehensive.

      The second part of the problem is that Hindu view of one topic is related to other topics because H thought
      is a continuum and any single topic leads to implications on other topics. So the topic of food also leads to how in general nature was looked at and as what corollary food practices are adopted. If cow is not special and is seen as edible, why would anyone say “go-brAhmaNebhyo Subham bhavatu” every day? So it MUST be said that cow is NOT edible while there were exceptions. It is not said by the authors because it is assumed. These are assumptions that have implications, and that is the point in the outrage. The present wailing is that this point does not seem to be addressed and the concern expressed wasn’t probably understood in the first place.

  • Spark indi


    Thought 1: Quote this-quote that n prove that vedas/rishis endorse /follow non-vegetarianism.
    Thought 2: Quote this -quote that n prove that vedas/rishis endorse/follow vegetarianism.

    What is your thought process? Why not all sanskrit scriptures are fudged for a greater malicious agenda like this…Sanatanis keep mud slinging…hate their Dharma…

    “Evidential proof” a relative term and western way of thinking. I think you have ignored purposly “Pratyaksha PramANa”.

    How you are different from Doniger???

  • _chAyA_

    its a bit unsettling to read another of these neither here nor there articles from one who is well versed in traditions. /* let the readers come to their own conclusions. */ just like how universal adult franchise is a bad idea to sustain a civilization, this too wont work in the civilizational war with Abrahamics. incorporating old into new is a job/ duty of learned scholars ; unfortunately this is being left to the discretion of *readers* !

  • Bhartiya Agnostic

    posted in the other artcile section too. This was not expected from IndiaFacts team. Very disappointing indeed.

    The author has lifted arguments and monier-keith-griffith references from the 70s work “Beef in Ancient
    India” to wax eloquent about beef-eating in Hindu Scriptures.

    India facts Team is advised to peruse this work ‘ Review of “Beef in Ancient India”’
    which point by point demolishes all the arguments (using the same reference books, authors and material which the work in question cites)

    My two cents to the India Facts Team:

    Before publishing such articles do a basic counter argument search on the internet.

    When any tom dick and harry waxes eloquent on the veda mantras ..ask him to clarifiy his/her understanding of rishi , devata and chhanda and why their omission is juvinile while interpreting any veda mantra.

    IF you dare to take vedic terms like vrishabha, gau literally, you would again be proved an idiot in doing so. Because some mantras, even when taken literally lend themselves only to metaphors and not literalism.

    For example ..take the case of vrishabha which is translated as bull or ox by idiots.
    But these idiots turn speechless when encountered with mantras like Rig Veda 4:58:3

    catvāri śṛṅgā trayo asya pādā dve śīrṣe sapta hastāso asya |
    tridhā baddho vṛṣabho roravīti maho devo martyām̐ ā viveśa ||

    which bull has 4 horns, 3 feet, 2 heads , 7 hands !!?? none !

    If these idiots can find a bull like that, they can go ahead an eat its beef.

    ( BTW, the mantra has two meanings , both related to vyakarna and
    other to adhyatma darshana and none related to bull as such despite literally mentioning vrishabha ..go figure! )

    Vedas are too complex for copy paste artists to dabble in. Keep off if you can , is my humble advise.

    [Apologies for the harsh words …but this was a horribly irresponsible job from India Facts team and warranted
    such a response]

    • prashants5 .

      To interprete Veda correctly the basic qualification is someone should not only be a Sanskrit Expert but a True Yogi (who have realization and cosmic experience). Now you tell me how many you will find such true Yogi. The bookish translators are simply non-qualified to translate and interprete Veda. Veda is not a book or text to interprete it but to realization of high-end experience with Cosmos. Veda is simply non-translatable to any other language. Period.

      • Hariharan B.

        Yes, this is a good point. And vedas cannot be used for interpreting and judging various mundane matters which cannot be classified as vedas at all in the first place. There are lot of literature in this regard like smritis, etc., but which would have been altered/interpolated in later times. So this article loses all its base for this argument.

      • Bhartiya Agnostic

        Very True. Even Yaska Muni warns against mechanical interpretations. Rig Veda 1.164.39 itself highlights that the literalistic route (of contemplating on the Veda Mantras) will lead one nowhere.

        Unlike Bible/Quran verses or binary philosophical onanifications, Veda Mantras unfold multi-dimensional models of understanding, negotiating and assimilating the irrational Reality and causal Experience that confounds conscious self-reflecting beings like us.

        It’s no accident that mantras have rishis, devata and chhandas associated with them. The very fact that western indologists and their blind/unwitting followers omit these references while interpreting mantras, exposes their sham “scholarship”.

        The Hindu View needs serious protection from the westernised/abrahamised Hindus!

  • praful

    It is time that unified Hindu engagement is required to correctly understand the Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas etc and teach the same to the future generations of all caste and creed including tribals. There are different interpretations floating around written to suit their own agenda as a result of which Hindus end up fighting each other. In the course of this we will have to forego certain bad traditions like animal sacrifice etc and adopt good ones like having uniformity of good Hindu spiritual education and not through individual swamis. Unity of thought AND action are the need of the hour for the Hindus if they want their future generations to survive in space age for the next many milleniums. We have already lost eight thousand years after start of Kaliyug without staying United as a result of which all these years we have gone through strife, conquered by people of religions not native to India. This is an awesome challenge but worth taking. It may take decades to achieve this but is required for the benefit of our great nation and mankind.

  • Jishnu

    I re-read this to decipher how this is a clarification of Hindu view.

    Hindus have forever lived not just with uncomfortable realities but much more, so digging the “uncomfortable past” is never an issue. There must be a purpose and context for fact, which seems lacking – on which the sequel has sadly not thrown any light. Simply saying that there is no black and white and that all extremes exist, is stating the obvious. It serves no purpose, either in giving clarity or in putting things in perspective.

    There is no clarification on what is the purpose of the position taken here (namely the position of not taking a position), except in ought-s. No discourse is void of purpose. A position taken on any matter must fit the needs of time and space, without which it is an exercise in vanity.

    It is not relevant whether the authors revere cow or eat her (or both or none) – what matters is whether Hindus today, for their civilizational purposes, should take one position or the other. That it was done one way or the other in remote past is also irrelevant and does not automatically become Hindu view because Hindu view evolves and transforms in time and space. I do not also believe the authors need to be informed about the innumerable references where cows have been revered, protected, lives given for, worshiped. Textual references (not texts or their learning) are just a vanity in living traditions. It is the sense of proportion and perspective that matter. So the other statement that commenters have not provided references is unnecessary.

    The “blind conservative” and “rationalist” are simply two strawmen erected and demolished. The position taken is simply unproductive, bold or otherwise. Exploring the beauty and openness of tradition does not at all mean we do not take a position for today and make enough articulation on the position itself.

    There is also no relevance of truth here – because we are not at all contesting what is said but what is not said and is important.

    As regards selective quoting, that blame always exists on every one – literature is infinite and if one succeeds in presenting a proportionate picture one can call it a Hindu view. Is a proportionate picture given or merely a relative merit? So to say, in traditions over millennia what is the cow worshiping literature versus proportion of cow sacrificing versus cow preying?

    The position that Hindus have to take today, is within a society governed by a non-Hindu, anti-Hindu state and a society we share with our civilizational enemies. It is not a matter of discomfort or controversy – it is an existential struggle and to undermine it by engaging in literary vanities isn’t quite expected from Hindu scholars. Even if they are saying we should not go against cow slaughter it is fine – but even that is not being said. Basically nothing is being said. Which is why I used the word literary vanity – with all due respect.

    Shatavadhani is among the rarest who are both traditionally trained and makes a modern-suited articulation. So I understand it is more of a thankless job and people always see things wanting – just the way no matter how much sacrifice RSS does it is found badly wanting because of expectations. So I hope this comment is seen in perspective.

    • Anfauglir

      I think it is more than showing off their learning (as I on first glance thought it was), let alone the kinder attribution of “literary vanity” as you describe it.

      There are other factors behind the exercise, as is inherent in a comment by one vishvAsO vAsukijaH at the previous article:

      Since you now appear reasonable and are more interested in the “points”:
      Of course, “women used to symbolically copulate with dead horses in the ashwa medha”. Of course, there are pashu-yAga-s conducted even now. And, there were puruSha-medha-s conducted by our heroic kings ( read
      more here: https://manasataramgini.wordpr… ). Our people were not akin to neutered pets – they were tigers.

      As an aside, and though I know nothing of these matters myself, I do know that from the Indo-European point of view at least–and which is not my point of view at all–it can and will be argued that a rite of royalty copulating with horses was literally carried out, not symbolic. Indo-Europeanists, you see, have a counterpart for the literal practice as far away as among the Irish Celts, though the genders of the horse and human were swapped:
      See the top left on this page, where an image of a relevant sculpture is captioned with:

      Gratuitous horse-sex

      “As late as the end of the 12th century Geraldus Cambrensis reports that the kings of Clan Connaill continue to be inaugurated in the high style of their ancestors – by public copulation with a white mare.”

      – Thomas Cahill, How the Irish Saved Civilization, p135.

      Trust me, you will one day hear Indo-Europeanists–including the Indian kind–learn about the Celtic case and thereafter invoke instances such as the above as being indications of how this practice, despite inversion of gender, was “therefore widespread” in the “Indo-European world” and that India’s Vedic references are thus but another case in point and more proof of PIE & AIT.
      Then vishvAsO vAsukijaH and others alike will amend such a comment as above to admit literal–no longer merely symbolic–copulation with sacrificed horses as a sign of how “our ancestors were tigers”/that this was further indication of a ‘heroism’ thus defined.

      Perhaps they may even interpret that the horse is alive at the time of the copulation that they’d no longer be deeming symbolic? Considering that in my copy of the shrImad vAlmIki rAmAyaNam by Gorakhpur’s Gitapress, the horse and other animals are only mentioned as tied to the yUpas in Balakanda 14 shlokas 28-32, ending with:

      “the foremost of the best horses belonging to King Dasharatha (too), they say, was tied down there (32)”

      before the translation for next shlokas (33-37) then continues as follows, so that–my not knowing the details of the rite at all–I assume these animals including the horse are still alive at this point:

      “Consecrating the said horse on all sides (by sprinkling with water and so on) there, KausalyA (as also the other queens) touched it with great joy with three swords. (33) Nay, with intent to acquire religious merit KausalyA then spent one night with the said horse (swift as GaruDa, the king of the winged creation) with a perfectly composed mind. (34) (The four archpriests officiating at the sacrifice, viz.), the HotA, the Adhwaryu, the UdgAtA and the BrahmA then (at the close of the night) caused the king’s second wife (ordinarily belonging to the Vaishya class and bearing the generic name of VAvAtA) along with the first wife (bearing the class-name of MahiShI) as well as the third wife (known by the class-name of ParivR^itti) to be brought into contact with the horse. (35) Taking out the edible part of the tuber known by the name of the Ashwakanda (or AshwagandhA, the plant Phys lis flexuosa), the (chief) priest, who had (duly) controlled his senses and possessed great skill in performing sacrificial rites, cooked it according to the scriptural ordinance. (36) The king smelt at the proper time according to the scriptural ordinance the odour of the steam of the tuber, driving away (thereby) his sin (standing in the way of his getting a son). (37)

      Then the translation of the next set of shlokas (38 and onward) no longer seems to mention the horse explicitly, so that a lay person such as myself still doesn’t know what happened to it:

      All the sixteen BrAhmaNa priests (taking part in the sacrificial performances) in a body cast into the (sacrificial) fire with due ceremony all the articles worth consigning into the fire as parts of a horse-sacrifice. (38)

      Now, going by the translations, I can see the average Hindu reading the above as having no idea what happened to the horse (“maybe it was still alive, since only AshvagandhA tubers were cooked while prescribed ‘articles’ were ‘cast into the fire’ and since the horse was only ‘touched’ with the 3 swords by the 3 queens rather than literally stabbed”). I can see the average Hindu concluding that the queens merely spent the night in the stable in the presence of the horse, nothing more, and that being “brought into contact with the horse” by the officiating brAhmaNas similarly meant they were merely made to touch the horse at the prescribed juncture in the rite.

      But I can also see the Romila Thapars and especially the School of Wendy Doniger Spawn (including Devdutt Patnaik) concluding that the above are allusions to literal bestiality (besides a literal sacrifice of the animals).

      VAsukijaH has already insisted on 3/4ths of it with his “symbolic copulation with a dead horse”; and in time, Indo-Europeanism will no doubt guide him and others of the kind to affirm the last 1/4th too in stating matter-of-factly that (regardless of whether the horse was dead or alive at this point) Vedic queens literally copulated with it.

      It always mattered little to me either way: I know for a fact that royal rites involving literal copulation with a domesticated animal (dead or alive) as a symbolic ritual of the king acquiring lordship by valid means and for his securing agricultural fecundity for the land [and fecundity for his wife or wives]–in references to Arthurian Romances I think this was referred to as the king “marrying the land”–was seen in many nations, including among at least one ancient African community, so it is not uniquely nor originally Indo-European (“sorry”). And further, whether anything was literal in the past–or not–has never affected how they’ve at minimum not been literally taking place for a long time now. [And the Celtic case was further more invasive, since that was a male human (the king) copulating with a mare. But even that I don’t judge, since they were heathens, and there is no comparison to the modern Europeans produced by 1.5 millennia of christianity who are actually into bestiality: sexually tormenting animals for their own sociopathic tendencies.]

      But, although even literalism–if it had ever been the case in the remote past–would not make me blench, it may be a different case with those who proudly proclaim the definition of our ancestors as tigers for mere “symbolic” copulation (before they feel ready by tomorrow to claim it is literal after all, so that they can still feel connected to their Indo-European world).

      All that was the aside.

      There’s still some things to be said regarding your final paragraph:

      Traditional training does not imply that the person who undergoes it is traditional in all respects. To produce a representative requires not only traditional training but a proper student for the purpose. Else what you produce is what you put in. E.g. even if a person with Indo-Europeanist tendencies undergoes traditional training, that won’t make their Indo-Europeanism any more traditional. Though it can be argued that the traditional training they underwent merely armed their Indo-Europeanism to make them more ably subversionist.

      Another example is that there was news of people from the Vatican State–numbering 30 or so, from memory–declaring they were no longer christians and “converting” to Hinduism, who have been doing everything to convince gullible Hindus to give them traditional training (in the Vedas no less). Tomorrow, these will reveal their true catholic colours once more, when they start re-interpreting Vedic rituals as referring to jesus/the biblical mono-entity (the way Vedic rituals were similarly commandeered by inculturation by converts to Buddhism in Japan, so that homas were subsequently re-interpreted as being centred on Buddhas instead).

      And for all the insults heaped against the RSS for allegedly lacking intellect, one may observe in their favour that despite their occasionally being misdirected or making thoughtless statements or taking what now comes off looking as comparatively minor self-defeatist positions, at least their alleged lack of intellect (or else perhaps something positive in them?) may account for them being incapable of being quite such a potent poison to the overall Hindu society and its cause as ‘traditionally trained/armed’ and capable subversionists, whose intellect merely swells their capacity to injure Hindus.

      If on account of the previous article the argument of the Hindu-baiters and cow-killers in India is strengthened, and if as some consequence of their adding fuel to the enemies’ fire, more cows are ever killed (foremost the native cows, which it is our duty to protect), then the article writers and its applauders may live with their part in it. I’m sure they can and that they will never see that they were part of the problem and how they contributed to aggravating it. They are content to blast the Hindu masses as ignorant losers to score petty “intellectual” (self-goal) victories. Their high disdain for those who would defend their heathenism despite these not being armed with the knowledge to do so is so palpable. Perhaps such self-conceit is the definition of “tigers” (heroes) in their mind.

      I don’t know about tigers, but I know of great men. There was a noble non-vegetarian and rather well-loved and well-remembered heathen king living in a far-off clime, who was rather frugal with meat-eating but diligent with prescribed sacrifices. He eschewed violence against those who harmed his people not, including violence for the sake of it (such as against animals he did not intend to eat), but he did not spare the enemies of his heathenism–those infested with the christian meme–and would not hesitate to plot their demise starting with that of the meme. Wisdom is knowing who one’s enemies are and reserving violence for those that deserve it, realising when it can be circumvented by other means but also knowing when violence is at last called for instead of shrinking from it; not praising adherence to prescribed (animal) sacrifices as being the alleged hallmarks of a population made of “tigers”. While there’s no shame there’s no particular pride either attached to people making animal sacrifices. It is or was prescribed, and that is all. Their being unjustly blasted for it, let alone being embellished for the practice as this being some sign of their “heroism”/tiger nature (when carrying out prescribed animal sacrifices diligently bears no relevance to heroism, though it may to heathenism) is a post-colonial interpretation by a wannabe heathen population so shamed into thinking everyone else must be cowardly, that they lionise irrelevant features, while failing to recognise those defining qualities which truly made our ancestors heroic and good. Which defining qualities were coincidentally (or rather, not by chance) also seen in the heathen–but not Hindu–king from long ago and far away that I alluded to. Good men seem to become rarer by the day. Great men seem to have gone extinct.

      And as for hiding behind the excuse of “only telling the truth” (well, the whole truth about the horse copulation awaits further Indo-Europeanist intellectual churning, I suspect, until the lecturers find themselves ready to lecture to the Hindu masses on that subject too), I think that entry in the MahAbhAratam may be relevant where Krishna explains the subtleties of when truths can end up serving adharma–like serving the monotheisms including communism and psecularism. (The relevant section starts with the line “Morality is even so difficult of being understood.”)

      But mustn’t quote from the MahAbhAratam to those sufficiently learned as to declare there are intricacies that go beyond my limited understanding. Therefore, I will quote from a trivial, non-Hindu fiction text by a non-heathen of an anti-heathenism moreover, who nevertheless eerily seemed to describe the character of the aforementioned heathen king:

      “War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend:”
      heathenism, and the need to defend it and all those upholding it–by the warrior, using his sword and arrows and every faculty at his disposal. But the warrior who is also so much more than that and who thus, in better times, would have been but known for the learned heathen man of sense and humanity that he was, despite his able skills with weaponry. And such exactly was the historical heathen king: a great warrior and leader in war, but greater still in sense and understanding. (And who was so much better than the fictional character from the book I have selectively quoted out of context.) We must all be that man.

      • Jishnu

        I will respond more elaborately soon, a quick response before that.

        While the arguments will easily be counter productive as they can be used more by the enemy than the dhArmic beneficiaries, behind such articles one can see a nobler intention also, namely softening the vegetarians and non-vegetarians in H to each other by citing references to both. Just that I believe it is a ground organizational and not a literary activity. So the level at which it is done it has more potential for side effects than achieving such results.

        I am generally not sympathetic to indology driven, IE kind scholarship as it goes by literary rather than lived experience. After all a girl in a wedding rite is given unto gandharva before the husband, would one call it symbolic or literal! Ultimately at one point it comes down to how much the scholarship is able to put these in perspective and how much is given up to the anti-heathen attacks “see we told you are barbarians, your apologists deny but scholars support that view” as ammunition. Because as Sitaram Goel said, it is not just about anti-heathen polemic but a fight for the heathen mind itself, to make them see the problem. Even from that viewpoint we need a very well crafted and well covered argument.

      • Jishnu

        Sorry for taking long.

        I cannot put the author and others like viSvAs in one category. While the latter can be IE kind (I do not know for sure), it is very doubtful Shatavadhani is (so for the present discussion it is better we leave them out and stick to what the author himself is saying so we do not attribute to the author what he is not saying).

        “Traditional training does not imply that the person who undergoes it is traditional in all respects. ”

        That problem is pervasive (and expected), and effects scholarship because scholars are surviving in an anti-H society by balancing their modernism with tradition. The question is whether one rejects part of tradition for not being suitable/modern enough or just remains agnostic without being judgmental or tries to swim against the tide to uphold for its importance.

        Having heard his elaborate and valuable speeches his stand is more like “yes we have all kinds of practices there is no need to own them or be shy of them”. I find that approach practical yet insufficient because it is from them that we expect to hear proper polemic and “intellectual defense” not from Vamsee Juluri kind.

        I can relate to people trying to show-off, and also IE kind thinking, and in those cases fully agree with your criticism (while there is no need to take names). But am not sure that applies to Shatavadhani.

        As an aside, one can find the same exact trait of pointing at “uncomfortable truth” in the RSS folk when you try to tell them why one should not attribute to society problems that are not inherent but are imposed externally (ex slavery feudalism etc) and why it leads to wrong diagnosis and hence wrong solutions. I do not want to psychoanalyze that, but my point is that it is probably not necessarily a scholarship problem and is common to many well meaning H. I can cite another example from Shatavadhani’s speeches – the way he reacts to the argument that Ravana enjoyed Sita and the H superstition insisting that he could not have touched her. Now there is a reason why it is said that Ravana could not touch Sita, that Pandavas were born to Devatas. When one says “on worldly plane we cannot deny these” it is conceding where there is no need to concede. But leaving that he explains for the uninformed how to resolve such things and not be apologetic while facing these. So what he is saying is very much as an insider, not as an IE-thinker-turned-H-scholar.

        In scholarship itself, there are a few more streaks visible. For over a century H craved to show how “Hinduism” is a religion similar to Christianity with its supreme God Isvara, while being more tolerant. There was a streak that then said it is a way of life not a religion. Then there is now a tendency to show how it is not like Christianity and how it is beyond the “moral ought” and “open & dynamic”, how we are not “people of the book” and so on. So besides trying to address unnecessary rivalries among H in these matters one can find such portrayal.

        We have to depend on books to an extent, while the real question is whether we give primacy to Sabda pramANa over pratyaksha & anumAna or the other way round. When I say literary vanity I also mean that dependence on text is not sufficiently subordinated to known past and its continuity with present. “Going to original texts” is in itself only partially meaningful in H case because

        1. we regard SRti to be higher authority than smRti
        2. But the whole Sabda pramANa itself comes after pratyaksha and anumAna

    • ~rAGU

      I think you need little bit of humility. When those who have spent lives on understanding our tradition explain things, it becomes ‘educating’ not vanity. Sad state of things is that we do not seek to learn from learned but when they explain on their own we call it vanity! Not at all good for learning.

      • Jishnu

        I think you need comprehension – did I call educating part vanity or “not so educating” part vanity? Did you understand my comment?

        • ~rAGU

          You admitted that you see no ‘purpose’. I on the other hand have no problem finding the purpose. I will leave it to you to comprehend who needs ‘comprehension’. Thank you for replying.

          • Jishnu

            Well you will have to leave it to me because you could not make any statement yourself, showing either your understanding or a comment on mine. I cannot thank you for vacuous claims.

          • ~rAGU

            You failed to comprehend the purpose of the article. You failed to comprehend that was the statement I was making. What are you going about complaining others do not understand? Again thank you for replying!

          • Jishnu

            That is what I called a vacuous claim. You failed to demonstrate that you did understand the purpose or that I have failed. In three comments you said NOTHING except trying to act smart. Neither about the purpose that you claim to have understood nor about how I miss the purpose or what of it. So having entertained you thrice, I will ignore your posts except if they have any content.

          • ~rAGU

            You are admitting that without it being explicitly stated you do not know the purpose. I will not help you understand the purpose or position but ask you to read the first comment again. Thank you for replying.

  • Akash Ravianandan

    Dear Dr. Ganesh,

    While fully respecting your views and scholarship I would like to clarify some points which do not require scholarship from my side.
    You say you intend to give an overview on the Hindu view. I revisited your earlier article and here are some points:-
    1) With respect to citations from scriptures provided for Hindu view pitching for vegetarianism and those pitching for meat eating, the number of such citations is extremely skewed. While you cite 5 times for the former, you cite 18 times for the later. 5 vs 18 is not at all balanced.
    2) This may in fact be true that there are not much references for advocating vegetarianism. Is this true? Then we rather accede to the secularist view that Hindu adoption of vegetarianism was to meet the challenge of Buddhism and Jainism. In your article also you suggest the same in one instance
    3) You may also say quantity is not equal to quality i.e. is number of citations does not reduce the value of the citations that advocate vegetarianism. But even in that aspect, your article gives more force for the meat eating version when you say “Vegetarians must not adopt a holier than thous stance” etc etc. If not holier than thou, why would scriptures even suggest it. Why would self control and reducing ones freedom for compassion be a matter of discussion?
    4) As a direct question to you, do you think Hinduism can ever be a force of bringing in more peace and compassion? Can it advocate vegetarianism in any big way? You miss the point by a long shot when you say that any ecological advantage gained by adopting vegetarian diet is lost if attention is not paid to food processing etc. While agreeing to the latter, around 4-5 times the land required to sustain a vegetarian population is required to sustain a meat eating population. It is causing more damage to the environment than all transport combined.
    5) Do you think comparing situation ages ago to present day situation is fine? You did make such comparison in your own opinion that vegetarians must not adopt a holier than thou attitude. I do not think Hindus of the past slaughtered few hundred million animals each day nor adopt such horrific breeding and caging practices as we are adopting today. This is what we do day in and day out in a “civilized” manner.

    Finally to put it bluntly as a Hindu, what we are doing to animals in our present day is nothing less than adharma and I can say that without need for citation. Only Hinduism has all sides of the debate for advocating vegetarianism covered. This idea is based on solid metaphysics, encouragement of ahimsa, health and even psychological benefits of food having Sattva, Rajas and Tamas gunas. It has a rounded view to help us move forward. It is for Hindus of today to decide if they will hold on to citations from scripture for their own benefit or move forward making some sacrifice. At this rate, sometime in the future, Hindus will get lectured on animal rights. Are we going to come to that? This is one field we are naturally positioned to lead and we are losing that position.
    P.S. I am not advocating any ban or anything. Just a tilt of the mind towards compassion. Do we find such space in Hinduism?


  • Arun

    Great article!

    a. There is no “final word” on Hinduism. There is only less or more alignment with older traditions.

    b. If we revere the cow today but not so much 3000 years ago, then per the Semitic faiths, that is an unwarranted innovation (when did G-d/Jesus/Allah tell you to change?); but for us, it is progress.

  • JagatguruDas

    It doesn’t matter what rishis did with cows. It’s clear that they are banned in Kaliyuga. The matter ends there.

  • kedar

    There is total Concordance of Mayan of South and Meso Americas and Sanskrit – Bharath Languages – should shut the bla of idiots – Read Suryasiddhantha and lo you have the truths of the veda – Why has there been no single study except Shri.P.M.Oaks in passing reference to World Vedic Heritage? Get yourslf Monier William’s Sanskrit Dictionary 1899 and know true structure of any f language

  • krishnakumar

    Well presented article from Ganesh MahaSaya. Shruti says : satyamvada. The beginning of the article looked a bit apologetical which was not necessary. Truth shall be spoken and boldly spoken. And you have done that without any compromise. The third section of this article was titled **blind conservative view***. It should have been titled simply as ***blind view***.

    You should continue to present facts as they are without sugar quoting it. Its utterly foolish to think as if you are feeding anti Hindu elements. In the age of internet any and everything is open to any and everybody.

    The Hindu discourse shall be built on the base of truth truth and truth only. And truth can not and should not offend anyone.

    By Hindu thoughts, I have been observing you to deliberate only on the ways of vaidikas. I wish to emphasise that as per the law of the country all Hindustanis other than christians, moslems and parsis are known as Hindus.

    If possible please try also to compile the views from samskruta and prakruta jina and baudha granthas …….. vamachara schools of thoughts also……. to actually brand it as Hindu view. Or else you may suitably rename the caption as vaidika view.

    The earlier article provided a scholarly and holistic view on the topic. That article did not advocate either meat eating or alcohol. Only those who intended to misinterpret portrayed it as conveying such a message.

    A scholarly and holistic view of Hinduism is the need of the hour. Whether you present just the views of vaidikas or an all compassing Hindu view, we very badly need a holistic view. Please enlighten us.

  • kedar

    screw the views here’s the constittuion of india

  • kedar

    Fuck the views – Here’s the Constitution

    • Hariharan B.

      Well said, Kedar. we are all debating for nothing. Yes, Centre should take a stand based on the above and enact appropriate law and end this menace.


    I am sure and i bet if u have guts publish all views and human nature of christianity and islam

    • Jishnu

      Well if you read the various articles on this website you would know that such views are published here more vocally than many others. So reserve this challenge for libs instead of dharmic ones.

  • Bhargav Dave

    Karl Marx ke vansojo. Apne kitaabi divalyepan se bahar niklo. Duniya me raho aur Duniya Dekho. Har cheez me “Hindu View of” wali apni fantasy dalna bandh karo.

    Bahut dekhe apke jaise padhe-likhe gawaar jinme nahi hota Parmatma ka sanchaar.

  • Jishnu

    A greatly welcome clarification (we were wanting to see if not hoping). Many thanks to the authors for attending to the readers’ views and responding. It can be generally expected that the authors are experts of SAstra and readers are not counter arguing. So a reader’s response is better seen in the light of a less informed yet concerned reader than as a refutation of a critic.

    Also profusely appreciate IndiaFacts for their commitment to dharma (and by corollary free speech), even after some rash comments and announcement of closing of comments allowed the readers to explain themselves.

    The conclusion says –

    “In our previous article, we neither advocated meat-eating and alcoholism nor encouraged their prohibition.”

    Which precisely was the concern expressed by few readers including me. While there were rash comments trying to find fault with the learned authors (there were no inaccuracies), it is a question of perspective given to general audience versus an academic engagement about the presence versus absolute absence. The question really IS about the stand and recommendation, and not about nuances. After all those are useful between two SishTa vipras, and irrelevant when one panDita is explaining the common folk HOW they should be understanding the topic and what principle they should ultimately stick to. As a reader I look forward to such clarity also, and not merely clarity in understanding the nuances. In fact I expressed hope on the previous article that there would be a sequel that comes up with such stand, which is sadly missing here.

    “We will present an overall picture of what they have to say and let the readers come to their own conclusions.”

    I do not see merit in this approach, rather it results in counter productive debates like it did last time. A productive debate should come from a well defined and confined expression of a topic rather than simply sketching the spectrum of possibilities. A hindu reader generally understands the difference between extremes, exceptions and norms. So what one really needs to get is a sense of proportion between these, and not merely a relative merit of practices. That will greatly help the readers.

  • shriramdongre

    Very bold & brilliant article. Thanks to Shatavadhani Dr.Ra Ganesh Sir and team indiafacts for giving space for this much needed article.

  • NikhilD

    With all due respect to the erudite authors, the previous article was panned because it was a poor article.
    The tone and tenor of the article seemed to suggest as if it were a plea to the abrahamics and liberals not to hate hindus because look we’re like yourselves too,we believe the same things too!

    • shriramdongre

      The last Article was profound and also simple and as it is. It is understandable that Truth becomes hard to digest for some people who mistify truth to safeguard there idiology. But plz dont give the name ‘Sanatan dharma’ to that weekest idiology. Sanatana dharma is much more than what you people present as sanatan dharma.

      • NikhilD

        As a seeker of truth, I’m not blind to your take. At
        the same time, one cannot claim that yours is
        the last word on Sanatana Dharma.

        • shriramdongre

          If the content in that article is wrong why dont you people write an befitting article to point out the mistake? IndiFacts has already anounced that it will publish it but no one willing to do it..

  • Sibby

    In earlier days, savior of life was considered greater than the killer. But now days due to Mass media. savior of life is considered as terrorist while the killer is idolized.