His Story

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Phenomenol Growth of Abrahmic Religons in India

Can a community grow by a percentage figure of almost 75% in 20 years? Seems implausible, but that's what happened in India over the period of 1990 - 2010. Islamic population has increased by around 100 million in 1990 to over 177 million at the end of 2010 - that itself represents a growth rate of 75%! This is shocking, and reveals that at this rate, a population boom seems unavoidable. Couple this with low degree of education, and radicalization of children - and you have all the conditions set for rise in extremism.

The information is based on the Pew Research Report on Religion, and a brief overview can found in -

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Vegetaranism : For the Good of our Planet

Will Facts and Figures change your opinions?

Here we approach the issue from another perspective, examining the devastating harm caused by a meat-laden diet–not only to the animal which is killed and eaten, but also to the meat-eater himself, to humanity as a whole and to our very planet. The following presentation is based on the poster, “How to win an argument with a meat-eater,” published by Earthsave, of Felton, California, giving facts from Pulitzer Prize nominee John Robbins’ book, Diet for a New America. This version details ten arguments against meat eating.

1. The Hunger Argument
The world’s massive hunger problems could be greatly alleviated by reducing or elimination meat-eating. Vast quantities of food suitable for humans are fed to livestock for meat production–wasting most of its protein in the process; in addition, the huge acreages now used as pasture for meat animals would produce much more human food if converted to grains and vegetables.
This year alone, twenty million people worldwide will die of malnutrition. One child dies of malnutrition every 2.3 seconds. One hundred million people could be adequately fed using the land freed if Americans reduced their intake of meat by a mere 10%. Eighty percent of the corn and 95% of the oats grown in the US is eaten by livestock. The percentage of protein wasted by cycling grain through livestock is calculated by experts as 90%. One acre of good farmland can produce 40,000 pounds of potatoes, or 250 pounds of beef. Fifty-six percent of all US farmland is devoted to beef production, and to produce each pound of beef requires 16 pounds of edible grain and soybeans, which could be used to feed the hungry.

2. The Environmental Argument
Many of the world’s massive environmental problems—including global warming, loss of topsoil, loss of rain forests and species extinction—could be solved by the reduction or elimination of meat-eating. The meat industry’s voracious need for pasturelands is the primary force driving the destruction of old-growth forests–which are essential to the survival of the planet. Their destruction is a major cause of global warming and of the rapidly escalating losses of topsoil and endangered-species habitat. Two hundred sixty million acres of US forestland have been cleared for meat production. An alarming 75% of all US topsoil has been lost to date,and fullly 85% of this loss is directly related to livestock raising. Another devastating result of meat-eating is the loss of plant and animal species. Each year 1,000 species disappear due to destruction of tropical rain forests for cattle grazing and other uses—driven by US demand for meat. The rate is growing yearly.

3. The Cancer Argument
Those who eat flesh are far more likely to contract cancer than those following a vegetarian diet. The risk of contracting breast cancer is 3.8 times greater for women who eat meat daily compared to less than once a week; 2.8 times greater for women who eat eggs daily compared to once a week; and 3.25 greater for women who eat processed butter and cheese two to four times a week as compared to once a week. The risk of fatal ovarian cancer is three times greater for women who eat eggs three or more times a week as compared with less than once a week. The risk of fatal prostate cancer is 3.6 times greater for men who consume meat, eggs, processed cheese and milk daily as compared with sparingly or not at all.

4. The Cholesterol Argument
The average cholesterol consumption of a meat-centered diet is 210 milligrams per day. The chance of dying
from heart disease if you are male and your blood cholesterol intake is 210 milligrams a day is greater than 50%. It is strange but true that US physicians are as a rule poorly educated in the single most important factor of health, namely diet and nutrition. As of 1987, of the 125 medical schools in the US, only 30 required their students to take a course in nutrition. The average nutrition training received by the average US physician during four years in school is only 2.5 hours. Thus doctors in the US are ill equipped to advise their patients in minimizing foods, such as meat, that contain excessive amounts of cholesterol and are known causes of heart attack .
Heart attack is the most common cause of death in the US, killing one person every 45 seconds. The male meat-eater’s risk of death from heart attack is 50%. The risk to men who eat no meat is only 15%. Reducing
one’s consumption of meat, processed dairy products and eggs by 10% reduces the risk of heart attack by 10%. Eliminating all of these products from one’s diet reduces the risk of heart attack by 90%.
5. The Natural Resources Argument
The world’s natural resources are being rapidly depleted as a result of meat-eating. Raising livestock for their meat is a very inefficient way of generating food. Pound for pound, far more resources must be expended
to produce meat than to produce grains, fruits and vegetables. For example, more than half of all water used for all purposes in the US is consumed in livestock production. The amount of water used in production of the average cow is sufficient to float a destroyer (a large naval ship).
While 25 gallons of water are needed to produce a pound of wheat, 5,000 gallons are needed to produce a pound of California beef. That same 5,000 gallons of water can produce 200 pounds of wheat. Thirty-three percent of all raw materials (base products of farming, forestry and mining, including fossil fuels) consumed
by the US are devoted to the production of livestock, as compared with two percent to produce a complete vegetarian diet.
6. The Antibiotic Argument
Another danger of eating meat is the fact that large amounts of antibiotics are fed to livestock to control staphylococci (commonly called staph infections). The animals being raised for meat in the United
States are diseased. The livestock industry attempts to control the various diseases by feeding the animals huge quantities of antibiotics. Of all antibiotics used in the US, 55% are fed to livestock. But the diseasecausing
bacteria are rapidly becoming immune to the antibiotics, thus endangering humans who depend on these antibiotics to combat disease. The percentage of staphylococci infections resistant to penicillin, for example, has grown from 13% in 1960 to 91% in 1988. These antibiotics and/or the super-resistant bacteria they were intended to destroy remain in the meat that goes to market. The European Economic Community banned the importation of US meat because of this routine feeding of antibiotics.

7. The Mad Cow Argument
In February, 2001, Cornell University reported, “Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), also known as mad cow disease, has now been officially identified  in a dozen European countries including the UK, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Belgium, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Portugal, Switzerland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands..

8. The Pesticide Argument
US-produced meat contains dangerously high quantities of deadly pesticides. Many people believe that the USDA protects consumers’ health through regular and thorough meat inspection. In reality, fewer than one out of every 250,000 slaughtered animals is tested for toxic chemical residues.A study of mothers’ milk in the US has clearly demonstrated that these chemicals are ingested by the meat-eater: 

a. Ninety-nine percent of the meat-eating mothers in the study produced milk with significant levels of DDT–compared to only 8% of the vegetarian mothers’ milk. This shows that the primary source of DDT
is the meat ingested by the mothers.
b. The breast milk of meat-eating mothers has 35 times more chlorinated hydrocarbon pesticides than the milk of non meat-eating mothers.
c. The average breast-fed American infant contains nine times the permissible level of the pesticide dieldrin, which (though now banned in the US) continues to accumulate in the food chain and often exceeds safety
guidelines in fish and seafood.

9. The Ethical Argument
Many people have become vegetarians after reading about or personally experiencing what goes on daily at any one of the thousands of slaughterhouses in the US and other countries, where animals suffer thecruel process of forced confinement, manipulation and violent death. Their pain and terror is beyond calculation. Most slaughterhouse workers are not on the job for long and have the highest turnover rateof all occupations. It also has the highest rate of on-the-job injury. In the US alone, 1.14 million animals are killed for meat every hour. The average per capita consumption of meat in the US, Canada and Australia is 200 pounds per year! The average American consumes in a 72-year lifetime approximately eleven cattle, three lambs and sheep, 23 pigs, 45 turkeys, 1,100 chickens and 862 pounds of fish!

10. The Physiological Argument
The final argument against meat-eating is that humans are physiologically not suited for a carnivorous diet. The
book Food for the Spirit, Vegetarianism in the World Religions, summarizes this point of view as follows. “Many nutritionists, biologists and physiologists offer convincing evidence that humans are in fact not meant to eat flesh.…” The book gives seven facts in support of this view:

1. Physiologically, people are more akin to plant-eaters, foragers and grazers, such as monkeys, elephants and cows, than to carnivore such as dogs, tigers and leopards.

2. For example, carnivores do not sweat through their skin; body heat is controlled by rapid breathing and  extrusion of the tongue. Vegetarian animals, on the other hand, have sweat pores for heat control
and the elimination of impurities.

3. Carnivora have long teeth and claws for holding and killing prey; vegetarian animals have short teeth and no claws.

4. The saliva of carnivora contains no ptyalin and cannot predigest starches; that of vegetarian animals contains ptyalin for the predigestion of starches.

5. Flesh-eating animals secrete large quantities of hydrochloric acid to help dissolve bones; vegetarian animals secrete little hydrochloric acid.

6. The jaws of carnivora only open in an up and down motion; those of vegetarian animals also move sideways for additional kinds of chewing.

7. Carnivores must lap liquids, as a cat does; vegetarian animals take liquids in by suction through the teeth.

Vegetaranism : a Lifestyle for Inculcating Compassion

Vegetarianism was for thousands of years a principle of health and environmental ethics throughout India. Though Muslim and Christian colonization radically undermined and eroded this ideal, it remains to this day a cardinal ethic of Hindu thought and practice. A subtle sense of guilt persists among Hindus who eat meat, and even they will abstain at special times. For India’s ancient thinkers, life is seen as the very stuff of the Divine, an emanation of the Source and part of a cosmic continuum. They further hold that each life form,even water and trees, possesses consciousness and energy. Nonviolence,ahimsa, the primary basis of vegetarianism, has long been central to the religious traditions of India—especially Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. Religion in India has consistently upheld the sanctity of life, whether human or animal.

The Sanskrit word for vegetarianism is shakahara, and one following a vegetarian diet is a shakahari. Hindu vegetarians commonly consume milk products, but not eggs, which are definitely a meat product, containing cholesterol which is only present in animal flesh. The term for meat-eating is mansahara, and the meat-eater is called mansahari.Ahara means “to consume or eat,” shaka means “vegetable,” and mansa means“meat or flesh.” The very word mansa, “meat,” conveys a deep appreciation of life’s sacredness and an understanding of the law of karma by which the consequence of each action returns to the doer. 

As explained in the 2,000- year-old Manu Dharma Shastra,5.55, “The learned declare that the meaning of mansa (flesh) is, ‘he (sa) will eat me (mam) in the other world whose flesh I eat here.’

” There developed early in India an unparalleled concern for harmony among life forms, and this led to a common ethos based on noninjuriousness and a minimal consumption of natural resources—in otherwords, to compassion and simplicity. If Homo sapiens is to survive his present predicament, he will have to rediscover these two primary ethical virtues.

Is Vegetarianism Integral to Noninjury?
In Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami’s book, Dancing with Siva, this question is addressed as follows: “Hindus teach vegetarianism as a way to live with a minimum of hurt to other beings, for to consume meat, fish, fowl or eggs is to participate indirectly in acts of cruelty and violence against the animal kingdom. The abhorrence of injury and killing of any kind leads quite naturally to a vegetarian diet,shakahara. The meat-eater’s desire for meat drives another to kill and provide that meat. The act of the butcher begins with the desire of the consumer. Meat-eating contributes to a mentality of violence, for with the chemically complex meat ingested, one absorbs the slaughtered creature’s fear, pain and terror. These qualities are nourished within the meat-eater, perpetuating the cycle of cruelty and confusion. When the individual’s consciousness lifts and expands, he will abhor violence and not be able to even digest the meat, fish, fowl and eggs he was formerly consuming. India’s greatest saints have confirmed that one cannot eat meat and live a peaceful, harmonious life. Man’s appetite for meat inflicts devastating harm on Earth itself, stripping its precious forests to make way for pastures. The Tirukural candidly states, ‘How can he practice true compassion who eats the flesh of an animal to fatten his own flesh? Greater than a thousand ghee offerings consumed in sacrificial fires is not to sacrifice and consume any living creature.’ ”
Amazingly, some people define vegetarian as a diet which excludes the meat of animals but does permit fish and eggs. But what really is vegetarianism? Vegetarian foods include grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes and dairy products. Natural, fresh foods, locally grown without insecticides or chemical fertilizers, are preferred. A vegetarian diet does not include meat, fish,fowl, shellfish or eggs. For good health, even certain vegetarian foods are minimized: frozen and canned foods, highly processed foods, such as white rice, white sugar and white flour; and “junk” foods and beverages—those with abundant chemical additives, such as artificial sweeteners, colorings,flavorings and preservatives.
According to Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, “In my forty years of ministry it has become quite evident that vegetarian families have far fewer problems than those who are not vegetarian. If children are raised as vegetarians, every day they are exposed to nonviolence as a principle of peace and compassion. Every day they are growing up they are remembering and being reminded to not kill. They won’t even kill another creature to eat, to feed themselves And if they won’t kill another creature to feed themselves, they will be much less likely to do acts of violence against people.”

Vegetarian Animals
Vegetarians come in all sizes and shapes, but the elephant is the largest of all, with a sophisticated social life, loving and affectionately caring for its own. Elephants live long, vigorous lives, have a very large brain and, of course, are renowned for their excellent memory. They do not suffer any weakness for not eating meat. In fact, so many muscular and the most intelligent animals—the horse, the cow, giraffe, zebra, rhinoceros, the apes, and more—are lifelong vegetarians and friends of men. Lean animals, thin and wiry, who are feared by man and beasts alike, are all hunters and killers and eaters of flesh— tigers, sharks, hawks, wolves and the like. No one fears a gentle vegetarian, but all have reason to fear the unpredictable meat-eater.

Food and Consciousness
Food is the source of the body’s chemistry, and what we ingest affects our consciousness, emotions and experiential patterns. If one wants to live in higher consciousness, in peace and happiness and love for all creatures, then he cannot eat meat, fish, shellfish, fowl or eggs. By ingesting the grosser chemistries of animal foods, one introduces into the body and mind anger, jealousy, fear, anxiety, suspicion and the terrible fear of death, all of which is locked into the flesh of butchered creatures. It is said that in ancient India meat would be fed to the soldiers during military campaigns, especially before combat, to bring them into lower consciousness so that they would forget their religious values. They performed these deeds in fulfillment of a warrior’s way—with not the least restraint of conscience.
The inner law is ever so simple—not eating meat, fish, foul or eggs is essential to awaken consciousness into the seven higher chakras (the uttara-chakras), up to the crown. Nonkilling— and Scriptures admonish that it is non eating of that which is killed—is a must to pass from realms below the muladhara. wise to fear what should be feared.

How many there are who resent the very mention of becoming a vegetarian, whose instinctive nature is repelled by the idea because they intuit the road ahead. They sense that once the more sattvic diet of pure foods is taken in place of meats (and other dead foods, packaged, processed and cellophane-wrapped) they will feel a great guilt occasioned by their transgressions of dharma, as they have so well perfected over the years their adharmic ways. Adharma means all that stands against Indian spirituality, against the path of the good and the pure and the natural, against dharma in all of its intricate dimensions. None of the specialized dharmas—stri dharma, the duties of women; purusha dharma, the duties of men; ashrama dharma, the  responsibility of one’s stage of life; varna dharma, one’s position in society; and svadharma, one’s own perfect pattern—even when performed properly will have the same results without fulfilling this virtue. Even rita dharma, cosmic order, is upset by man’s insatiable, aggressive appetites expressed through flesh-consuming.

Hindus Were the First Vegetarians
The book, Food for the Spirit, Vegetarianism and the World Religions,observes: “Despite popular knowledge of meat-eating’s adverse effects, the nonvegetarian diet became increasingly widespread among Hindus after the two major invasions by foreign powers, first the Muslims and later the British. With them came the desire to be ‘civilized,’ to eat as did the saheeb. Those actually trained in Vedic knowledge, however, never adopted a meat-oriented diet, and the pious Hindu still observes vegetarian principles as a matter of religious duty.

“That vegetarianism has always been widespread in India is clear from the earliest Vedic texts. This was observed by the ancient traveler Megasthenes and also by Fa-hsien, a Chinese Buddhist monk who, in the fifth century, traveled to India in order to obtain authentic copies of the scriptures. These scriptures unambiguously support the meatless way of life. In the Mahabharata, for instance, the great warrior Bhishma explains to Yudhishthira, eldest of the Pandava princes, that the meat of animals is like the flesh of one’s own son, and that the foolish person who eats meat must be considered the vilest of human beings [Anu. 114.11]. The eating of ‘dirty’ food, it warns, is not as terrible as the eating of flesh [Shanti. 141.88] (it must be remembered that the brahmins of ancient India exalted cleanliness to a divine principle).
“Similarly, the Manusmriti declares that one should ‘refrain from eating all kinds of meat,’ for such eating  involves killing and leads to karmic bondage (bandha) [5.49]. Elsewhere in the Vedic literature, the last of the great Vedic kings, Maharaja Parikshit, is quoted as saying that ‘only the animal-killer cannot relish the message of the Absolute Truth [Shrimad Bhagavatam 10.1.4].’”

Common Dietary Concerns
Those considering a vegetarian diet generally worry about getting enough nutrients, since the belief that meat is a necessary part of keeping strong and healthy is still extremely widespread. Recently a group of eminent doctors called the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), themselves members of the American Medical Association, have decided to change the US consciousness on human nutrition, particularly among the medical community. The PCRM is a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., consisting of doctors and laypersons working together for compassionate and effective medical practice, research and health promotion. 

Founded in 1985, the PCRM is supported by over 3,000 physicians and 50,000 laypersons. PCRM president (and vegetarian)  Neal D. Barnard, M.D., is a popular speaker and the author of The Power of Your Plate. Armed with decades of nutritional research data, PCRM addresses these dietary concerns head-on: 
“The fact is, it is very easy to have a well-balanced diet with vegetarian foods. Vegetarian foods provide plenty of protein. Careful combining of foods is not necessary. Any normal variety of plant foods provides more than enough protein for the body’s needs. Although there is somewhat less protein in a vegetarian diet than a meat-eater’s diet, this is actually an advantage. Excess protein has been linked to kidney stones, osteoporosis, and possibly heart disease and some cancers. A diet focused on beans, whole grains and vegetables contains adequate amounts of protein without the ‘overdose’ most meat-eaters get.” Other concerns are allayed by the PCRM as follows:

1. Calcium is easy to find in a vegetarian diet. Many dark, green leafy vegetables and beans are loaded with calcium, and some orange juices and cereals are calcium- fortified.
 2. Iron is plentiful in whole grains, beans and fruits.
3. Vitamin B12: There is a misconception that without eating meat one cannot obtain sufficient vitamin B12, which is an essential nutrient. This is simply not true. The PCRM advises: “Although cases of B12 deficiency are very uncommon, it is important to make sure that one has a reliable source of the vitamin. Good sources include all common multiple vitamins (including vegetarian vitamins), fortified cereals and soy milk.” Vitamin B12 is widely available in brewers yeast and other potent dietary supplements.
4. Nutritional needs increase during pregnancy. The American Dietetic Association has found vegan diets adequate for fulfilling nutritional needs during pregnancy, but pregnant women and nursing mothers should supplement their diets with vitamins B12 and D.
5. Vegetarian children also have high nutritional needs, but these, too, are met with a vegetarian diet.
A vegetarian menu is “life-extending.” As children, vegetarians may grow more gradually, reach puberty
somewhat later, and live substantially longer than meat-eaters. Be sure to include a reliable source of vitamin B12. Those interested in supporting or learning more about the work of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine should visit: www.pcrm.org.

Converting to Vegetarianism
Making the transition from carnivore to herbivore is not as hard as you might think. According to the book, The New Vegetarians, by Sonia Partridge and Paul Amato, 73% of vegetarian converts stated that the transition was not difficult. It is easier for people who do some homework on the subject and have a bit of cooking skill. The time it takes for people to totally convert varies greatly. About 70% of people make the transition gradually, while 30% stop all at once. Red meat is almost always abandoned within the first year, followed by fowl, fish and eggs. One recommended method for the transition is to set a series of goals for yourself. Start simply with getting through one day without meat. Then, try one weekend, then one week. Make a realistic timetable for reaching each goal. Two to three months might be reason- able for some people, while six months to a year might be better for others. Rewards can also help. For a major accomplishment such as a week without meat, treat yourself to a nice vegetarian meal out.
One can also take a formal Hindu vow of vegetarianism, shakahara vrata, available on-line at www.hinduismtoday.com/in-depth_issues/veggie_vow/. The vow may be taken privately, before elders or parents or as part of a temple ceremony. It reads in part, “I accept the principle of shakahara as the method by which I may acknowledge my compassion, my karuna, for all living beings. As an act of dedication, I am resolved this day to begin (or continue) the regular practice of eating a strict vegetarian diet   and not eating meat, fish, shellfish, fowl or eggs.”
The most common problem with conversion is not knowing enough about the vegetarian diet. Some people decide to be vegetarian but have no idea what to eat, and end up with soggy vegetables and undercooked brown rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They become discouraged and rightly wonder how they will survive. But decent vegetarian food isn’t boring. A little research will put your mind at ease. Get some vegetarian cookbooks. Ask restaurant waiters which menu items are vegetarian. Search online for vegetarian recipes.
Vegetarians are often asked “Don’t you miss eating meat?” For about half of beginning vegetarians the answer is yes, acording to The New Vegetarians. They miss the texture and flavor of meat in the early weeks and months. Almost everyone though, gets over this within six months to a year and for many it becomes nauseating even to think about eating meat. Eighty-two percent of fully adapted vegetarians say there is no way they would consider eating flesh again.

Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami writes, “Modern meats are killed by chemical treatment of the animals, the  hormones of fear and chemistry of death before and during slaughter, killed again by refrigerating them, killed again by grinding them, killed again by preserving them, killed again by packaging them, killed again by reezing them, killed again by storing and shipping them, and finally really killed by cooking them to death. How can  such so-called food nourish a human being?

“Why should we ever think of eating meat, fish, foul, eggs, anything with eyes or, as some say, with two or ore senses. The cock-a-doodle-doo who wakes us up in the morning is dinner on the table at night. How gruesome.

How ruthless to thus forever close the eyes of an animal, or have someone else do it for them in order that they may buy the carcass, closing their eyes to the fact, which is even worse, and keeping their own eyes closed to that creature’s suffering to consume it without conscience during jovial small talk over the dinner table.

How easy in turn for such a person to turn and maim or kill a fellow human in the same way in times of stress as a natural reaction,in ‘justifiable righteousness.’” As the Tirukural proclaims, compassion cannot be found in the hearts of those who eat meat.


Wisdom around Being Vegan!

Adapted from the awesome book Hinduism Today.

Scriptures of all Hindu denominations speak clearly and forcefully on nonkilling and vegetarianism. The roots of noninjury,nonkilling and nonconsumption of meat are found in the Vedas, Dharma Shastras, Tirumurai, Yoga Sutras, Tirukural and dozens of other sacred texts of Hinduism. Perhaps nowhere is the principle of nonmeat-eating so fully and eloquently expressed as in the Tirukural, written in the Tamil language by a simple weaver saint over 2,000 years ago. Some of the quotes from these scriptures are reproduced here.

One who partakes of human flesh, the flesh of a horse or of another animal, and deprives others of milk by slaughtering cows, O King, if such a fiend does not desist by other means, then you should nothesitate to cut off his head.
Rig Veda Samhita 10.87.16

Protect both our species, two-legged and four-legged. Both food and water for their needs supply. May they with us increase in stature and strength. Save us from hurt all our days, O Powers!
Rig Veda Samhita 10.37.11

O vegetable, be succulent, wholesome, strengthening; and thus, body, be fully grown.
Rig Veda

Those noble souls who practice meditation and other yogic ways, who are ever careful about all beings, who protect all animals,are the ones who are actually serious about spiritual practices.
Atharva Veda Samhita 19.48.5

You must not use your God-given body for killing God’s creatures, whether they are human, animal or  whatever.
Yajur Veda Samhita 12.32

The ignoble ones who eat flesh, death’s agents bind them fast and push them quick into the fiery jaws of hell (Naraka, lower consciousness).

When mindstuff is firmly based in waves of ahimsa, all living beings cease their enmity in the presence of such a person.
Yoga Sutras 2.35

Ahimsa is not causing pain to any living being at any time through the actions of one’s mind, speech or body.
Sandilya Upanishad

Having well considered the origin of flesh and the cruelty of fettering and slaying of corporeal beings, let one entirely abstain from eating flesh.
Manu Samhita

The purchaser of flesh performs himsa (violence) by his wealth; he who eats flesh does so by enjoying its taste; the killer does himsa by actually tying and killing the animal. Thus, there are three forms of killing: he who brings flesh or sends for it, he who cuts off the limbs of an animal, and he who purchases, sells or cooks flesh
and eats it—all of these are to be considered meat-eaters.
Mahabharata, Anu. 115.40

He who desires to augment his own flesh by eating the flesh of other creatures lives in misery in whatever species he may take his birth.
Mahabharata, Anu. 115.47

Those high-souled persons who desire beauty, faultlessness of limbs, long life, understanding, mental and physical strength and memory should abstain from acts of injury.
Mahabharata 18.115.8

How can he practice true compassion who eats the flesh of an animal to fatten his own flesh?
Tirukural Verse 251

Riches cannot be found in the hands of the thriftless. Nor can compassion be found in the hearts of those who eat meat.
Tirukural Verse 252

Goodness is never one with the minds of these two: one who wields a weapon and one who feasts on a creature’s flesh.
Tirukural Verse 253

If you ask, “What is kindness and what is unkind?” it is not killing and killing. Thus, eating flesh is never virtuous.
Tirukural Verse 254

Life is perpetuated by not eating meat. The clenched jaws of hell hold those who do.
Tirukural Verse 255

If the world did not purchase and consume meat, there would be none to slaughter and offer meat for sale.
Tirukural Verse 256

When a man realizes that meat is the butchered flesh of another creature, he must abstain from eating it.
Tirukural Verse 257

Greater than a thousand ghee offerings consumed in sacrificial fires is to not sacrifice and consume any living creature.
Tirukural Verse 259

All that lives will press palms together in prayerful adoration of those who refuse to slaughter and savor meat.
Tirukural Verse 260

My opinion is well known. I do not regard flesh food as necessary for us at any stage and under any clime in which it is possible for human beings ordinarily to live. I hold flesh-food to be unsuited to our species.”
Mahatma Gandhi

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Hindu Kush

I am sure that all of us would have heard or read about this term in our schools. School textbooks tell us that it is 500 mile long mountain range, stretching between central Afghanistan and Northern Pakistan, and is barrier between the pass linking Iran and Afghanistan.

But that's geography. Ancient Hindu literature s, from the time of the Maurya Empire, refer to the mountain range as "Pariyatra Parvata", whereas the ancient Iranians named it as "upari saena" or "kof-i aparsen" (mountains that rise higher than birds can fly). The Greeks, during the time of the invasion of Alexander had encountered this mountain and named it as "Paropanisadae". Documents, and inscriptions surviving from the period of Chandragupta's conquest of this area never refer to this area as Hindu Kush. How did it came to be known as Hindu Kush?

An answer can be found in Ibn Batuta's travel memoirs dating back to 13th century, just a few centuries after the Islamic invaders first attacked the Indian subcontinent. Ibn Batuta was a scholar from Morocco, and travelled to many countries,in Asia and Africa during his lifetime, and recorded his observations and memoirs.

"Another reason for our halt was fear of the snow, for on the road there is a mountain called Hindukush, which means "Slayer of Indians," because the slave boys and girls who are brought from India die there in large numbers as a result of the extreme cold and the great quantity of snow. The passage extends for a whole day march. We stayed until the warm weather had definitely set in, and cross this mountain by a continuous march from before dawn to sunset"

Ref. - Travels in Asia and Africa, 1325-1354

Batuta's travel memoirs clearly allude the naming of the mountain ranges to the death of slaves, who were natives of India. These slaves were either the captured soldiers, or (unfortunately) the inhabitants of forts or cities which these invaders raided with impunity and without any mercy. The code of conduct followed by ancient Indian rulers strictly forbid disturbing the non-combatant population or hamlets during the time of battles and warfare. As a result, sub continental India was actually little affected by wars and battles between different princes - until the Islamic invasions happened - which changed everything.

Current history textbooks, do not mention these events or even talk about them, for they have been written by "scholars" who have omitted such details for no obvious reasons. But to negate history as it is happened, and consequently misrepresenting it is a greater crime, for it does not allow us to see our own history in light and learn from it. Unfortunately, history textbooks in India are full of such glaring omissions and intended additions. For example, we learn about the evils of caste ism and communal ism, but do we ever read the evils of communism and Islamic fanticism? Did we read about the atrocities which were committed by the Islamic sultans during the course of their campaigns to bring Indian population to subjection? Do we read about the horrors inflicted by the Portuguese on the Hindu residents of Goa during the Inquisition, and their consequent forced conversion to Christianity? Do we read about the atrocities committed against the Hindus by Aurangzeb, who brought untold miseries to them by his policies? We read about Akbar the Great, but how many of us have heard about Devaraya, Prithiviraj Chauhan, Harsha, Rajaraja, Pulkeshi, Krishnadevaraya or Rana Pratap? Communist interpretations of India's history has erased these heroic bearings of these great kings, and brought ruthless conquerors as "saints". Perverse, indeed.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

when the time came

I wish I had not been cold
when there was still time
there would've have been no icy wall between us
when the time came

I wish I could've given you an ear
when there was still time
so that I could talk my heart out
when the time came

I wish I could've held your hand
when there was still time
so that I could hold you back
when the time came

I wish I could've given you more time
when there was still time
so I could ask for more time
when the time came

Friday, March 25, 2011

Mother India

Our sublimest delusion is that India is backward. This predicates, of course, that we are progressive. If backwardness and progress depend on the rate at which one can gobble up vanities perhaps India does not need our aid.....India's devotion to being good rather than being clever comes nearer the heart of a true civilization. Cleverness dies on the tongue like a social pleasantry, goodness echoes round the universe in an un extinguishable reality. We in the West are too busy to see that science without soul is like words without meaning. India's greatness is in her humility; her weakness is her strength. She is both wiser and more effective than the West, for she does not declare that reform is not a new shirt on Sunday morning but a clean heart at the Throne of Grace. Justice without spirit of justice is as much of an achievement as a river without its water. She is grave and old and stupendous. Her accents are for the calm and gracious. Her temples are laden with symbolism....and internal beauties. It is true, that India is royal...India has been royal at heart from her very foundations of her memory.

India indeed has a preciousness which a materialistic age is in danger of missing. Some day the fragrance of her thought will win the hearts of men. This grim chase after our own tails which marks the present age cannot continue for ever. The future contains a new human urge towards the real beauty and holiness of life. When it comes India will be searched by loving eyes and defended by knightly hands.

W. J. Grant

India is a vast network of sacred places. The entire country is a sacred land. The sacrality of the land of India, is what, still today, gives a sense of unity to this country of so many religions, cultures, races and factions.

Roger Housden 

Perhaps in return for conquest, arrogance and spoliation, India will teach us the tolerance and gentleness of the mature mind, the quiet content of the unacquisitive soul, the calm of the understanding spirit, and a unifying, a pacifying love for all living things.

Will Durant

When a religious method recommends itself as 'scientific',it can be certain of its public in the West. Yoga fulfills this expectation. Quite apart from the charm of the new and the fascination of the half-understood, there is good cause for Yoga to have many adherents. It offers the possibility of controllable experience and thus satisfies the scientific need for 'facts'; and, besides this, by reason of its breadth and depth, its venerable age, its doctrine and method which include every phase of life, it promises undreamed of possibilities.

Carl Gustav Jung

In India I found a race of mortals living upon the Earth. but not adhering to it. Inhabiting cities, but not being fixed to them, possessing everything but possessed by nothing.

Apollonius Tyanaeus

A nation's culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

As your food is, so is your mind...

A nice story from the life of Buddha, which shows the degree of impact food can have on our mental and psychological structure, and the thoughts that food can evoke in our subtle mind.

…It was along this self-same road that the Maha-karunika had walked two thousand five hundred years ago… (Maha-karunika – the greatly compassionate one; one of the epithets of the Buddha.) If so, he would have appeared to be a perfectly ordinary monk  like so many other who then wandered along the roads in India; and like them too, he probably stooped from time before a village doorway to utter his usual formula: “Biksham dehi”, (Alms, alms!), holding out his bowl or perhaps, quite simply, his hands. At night, doubtless, he slept under a tree, fearless of the tigers, which roamed these plains.  After all, what could he possibly fear after having lived so many years in the forest of Uruvela, full, as he tells us, of hair-raising horrors for anyone who was not a Samyami (one who has attained complete self-mastery). For six years in this forest he had taken upon himself the most painful austerities; but at last in a flash of illumination he had understood that it was a mistake to mortify the flesh, deliberately to afflict one’s self. Enlightenment would be reached no sooner along such a path than along that of indulgence in wordly pleasures.
His mind was ripe now and no doubt he knew intuitively that with one supreme effort he could attain illumination.And so he started out in search of a suitable spot, a solitary place with beneficent influence, where he could give himself up entirely to his meditations.
A wandering monk, begging for his food, seeking a Tapasya-Sthan (a favourable place for spiritual discipline) – it was a common place thing at the time and indeed is still so, in India today. Nevertheless the physical beauty of this son of a King, with his athletic carriage and his countenance so noble and so pure, must surely have drawn attention. Perhaps they came to him with offering, prostrating themselves before him and asking his blessing.
 It must have been the people of Gaya, already a centre of pilgrimage at the time, who told him about the solitary spot, not far out of the town, towards which he took his way. Other ascetics, no doubt, had also found a dwelling place there………… there was shade and water and a village not for away…….“The people are simple, pure and charitable to monks”.
 It was only rarely that the monk Gautama tarried in human habitations. His favourite dwelling-place was the foot of a tree-one of those grand giants so often seen in India. It was at the foot of a tree that he had been born, it was there that he had his great revelation, and it was there too, that at the end of his life, he left his physical body and entered into Paranirvana.
 Buddha-Gaya, at that time must have been a tiny little village, perhaps only a few isolated farmsteads surrounded by fields. It is scorching hot in summer on the Indian plains. A tree with luxuriant branches providing ample shade from the rays of the implacable sun became the monk’s dwelling place. It was an Ashwata (ficus religious), a sacred tree. Perhaps even, the Deva (spirit) of the tree had welcomed the noble ascetic and had entreated him to come and to shelter in its shade.
 One day in the month of Vaishak (around May) a young woman by the name of Sujata came to prostrate her–self before the monk  and, with great devotion, laid an offering before him.It was no ordinary offering, but an offering of payasam made only to gods and under special circumstances. From rice of the very best quality; every grains had been handpicked and then boiled for some hours in cow’s milk until all the liquid had evaporated. Then the mixture had been sweetened, perhaps with honey; spices, almonds, pistachios and raisins had been added to make an offering fit for the gods. Gautama asked the young woman the reason for this unexpected gift. Sujata was married, rich and fortunate, but there was one thing lacking to her perfect happiness. She had a desperate desire to have a son.
It was not proper for monks to converse with women, especially with women who are young and beautiful. Nevertheless, Siddhartha seems to have prolonged this conversation for in the course of it he made a strange discovery. He had always believed that the world was a scene of universal misery, and that all living creatures groaned under the intolerable burden of the “three kinds of suffering”. ( The three kinds of suffering: (1) Adhibhautika: suffering caused caused living creatures (wild animals, men etc.) (2) Adhidavika: suffering caused by natural phenomena (earthquakes, floods etc.) (3) Adhyatmika: suffering growing out of our bodies or minds (illness, worry etc.).
 Yet here before him was a young woman who was happy, who wished both to live and to give life. It was strange indeed.
 The Buddhist chronicles tell us that this meal of rice boiled in milk had a most extraordinary affect on the man who was later to become the enlightened one. It was as if an intense flame was lit within him, permeating all his being and granting him no respite. One longing alone possessed him entirely, the longing to achieve the great Enlightenment, immediately, without further delay. Sitting under the tree he pronounced the words now become famous:

“My skin, my sinews and my bones may wither; my flesh and my blood may dry up within me; but I shall not quit my seat in this spot until I have achieved perfect Enlightenment”.

 But what was it exactly that happened? How could this perfectly simple food have had such an extraordinary effect? The Hindu sages teach that not only does the food we eat have a powerful effect on our minds, but that the mental structure is in fact, constituted of the most rarified part of the nourishment we ingest. “As your food is, so is your mind”, is a popular Hindu saying. Now, the payasam offered by Sujata, being a from of nourishment that was highly satvika (Pure), the mental reaction it provoked was correspondingly so…