Random Thoughts On Buffalo-slaughter controversy.


As one who was brought up as a strict vegetarian I am instinctively repelled by any kind of meat. Also, because of my sectarian cultural up-bringing I find cruelty to animals abhorrent. Therefore for me, there is really no difference between slaughtering a cow, a buffalo, a goat, pig, or a chicken.

As a mature adult, I realize that for millennia meat-eating has been prevalent all over the world, including India. Some day in the distant future all human beings might become vegetarians, but not in the next few decades.

As to Hinduism and meat eating, most objective scholars grant that writings considered sacred refer to animal sacrifices. The Ramayana mentions Rama as eating deer meat. Sita promised Ganga that upon returning to Ayodhya she would treat her to mámsa bhútodanena. In the Tamil version (Kamba Ramayanam) Rama is fully vegetarian, but the Shiva-bhakta Ravana is a meat-eater. In the Brihadáranyaka Upanishad it says explicitly that to beget an accomplished son one should study the Vedas and with cooked rice with meat. Not a Hindu-culture-destroying Westerner, but S. Radhakrishnan translates the words as veal or beef.

Non-killing of animals (for food) was introduced largely by Buddhism and Jainism.

The way I see it, if one eats meat (which involves the slaughtering of animals) it really does not matter which animal one kills. To be a vegetarian it is not necessary to seek support from scriptures or what our ancestors ate. Except for Jainism and some parts of Buddhism, no religion, including Hinduism, explicitly says one shouldn’t eat meat.

No enlightened government in the twenty-first century should dictate what its citizens should eat and not eat. One may argue that if pork is prohibited in Pakistan, why can’t buffalo-slaughter be banned in Bharat? The answer to this question is that modern India, unlike Pakistan, is not a theocratic state.

In many parts of the world the post-Enlightenment secular state is coming under attack, direct or subtle. There is a resurgence of forces, overt and subtle,  that are ethnocentric, racist, traditional-religion-based, xenophobic. In 1958 the Egyptian President Gamal Nasser refused to make the wearing of hijab compulsory for women. But today it is very different in the Islamic world.

At this point there is no telling to what extent and in what regions these forces will come to dominate. Wherever and whenever they take over, victims will be primarily ethnic, religious, and linguistic minorities.

The forces of Enlightenment are resisting the rise of contrary forces. Their success depends on economic and global interconnectedness, as well as the worldwide spread of Enlightenment values through leaders, books and media.

In India there are many who regret that when the subcontinent was dissected as a result of the intransigence of one religious minority, India did not choose to become a Hindu country. Now it seems to be too late. But one can never foresee the course that history will take in times to come. 

From my own space-time coordinates I can only wish and pray for the wellbeing of India which, from my perspective, is related to the preservation of Enlightenment values some of which, like tolerance and freedom to think, are inherent to Indic culture.

26 June 2017

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About Varadaraja V. Raman

Physicist, philosopher, explorer of ideas, bridge-builder, devotee of Modern Science and Enlightenment, respecter of whatever is good and noble in religious traditions as well as in secular humanism,versifier and humorist, public speaker, dreamer of inter-cultural,international,inter-religious peace.
This entry was posted in India Themes, Miscellaneous, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Random Thoughts On Buffalo-slaughter controversy.

  1. K. Mapson says:

    I hope you are well, my friend!! As a very-much vegetarian myself, I think the incumbency is upon all of us to reach out to those communities which engage in ritualized animal slaughter, and individuals within them, and, with condemnation reserved, ask that they empathize with the suffering of the slaughtered, and think about how they might fulfill their religious obligations in symbolic ways which avoid imposition of such suffering.

    Blessings!!

    K. Mapson

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