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Vegetarianism in Hinduism

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Most major paths of Hinduism hold vegetarianism as an ideal. There are three main reasons for this: the principle of nonviolence (ahimsa) applied to animals;[1] the intention to offer only "pure" (vegetarian) food to a deity and then to receive it back as prasad;[2] and the conviction that non-vegetarian food is detrimental for the mind and for spiritual development. Additionally there is a belief that meat consumption is generally detrimental to physical health. As examples are given animal diseases such as BSE, Foot and Mouth, Swine Fever, Swine Flu,.. Through consumption of meat we are also thought to absorb the vibration of the fear of death, the pain and the despair of the animal. This fear sinks into our subconscious and will have to be confronted with in the future. [3]. The fear many times surfaces during prayer and meditation which causes people to be afraid of anything related to religion. [4]

Nonviolence is a common concern of all the vegetarian traditions in Hinduism; the other aspects are relevant for those who follow special spiritual paths.

Many Vaishnavas, especially Gaudiya Vaishnavas follow a strict vegetarian diet, abstaining from meat, fish and eggs. They also abstain from garlic and onions.

Since Hinduism is practiced by majority of India's populace, Indian cuisine is characterized by its wide variety of vegetarian delicacies. However, the food habits of Hindus vary according to their community and according to regional traditions. Hindu vegetarians usually eschew eggs but consume milk and dairy products, so they are lacto-vegetarians. Milk and milk products are vital in the traditional food habits of India. According to Hindu philosophy, a cow gives milk happily, once the calf is fed well. So milk taken after calf is fed is a gift from cow and so it a pure non violent food.

Many coastal habitants of India are also fish eaters.

Meat Eating Hindus

Historically and currently, those Hindus who eat meat prescribe jhatka meat. This is the a common method of slaughter if animal sacrifices are made to some Hindu deities, however, Vedic rituals such as Agnicayana involved the strangulation of sacrificial goats. Many Shaivite Hindus engage in jhatka methods as part of religious dietary laws, as influenced by some Shakti doctrines, which permit the consumption of meat (except beef, which is universally proscribed in Hinduism). Many sects of Vaishnavite denomination of Hinduism disallow the consumption of meat, and their relative demographic predominance over some non-vegetarian Shaivite sects lead to a common stereotype that all Hindus are vegetarian. In fact, contrary to popular belief, India is not a predominantly vegetarian country, according to recent census data as of 2004. [5] But a quarter of India's population is reckoned, based on census data, to be vegetarian; 69 per cent of Gujarat is vegetarian, 60 per cent of Rajasthan, 54 per cent of Punjab-Haryana, 50 per cent of Uttar Pradesh, 45 per cent of Madhya Pradesh, 34 per cent of Karnataka, 30 per cent of Maharashtra, 21 per cent of Tamil Nadu, 16 per cent of Andhra Pradesh, 15 per cent of Assam, while but 6 per cent in Kerala, Orissa and West Bengal are vegetarian. [6] Brahmins, Shaivite non-Brahmins of South India and several Vaishnavite sects across the country avoid meat. [7] Interestingly though, few Brahmins eat meat; the Brahmins of East India, Kashmir and the Saraswats of the Southwest are allowed fish and some meat.[8] During Durga Puja and Kali Puja among Shaivite Hindus in Punjab, Bengal and Kashmir, Jhatka meat is the required meat for practising Shaivite Hindus.

Gallery

See also

References

  1. Tähtinen, Unto: Ahimsa. Non-Violence in Indian Tradition, London 1976, p. 107-109.
  2. Mahabharata 12.257 (note that Mahabharata 12.257 is 12.265 according to another count); Bhagavad Gita 9.26; Bhagavata Purana 7.15.7.
  3. Paramhans Swami Maheshwarananda, The hidden power in humans, Ibera Verlag, page 112. ISBN 3-85052-197-4
  4. Paramhans Swami Maheshwarananda, Yoga in Daily Life - The System, Publ. by Iberia/European University Press, Austria, 2000, Chapter Vegetarian food, page 421
  5. [1]
  6. [2]
  7. [3]
  8. [4]


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