Nonviolence - vegetarianism and Religions - Native ?

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Sep 16, 2021 - 12:36
Sep 16, 2021 - 17:55

The principle of nonviolence (ahimsa) applied to animals is connected with the intention to avoid negative karmic influences which result from violence. The suffering of all beings is believed to arise from craving and desire, conditioned by the karmic effects of both animal and human action.

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The violence of slaughtering animals for food, and its source in craving, reveal flesh-eating as one mode in which humans enslave themselves to suffering.

Hinduism holds that such influences affect the person who permits the slaughter of an animal, the person who kills it, the person who cuts it up, the person who buys or sells meat, the person who cooks it, the person who serves it up, and the person who eats it. They must all be considered the slayers of the animal.

The question of religious duties towards the animals and of negative karma incurred from violence (himsa) against them is discussed in detail in Hindu scriptures and religious law books.

Hindu scriptures belong or refer to the Vedic period which lasted till about 500 BCE according to the chronological division by modern historians. In the historical Vedic religion, the predecessor of Hinduism, meat eating was not banned in principle, but was restricted by specific rules.

Several highly authoritative scriptures bar violence against domestic animals except in the case of ritual sacrifice. This view is clearly expressed in the Mahabharata (3.199.11–12; 13.115; 13.116.26; 13.148.17), the Bhagavata Purana (11.5.13–14), and the Chandogya Upanishad (8.15.1).

For instance, many Hindus point to Mahabharata's maxim that "Nonviolence is the highest duty and the highest teaching," as advocating a vegetarian diet. The Mahabharata also states that adharma (sin) was born when creatures started to devour one another from want of food and that adharma always destroys every creature " It is also reflected in the Manu Smriti (5.27–44), a traditional Hindu law book (Dharmaśāstra). These texts strongly condemn the slaughter of animals and meat-eating.

The Mahabharata (12.260;[21] 13.115–116; 14.28) and the Manu Smriti (5.27–55) contain lengthy discussions about the legitimacy of ritual slaughter and subsequent consumption of the meat. In the Mahabharata, both meat-eaters and vegetarians present various arguments to substantiate their viewpoints. Apart from the debates about domestic animals, there is also a long discourse by a hunter in defence of hunting and meat-eating.

These texts show that both ritual slaughter and hunting were challenged by advocates of universal non-violence and their acceptability was doubtful and a matter of dispute.

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