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habits that different regions of the country have evolved for themselves in tune with their environment, results in different practices of so-called vegetarianism in the different geographical areas of the world.
It is true that the purANas and itihAsas speak of meat-eating even by the brahmins of tht society. There are records of such traditions. Because of these traditions historians have been distracted to think of vegetarianism as a later interpolation into Hinduism. It is here that the emphasis on attitudes has to be taken into account. The scriptures say, for instance, whatever is offered to the Lord with intense devotion, is acceptable to Him. The natural mischievous rejoinder by the modern intellectual is: what if I offer an animal? Is this the justification for animal sacrifice? The story of the great Kannappar who offered meat to the Lord and became a model of devotion, is cited. But what was the attitude of Kannappar in that context? He was ready to pluck his only remaining eye for the sake of donating it to the Lord, even though he was already blind by one eye which he had just plucked and offered to Him!. The attitude in this case of extreme devotion was obvious and the blessing of the Lord was automatic.
It is also true that in vedic times there were animal sacrifices and these were part of certain rituals, which had been vogue almost till the beginning of the twentieth century. But it was merely because of the misue of these that a Buddha had to appear on the scene and wean people away from their other-worldly ambitions and make them concentrate on compassion, sympathy and non-violence as one's basic dharma. It was because of the misdirected emphasis on the ritualistic sacrifices still persisting even after the Buddha's time, that a Sankara appeared and emphasized the transience of every benefit whether of this world or of the other world and led everybody on to think in terms of their upward path of evolution rather than keep circling in the quagmire of the cycle of births and deaths.
Every one must cultivate these five cardinal virtues in all their generality. As one rises in the ladder of perfection of these virtues, one will find that one's own concepts and dimensions of these virtues begin to embrace everything that has been enjoined to be good by all the religions of the world. The simultaneous effort to suppress the gang of twelve ignoble channels of the mind along with their captain Ego has also to be carried on. Ascent on the ladder of spiritual perfection depends on both. This uphill task is a never-ending exercise. One who has gone a long way in this journey is usually called a dharmAtmA.
July 31, 99 ©Copyright V. Krishnamurthy Home Contents
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