Saturday, 18 April 2015

To beef or not to beef

Is our intention to create a society that is intolerant of others' ideas or beliefs?  It certainly appears so, considering the trigger happy use of bans for every perceived problem.   Isn't bringing the issue out in the open and debating it a better way of dealing with the issue, rather than brushing it under the carpet?  No, it seems we love banning things, and pretending that the thing does not exist.  Actually it will only be festering deep inside, only to explode one day.  Either that, or people will find a way to circumvent the ban, thus creating another illegal activity. 

So it will be with the latest ban - beef.  How is it that we can prevent one community from consuming what they want?  Isn't this against the very nature of a democratic society?  Do we want to create a fanatical society such as the one that bans pork and alcohol, for instance?  Although the banning of beef is for an entirely different reason to that of pork - cow is considered to be sacred, whereas pig is considered to be a 'dirty animal' - it still cannot be justified.  

In an open, secular, inter-dependent society, the tenets of one particular faith cannot be exclusively applied as a state policy.  Swami Vivekananda himself has pointed out that in the Vedic times, 'four to five Brahmins used to polish off one cow'.  Meat eating is recorded in our scriptures.  By suggesting what should be considered sacrosanct, we are not only overlooking these facts, but are also being judgemental about other faiths.  

The ban has resulted in tigers in zoo being denied their daily share of beef - reports have indicated that they are now being fed chicken!  Aren't we attempting to change the very nature of the beast by withholding its usual diet.  In doing so, aren't we going against nature?

The cow, no doubt, is considered a holy animal in Hinduism.  But what about other animals?  Are they unholy?  Does not Advaita suggest that the same life principle - the universal soul; the Brahman - exists in all living creatures in equal measure?  In that case we should be banning all non-vegetarian food; not just beef.

Besides, if we are so concerned about the welfare of the cow, how come there are so many stray cows on our roads?  Why are they abandoned by their masters once their usefulness in terms of milk production is exhausted?  Isn't every cow the representation of Kamadhenu?  Doesn't it have several thousand gods in it?  If yes, then why abandon it?
Spot the holy animal - this one is nicely camouflaged by trash

This just goes to reveal our hypocritical attitude towards this animal.  We pause to touch the cow and touch our eyes when we find a cow on the road, but pass on without considering the plight of the animal. As long as we are blessed.  As long as we make money from the animal while it can still produce milk.  That's all that matters.  After that, it can go to the roads, eat garbage, and get mowed down by a truck.  Who cares?

By banning beef we have not really fulfilled any sacred duty.  Instead, why not build go-shalas in every area and town?  Indeed, shelter for all abandoned animals should be built; they should be taken off  the streets, where they constantly put themselves and others at risk. 

Take care of every living being - now that might just be a truly sacred undertaking.   

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