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To control caterpillars, thrips, mites and whiteflies, farmers use insecticides and kill a large number of these insects.

It is in fact necessary to use these pesticides, otherwise crops will not grow. Most farmers do the same.

Being son of a farmer, I want to know that what has been said in Hindu scriptures about killing insects by farmers.

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    There are separate Suktas in Vedas which can be chanted for controlling pests. – Tat Tvam Asi May 12 '18 at 9:56
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    If it is necessary, it should be done. It is farmer's duty to get rid of weeds and pest to get good result. If you are doing your duty, you won't get any sin. Swadharma comes first. Swami Vishwananda's answer explained it well. Dharma means doing which is necessary. Another example is Dharmavyadha who is spoken greatly in the Puranas who is a butcher by occupation. He was doing his duty. So, he is revered. – Sarvabhouma May 12 '18 at 11:50
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    There are certainly natural ways of removing pests. Pesticides will poison your crop and your land. Also, monoculture is the biggest reason for getting pests. If you practice permaculture you can get rid of most problems. – Rubellite Yakṣī May 12 '18 at 14:57
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It can not be mentioned as disallowed because it is unavoidable. But at the same time, it is recognized as a sin, and to remedy that sin, prescriptions are also being provided.

See the following verses from the Parashara Smriti's 2nd Chapter:

अयोमुखेन काष्ठेन तदेकाहेन लाङ्गली ।
पाशकोमत्स्य घाती च व्याधः शाकुनिकस्तथा ॥९॥

A hunter who makes his living by killing beasts ; one who lives by ensnaring them ; a fisherman and a fowler ; as also an agriculturist who makes no gifts (of paddy) :-— all these five incur the same identical sin.

A farmer commits sins here since because of his tilling of the soil numerous insects and worms are getting killed. Similarly, if he uses pesticide for intentionally killing the troublesome insects.

अदाता कर्षकश्चैव सर्वे ते समभागिनः ।
वृक्षं छित्त्वा महीं भित्त्वा हत्वा च कृमिकीटकान् ॥१०॥

By cutting trees, by rending the earth, and by Destroying insects and worms, what sin is incurred by a tiller of the soil is removed by the sacrifice on the threshing floor.

(Note that the sacrifice on threshing floor is nothing but making gifts of paddy at that place.)

So, as per Hinduism, the act will be a sin (although unaviodable) that needs to remedied. And, the remedy is the act of making gifts of paddy by the farmers.

Likewise, for remedying such unavoidable sins, that one does on a daily basis, in Hinduism, we have the prescription of the daily performance of the five great sacrifices.

For example, brooming a house or a place is necessary for keeping them clean. But even that act is not free from sins, because one might be killing so many unseen insects/organisms during the process. According to Hinduism even such sins are required to be remedied.

Manu Smriti 3.68. A householder has five slaughter-houses (as it were, viz.) the hearth, the grinding-stone, the broom, the pestle and mortar, the water-vessel, by using which he is bound (with the fetters of sin).

Manu Smriti 3.69. In order to successively expiate (the offences committed by means) of all these (five) the great sages have prescribed for householders the daily (performance of the five) great sacrifices.

I am not sure if the killing of insects using pesticide will be explicitly mentioned in scriptures. But the killing of several insects and worms that occur during the process of farming, is mentioned as a sin and also mentioned is the method of remedying that sin by making the paddy gift.

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    we call India a farming country, God would have mentioned this important reason. I am looking for this, called अन्नदाता to the farmer, Can not say sin to do this – Udhav Sarvaiya May 12 '18 at 10:01
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    But the killing of the insects also happen during the process of farming.. so many worms also get killed.. Now Hinduism does not only think about us the humans.. every being is important for the proper functioning of the nature even the small insects who are dying for not one of their faults.. so Hindu scriptures prescribe a remedy too in this case.. We should not judge scriptural laws from emotional POV.. @UdhavSarvaiya – Rickross May 12 '18 at 10:07
  • Farmers are required to make the gift of paddy otherwise they commit sin.. because they kill so many worms during the farming process..Tilling the soil kills numerous insects/worms that live in the soil, use of pesticide will also do the same.. @UdhavSarvaiya If u think that the lives of the worms don't matter compared to those of us, then u will not see it as a sin.. but Hindu scriptures have a different view.. – Rickross May 12 '18 at 10:11
  • If paddy is to be produced so no other option without killing pests, What should we do to for dharma? – Udhav Sarvaiya May 12 '18 at 10:21
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    @UdhavSarvaiya Gift of paddy.. that's what my answer says. – Rickross May 12 '18 at 10:27
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Yes. Why not? Why would you think it better to save a small insect rather than to see a human slowly starve to death?? Do you not think the karma of killing a small insect is less than the karma of contributing to the death of a human? Krishna says in the Gita 18.47-48 (Swami Nikhilananda translator):

  1. Better is one's own dharma, though imperfect, than the dharma of another well performed. He who does the duty ordained by his own nature incurs no sin.

  2. One ought not to give up the work to which one is born, O son of Kunti, though it has its imperfections; for all undertakings are beset with imperfections, as fire with smoke.

One should do one's duties in an unattached manner offering everything up to God.

One of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa's disciples had a very similar question and went one day to ask him about it. When he got to his room, he found Ramakrishna outside his room with his bedding looking for ticks and killing the ticks in his bedding. Before he even could ask, his question was answered.

  • Sri Ramakrishna's actions only goes to show that the act of killing the insects is unavoidable. It does not say anything about whether it is a sin or not – Rickross May 12 '18 at 11:15
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    @Rickross get off the idea of sin...all actions generate karma, both good and bad. You cannot generate only good karma. As Krishna says...as fire with smoke. – Swami Vishwananda May 13 '18 at 4:23
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    If u know that then u should have given a way for getting rid of that bad Karma as well.. but u didn't coz u don't know about it and that's not ur fault.. the scriptures prescribed the "gift of paddy" prayaschitta only to remedy that bad Karma.. the same logic applies to why we need to do the Panchamahayajnas.. the smartness is not in knowing that a Karma is a bad one.. it is in knowing how to remedy that.. @SwamiVishwananda – Rickross May 13 '18 at 5:29
  • @Rickross the only way to stop generating good and bad karma is to realize God. Then all karma is broken and you cannot do anything which produces bad karma. – Swami Vishwananda May 22 '18 at 5:30
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    @Rickross All actions generate good and bad. Will you spend all day and night trying to 'balance' the books? The Lord is not an accountant. So long as you breathe you are generating good and bad karma. – Swami Vishwananda May 22 '18 at 9:13
3

Yes, farmers have the right to kill pests. Providing food to humans trumps the sin due to violence against pests.

Agriculture also kills small creatures

Tuladhara said, ‘People regard the profession of agriculture to be sinless. That profession, however, is certainly frought with cruelty. The iron-faced plough wounds the soil and many creatures that live in the soil.

Mahabharata Santi Parva Section CCLXII

Non-violence in Hindu dharma is not an absolute position. You can't hold an absolute position in a relative world. You can only minimize violence in the relative world.

Tuladhara said, ‘O Jajali, I know morality, which is eternal, with all its mysteries. It is nothing else than that ancient morality which is known to all, and which consists of universal friendliness, and is fraught with beneficence to all creatures. That mode of living which is founded upon a total harmlessness towards all creatures or (in case of actual necessity) upon a minimum of such harm, is the highest morality.’

(Mahabharata Santi Parva Section CCLXII)

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