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A recent photograph of some Hindu protesters demanding a ban on beef and other non-vegetarian food made me sit and take notice of the Vedas.

I believe that these protesters are ignorant of what their religion preaches. They are simply going against their own religious scriptures.

Here are some verses from Hindu scriptures that seem to support beef eating.

Manusmriti (5.30) :

It is not sinful to eat meat of eatable animals,for God has created both the eaters and the eatables.

Aapastanba Grishsutram(1/3/10) :

The cow should be slaughtered on the arrival of a guest, on the occasion of 'Shraaddha of ancestors and on the occasion of a marriage.

Rigveda (10/85/13) :

On the occasion of a girls marriage oxen and cows are slaughtered.

Rigveda (6/17/1) :

Indra used to eat the meat of cow, calf, horse and buffalo.

Vashishta Dharmasutra (11/34) says:

If a Brahmin refuses to eat the meat offered to him on the occasion of, 'Shraaddha' he goes to hell.

Hinduism's great propagator Swami Vivekananda:

You will be surprised to know that according to ancient Hindu rite and rituals, a man cannot be a good Hindu who does not eat beef.

(The complete works of Swami Vivekananda vol 3/5/36)

The book "The history and culture of the Indian people" published by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Bombay and edited by renowned historian R C Majumdar (vol 2 ,page 18) says:

This is said in the mahabharata that "king Ratinder used to kill 2000 other animals in addition to 2000 cows daily in order to give their meat in charity".

Adi Shankaracharya commentary on Brhadaranyakopanishad 6/4/18:

'Odaan' rice mixed with meat is called 'maansodan' on being asked whose meat it should be, he answers 'Uksha' is used for an ox, which is capable to produce semen.

What should we follow? Religious books or communal political parties?

So why is that Hindus today are not allowed to eat beef despite scriptures themselves sanctioning it?

marked as duplicate by Dr. Vineet Aggarwal, Suresh Ramaswamy, Swami Vishwananda, SwiftPushkar, Chinmay Sarupria Feb 12 '18 at 13:22

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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    Related to hinduism.stackexchange.com/questions/67/…. The same texts are mentioned in the accepted answer. So before saying it communal politics you should see both sides. – user11 Mar 7 '15 at 14:44
  • As you googled the assertions on question, just see this link too – user11 Mar 7 '15 at 15:07
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    You are right. It is more of a cultural belief. And many times cultural beliefs get intertwined with religious beliefs within popular custom. Different cultures believe different animals should not be eaten. The culture of India has for too long not eaten beef. You will beat your head against a wall for centuries before it will change. There are bigger issues than this to spend your energy on. – Swami Vishwananda Mar 8 '15 at 7:01
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    you follow your conscience! ask yourself 'why do you eat beef?'. Mostly the answer will be 'it tastes good'. That's why in Spirituality they say avoid meat. Because you become a slave to the taste! Swami Vivekananda said 'yes I eat meat, but I can live just as easily on plain rice without any spices or any other additions' (paraphrased). Thus what He is saying is that the goal of spirituality is do not be a slave to body. Do not be a slave to food. The reason why we defends the right to eat beef, because we want to eat beef, we are having a liking to its taste. All the best sir !! – Sai Mar 9 '15 at 6:12
  • Agree with what Sai has said, also look at the wonderful answer by Jay Lakhani, head of the Hindu Academy in London goo.gl/Xmcao3 And for meat eating in general, an excellent explanation is given by Rajiv Malhotra goo.gl/GnNIDt – Aditya K Mar 9 '15 at 14:02
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http://www.vedicgranth.org/misconceptions-on-vedas/misconception-3---violence-against-animals-meet-eating-etc

MISCONCEPTION 3:- Violence against animals; meet eating, etc

A) Rigveda (10/85/13) declares, “On the occasion of a girl’s marriage oxen and cows are slaughtered.” Fact: The mantra states that in winter, the rays of sun get weakened and then get strong again in spring. The word used for sun-rays in ‘Go’ which also means cow and hence the mantra can also be translated by making ‘cow’ and not ‘sun-rays’ as the subject. The word used for ‘weakened’ is ‘Hanyate’ which can also mean killing. But if that be so, why would the mantra go further and state in next line (which is deliberately not translated) that in spring, they start regaining their original form. How can a cow killed in winter regain its health in spring? This amply proves how ignorant and biased communists malign Vedas.

B) Rigveda (6/17/1) states that “Indra used to eat the meat of cow, calf, horse and buffalo.” (translation by Avatar Gill and group)

Fact: The mantra states that brilliant scholars enlighten the world in the manner that wood enhances the fire of Yajna. We fail to understand from where did Avtar Gill and his friends discover Indra, cow, calf, horse and buffalo in this mantra! Also, there is a word "Gavyam", which are five in numbers according to Aayurved-cow's milk, curd, butter, Mutra and Apashisht. Where does the flesh come into the picture? Mantra clearly says that the king should be well built through Saatvik bhojan like Ghrit, so that he can defend his country and kill the monsters.

C)Manusmriti contains violence against animals Fact:- Unfortunately, most of the vedic texts in the last 1000 years have been adulterated. Though much work has been done in cleansing these texts in the last 100 years, still the adulterated ones remain in circulation. These adulterated texts are great source of misconceptions. Purana and Bhaagvat (not bhagvad geeta) is perhaps the most adulterated (we doubt even its basic writing as many portions of it are Avedic), which is beyond repair. Any reference to such cannot be taken as proof of Vedic Granth containing barbarism.

Example, you would come accross some reference from adulterated Manusmriti, containing Violence against animals like:-

Manusmriti (Chapter 5 / Verse 30) says, “It is not sinful to eat meat of eatable animals, for Brahma has created both the eaters and the eatables.”

Manusmriti (5 / 35) states: When a man who is properly engaged in a ritual does not eat meat, after his death he will become a sacrificial animal during twenty-one rebirths. These are additional shlokas are either from adulterated Manu Smriti or misinterpreted by twisting of words. We recommend them to read Manu Smriti by Dr Surendra Kumar which is available from http://vedicbooks.com

D) Ramayan contains Violence in Ashwamedha Fact:- The Ramayan we get today is a much interpolated text. Many verses have been added later on and that can be checked with a close scrutiny. The Uttar Ramayan, which contains the reference to Ashwamedha, can be proved to be a later addition by even a layman. No mantra in Vedas refer to any form of animal sacrifice. All those mantras which are alleged to have animal sacrifice, can be easily proved to mean something else, if we look at context and root meanings of the words, as used in ancient texts of grammar and vocabulary. Many of these come from misinterpretation from translations of Sayana and Mahidhar who were born in around 15th century. These translations were then publicized by western indologists. But if you look at ancient translations, and references in other books like Shatpath, Nirukta, Nighantu etc, one can easily understand the truth. Infact, Ashwamedha means efforts to make nation better and has nothing to do with horse.

E) Some Hindu Philosophers have told that Hinduism permit meat eating Fact:- Many people quote those, who may be good though one subject (like Yoga) but may not have credible understanding of the Vedas. These quotations are widely used to prove that Vedas prescribe barbaric things like Violence against animals and women, etc but the users of these quotations are unable to provide real proofs (directly from the Vedas and Vedic Granth). Also, we are not sure that these people have really made such comments or not:- • Swami Vivekanand said: “You will be surprised to know that according to ancient Hindu rites and rituals, a man cannot be a good Hindu who does not eat beef”. (The Complete Works of Swami Vivekanand, vol.3, p. 536). • Mukandilal writes in his book ‘Cow Slaughter – Horns of a Dilemma’, page 18: “In ancient India, cow-slaughter was considered auspicious on the occasions of some ceremonies. Bride and groom used to sit on the hide of a red ox in front of the ‘Vedi’ (alter).” • A scholar of scriptures Dr. Pandurang Vaman Kane says, “Bajsancyi Samhita sanctifies beef-eating because of its purity”. (Dharmashastra Vichar Marathi, page 180) • Adi Shankaracharya’ commentary on Brihdaranyakopanishad 6/4/18 says : ‘Odan’ (rice) mixed with meat is called ‘Mansodan’. On being asked whose meat it should be, he answers ‘Uksha’. ‘Uksha’ is used for an ox, which is capable to produce semen. • The book ‘The History and Culture of the Indian People’, published by Bhartiya Vidya Bhawan, Bombay and edited by renowned historian R.C.Majumdar (Vol.2, page 578) says: “this is said in the Mahabharat that King Rantidev used to kill two thousand other animals in addition to two thousand cows daily in order to give their meat in charity”.

Some translators have fallen prey to wrong interpretation of the language. A typical example of foul play by some hell-bent on justifying their obsession with beef in ancient texts, is to translate Mansa as ‘meat’. In reality, ‘Mansa’ is a generic word used to denote pulp. Meat is called ‘Mansa’ because it is pulpy. So mere presence of ‘Mansa’ does not mean it refers to meat. Now, lets see, how a pure mind would read the following lines from Shatpath Brahmin (3/1/2/21) by Maharishi Yagyavalkya:- “I eat Mansa because it is very soft and delicious.” Infact, reading the whole passage containing this verse, one would know that the passage is factually opposing meat eating.

Similar injustice can be found, after reading with a pure mind and correct reference, on the following misconceptions:- Apastamb Grihsutram (1/3/10) says, “The cow should be slaughtered on the arrival of a guest, on the occasion of ‘Shraddha’ of ancestors and on the occasion of a marriage.” Vashistha Dharmasutra (11/34) writes, “If a Brahmin refuses to eat the meat offered to him on the occasion of ‘Shraddha’ or worship, he goes to hell.”

F) Ashwa Medha, Gomedha Yajna and Naramedha Yajna are example of violence Fact:- One of the biggest accusation of cattle and cow slaughter comes in the context of the Yajnas that derived their names from different cattle like the Ashwamedh Yajna, the Gomedha Yajna and the Nar-medh Yajna. Even by the wildest stretch of the imagination the word Medha would not mean slaughter in this context.

It’s interesting to note what Yajurveda says about a horse ——————————————————– Imam ma himsirekashafam pashum kanikradam vaajinam vaajineshu Yajurveda 13.48. Do not slaughter this one hoofed animal that neighs and who goes with a speed faster than most of the animals. ———————————————————-

Aswamedha does not mean horse sacrifice at Yajna. Instead the Yajurveda clearly mentions that a horse ought not to be slaughtered. In Shathapatha, Ashwa is a word for the nation or empire. The word medha does not mean slaughter. It denotes an act done in accordance to the intellect Alternatively it could mean consolidation, as evident from the root meaning of medha i.e. medhru san-ga-me

Raashtram vaa ashwamedhah Annam hi gau Agnirvaa ashwah Aajyam medhah (Shatpath 13.1.6.3)

Swami Dayananda Saraswati wrote in his Light of Truth:A Yajna dedicated to the glory, wellbeing and prosperity of the Rashtra the nation or empire is known as the Ashwamedh yajna. “To keep the food pure or to keep the senses under control, or to make the food pure or to make a good use of the rays of Sun or keep the earth free from impurities[clean] is called Gomedha Yajna”. “The word Gau also means the Earth and the yajna dedicated to keep the Earth the environment clean is called Gomedha Yajna”. “The cremation of the body of a dead person in accordance with the principles laid down in the Vedas is called Naramedha Yajna”.

G) Honey and Milk are animal products, so why not meat?

Another type of misconception has aroused because of change in the technique of doing things. For example, it is common to see violence on Cows (injection, etc) whilst extracting milk. This experience read with Vedas saying that "Milk is good" will create confusion in the minds of the ignorant. Vedas not only suggests on extracting the milk from Cow, but also suggests to do so with love and care. Another example would be honey. Extracting honey is like snatching away bees' food. But that's not the intent. Honey can be extracted without harming the bees [For large scale production, honey is collected in a smart way. There are wooden boxes of certain height and bees collect their honey inside it. As soon as level of honey reaches the height of box, it starts flowing down through the outer wall of box and is collected. So only extra honey, which was not essential for bees is collected and thus it can be consumed.]

Meat on the other hand cannot be obtained by love and care from living animals. Moreover, according to the ayurveda, human body is suitable for only vegetarian food.

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Rigveda (6/17/1 i.e 1st richa of 17th sukta of 6th mandal of Rigveda) doesn't mean what you have mentioned in your question. Here is the original richa in Sanskrit and it's translation in Hindi:

Rigveda (6.17.1)

See the translation in English:

Fierce Indra, glorified by us, drink that Soma, by which thou hast discovered the vast herd of cattle (cows stolen by the paNis), and, overcomer of enemies, wielder of the thunderbolt, thou hast slain, by thy strength all opposing foes.

But few scholars translated this as below:

Drink Soma, Mighty One, for which, when lauded, thou breakest through the cattle-stall, O Indra; Thou who, O Bold One, armed with thunder smotest Vrtra with might, and every hostile being.

Now many people assume that breakest is breakfast which is WRONG.

Hence,

Far from eating them, Indra seems to be protecting the cows in Rigveda (6.17.1).

Same is the case with your other sources, you are assuming that English translation is correct but original text says something else (Rigveda (10/85/13) is explained here).

Please don't believe blindly in any translation specially by a person who is not master in the language from which he is translating. We shouldn't rely only on English translation, we should verify with it's original source.

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Two sides of a coin there are, I thought only one,
I put my bet all on that, and alas I lost my chance!

What you have mentioned is like one side of the coin. In Hinduism no action is inherently good or bad. Whether something is a sin or not depends also upon the context of the action rather than the action itself. This answer discusses about the eating of meats and when it is allowed to eat.

  1. One may eat meat when it has been sprinkled with water, while Mantras were recited, when Brahmanas desire (one's doing it), when one is engaged (in the performance of a rite) according to the law, and when one's life is in danger. [Manu Smriti - 5.27]
  2. He who eats meat, when he honours the gods and manes, commits no sin, whether he has bought it, or himself has killed (the animal), or has received it as a present from others. [Manu Smriti - 5.32]

Nowhere it has been suggested or encouraged to kill animals for the purpose of satiating one's tongue. For purposes like yajna, sradha, etc. animals were sacrificed, about which most of your quoted verses are. People who know spiritual things know that in those sacrifices first it is made sure that the animal gets a higher birth, otherwise the killer will only get a load of bad karma. And secondly, whenever it was required to partake such sacrifices it was done so by chanting proper mantras to mitigate the bad effect of eating such food.

But without chanting proper mantras and offering it to the gods, if one eats meat then he will have to suffer the consequences as stated in the scriptures. So the question to ask is, how many people know the proper way of these things? And if people don't know the things correctly, then following blindly will only cause harm. One should see and analyze all the sides. Little knowledge is dangerous.

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    At the end of the can they eat Beef or no? – SciGuy Mar 19 '15 at 5:04
  • @SciGuy, from your OP i believe you are a man of science and the final interpretation would solely be based on your intellect and expectation of the outcome (in scientific community we refer it as 'confirmation-bias' or 'choice-supportive bias'). If you are looking for a religious point of view, Hinduism (or infact any karmic religion) denounces violence against any 'harmless' life form. This I believe is the basis of vegetarianism. And you will always find two paths everywhere in life, it is up-to you to choose the right one. Hope this helps. – WeShall Oct 22 '17 at 3:17
  • @WeShall "If you are looking for a religious point of view, Hinduism (or infact any karmic religion) denounces violence against any 'harmless' life form." - your own argument/blanket statement suffers from the 'confirmation-bias' you mentioned. How do you explain millions of Hindus in India and elsewhere eating chicken, goat, fish etc. bought from a butcher? Do you consider chicken & goat harmless or dangerous? OP is right in pointing out this hypocrisy. – sv. Oct 22 '17 at 21:37
  • @sv - my intention was to let the OP make his own choice. I wanted to quote this 'अहिंसा परमॊ धर्मः सर्वप्राणभृतां समृतः || तस्मात पराणभृतः सर्वान न हिंस्याथ बराह्मणः कव चित' as example and drive the point that the same sloka has been presented in two very different context in the same text of Mahabharata. So instead of blindly following the text or the people (who religious affiliation is Hindu) it is solely left to an individual to seek his/her own truth. – WeShall Oct 23 '17 at 2:24
  • @WeShall 'my intention was to let the OP make his own choice' - but that's not the question OP asked. He wants to know the reason for this hypocrisy. Did you know India is a major exporter of beef/water buffalo meat? How come Hindu scriptures allow meat eating yet cow is special and needs to be protected? Why not protect all harmless creatures? – sv. Oct 23 '17 at 15:20
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The MahaRishis have deciphered nature and presented the Vedas to mankind. They knew exactly that there are two sides to every coin. Above all survivability dictates human action. Surviving is no sin as long as it does not convert itself into a form of greed and butchery beyond basic needs and where no other alternative or suitable choice is present.

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