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Vegetarianism : A comparative world religion perspective2

Hindus believe that food shapes the personality, mood and mind. They believe that meat promotes aggressiveness and a mental state of turmoil known as "rajas". On the other hand, a vegetarian diet is considered to promote sattwic qualities, calm the mind, and essential for spiritual progress. They also believe that animals have souls and killing animals have karmic repercussions that are bound to be reaped later by oneself. Most of the secular motivations for vegetarianism such as ethical considerations and nutrition apply to Hindu motivations as well.

Orthodox Hindus, abstain from consuming anything gained at the expense of an animal's suffering, the reason why many abstain from eating eggs, and follow a Lacto vegetarian diet. The milk of cows, buffalo, and goats as well as dairy products (other than cheese containing rennet) are acceptable, as milk is traditionally given willingly. Leather from animals who have died of natural causes is acceptable for some Hindus. The diet of the orthodox Hindu excludes animal products (apart from milk products), alcohol, the rajasic foods - onions and garlic, as well as mushrooms, which are a form of fungus.

The Indian cuisine and diet is primarily vegetarian and most Hindus are semi-vegetarians, refraining from beef and eating meat/seafood only occasionally. Most non-vegetarian practising Hindus maintain a vegetarian diet on religious days.

The first lay precept in Buddhism prohibits killing. Many see this as implying that Buddhists should not eat the meat of animals. However, this is not necessarily the case. The Buddha made distinction between killing an animal and consumption of meat, stressing that it is immoral conduct that makes one impure, not the food one eats. In one of the Pali sutras belonging to the Theravada lineage of Buddhism, the Buddha says that vegetarianism is preferable, but as monks in ancient India were expected to receive all of their food by begging they had little or no control over their diet.

However, since vegetarianism was a norm in ancient India, it would have been extremely rare that the monk be offered meat. The Buddha did not wish to lay an extra burden on his lay followers by demanding that the food should be vegetarian, and there was no general rule requiring monks to refrain from eating meat. At one point the Buddha specifically refused to institute vegetarianism, and the Pali Canon records the Buddha himself eating meat on several occasions. There were, however, rules prohibiting certain types of meat, such as human, leopard or elephant. Monks are also prohibited from consuming meat if they witnessed the animal's death or know it was killed specifically for them. This rule was not applied to commercial purchase of meat in the case of a general who sent a servant to purchase meat specifically to feed the Buddha. Therefore, eating commercially purchased meat is not prohibited.

On the other hand, the Buddha in certain Mahayana sutras strongly denounces the eating of meat. In the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra, the Buddha states that "the eating of meat extinguishes the seed of great compassion", adding that all and every kind of meat and fish consumption (even of animals already found dead) is prohibited by him. The Buddha also predicts in this sutra that later monks will "hold spurious writings to be the authentic Dharma" and will concoct their own sutras and mendaciously claim that the Buddha allows the eating of meat, whereas in fact (he says) he does not. A long passage in the Lankavatara Sutra shows the Buddha weighing strongly in favor of vegetarianism, since the eating of the flesh of fellow sentient beings is said by him to be incompatible with the compassion a Bodhisattva should strive to cultivate. Several other Mahayana sutras also emphatically prohibit the consumption of meat.

A solution to this problem arose when monks from the Indian sphere of influence migrated to China, as of the year 65 CE. There they met followers who provided them with money instead of food. From those days onwards Chinese monastics, and others who came to inhabit northern countries, cultivated their own vegetable plots and bought everything else they needed in terms of food in the market.

In the modern Buddhist world, attitudes toward vegetarianism vary by location. In China and Vietnam, monks typically eat no meat (and with other restrictions as well – see Buddhist cuisine). In Japan or Korea some schools do not eat meat, while most do. Theravadins in Sri Lanka and South-east Asia do not practice vegetarianism. All Buddhists however, including monks, are allowed to practice vegetarianism if they wish to do so.

In Chinese societies, "simple eating" refers to a particular restricted diet associated with Taoist monks, and sometimes practiced by members of the general population during Taoist festivals. It is referred to by the English word "vegetarian"; however, though it rejects meat, eggs and milk, this diet does include oysters and oyster products.

Bahai Faith

The Bahá'í Faith prefers a vegetarian diet, although it is not required. Furthermore, Bahá'ís believe "Fruits and grains" will be the foods of the future and the time will come when meat will no longer be eaten.

In Sikhism, only vegetarian food is served during religious occasions, but Sikhs are not bound to be meat-free.

Credit : Wikipedia



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Technology of the Heart: Vegetarianism : A comparative world religion perspective2
Vegetarianism : A comparative world religion perspective2
Technology of the Heart
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