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Hidden Price of Meat
Quotes about vegetarianism
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Secret of Krsna consciousness
Question about changing one's life
Guru-sastra-sadhu

"Modern civilization is centered around animal killing."

(Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.27.11, purport)

Hidden Price of Meat

One of the main problems of modern civilization is hunger. According to the Vedic view, scarcity is the result of the negative karma generated by the destructive actions of the world's population and not the result of overpopulation. The earth is perfectly capable of providing all the food necessary for whoever lives on its surface. Scarcity is due to our own greed and insensitivity to other living beings, such as the animals we kill. More than half the annual world deforestation clears land for beef cattle, which consume about half the world's grain production. Grain cycled through animals looses 90% of its protein. Professor Wayne Meyer, Program Leader for Sustainable Agriculture in CSIRO's Land and Water Division provided a comparison of water-use efficiency for different kinds of foods produced, with meat emerging as by far the worst water-to-food converter of all. To grow one kilo of maize, Meyer explained, requires between 540 to 630 litres of water, wheat needs 715 to 750 litres, rice 1,550 to 2,000 litres, and soybeans 1,650 to 2,200 litres, while to produce one kilo of beef requires between 50,000 to 100,000 litres of water. [Meyer, Wayne, 1998. Water For Food. http://www.clw.csiro.au/publications/water_for_food.pdf]
"It is estimated that it takes approximately 16.4 kilos of grain or 30 kilos of forage to produce 1 kilo of lamb; 13.3 kilos of grain to produce 1 kilo of beef; 8.3 kilos of grain to produce 1 kilo of eggs; 6.3 kilos of grain to produce 1 kilo of pork; 4.3 kilos of grain to produce 1 kilo of turkey; and 2.6 kilos of grain to produce 1 kilo of chicken." [Francione, Gary. An Introduction to Animal Rights. Your Child or the Dog? Temple Press, USA, 2000, p. 195] Economically, biologically, ethically and spiritually, the vegetarian lifestyle and the practice of cow protection are not only beneficial for human society, but also can be seen to provide wide-ranging solutions to the intricate network of problems which is the world now facing. Let us take a closer look together at those most important ones.

Health

Eating of cow flesh or the flesh of any other animal, the motivation behind slaughter, is detrimental to the health of human beings. For example, if a human, who has a much longer colon than the carnivorous animals eats flesh

1. Intestinal flora is changed from fermentative to putrefactive bacteria in the long bowel. Poisons inimical to health are absorbed into the bloodstream with deleterious effects.

2. The natural synthesis of vitamin B12 is inhibited and causes anaemia.

3. Animal toxins tend to pervert the metabolism of carbohydrates and cause diabetes.

4. Non-nutritive substances tend to be irritants and therefore carcinogenic.

5. Unwanted substances in the bloodstream have to be eliminated, so energy is diverted from other functions, including thinking. Poisons of any description, however mild, affect all the senses and, if the organs of elimination are at all strained, remain in the system a long time.

6. Parasites are transferred - all carnivorous creatures, including birds, have parasites peculiar to themselves and often cause their deaths - some of these are known to be accommodating themselves to human stomachs.

7. Flesh eating generally results in an excess of proteins in the organism. The minimum daily requirement of protein, which experts on nutrition calculate to be between 10 and 90 grams, is easily received from vegetable food and from dairy products. Protein is found in ample quantity in milk, cheese, yoghurt, whole wheat, corn, many varieties of nuts and beans and vegetables. Excess of proteins, especially that type produced by consumption of flesh, produces liver ailments, hypertension and hardening of the arteries.

Vegetables, fruits, grains and dairy products are in perfect balance for proper nutrition. These same vegetable substances, if they reach us through flesh of an animal, are dangerous to health and carry with them the following disease provoking substances:

- Toxic wastes from the bloodstream, germs and pus, vaccines and drugs injected to offset animal disease.

- Fear poisons released at the time of slaughter.

- Bacteria from putrefactive decomposition, which commences as soon as the animal dies. These are not all killed by cooking, as flesh is an excellent insulator and those which are killed leave their poisonous remains behind.

Meat bearing animals suffer from dozens of diseases and parasites caused through unnatural living and exploitation such as forced feeding, which causes fatty degeneration of organs, endocrine complications through castration diseases including contagious abortion, foot and mouth diseases, fevers, catarrhal conditions, cancer tumours, tuberculosis, mastitis, liver flukes causing ducts to befilled with septic matter (only the liver is condemned, not the carcass), etc; their blood and tissues are impregnated with preventive vaccines. Poultry is often impregnated with oestrogens, which are carcinogens. Animal fats contain cholesterol which is now thought to cause coronary diseases of the heart. Many studies in cancer research reveal that areas in which meat-eating is highest tend to have the highest cancer rate, while vegetarian areas generally have a far lower rate.

Recently there is a threat of so-called "Mad Cow Disease", technically known as the Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) in humans. The experts are unsure about its origin and what we can expect from it. One thing seems to be sure: it is much more dangerous than AIDS, and we are sitting on a time bomb. The risk is highest in the brain and nerval tissues, then muscle meat and blood. Those who regularly eat veal (and other beef products) are 13 times more likely to die of CJD than those who don't. [Richard Lacey. The History of Mad Cow Disease. Cypsela Publications, 1995]

T. H. Huxley in his book "Man's Place in Nature" presents some biological and anatomical reasons which demonstrate that the human species is not carnivorous:

1. Flesh eaters have very short bowels for rapid expulsion of putrefactive bacteria. Vegetarians, including man, have very long bowels for dealing with the fermentative bacteria which is involved in the digestion of vegetarian foods.

2. Flesh eaters have long teeth and in many cases have retractable claws for killing and holding prey, whereas vegetarians have sabre-like teeth and claws, though some may have defensive horns.

3. Meat eaters have jaws which open only in an up and down motion while vegetarians have jaws which can move sideways for chewing.

4. Flesh eaters do not sweat, but control body heat by extruding the tongue and rapid breathing. Vegetarians have sweat pores for heat control and elimination of impurities.

5. Flesh eaters' saliva is without ptylin and therefore cannot pre-digest starches. Vegetarians have ptylin in the saliva for this pre-digestive process. 6. Flesh-eaters secrete ten times more hydrochloric acid than vegetarians, sufficient to dissolve bones in the diet.

7. Flesh eaters lap water, whereas vegetarians take liquids by suction.

8. Flesh eaters have a consistent tooth configuration, especially with distended canine teeth, as in the example of the cat, whereas vegetarians have short canine teeth, not suitable for tearing flesh.

Related:
Humans are Biologically Herbivores
comparison of herbivore, carnivore, omnivore and human

Economics

The implementation of cow protection and a vegetarian diet support at the international level would be a massive step forward in solving the world food crisis. Some economic advantages:

1. Flesh foods are more than 5O% germ-laden dirty water and therefore extremely costly to buy as a source of protein for which they are eaten. Meat is a very poor source of other food elements, including minerals, vitamins, and carbonhydrates and definitely not the best source of proteins as pretended.

2. Land which will produce one ton of beef will produce ten to twenty tons of highly nutritive food, suitable for direct human consumption in the same time - without any of the disadvantages inseparable from flesh-foods, and infinitely cheaper.

3. A flesh eater needs many times as much land to support himself, and his herds as a vegetarian. Since there is only about one acre of fertile land in the world per person it means that someone will be robbed of a fair share.

4. For every hundred pounds of dry substances eaten by cattle, only four to sixteen pounds come back as flesh-food of very doubtful value. Quite a wasteful and costly method of obtaining food.

5. If those who insist on eating meat, despite all reasonable arguments to the contrary, would eat only the animals who die naturally rather than by violence, the animals would produce more progeny and there would, after an initial period of apparent scarcity, be much more available meat.

Some ethical considerations

Slaughter is a painful process and causes the animal suffering. Animals are sentient creatures with feelings and fears like humans. Not only are they caused to suffer (irrespective of whether they are slaughtered quickly or slowly - most countries have most inhumane laws connected with animal slaughter), but also, as is the case with cows raised on farms for slaughter, the animals live in constant fear of being slaughtered, as they are able to sense and discern what is going on quite easily. The human has no ethical right to end artificially the life of a creature, especially that of a cow, who, through her milk produces wonderful varieties of products, nurses her own offspring and the whole of human society as well. Killing of such highly developed creatures as animals breeds callousness, insensitivity toward all beings and general irreverence toward life.

In March 2012 New York Times requested its readers to give arguments in favor of meat eating in a contest (not online). The answers, expectably, present a plethora of false arguments like "people always ate it" (argumentum ad antiquitam), "most people eat it" (argumentum ad numeram) or "it's natural to eat it" or "aboriginal societies eat it" (then why not to follow them and kill personally and naturally instead of buying it in a shop?). The only valid argument, shared by dharma sastras, is that of a survival - in danger of life one can eat meat without negative karmic reactions.

Aesthetic factors

The smells from dead animal carcasses and dead fish are horrible and can only be tolerated by intoxication or other dulling of the senses. Most children have to be forced to eat the first portions of meat or fish. Vegetarian foods, on the other hand, are colourful, pleasing to the eyesight, to the sense of smell and to the palate.

Material considerations directly deriving from spiritual wisdom

Ayurveda teaches that milk contains fine elements of nutrition which have the particular quality of developing finer tissue of the brain which comprehends spiritual knowledge, thus bringing peace to body and mind. Cow manure is a highly valuable commodity. It is used to fertilize crops, as a highly efficient fuel, as shelter as on thatched roofing in warm countries, as a disinfectant and as medicine. The antiseptic and medicinal qualities of cow dung are confirmed by modern science. Cow urine is also a useful medicine for the liver, bloodstream and tuberculosis when administered under proper scriptural guidance. Milk contains many natural antiseptic qualities, because cows who wander in the paddocks eat grass and other natural medicinal herbs that grow wild. Their milk, therefore, contains numerous natural remedies.

Karma

Cause and effect form the basic duality within this material world. Whatever happens has a cause and will cause other effects, both directly and indirectly. Chance doesn't exist. Everything is part of a higher cause-effect structure. Cause and effect refer to the principle of action and reaction. According to the Vedic teachings, this principle applies both on physical and nonphysical levels. Mere mechanic causality cannot explain everything. This is especially true regarding phenomena like consciousness, life, individuality, and destiny. Karma is the Sanskrit word for "action". Since the Sanskrit language is multifaceted, karma means much more than this simple translation. Derived from the root kri, "to do, to plan, to execute," karma further means "that which is caused and causing," which suggests that no action is independent. Each action or event is part of a big network of causes and becomes a cause for future reactions or events. This network is coordinated according to the "law of karma" - the law of action and reaction. Human beings are not restricted to act in a specific manner - they have free will but with it comes responsibility. Thus we are free to choose our future, both individually and collectively. We are constantly receiving the reactions of our previous actions that we created using our free will. Therefore we are responsible for our happiness and distress, and the material nature creates the conditions within which we enjoy or suffer. Collective karma is the aggregate of individual karma. If many people do the same thing or support or tolerate some act, then they are collectively responsible for the results and will get a collective reaction, which can be either good or bad according to the act done. Although the law of karma is such that we are never a passive victim of predestination, we are also never free from the laws of creation, which are fixed according to the will of the Creator. The Supreme Lord is eager to see the living beings become happy and advance in spiritual knowledge. So sometimes for their reformation He creates situations and causes things to happen that no one can avoid. Therefore, the ultimate responsibility of the human being is to learn that there is a creator, and to learn how to live in harmony with His will.

Spiritual considerations

"He [the meat-eater] cannot understand God."

(A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, lecture from Srimad Bhagavatam, May 28, 1976, Honolulu, Hawaii)

Vegetarianism can be traced back to the original teachings of all world religions. In due course of time however, many of the injunctions on this matter where misinterpreted, purposefully changed or simply rejectedy. Judeo-Christian tradition

In the Old Testament the vegetarian life style is depicted as being ideal. Genesis (1:29) states: "And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which [is] upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which [is] the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat." A statement clearly in favour of a vegetarian diet. Exodus 20:13 instructs: "Thou shalt not kill." The original Hebrew is "lo tirtzach". It is derived from "ratzach", murder. The word for killing is "harog" - in other words, killing is not forbidden but regulated, in connection to food by rules of sacrifice, although "with burnt offerings thou wilt not be delighted" (Psalm 50:18). Similarly in Isaiah God says:
1:11. To what purpose do you offer me the multitude of your victims, saith the Lord? I am full, I desire not holocausts of rams, and fat of fatlings, and blood of calves, and lambs, and buck goats.
1:12. When you came to appear before me, who required these things at your hands, that you should walk in my courts?
1:13. Offer sacrifice no more in vain: incense is an abomination to me. The new moons, and the sabbaths and other festivals I will not abide, your assemblies are wicked.
1:14. My soul hateth your new moons, and your solemnities: they are become troublesome to me, I am weary of bearing them.
1:15. And when you stretch forth your hands, I will turn away my eyes from you: and when you multiply prayer, I will not hear: for your hands are full of blood.
1:16. Wash yourselves, be clean, take away the evil of your devices from my eyes, cease to do perversely,

One may kill to protect dharma though.

Proverbs:
6:16. Six things there are, which the Lord hateth, and the seventh his soul detesteth:
6:17. Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, 6:18. A heart that deviseth wicked plots, feet that are swift to run into mischief,
6:19. A deceitful witness that uttereth lies, and him that soweth discord among brethren.

The claim that "animals have no soul" is refuted by the OT itself in Ecclesiastes 3:19 (ruach: life breath, spirit).

One can of course also find parts in the Bible where God sanctions the eating of meat by people, like in the case of Noah and during the Exodus. But practically all of these cases were exceptions that should not be taken out of their contexts to sanction meat-eating from a religious point of view. After the flood Noah found himself in a crisis. As all vegetation was destroyed, God indeed gave Noah a concession - not a commandment - to eat meat (Genesis 9:3). In Genesis 9:4 God reminds us not to eat flesh with blood, and in text 5 He says: "And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man."

Some scholars found out that when Noah was given the right to eat every moving thing, the exact Greek word used was "herpeton", which literally means "reptile". [The Four Soul Killers. Gnostic Orthodox Church, St. George Press, 1979]

The Greek word for meat is "kreas", and it is never used in connection with Jesus Christ; the words translated as "meat" are "trophe", "brome" and others which mean just "food", or "eating".
Nowhere in the New Testament is there any direct reference to Jesus eating meat. Jesus rebuked strongly the Pharisees: "And if you had known what it means: I desire mercy and not sacrifice, you would not condemn the innocent," (Matthew 12:7) which clearly disapproves of the killing of animals, as this is a verse taken from Hosea 6:6: "I desire mercy instead of sacrifice, the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings...". He strongly opposed the custom of temple animal sacrifices, violently driving those who were selling oxen, sheep and pigeons and the money-changers out of the temple (John 2:14-16).

In Luke 24:41-43 the disciples offered him fish and a honeycomb and he took it (singular, we can guess which one).

The following two fish references may look inconsistent with Jesus' preaching.

In John 21:10,13 he gave his disciples fish but himself did not eat it. There are different opinions on this. One says that one Gospel mentions a 'fish plant', a kind of algae commonly eaten in that region. Another says the fish (ichtys) has a symbolic meaning. It could be also a later interpolation.

It is hard to believe that Jesus served raw fish to his audience (Matt 14:15-21 - feeding 5,000) as there is no mention of any arrangement to cook the fish.

And even if Jesus ate the fish it does not mean we should imitate him. The point is not to imitate great personalities but rather follow their instructions - and there are no instructions for meat- or fish-eating given by Jesus. Another point is, why picking out this so-called fish-eating? Jesus did so many other things, why not imitate this too? Why not give up all possessions and become a wandering preacher too? We should not pick out what suits us best to rectify our sense gratification. Jesus should not serve us as a confidence soother and a justification of our sense enjoyment.

Lewis Regenstein: "...if the Last Supper was a Passover meal - as many believe - there is, interestingly, no mention of the traditional lamb dish."

Whether Jesus ate the Passover Lamb during the Last Supper remains quite a problem for many. In his book Why Kill for Food? the English historian Geoffrey Rudd explains however, that the pascha, the Jewish Passover, took place on the day of the sabbath, which was _after_ the crucifixion of Jesus. This is also fully supported by the investigation of Rev. V.A. Holmes-Gore.

According to Matthew 3:4 John the Baptist was refusing to eat meat: "...and his food was wild locust (bean) and wild honey." (original Greek: enkris, oil cake and akris: locust/honey)

But there is an overwhelming evidence which points to Jesus being a vegetarian: No less than seven of Jesus' twelve disciples refused flesh (the rest we do not know). This naturally reflects the teachings of Jesus, as: "...a servant is not greater than his master..." (John 14:16).

The seven are:

1. Peter, "...whose food was bread, olives and herbs..." (Clem. Hom. XII,6)

2. James: Church Father Eusebius, quoting the Churchfather Hegesippus (about 160 AD) is stating:

"...But Hegesippus, who lived immediately after the apostles, gives the most accurate account in the fifth book of his memoirs. He writes as follows: '...James, the brother of the Lord, succeeded to the government of the Church in conjunction with the apostles. He has been called the Just by all from the time of our savior to the present day; for there were many that bore the name James.
'He was holy from his mother's womb; he drank no wine, nor strong drink, nor did he eat flesh. No razor came upon his head, he did not anoint himself with oil and he did not use the bath. He alone was permitted to enter the holy place; for he wore no woolen but linen garments. And he was in the habit of entering alone into the temple, and was frequently found upon his knees begging forgiveness for the people, so that his knees became hard like those of a camel in consequence of constantly bending them on his worship of God...'" (Eusebius, Church History II, Ch. XXIII,5-7, Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Oxford, N.Y., 1890, Vol I, p.125)

It is interesting that Hegesippus is saying that James, the brother of Jesus, was holy from his mother's womb on which would apply that Mary was not eating meat either and that she never fed him meat as a child. That being the case one would think it to be clear that the whole family of Jesus and naturally he himself was vegetarian. In that sense the statement of Churchfather Eusebius "he was holy from his mother's womb" is most indicative pointing towards the vegetarianism of Jesus.

3. Thomas: The apocryphal Acts of Thomas (ch. 20) depict this disciple of Jesus as ascetic:

"He continually fasts and prays, and abstaining from eating of flesh and drinking wine, he eats only bread, with salt and drink and water, and wears the same garment in fine weather and winter, and accepts nothing from anyone, and gives whatever he has to others."

4. Matthew: "It is far better to be happy than to have a demon dwelling with us. And happiness is found in the practice of virtue. Accordingly, the apostle Matthew partook of seeds and nuts, fruits and vegetables without of flesh. And John, who carried temperance to the extreme, ate locusts and wild honey..."
(Clement of Alexandria, Paedagogus (The Instructor), II.I,16: On Eating) (Note here the strong hint of Clement towards the vegetarianism of John the Baptist.)

5. Matthias (who filled the place of Judas - Acts 1:21-26). His food as told by Church Father Clement of Alexandria was the same as Matthew's.

6. Andrew and

7. Jude: Andrew (Peter's brother in both flesh and faith) and Jude of Bethsaida, originally two of John the Baptist's followers, must have followed the Baptist's austere diet. (See above under Matthew)

Beyond that there are strong arguments by many of the Fathers of the early Church: [Rambhoru Devi Dasi. Food for Peace - Supersimple Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. Freedom Press, Vrindavan, India, 1994]

The Apostolic Father Papias (AD 60-125) wrote: "...The unnatural eating of flesh is as polluting as the heathens worship of devils with its sacrifices and impure feasts, through participation in which a man becomes a fellow eater with devils..." (2nd century scripture Clemente Homilies, Hom. XII)

Clemens Prudentius, the first Christian hymn writer exhorts in one of his hymns his fellow Christians, "...not to pollute their hands and hearts by the slaughter of innocent cows and sheep... It is by far better to be happy than to have the devil dwelling in us, for happiness is found only in the practise of virtue. Accordingly the Apostle Matthew, partook of seeds, and nuts, and vegetables, without the use of flesh... is there not within a temperate simplicity, a wholesome variety of eatables, vegetables, roots, olives, herbs, milk, cheese, fruits?" - Church Father Clement of Alexandria, Titus Flavius Clemens, AD 150-220)

"...We the Christian leaders practice abstinence from the flesh of animals to subdue our bodies. The unnatural eating of flesh is of demonic origin."

"...No streams of blood are among them [early Christians]. No dainty cookery, no heaviness of head. Nor are horrible smells of flesh meats among them or disagreeable fumes from the kitchen..." - St. Chrysostomos (AD 347-404)

"The steam of meat darkens the light of the spirit... One hardly can have virtue when one enjoys meat meals and feasts..." - St. Basil (AD 320-379)

A most important purport to a controversy, much cherished and much cited by meat-eating Christians we find in the writings of the Churchfather Jerome (AD 340 - 420), who gave us the Vulgate, the authorized Latin version of the Bible still in use today.

The controversy is based on the fact that in Genesis 1:29 meat-eating is clearly forbidden, "...I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food..."

However after the flood it appears that meat-eating is all of a sudden permitted:

"...The fear and dread of you will fall upon all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon every creature that moves along the ground, and upon all the fish of the sea; they are given into your hands. Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything. But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it..." (Genesis 9:2-4)

Writing in confutation of Jovinian, a monk of Milan, who abandoned asceticism, St. Jerome (died A.D. 440) holds up vegetarianism as the Christian ideal and the restoration of the primeval rule of life.

St. Jerome says: "...He (Jovinian) raises the objection that when God gave His second blessing, permission was granted to eat flesh, which had not in the first benediction been allowed. He should know that just as divorce according to the Saviour's word was not permitted from the beginning, but on account of the hardness of our heart was a concession of Moses to the human race, (Matthew 9:8: "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.") ...so too the eating of flesh was unknown until the deluge. But after the deluge, like the quails given in the desert to the murmuring people, the poison of flesh-meat was offered to our teeth. The Apostle writing to the Ephesians (Eph. 1:10) teaches that God had purposed in the fullness of time to sum up and renew in Christ Jesus all things which are in heaven and in earth. Whence also the Saviour himself in the Revelation of John says (Rev. 1:8; 22:13), "I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending." At the beginning of the human race we neither ate flesh, nor gave bills of divorce, nor suffered circumcision for a sign. Thus we reached the deluge. But after the deluge, together with the giving of the law which no one could fulfill, flesh was given for food, and divorce was allowed to hard-hearted men, and the knife of circumcision was applied, as though the hand of God had fashioned us with something superfluous. But once Christ has come in the end of time, and Omega passed into Alpha and turned the end into the beginning, we are no longer allowed divorce (see Matthew 19:3-9), nor are we circumcised, nor so we eat flesh, for the Apostle says (Rom. 14:21), "It is good not to eat flesh, nor to drink wine." For wine as well as flesh was consecrated after the deluge." (Against Jovinianus, Book I, 18)

Islam

In "Thus Spake Mohammed", the translation of the Hadith by Dr. M. Hafiz Syed, the disciples of the prophet Mohammed ask him, "Verily are there rewards for our doing good to quadrupeds, and giving them water to drink?" Mohammed answers, "There are rewards for benefiting EVERY animal."

Especially the Sufi tradition shows a clear preference for a vegetarian diet. The famous saint Mir Dad said that, "Every one who eats the flesh of another living being, will have to pay for that with his own flesh."

In his book "Islamic Concern for Animals" Al-Hafiz B.A. Masri makes a point about the cruelties on animals in name of religion. Citing from the Koran and the teachings of the prophet Mohammed, he shows that all forms of molestation on animals are considered sins including keeping birds in cages. Islam even prohibits to cut down trees.

More about this topic: Vegetarianism in Islam

Buddhism

Buddha established the principle of "ahimsa", non-violence, and vegetarianism as fundamental steps on the path of self-awareness. In the Lankavatara-sutra (ch. 8) he states: "To avoid terror to living beings, let the disciple refrain from eating meat ... the food of the wise is that which is consumed by the "sadhus" [holy men]; it does not consist of meat. ... There may be some foolish people in the future who will say that I permitted meat-eating and that I partook of meat myself, but ... meat-eating I have not permitted to anyone, I do not permit, I will not permit meat-eating in any form, in any manner and in any place; it is unconditionally prohibited for all."

Claim that Buddha would have died from eating rancid meat is therefore until today a controversial topic. The original Pali word, which is often translated as "pig's flesh" is "sukara-maddava". However, the Pali word for "pig's flesh" would be "sukara-mamsa". "Sukara-maddava" more probably means "a pig's delight", i.e. pignut, or truffle.

Vedas

The Vedic scriptures of India, which predate Buddhism, also stress non-violence as the ethical foundation of vegetarianism.
"Having well considered the (disgusting) origin of flesh and the (cruelty of) fettering and slaying corporeal beings, let him entirely abstain from eating flesh." (Manu-smrti 5.49, trans. Georg Buhler)
"The fiend who smears himself with flesh of cattle, with flesh of horses and of human bodies, Who steals the milch-cow's milk away, O Agni,—tear off the heads of such with fiery fury." (Rgveda 10.87.16, trans. Ralph Griffith)
"The slaughter of an innocent, O Krityaa, is an awful deed. Slay not cow, horse, or man of ours." (Atharva Veda 10.1.29, trans. Ralph Griffith)

Monier Monier-Williams Dictionary:
[aghnya]2['a-ghnya] (2,3) or (2,3), m. 'not to be killed', a bull, and ([A], ['A]), f. a cow RV. AV.

All living beings are souls, locked up in a body. In the Bhagavad-gita Lord Krsna describes the soul as the source of consciousness and the active principle that activates the body of every living being. A soul in a form lower than the human automatically evolves to the next higher species, ultimately arriving at the human form. Only in the human form of life can the soul turn its consciousness towards God and at the time of death be transferred back to the spiritual world. Killing an animal interrupts its progressive evolution through the species, and the killer will invariably suffer the reaction for this sinful behaviour.

But does that only refer to the person that slaughters the animal? According to the Anusasana Parva of Mahabharata (13.116.47) the answer is "no": ("He who arranges for obtaining flesh, he who approves of those arrangements, he who slays, he who buys or sells, he who cooks, and he who eats, are all regarded as eaters of flesh." (AhartA cAnumantA ca vizistA kraya vikrayI saMskartA copabhoktA ca ghAtakAH sarva eva te)

Krsna Himself explains in the Bhagavad-gita (5.18) that spiritual perfection means to see the equality of all living beings. "The humble sages, by virtue of true knowledge, see with equal vision a learned and gentle brahmana, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater [outcaste]." Further He instructs us to accept the principle of spiritual vegetarianism, "If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, a fruit or water, I will accept it." (BG 9.26)

Simple living, high thinking: an alternative

Although most religious thinking today is based on unreasoning sentiment, genuine self-realisation or spiritual consciousness is soundly based on a logical and scientific approach to the world in which we live.

A scientific and practical approach to the spiritual principles of cow protection is found in the ancient Vedic civilisation of India. Over 5,000 years ago, when Vedic science and culture were prevalent, the basic unit of life was the joint family. This consisted of a large enough house for three or more generations, a plot of land suitable for family self-sufficiency and at least one cow to produce milk. Bullocks ground grain, turning a wheel by walking in a circle, and provided transport for people and commodities. The cow's milk was made into many varieties of dairy products, and her manure or urine was used as disinfectants, cleansing agents, fuel for heating and cooking and as medicine and fertilizer. The animals were not killed. Because the cow gives milk to human society it is considered in Vedic science equally respectable as one's own mother, whose bodily-produced milk is meant for her offspring after birth. Therefore killing a cow is considered equivalent to killing one's own mother.

Life was agrarian and nothing was wasted. Defecation and urine, animal and human, were used to fertilize the ground and never polluted the water system as in the case in modern civilisation. The Vedic system prescribed that faeces and urine were never to touch water, but to be deposited in the land which was then fertilized.

This system of civilisation is based upon certain natural, spiritual laws, and thus is perfectly balanced and sustainable. Unfortunately the post-Vedic societies of both the East and the West were gradually departing from them considering them obsolete and primitive. This lead to their gradual degradation and an ultimate demise. It seem that our present Western civilization have reached an extreme in this regard...

Related:
Origin of eggs
Kurma das (chef) about eggs
The Four Principles of Freedom by Satyaraja dasa
Position of the American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada: vegetarian diets.
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Teaching Doctors About Food and Diet (an inadequate medical education)
Did Lord Rama eat meat?
Ritualistic Animal Sacrifice in Ancient India
Animal Sacrifices Before Deities (1918) by Tarachand Devmal Gajra
British Cow slaughter Master Plan to subvert India
The Samurai: Protectors of the Cow
K zamysleni. Lide versus zvirata, kdyby bylo vsechno naopak...
The Great Gama (the best wrestler of his time living on milk, almonds and fruit juice)
Fed Up documentary movie
Links - vegetarianism

Quotes about vegetarianism

"The American Dietetic Association has released an updated position paper on vegetarian diets that concludes such diets, if well-planned, are healthful and nutritious for adults, infants, children and adolescents and can help prevent and treat chronic diseases including heart disease, cancer, obesity and diabetes." - The Journal of the American Medical Association (summary)

"Many studies have shown that vegetarians seem to have a lower risk of obesity, coronary heart disease (which causes heart attack), high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus and some forms of cancer. Vegetarian diets can be healthful and nutritionally sound if they’re carefully planned to include essential nutrients. However, a vegetarian diet can be unhealthy if it contains too many calories and/or saturated fat and not enough important nutrients. American Heart Association

"Animals are my friends... and I do not eat my friends." - George Bernard Shaw

'Me he (mAm saH) will devour in the next world, whose meat I eat in this'; — this is the 'meatness' (mAMsatva) of the 'meat' (mAMsa), as the wise ones declare." - Manu-smriti 5.55

Similar verse is found in Satvata tantra 8.11:

sa mAm punar bhakSayitA
yasya mAMsam adAmy aham
iti mAMsa niruktiM vai
varNayanti manISinaH

"As I eat his flesh (mAMsa) now, so he (sa) in the fuiture will eat me (mAm)." In this way the wise explain the derivation of the word "mAMsa" (meat).

Two previous verses 11-12 say:

yajJe pazor alabhane
naiva doSo 'sti yad-vacaH
api pravRttI rAginAM
nivRttis tu garIyasI

There is no sin in killing animal offered in Vedic sacrifices. Still, that is the path of they who have material desires. The path of renunciation is better.

kRtvAnya-devatA-pUjAH
pazuM hatvA narAdhAmaH
yadi te svar-gatiM yänti
nArakaM yAnti te tadA

The lowest of men kill animals in the course of worshiping the demigods. If somehow they go to the heavenly planets, they must later also go to hell.

"A cruel and wretched person who maintains his existence at the cost of others' lives deserves to be killed for his own well-being; otherwise he will go down by his own actions." - Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.7.37

Drugs and Krsna consciousness

One morning two hippies came to the 26 2nd Avenue temple. They claimed they have just seen Krsna during their "trip" and wanted to become devotees. Srila Prabhupada did not comment on it but gave them some service in the temple. First one soon left, the other one became a devotee.

This example shows how to recognize real from unreal through the test of time. One of main reasons why hippies began to be interested in Krsna consciousness was that they felt something different from ordinary experience. Under the influence of drugs one may have various visions depending on one's focus. Otherwise why would different yogis smoke ganja for thousands of years? They are, however, influenced by rajo and tamo guna and worship Siva and Sakti.

Drugs are used in almost all cultures to create changed states of consciousness. But they are used only by certain individuals (shamans etc.), whose task is a communication with astral beings, astral travel etc. Not ordinary people who are harmed by them. There is also a danger in the form of contact with some not very auspicious subtle beings and consumption of poisons. This confirms that it comes from within three gunas of material world and not from spiritual realm. There is a great problem in the West where even languages do not distinguish among subtle material/astral sphere and real spiritual (immaterial) sphere (soul is identified with mind). For example Bible translators try hard to prevent the Holy Ghost looking in some languages like an evil demon...

If someone claims to have visions of God or other noble being, which will not tell him, however, to stop taking them, they are not real. If that specific vision or realization leads to deep and permanent change in life (like in the case of the second hippie), it is real. Remember the old maxim "phalena pariciyate", judge the tree by its fruits. (Similarly, "You shall know them by their fruits." Matt. 7:16,20)

From the philosophical point of view the use of drugs presents a form of escape from the reality of suffering in this world. No sane person wants to suffer but this way is contrary to the will of the Lord in the form of dharma. According to it we should look for constructive, spiritual means of liberation from this world. Drugs, on the other hand, are destructive and create negative karma.

First we have to learn to know reality theoretically. Later, as we get purified from material coverings and develop qualities characteristic for knowledge, it will become revealed to us. Nothing like that a drug or any other artificial way of manipulation with gross or subtle body can do. We are souls, not bodies. Krsna consciousness operates on the level of suddha-sattva and Krsna wants His devotees to become purified.

Related:
Three gunas

Questions about chanting

Q: I am new to the Hare Krishna movement and would like to know if without actually being given the maha-mantra personally by a spiritual master I can start chanting it on my own and derive the same spiritual gifts from chanting it? I do plan on finding an organization near me but until then I would like to begin chanting right away. Also, any advice as to how to do the chant? i.e. silently, out-loud etc...

A: Everyone can chant even without being initiated into the chanting. Such is the power of the mahamantra. By the initiation this power is further increased. Regarding initiation see:

veda.harekrsna.cz/bhaktiyoga/bhaktiyoga-4.htm#2

veda.harekrsna.cz/bhaktiyoga/samskara.htm

Q: What should we pray for?

A: It is stated in the Srimad Bhagavatam that whether one is full of material desires, or has no desires, or desires liberation, one should approach the Supreme Lord Krsna. So whatever we want in life we should pray for Krsna to fulfill our desire.

It is of course not so wise to pray for material things as this will just prolong our stay in the material world. Best thing is to ask Krsna, "Please, take us out of samsara and engage us in Your pure devotional service."

Therefore we chant the Hare Krsna mantra. The Hare Krsna mantra is the supreme prayer because by chanting that mantra we ask Krsna to take us out of the material world and situate us in our original position of eternity, knowledge and bliss. So the Hare Krsna mantra is the best prayer you can offer to Krsna.

Here is a little anecdote.

There was an old woman who used to collect fire wood in the forest every day to sell in the market place.

She was carrying the fire wood on her head as is custom in India, but the wood kept falling off and she had to bend down and pick it up. This happened again and again. It was getting dark and she was getting very frustrated so in despair she called out for Krsna to help her in her predicament.

Krsna appeared before her and asked her what He could do for her. She said, that she would be grateful if Krsna could arrange it so that the wood would stay in place on her head so she could reach the market place in time to sell it before it got dark. So be it, Krsna said, and disappeared.

The morale of the story is that the woman was very foolish to cherish such petty desires. Here is the Supreme Lord standing right in front of her and she asks for such a ridiculous thing. Krsna can give us anything. Most of all He can give us pure devotional service so that we will never anymore have any problems in the material world. This material world is a place full of problems and misery, and as long as we are here, even if we live in very opulent circumstances, we are bound to have so many problems. So the best thing we can pray to Krsna for, is to take us out of this world once and for all, and situate us again at His lotus feet.

NAMA HATTA - Congregation of ISKCON

Congregation

Devotional service to the Lord, or bhakti-yoga, can be practiced by anyone regardless of their situation. Although the temple life enables the most intense use of time and energy in the spiritual life, one can make advancement at home too. It is obvious that masses of people cannot move into the temple to practice spiritual life there. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu predicted a flood of love of God. So how will it happen? Sri Krsna Caitanya said that we should remain where we are; just to stop sinful actions and glorify the Lord by chanting the Hare Krsna mahamantra. Family or job are no impediment. Just the opposite, the whole family can live in the atmosphere of devotion to God, chant Hare Krsna, associate with similarly disposed friends - in other words, a pure and joyful life in Krsna consciousness. Number of such families is increasing in our country too. Prediction of Lord Caitanya that the holy name of the Lord will be sung in every town and village all over the world is slowly but surely becoming a reality. Married couples, seniors, youth and children chant Hare Krsna. Doctors, businessmen, workers, teachers, housewives and people of many other walks of life regularly meet to serve Krsna together. In the temple live devotees who have no family and can study and practice bhakti-yoga 24 hours a day and thus they become a natural example for the congregational members. They, on the other hand, try to support the temple materially. In this way the whole society can properly develop.

Summer camp

Summer Nama-hatta camp is one of the most joyful events of the year for all ISKCON congregation members. One week of life in the nature, in company of devotees, with delicious vegetarian cooking, means the ideal combination of family holiday and active spiritual life. Lectures, singing, walks or bathing in a pond are just some of the many activities filling the week schedule. There are also rare guests, cultural evenings with theatre and music performances or slide shows.

Centers

Nama Hatta centers, as ISKCON congregation centers are called, are nowadays found in various parts of our republic. Both members and public meet there to deepen their realizations and knowledge of spiritual life. Such small centers in a given locality serve as a temple substitution. Simple but fulfilling program of regular meetings consists of kirtan (common singing of Hare Krsna mahamantra), discussion of philosophy and, last but not least, the vegetarian feast. Groups of congregational members exist even in towns and villages where there is no permanent center. This is, however, no impediment in associating because devotees can meet anywhere, for example in a park. Such groups without a permanent center are called a Nama-hatta sangha.

Searching for a guru

Q: Hare Krsna! All glories to Srila Prabhupada. I have been "into" Krsna consciousness for eight years, I have been to temples, I stayed a couple of times at New Goloka in N.C., I have stayed down at the Potomac temple in Maryland. I have a room downstairs that is strictly for my Krsna devotion... I really want to further my progress, but I feel I need to be guided by a spiritual master. I feel like I can't progress any further on my own. Does this make any sense to you? Can you help me with my question?

A: That makes perfect sense! Actually this is the conclusion everyone should naturally reach while studying the Vaisnava literature.

In ISKCON the standard process is to get in touch with local devotees in your area and they will give you more information on how to proceed. The best would be if you could spend some time in our temples where you can meet different gurus personally. You can listen to different gurus' taped classes and chose to contact one who inspires you most and establish a relationship with him. But you have to be sure that you are ready to give up your independence and surrender your life to the mission of your guru - which is to preach the message of Caitanya Mahaprabhu all over the world.

There is no haste. Simply take your time and apply very careful deliberation. To choose a guru is the most important choice of your life. If you accept one there is no other try. You want to be absolutely certain that this is the person who will take charge of you and take you back to Godhead.

17th century Vaishnava saint Raghavendra Swami, in his last speech before departing from the mortal world, warned about the dangers of fraudulent gurus:

"The search for knowledge is never easy. As the Upanishads say it is like walking on the razor's edge. But for those who have strong faith and put in sustained effort and have the blessings of Shi Hari and guru this is not difficult. Always keep away from people who merely perform miracles without following the shastras and yet call themselves God or guru. I have performed miracles, and so have great persons like Shrimadacharya [Madhvacarya]. These are based on yoga siddhi and the shastras. There is no fraud or trickery at all. These miracles were performed only to show the greatness of God and the wonderful powers that one can attain with His grace. Right knowledge (jnana) is greater than any miracle. Without this no real miracle can take place. Any miracle performed without this right knowledge is only witchcraft. No good will come to those who perform such miracles and also those who believe in them."

Further criteria suited for modern institutional environments like ISKCON (by Jan):

1. a very good knowledge of tattva and rasa coupled with intolerance to speculations and apasiddhantas
2. a long-term nonproblematic service record (time provides for a great quality test)
3. a significant preaching (ideally also book publishing)
4. an accessibility (in descending order):
4.1 a relatively small number of disciples (no complex meeting appointments through a hierarchy of privileged servants forming an inpenetrable circle around the guru and filtering out whatever and whoever at their whim)
4.2 a possibility to spend with the guru a longer time as his servant (no 'clique' of privileged servants with a 'lifetime right' to personally serve him, allowing in no one else)
4.3 a possibility to personally meet him at least several times a year (guru should ideally preach mostly locally and close-by or visit the area often)
4.4 a possibility of email contact within days, not months - esp. important in emergency cases (guru shouldn't be overwhelmed by emails - related to 4.1)

My siksa guru gave me an order to study the relationship of guru and disciple in Srimad Bhagavatam.
The guru is a manifestation of Sri Nityananda so I recommend prayers to Him and sincere service to all Vaisnavas without even mentally offending them. Baladeva Vidyabhusana says:

sat-sevA guru-sevA ca
deva-bhAvena ced bhavet
dadaiSA bhagavad-bhaktir
labhyate nAnyathA kvacit

sat - of the devotees; sevA - service; guru - of the spiritual master; sevA - service; ca - and; deva - of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; bhAvena - with meditation; cet - if; bhavet - may be; tadA - then; eSA - this; bhagavat - of the Supreme Lord; bhaktiH - devotional service; labhyate - is attained; na - not; anyathA - otherwise; kvacit - under any circumstance.

If one engages in the service of the devotees and the spiritual master, considering them equal to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, then he may attain the devotional service of the Lord. There is no other way in which this service may be obtained. (Prameya RatnAvalI 2 b)

deva-bhAvena sat-sevA. yathA taittirIyake--
atithi-devo bhava. iti.

deva - as the Supreme Lord; bhAvena - with the conception; sat - of the devotees; sevA - service; yathA - just as; taittirIyake - in the TaittirIya UpaniSad; atithi - as a guest; devaH - the Supreme Personality of Godhead; bhava - please become; iti - thus.

That one should serve the devotees, considering them equal to the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself, is described in the TaittirIya UpaniSad (1.10): "One should serve devotee in the same way as one serves the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself." (Prameya RatnAvalI 3 a)

deva-bhAvena guru-sevA yathA taittirIyake--
AcArya-devo bhava. iti.

deva - as the Supreme Personality of Godhead; bhAvena - considering; guru - of the spiritual master; sevA - service; yathA - just as; taittirIyake - in the TaittirIya UpaniSad; AcArya - the spiritual master; devaH - as the Supreme Personality of Godhead; bhava - please be; iti - thus.

That one should also serve the spiritual master as the Supreme Personality of Godhead is confirmed in the TaittirIya UpaniSad (1.10): "One should serve the spiritual master in the same way one serves the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself." (Prameya RatnAvalI 4 a)

Related:
The Characteristics of a Spiritual Master

Secret of Krsna consciousness

This is my favorite story from the biography of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura (1874-1937, the guru of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada) by Bhakti Vikasa Swami. It shows how bhakti-yoga works. One could also call it 'a zen story of teaching by non-teaching'.

"The vice-chancellor of the Benares Hindu University, a very famous man of his time, named Madan Mohan Malaviya came to the Gaudiya Math and had some intricate, philosophical questions to present to Sarasvati Thakura. Sarasvati Thakura said, "I won't answer you, but you should ask the devotees who are washing the arati paraphernalia." The scholar then said, "No. I am asking very difficult questions on Vedanta: They won't be able to answer!" However, Sarasvati Thakura insisted that he go and ask those pujaris, who were cleaning the Deity paraphernalia at that particular time.

So, being submissive to the will of Sarasvati Thakura, he went to ask them. When he approached them, they said, "Well now we're busy washing these plates, but please help us, and when we've finished then your question will be solved." Even though he was such a famous, respectable man, he agreed to join in and help do this humble service. After all the brass was cleaned, he returned to Sarasvati Thakura without saying anything more to the pujaris. Sarasvati Thakura then asked him, "Did you get the answer to your questions?" Madan Mohan Malaviya replied, "Yes, even without discussion. When I was helping clean the arati paraphernalia the answers automatically came in my mind."

Sarasvati Thakura then replied, "Yes. The philosophy of Krsna consciousness can be understood by a service attitude, not by any amount of intellectualism. 'Sevonmukhe hi jihvado...' Just by reading books and reciting slokas - that won't help you. Serving God will give us all the answers to the questions in the sastras. My guru, Gaura Kisora Das Babaji, was not literate, not a pandit, but all the slokas and siddhantas came to his mouth, because he was sevonmukha - inclined to serve Krsna."

Question about changing one's life

Q: Hi! I am a 17 years old girl who lives in Sweden. I have read a bit about your ideas, and I am gradually starting to realize that Krsna consciousness might be a really good thing. My question is: Do I have to change my entire life if I want to become Krsna conscious? I love going to the theatre, museums, listening to rock music etc. Should I stop doing this?

And should I stop meeting my dear friends? Most of them have very little interest in spirituality. I am sure you understand this is a very big step to take. I am feeling so confused!

What could joining Hare Krsna do for me - and what has it done for you?

A: You don't have to stop anything of what you are doing. All you have to do is add Krsna to your life. This can be done very easily in this age simply by chanting Krsna's name, the Hare Krsna mantra.

By studying the books on Krsna conscious philosophy and meditating on Krsna's name every day, you'll find that your life improves much.

Then gradually you can introduce more and more aspects of Krsna consciousness into your life as you see fit. It is for example not so hard to become a vegetarian and offer you food to Krsna. Don't think about the things you have to give up. In due course of time you'll want to give up activities that are not conducive to your spiritual life. But you should not force this. Krsna consciousness is a gradual process of purification. It all comes from chanting the Hare Krsna mantra.

This is really all you have to do. Let Krsna into your life by chanting His name. Then your life will be sublime. There is no doubt about it. You don't have to think about giving up your friends or your cultural interests. This is not at all necessary to give these things up right on the spot.

As you begin to practice Krsna consciousness you may find that your friends will ridicule you and try to discourage you. Maybe you simply shouldn't tell them about your interest in spiritual life until you become a little more fixed on the path of Krsna consciousness. Just take your time. There is no need to rush. But the need to introduce a spiritual dimension into your life is very urgent. Otherwise what do we have to look forward to but disease, old age, and death? Without spiritual knowledge, material life is simply meaningless and cannot satisfy a thoughtful person.

If one wants the ecstasy of loving God, a life totally and fully dedicated to religion while living practically in the world, a philosophy that answers all the questions of life including the very difficult ones that most religions ignore, a group of people who are similarly dedicated and will give one spiritual encouragement, delicious vegetarian food, a healthy lifestyle, a lot of great spiritual singing and dancing, then join the Hare Krsna movement!

Guru-sastra-sadhu

Vedic tradition has an internal check system of truth validation. Guru (spiritual master), sastra (revealed scripture) and sadhu (holy persons) must be in harmony and then an issue can be accepted as verified. This principle also exists in other monotheistic traditions like Catholic Christianity (see below).

yo bhAvayati yA sUte
yena vidyopadizyate
jyeSTo bhrAtA ca bhartA ca
paJcaite guravaH smRtAH

"The five spiritual masters are a person's father, mother, teacher, elder brother and husband." (Kurma Purana)

"These five persons are to be considered as gurus: father, mother, teacher, Agni (fire) and atma (soul)." (Mahabharata, Vana Parva 214.27)

Quotes: (translations and purports by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada)

arjuna uvaca
param brahma param dhama
pavitram paramam bhavan
purusam sasvatam divyam
adi-devam ajam vibhum
ahus tvam rsayah sarve
devarsir naradas tatha
asito devalo vyasah
svayam caiva bravisi me

"Arjuna said: You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the ultimate abode, the purest, the Absolute Truth. You are the eternal, transcendental, original person, the unborn, the greatest. All the great sages such as Narada, Asita, Devala and Vyasa confirm this truth about You, and now You Yourself are declaring it to me." (BG 10.12-13)

maitreya uvaca
iti bruvanam nrpatim
gayaka muni-coditah
tustuvus tusta-manasas
tad-vag-amrta-sevaya

"The great sage Maitreya continued: While King Prthu thus spoke, the humility of his nectarean speeches pleased the reciters very much. Then again they continued to praise the King highly with exalted prayers, as they had been instructed by the great sages." (SB 4.16.1)

Purport:

"Here the word muni-coditah indicates instructions received from great sages and saintly persons. Although Maharaja Prthu was simply enthroned on the royal seat and was not at that time exhibiting his godly powers, the reciters like the suta, the magadha and the vandi understood that King Prthu was an incarnation of God. They could understand this by the instructions given by the great sages and learned brahmanas. We have to understand the incarnations of God by the instructions of authorized persons. We cannot manufacture a God by our own concoctions. As stated by Narottama dasa Thakura, sadhu-sastra-guru: one has to test all spiritual matters according to the instructions of saintly persons, scriptures and the spiritual master. The spiritual master is one who follows the instructions of his predecessors, namely the sadhus, or saintly persons. A bona fide spiritual master does not mention anything not mentioned in the authorized scriptures. Ordinary people have to follow the instructions of sadhu, sastra and guru. Those statements made in the sastras and those made by the bona fide sadhu or guru cannot differ from one another. (...)"

manor uttanapadasya
dhruvasyapi mahipateh
priyavratasya rajarser
angasyasmat-pituh pituh
idrsanam athanyesam
ajasya ca bhavasya ca
prahladasya bales capi
krtyam asti gadabhrta

"This is confirmed not only by the evidence of the Vedas but also by the personal behavior of great personalities like Manu, Uttanapada, Dhruva, Priyavrata and my grandfather Anga, as well as by many other great personalities and ordinary living entities, exemplified by Maharaja Prahlada and Bali, all of whom are theists, believing in the existence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who carries a club."

Purport:

"Narottama dasa Thakura states that one has to ascertain the right path for his activities by following in the footsteps of great saintly persons and books of knowledge under the guidance of a spiritual master (sadhu-sastra-guru-vakya). A saintly person is one who follows the Vedic injunctions, which are the orders of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The word guru refers to one who gives proper direction under the authority of the Vedic injunctions and according to the examples of the lives of great personalities. The best way to mold one's life is to follow in the footsteps of the authorized personalities like those mentioned herein by Prthu Maharaja, beginning with Svayambhuva Manu. The safest path in life is to follow such great personalities, especially those mentioned in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. The mahajanas, or great personalities, are Brahma, Lord Siva, Narada Muni, Manu, the Kumaras, Prahlada Maharaja, Bali Maharaja, Yamaraja, Bhisma, Janaka, Sukadeva Gosvami and Kapila Muni." (SB 4.21.28-29)

"The most important process is hearing (sravanam) from the guru, sadhu and sastra - the spiritual master, the saintly acaryas and the Vedic literature. Sadhu-sastra-guru-vakya, cittete kariya aikya. We should not hear the commentaries and explanations of nondevotees, for this is strictly forbidden by Srila Sanatana Gosvami, who quotes from the Padma Purana:

avaisnava-mukhodgirnam
putam hari-kathamrtam
sravanam naiva kartavyam
sarpocchistam yatha payah

"We should strictly follow this injunction and never try to hear from Mayavadis, impersonalists, voidists, politicians or so-called scholars. Strictly avoiding such inauspicious association, we should simply hear from pure devotees. Srila Rupa Gosvami therefore recommends, sri-guru-padasrayah: one must seek shelter at the lotus feet of a pure devotee who can be one's guru. Caitanya Mahaprabhu advises that a guru is one who strictly follows the instructions of Bhagavad-gita: yare dekha, tare kaha, 'krsna'-upadesa (CC Madhya 7.128). A juggler, a magician or one who speaks nonsense as an academic career is not a guru. Rather, a guru is one who presents Bhagavad-gita, Krsna's instructions, as it is. Sravana is very important; one must hear from the Vaisnava sadhu, guru and sastra." (SB 10.2.37p.)

yasya deve para bhaktir yatha deve tatha gurau
tasyaite kathita hy artha prakasante mahatmanah

"The real import of the scriptures is revealed to one who has unflinching faith in both the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the spiritual master." (Svetasvatara Upanisad 6.23)

'sastra-guru-atma'-rupe apanare janana
'krsna mora prabhu, trata' - jivera haya jnana

"The forgetful conditioned soul is educated by Krsna through the Vedic literatures, the realized spiritual master and the Supersoul. Through these, he can understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead as He is, and he can understand that Lord Krsna is his eternal master and deliverer from the clutches of maya. In this way one can acquire real knowledge of his conditioned life and can come to understand how to attain liberation." (Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya 20.123)

prabhu kahe, - "anyavatara sastra-dvare jani
kalite avatara taiche sastra-vakye mani

"Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu replied, "As in other ages an incarnation is accepted according to the directions of the sastras, in this Age of Kali an incarnation of God should be accepted in that way."

Purport:

"According to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, this is the way an incarnation should be accepted. Srila Narottama dasa Thakura says, sadhu-sastra-guru-vakya, cittete kariya aikya. One should accept a thing as genuine by studying the words of saintly people, the spiritual master and the sastra. The actual center is the sastra, the revealed scripture. If a spiritual master does not speak according to the revealed scripture, he is not to be accepted. Similarly, if a saintly person does not speak according to the sastra, he is not a saintly person. The sastra is the center for all. (...)" (CC Madhya 20.352)

guru-padasraya, diksa, gurura sevana
sad-dharma-siksa-prccha, sadhu-marganugamana

"On the path of regulative devotional service, one must observe the following items: (1) One must accept a bona fide spiritual master. (2) One must accept initiation from him. (3) One must serve him. (4) One must receive instructions from the spiritual master and make inquiries in order to learn devotional service. (5) One must follow in the footsteps of the previous acaryas and follow the directions given by the spiritual master." (CC Madhya 22.115)

guru-padasrayas tasmat
krsna-diksadi-siksanam
visrambhena guroh seva
sadhu-vartmanuvartanam

"[1] Accepting the shelter of the lotus feet of a bona fide spiritual master, [2] becoming initiated by the spiritual master and learning how to discharge devotional service from him, [3] obeying the orders of the spiritual master with faith and devotion, and [4] following in the footsteps of great acaryas [teachers] under the direction of the spiritual master." (Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu 1.2.74)

yaha, bhagavata pada vaisnavera sthane
ekanta asraya kara caitanya-carane
caitanyera bhakta-ganera nitya kara 'sanga'
tabeta janiba siddhanta-samudra-taranga
tabeta panditya tomara ha-ibe saphala
krsnera svarupa-lila varniba nirmala

[Svarupa Damodara said:] "If you want to understand Srimad-Bhagavatam, you must approach a self-realized Vaisnava and hear from him. You can do this when you have completely taken shelter of the lotus feet of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Associate regularly with the devotees of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, for then only will you understand the waves of the ocean of devotional service. Only if you follow the principles of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His devotees will your learning be successful. Then you will be able to write about the transcendental pastimes of Krsna without material contamination." (CC Antya 5.131-133)

tarko 'pratisthah srutayo vibhinna
nasav rsir yasya matam na bhinnam
dharmasya tattvam nihitam guhayah
mahajano yena gatah sa panthah

"Dry arguments are inconclusive. A great personality whose opinion does not differ from others is not considered a great sage. Simply by studying the Vedas, which are variegated, one cannot come to the right path by which religious principles are understood. The solid truth of religious principles is hidden in the heart of an unadulterated self-realized person. Consequently, as the sastras confirm, one should accept whatever progressive path the mahajanas advocate." (Mahabharata, Vana-parva 313.117, quoted in CC Madhya 17.186, 25.57)

guru-mukha-padma-vakya, cittete koriya aikya,
ar na koriho mane asa
sri-guru-carane rati, ei se uttama gati,
je prasade pure sarva asa

Make the teachings from the lotus mouth of the spiritual master one with your heart, and do not desire anything else. Attachment to the lotus feet of the spiritual master is the best means of spiritual advancement. By his mercy all desires for spiritual perfection are fulfilled. (Narottama dasa Thakura, Sri Guru Vandana 2, from Prema-bhakti-candrika)

Aside from guru-sadhu-sastra, heart or consciousness (citta, see cittete above) has also its role as pramana.

vedo 'khilo dharma-mula smrti-kule ca tad-vidam
acarah caiva sadhunam atmanas tusnir eva ca

"The whole Veda is the (first) source of the sacred law, next the tradition and the virtuous conduct of those who know the (Veda further), also the customs of holy men, and (finally) self-satisfaction." (Manu-samhita 2.6, Max Mueller's translation)

Ekanath Das:

Medhatithi has produced twelve pages of (small print) Sanskrit commentary. It appears to be an important verse. This verse could be interpreted as being the basis of the famous "guru, sadhu, sastra" dictum.

The interesting word would of course be "atmanas tusnih," "self-satisfaction." Mueller has the following note:

"The 'self-satisfaction,' i.e. of the virtuous (Medh., Gov., Nand.), is the rule for the cases not to be settled by any of the other authorities (Nar., Nand.), or for cases where an option is permitted (Medh., Gov., Kull.)."

A verse that seems to summarize or repeat the statements of 2.6, appears at 2.12:

vedah smrtih sadacarah svasya ca priyam atmanah
etac catur vidha prahuh saksad dharmasya laksanam

Mueller's translation:

"The Veda, the sacred tradition, the customs of virtuous men, and one's own pleasure, they declare to be visibly the fourfold means of defining the sacred law."

Q: I was wondering if in the bible there is something similar to Guru, Sadhu, and Sastra principle.

A: Below is a nice quote on the Catholic principle of guru (authority of Magisterium), sastra (canon of scripture) and sadhu (tradition). The Vatican Council II in Dei Verbum (10, par 3) states:

"It is clear, therefore, that sacred tradition, Sacred Scripture and the teaching authority of the Church, in accord with God's most wise design, are so linked and joined together that one cannot stand without the others, and that all together and each in its own way under the action of the one Holy Spirit contribute effectively to the salvation of souls."

(Bhakti Ananda Gosvami wrote:) "There is a rather universal way that organized religious traditions, exoteric or esoteric, preserve and perpetuate their authentic teachings. The system of sampradaya and GURU, SHASTRA and SADHU (GSS) exists in the authentic teaching lineages of Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Shakti-ism, Buddhism, Catholicism, etc. These exoteric traditions all attempt to preserve their sacred heritage, by systems of initiation and apostolic succession. For example, one cannot just claim to be a Madhvite or Ramanujite Vaishnava master, any more than one could claim to be a Coptic Catholic bishop without the authority of the Coptic Rite Patriarch. No one can serve as a bishop in the Roman Rite Catholic Church, without the proper elevation by the Pope. No one can just claim to be the next Dalai Lama or Patriarch of any of the Vaishnava, Shaivite, Shankarite Advaitan, Hasidic Jewish, and traditional Sufi or Catholic Rite lineages. All of these 'Apostolic' traditions zealously guard their teaching authority, which preserves the guru, shastra and sadhu history of their ideas and practices. The real-world checks and balances system of guru (living teacher in union with the magisterium), shastra (scripture, canonical body of writings) and sadhu (the tradition of the saints, mystics, theologians and commentators), provides exoteric religions with a way to try to safeguard the historical integrity and continuity of their traditions. Thus the legitimate lineages of Vaishnavism, Shaivism and Buddhism, etc., are extremely strict about properly identifying their history of ideas and practices. No one can speak from the Vyasasana 'ex cathedra' without proper lineage credentials."

Eastern Orthodox tradition uses the title 'staretz' (lit. 'old man' in Russian) for senior monks functioning as gurus for younger ones and the public. That's how the early Christianity worked, esp. in the Patristic (Desert Fathers) tradition.

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