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Ahimsa originally is a Jain term that describes a life dedicated to causing no harm. The Jain wear small face coverings to ensure microorganisms are not killed by breathing, walk barefoot to ensure no bug is killed while walking and in some communities, the men wear no clothes to reduce consumerism and outward vanity. The Jain holy books, the Agamas, are written on paper derived from tree bark where the bark fell naturally and was not removed from any living tree to not cause harm to trees. Many Jain practitioners are changing their traditional diet to a vegan diet and this is visible at many Jain restaurants and temples where vegan food is offered.

Ahimsa has become a mainstream thought in the Hindu community also. Many Vaishnava texts and temples refer to this term readily, and it is also addressed frequently by Vedanta, Shakti, and other Hindu communities. It is how Hinduism becomes vegetarian. Frequently Hindus point to Krishna’s request that he is offered water, a leaf, a flower, or fruit in his worship rather than animal sacrificing or lactarian offerings. This is a very important civilizing passage in the ninth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, introducing vegan tools of worship as superior to lactarian or carnivorous offerings of past historic epochs. They need to change their Abhishek practice of pouring milk on temple deities realizing what Krishna stated. Hinduism is only now addressing vegan lifestyles and some temples have vegan practitioners and many Hindu vegetarian restaurants offer vegan options.

Ahimsa is also a term used by the Buddhist community. It becomes known in the Angulimala Sutta where the Buddha explains that his life has been dedicated to harmlessness. It is then codified in the first precept where the edict reads “No Killing” which is practiced as a vow to live a vegetarian life in many Mahayana communities. Many Buddhist enclaves misinterpret Buddha’s words to justify their wrong dietary practices. The Buddha was India’s greatest holy man and no one would ever consider putting meat nor dairy products in his begging bowl, such actions would be perverse and wrongful.

Change is slow in these largely lactarian cultures that make a distinction for eating garlic and onions but do not yet fully honor the vegan way of being. It is strange since a vegan lifestyle is obviously purer by all Ahimsa standards. This is because Milk, like turmeric, has been considered the presence of god/goddess himself or herself and thus there are many cultural blocks to vegan reification. Therefore, each community must look more closely at their own scriptures to find that vegan lifestyles are truer to their own Dharma. The cultural practices, the religious practices, and the dietary practices of each of these noble communities must adapt and adopt vegan values now that dietary supplements for vitamins B and D3 exist.

The first step to spiritual and religious realization is a vegan lifestyle. Veganism without any moral philosophy or devotional practice is cosmetic and riddled with egoistic problems. The only way vegans will progress into a genuine interconnection with all life in a meaningful way is to enter the symbolic language of devotion, meditation and scripture which reveals the true consciousness and unity with humanity, life, and the multiverse. The only way the Jain, Hindu and Buddhist communities will also participate in this same genuine interconnection is by going vegan. Of course, these religious communities and most vegans, have histories of carnivorous practices that are easily abandoned, so likewise the lactarian transitional lifestyle also must be abandoned.

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