beef eating in the Veda

Max Langley mlangley at
Wed Feb 12 00:09:58 UTC 1997

You are right--that Buddha' disciples ate whatever was placed in their
begging-bowl. On the other hand, the values implicit in the Buddhadharma
do lead inexorably to the conclusion that meat-eating must be given up.
The Bhikhus/Bhikshunis following rules of the primitive pratimoksha
consumed what might be regarded as a transgressive meal, were it not a
token of the freedom guaranteed by adherence to the Vinaya. Therefore,
non-attachment to what one ate and from what source it came represented a
'higher' viewpoint than that governed by the scrupulosity dictated by
ethical considerations. I suspect that some of the systematic
'transgression' practiced by tantric practices finds its point of origin
in this principle. Also, because the Buddhist ariyas of the early period
were actively involved in religious and disputational competition with the
followers of Kapila as well as others of the early schools, they
maintaining similar viewpoints relating to diet as part of their whole
viewpoint, the Buddhists could scarcely have not agreed with them in
principle, reserving disagreement for particulars. It is my belief, at all
events, that vegetarianism as a commonplace of general Indian orthodoxy,
brahmanical and non-brahmanical, spreadly widely as a result of the
competition for authority between these early groups,  but begun as a
necessary implication of ahimsa. 
> From: Mr B.Philip.Jonsson [Seeker of Useless Knowledge] <bpj at>
> To: Members of the list <indology at>
> Subject: Re: beef eating in the Veda
> Date: Tuesday, February 11, 1997 4:43 PM
> At 18:43 11.2.1997 +0000, Max Langley wrote:
> >Swami Asitananda of the Vedanta Society of Northern California in San
> >Francisco once pointed out to me that one must put such questions in a
> >proper perspective. The Sugata, Siddharta Gotama, marked the end of the
> >Vedic period. It is clear from the Upanishads that recluses forwent
> >It was only in the struggle for religious, and eventually political,
> >domination of the Indian subcontinent after the passing of the Buddha
> >his disciples and their successors that many reforms were compelled in
> >line with the teaching of the Buddha and sangha. Among the reforms was
> >institution of vegetarianism outside of renunciate circles, Brahmans
> >having previously eaten meat, probably beef also in some areas. I
> >that the beef-taboo in conjunction with cow veneration is not
> >primeval in India.
> >
> This cannot be the whole story. The early sangha ate _anything_ that
> into their begging-bowls -- even the finger of a leper, it is said --,
> at least one tradition has it that the illness that caused the death of
> Tathagata was caused by His eating of contaminated pork.
> __                     __  ___   __ ___ __
> |_) |_  * | * __       (_ /_|| * (_ /_| (_ *
> |   | ) | | | |_)            |     \
>               |
> B.Philip Jonsson <bpj at>
> [I write in Swenglish, if nothing else is said.]
>               _        _    .             _ _
> || Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha ||
> "Peace is not simply the absence of war.
> It is not a passive state of being.
> We must wage peace, as vigilantly as we wage war."
> (XIV Dalai Lama)
> "A coincidence, as we say in Middle-Earth"

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