beef eating in the Veda
srini at engin.umich.edu
Wed Feb 12 19:30:26 UTC 1997
Philip> This cannot be the whole story. The early sangha ate _anything_ that fell
Philip> into their begging-bowls -- even the finger of a leper, it is said --, and
Philip> at least one tradition has it that the illness that caused the death of the
Philip> Tathagata was caused by His eating of contaminated pork.
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
I suspect that some of the systematic 'transgression' practiced by
tantric practices finds its point of origin in this principle.
Rather, it seems to me that the Tantric "transgressions"
such as pancamakara originate from a deliberate desire to
invert the routine/mainstream values so that nirvANa/mukti
can be _quickly_ achieved...
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.
I agree with your belief about various groups co-opting
vegetarianism... but given the legends and other evidence,
even if it were apocryphal, about meat-eating by the Buddhists,
it seems to me that we should be stressing the role of Jaina
traditions a whole lot more in the widespread acceptance of
Interestingly enough, Tiruvalluvar, held to be of Jaina
origin by some and even identified with the Jaina AcArya
KundAkunda by a few, who wrote the immortal TirukkuRaL
is said to have specifically targetted the Buddhists for
criticism in a kuRaL where he condemns the practice of
eating meat by some, as long as the animal was killed
by someone else. Of course, he has an easy time skewering ;-)
the Brahmanical sacrificers.
ps: The Tamil s'aivites probably espoused vegetarianism in
imitation of the Jainas... so much so that the word 'caivam'
does double duty in Tamil referring both to a vegetarian
and a sectarian worshipper of Lord S'iva.
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