beef eating in the Veda
srini at engin.umich.edu
Thu Feb 13 22:23:12 UTC 1997
gt> Perhaps I have misunderstood RZ's request here: are you looking for
gt> references to secondary literature, or to *Vedic passages* where
gt> beef eating is "unambiguously" referred to?
gt> I assumed that you meant the latter.
Correct, I meant the latter, although references to good secondary
literature which gives references to such Vedic passages are also
welcome (my big problem is, however, that I cannot look at such
literature until I am in Europe again, this spring, since such
literature is hardly available here in Mysore).
George mentioned the statement of YAjJavalkya at Zatapatha
BrAhmaNa 126.96.36.199 about beef-eating. I believe Apastamba
refers precisely to this statement of the "vAjasaneyaka",
in support of beef-eating.
Also, Frits Staal in his article "Vedic Mantras" in the book
"Understanding Mantras" (SUNY Press... ed. Harvey Alper) says
that as a prelude to the garbhAdAna samskAra that uses hymns
such as RV 10.184, the couple should eat a meal containing
veal or beef... to beget a meritorious son, well-versed in
the Vedas, no less ! However, I have not read any clear
confirmation of this prerequisite ;-)
Apart from arousing my historical curiosity, Bharati's remarks reminded
me of statements made by a Jaina author in polemical writings in Kannada
(in as late as the 12th century) that the Jainas have a lifestyle which
he considers superior to that of the Vaidikas because the latter are not
vegetarians, and that if non-Jainas insist on being vegetarians, it is
due to Jaina ideological influence. This seems to be a recurring theme in
southern Jaina literature (as well as in contemporary Jaina conversation)
and it is spoken about as a matter of common knowledge that needs no
explicit proof. Hence I was interested in evidence which could be
adduced in support of this Jaina claim.
I mentioned the case of Tiruvalluvar in an earlier post...
however, we don't know incontrovertibly if he was a Jaina.
Secondly, Bharati's remarks are part of his general attack on the
majority of modern Hindu religious leaders, who in his view are not
only anti-historical in their outlook, but also anti-Sanskritic and / or
intellectually dishonest, as they lack the ability to go through the
texts in name of which they preach and / or withhold historical truths
from the public because they think that the truth is not good for the
people. This is a serious matter, and I was curious about to what extent
and in what detail Bh.'s arguments hold good. His basic attitude seems
correct, but I wanted to check the details.
One should not read too much from Bharati's petulant remarks,
I am afraid, on this issue of beef-eating... such remarks are
strewn all over his writings, starting from his autobiography
"The Ochre robe", and other books like "Functional Analysis of
Indian Thought...", his book on mysticism, etc.
He sounds irritatingly like a recent convert and an original
intent fanatic ... insisting on beef-eating in the Vedas and
insisting that modern Indians should accept it as "valid" in
modern times... wifully suspending all historical developments
Now, this may be OK in traditional Indian dialectic ;-)
and has always been a very useful didactic device... s'abda
pramANa, Aptavacana, and all that.
But Bharati had these critical/modern compulsions too, you see.
Hence, somehow, it doesn't jive.
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