The current global society has adopted many dietary alterations, restrictions, and nutritional value strategies—often with a blind eye. Centuries ago, scriptural influence played perhaps more of a significant dietary role for healthier and holier sustenance than in today’s world of all-you-can-eat, super-sized and over-processed foods. Depending on a person’s personal goals and scriptural values, this modern-day world leaves many questioning which foods are actually the foods we should be eating. One food in particular that raises questions within the Hindu community is that of eating beef—rather, specifically not eating beef.
Hinduism has attached itself to vegetarianism for thousands of years. This structured culture and religion base’s itself on the disciplines and rewards of its spiritual predecessors. Economic status, occupational and geographical connections, and religious allegiance also play distinctive parts where dietary choices are concerned. Finding the answers to questions about eating or not eating beef in the Hindu scriptures is an invitation to understand the various points of view from various resources.
The Mahabharata, an impressive resource of Hindu moral law and history, substantially relates meat-eating in a similar view as that of shameful cannibalism. But why? One example within Mahabharata’s scriptural text tells us a great warrior by the name of Bhishma claimed eating the flesh of an animal is like eating the flesh of one’s son, bringing abundant disgrace to the fool who eats it. That explanation alone could be enough for some to turn and run toward the hills of grain.
On the other hand, and interestingly, according to India Opines online literary platform, Manusmriti scriptures show another spiritual perspective for eating meat.
Manusmriti (Chapter 5 / Verse 30) says, “It is not sinful to eat the meat of eatable animals, for Brahma has created both the eaters and the eatables.”
Where the concern of eating beef really belongs is its effect on the human spirit and whether or not eating beef is considered sinful. According to Manusmriti above, it is not sinful to eat meat. (Good news for those who love to eat beef!)
Vedanta philosophies toward the presentation of cows, in general, invoke the reliance that all things work together. For example, the cow is not of a holy nature. It is a respected animal that should not be consumed during famine due to its ability to provide continued sustenance to many for years to come with the milk it can provide over and over.
Is it sinful to consume the cow? There is personal responsibility in answering this question correctly. Hindus regard the cow as gentle and inoffensive, much in the same way as most of us view our own pets. While many Hindus do not eat beef and prefer to view the cow as highly regarded, Hindus do not worship the cow as a holy entity. The cow is a gift, rather the milk it has to offer humankind is a gift.
Do you practice Hinduism and adhere to certain dietary regulations concerning the consumption of beef? Comment below!