2 . FOOD PROBLEM.
Now let us investigate the conditions prevailing in the world , which have caused so much unrest and chaos . For our purpose , it is necessary to survey the activities of the individual man and thereby ascertain how far spiritual awakening in the light of Ahimsa has influenced his primary instincts in daily life . Let us begin from his food instincts . Man requires food for the upkeep of a healthy body ; but today the food has become a luxury to satisfy the relishes of the tongue . Void of Viveka , not heeding to the inner voice of conscience and caring little for Ahimsa , man devours whatever is placed before him in a fashionable way and appealing to his taste . People care but littile to ascertain whether the food they take is natural and not harmful . Nobody seems to remember that man is a herbivorous living being and his right food is corn , fruit and vegetable . Prominent medical opinion declares it so . To begin with Sri Henry Thompson , M. D. , F. R. C. S. , writes:--
“ It is a vulgar error to regard meat in any form as necessary to life . This statement is amply proved by the fact that three-fourths of the human roce do not eat flesh . It is difficult to understand how a civilisation can call itself Christian or humane or even rational , while its main article of food is not unnecessary but one that involves so much degradation to the producer , disease to the consumer , and untold suffering and cruelty to the victims .”
Likewise another medical authority , Dr. Josiah Oldfield remarks:--
“ In order to secure a clear head upon an active body , I am of the opinion that a man should give up eating all dead bodies and all perparations of them—all entrails , organs , muscles , blood and bones of dead animals , under whatever fancy names , they may be presented – and should carefully and wisely select from the producers of the harvest field , the garden , the orchard and the forest . ”
Vegetarian diet is rather helpful to health and prolongs life . The opinion of Dr. John H. Kellog , M. D., LL. D. Is worth perusal . He writes :
“ There is nothing necessary or desirable for human nutrition to be found in meats or flesh foods which is not found in and derived from vegetable products . ”
But inspite of such eminent medical opinion in favour of vegetarian food , most of our intelligentsia is swayed away with the alluring tastes of the meat dishes . They believe in Ahimsa , yet eat the carcasses of animals . Does it not cause pain and fear to lesser berthen , the animals ? When one hurts life , how can he style himself an Ahimsaist ? But the wonder is that a few of the modern Pacifists , who are so very anxious and are true in their laudable efforts to establish peace in the world , do not attach much importance in the approach between Western and Gandhian pacifisms , Rev. John Nevin Sayre , an American representative to the World Pacifist’s Conference held at Wardha
think our Pacifism would be very close to Ahimsa , with this difference . I
think , Ahimsa would involve refusal to take any life including animal life .
Our pacifism does not go that far . The kind of pacifism I am talking about ,
is refusal to take human life by warfare and murder and so—( Vide Amrita Bazar
Patrika , dated
But on the other hand a different opinion , somewhat a rejoinder to the above view , comes itself from the West . Rev. J. Harold Kemmis a clergyman of the Church of England and a member of the Order of the Cross ( London ) , is reported to have spoken at Los Angels
“ Everybody wants peace , whether or not they are religious . But what kind of peace ? When Millions of Lambs are about to be slaughtered , is that conducive to Peace ? If man really wants peace he must build all the conditions which make far peace . Carnivorism is an evil force which helps war . It is for us to do something now which the United Nations are not doing , something which the churches could do but are not doing . Carnivorism is a barbarity – something evil—something hurtful – something which should bring a blush of shame to men , though many noble people have not perceived it thusly . Carnivorism is utterly wrong , vegetarianism is in line with Divine Law . Carnivorism is a war on a certain level: it is war upon the less developed creatures of this planet . Carnivorism is a war in which the lesser creatures always lose . They have a right to life just as we humans do . Carnivorism encourages cruelty , it causes a group of people to make their living by abominable slaughtering . I believe carnivorism makes far war in that it encourages all those rough and beastial ways . ”
can deny the force of the above reasoning . As you sow , so much reap . Karmas
work in their own way . The effect of one’s instincts is responsible to create
a good or bad character . In
Khave Anna , Waisa Hove mana--- ‘ As your diet , so your feelings . ’
More than a century ago , Brillat – Savarin , the French Philosopher , also , remarked :
“ Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are ! ” It is certainly true , for food has an effect on character . “ Today the truth of this contention ” , writes the Editor of “ The Vegetarian News Digest ”: “ Is borne out by studies of human beings and by existance research which show , for instance , that whatever affects the endocrine glands deleteriously or favourably influences character and personality . These glands are dominent in the whole process of digestion , as well as metabolism , and through the harmones produced from food they are directors of every activity of the bodymind . ”
Dr. Louis Berman has analysed the various traits in terms of diet and metabolism , which establishes that man is made by what be eats and drinks . Jaina Tirthankaras knew this well and consequently . They laid down ethical rules , which regulate man’s diet in an Ahimsaist manner . A Jain can never touch meat or fish or eggs and he can never drink intoxicants . The Jains refuse meat on following grounds : --
“ Flesh cannot be procured without causing destruction of life; one who uses flesh , therefore commits Himsa ( Injury ) , unavoidable . If the flesh be that of a buffalo , ox etc ., which has died of itself , even then Himsa is caused by the crushing of creatures spontaneously born therein . Whether pieces of flesh are raw , or cocked , or in the process of cooking spontaneously born creatures of the same genus are constantly being generated there . He who eats , or touches , a raw , or a cooked piece of flesh , certainly kills a group of spontaneously born creatures gathering together . ”
------( Purushartha Siddhyupaya , pp. 35-36)
In the whole world , the Jainas are the only people who have never touched meat and wine since a hoary antiquity and yet they are well-off in all walks of life . They are most peaceful citizens and try to live out Ahimsa principle so far as is possible for them .
Almost all the great teachers and other personages of the world , namely Zoroaster , Socrates , Pythagoras , Plato , Confucius , Christ , Muhammad , Plutrach , Ovid , Buddha , Mahavira , Nanak , Asoka , Pope , Tolstoy , Ruskin , Thoreau and Walt Whitman , Shelley , M. Gandhi and others lived and preached Ahimsa . They knew well the intimate relationship between man and his food . Voltaire observed :
“Men fed upon carnage , and drinking strong drinks , have all an impoisoned and acrid blood , which drives them mad in a hundred different ways”
Ralph Waldo Trine , author of “ Every Living Creature ” declared :
“I share the belief with many others that the highest mental , physical and spiritual excellance will come to a person only when , among other things , he refrains from consuming flesh and blood . ”
great Moghul Emperor of
“It is indeed from ignorance and cruelty that although various kinds of food are obtainable man , are bent upon injuring living creatures , and lending a ready hand in killing and eating them ; none seems to have an eye for the beauty inherent in the prevention of cruelty , but makes himself a tomb for animals . ”
--- ( Ain-I-Akbari , by H. Blochmann , Vol. I, p. 61 )
Akbar was aware of the degenerating influence which the contact and company of fleshmongers could create ; hence he ordered that “ butchers , fishermen and the like , who have no other occupation but taking life , should have a separate quarter and their association with others should be prohibited by fine . ”
( Smith Akbar , the Great Moghul , pp. 335-336 )
Christianity is plainly and emphatically against the killing of animals and declares that man’s food is to be fruits and vegetables :
“ Behold I have given you every herb bearing seed , which is upon the face of earth , and every tree in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed ; to you it shall be for meat . ”
---- ( Genesis , l : 29 ).
But today the Christian nations of the West
have forsaken the very spirit of Jesus Christ’s sublime teaching and have
forgotten the meaning of the Sermon on the Mount . In so doing , they have lost
the balance of mind and with that the privilege of peaceful living . But in the
East , we were fortunate to have been blessed by the birth of a living Apostle
of Ahimsa . M. Gandhi was born in
“ I do not regard flesh food is necessary for us at any stage and under any clime in which it is possible for human beings ordinarily to live . I hold flesh food to be unsuited to our species .We err in copying the lower animal world , if we are superior to it . For one thing , the tremendous vested interests that have grown round the belief in animal food prevent the medical profession from approaching the question with complete detachment . Vegetarianism is one of the priceless gifts of Hinduism . It may not be lightly given up ... Abstentiosness from meat is undoubtedly a great aid to the evolution of the spirit ... Experience teaches that animal food is unsuited to those who would curb their passions... It is necessary to correct the error that vegetarianism has made us weak in mind or body or passive or inert in action ... There is a great deal of truth in the saying that man becomes what he eats . The grosser the food the grosser the body . A man who wants to control his animal passions easily does so if he controls his palate . ”
Once when Mahatma Gandhi’s second son Manilal had suffered seriously from a severe attack of typhoid , the medical doctor advised to give him eggs and chicken broth . The Doctor warned Mahatmaji that his son’s life was in danger and that diet was necessary but inspite of this warning , Mahatmaji was quite serious and he thought that it is only on such occassions that a man’s faith is truly tested . He writes : ---
“ Rightly or wrongly it is part of my religious conviction that man may not eat meat , eggs and the like . There should be a limit even to the means of keeping ourselves alive . Even for life itself we may not do certain things . Religion , as I understand it , does not permit me to use meat or eggs for me or mine even on occasious like this .”
---- ( An Auto biography , p. 180 )
It is not only necessary to abjure from taking meat , fish and eggs on the ground of religious belief , but it is absolutely esssential for a healthy and happy life . The medical opinion favours Vegetarianism , because that is the natural diet of human beings , as we have discussed and seen above . Some people think that there is no harm in taking eggs , but in this instance they commit a mistake , because nature has provided eggs for procreation . They are not edibles and can not be the natural food of man . It is the reason that medical anthorities like Dr. J. E. R. McDonagh had condemned eggs and declared them harmful . To eat them is to commit the sin of infanticide .
Consequently if the common man of the world wants to be happy , he should learn to control his lower nature and he should follow the human way of Ahinsa diet , as discussed above . The individual common man then and then alone will be able to awake his inherent spiritual tendency . Then he will not eat for the pleasures of the palate but for the sake of health , which is to be acquired best by eating sun-baked fruits and vegetables . This change in diet will certainly change the heart of man ; who then following his inner Voice of Viveka , will turn out to be true in his efforts to live and work for Ahimsa . At this stage only , he can feel proud to be in a position to style and feel himself as a world citizen . The individual thus would be a safety and security to his own self and to others as well . Animals too , would be happy ; for , their ruthless massacre and slaughter will come to an end . Human beings by sowing the seeds of Ahimsa , can naturally reap the blessed fruits of Ahimsa ; which are joy , happiness and selfsatisfaction . Then the land would yield and produce more grain , because the man could have earned the blessings of millions of those saved animal souls . In this way only ‘ Grow more food’ campaign would succeed and man would be happy in a world of plenty .
By the change in diet , man would be nearer to Ahimsa , because he would be able to alleviate in him the animal tendencies of lower nature which have become uppermost in his heart and are the root cause of conflict . Thus man would feel Oneness of Life ; to him man and animal would be equal then . He will treat them as brethren and with them in peaceful co-operation . Regions of abundance then will be alert and will vie with each other to ensure the basic needs of human beings all over the planet ; for it is their duty in Ahimsa Law to render help and save their fellow beings .
With a changed heart , the vision will itself become clarified and the individual will feel pleasure in observing the vows of austerities in diet . Then common man will eat for the sake of health only and will deem it his duty to eat less , so that others may also have their shares and he may start the lesson to conquer the demon of hunger . Jains observe this vow , which they call “ Unodara – Vrata ”. This mode of life saves food to a considerable quantity and causes no physical harm to the observer ; rather it helps him to make progress in mutual co-operation and spiritual advancement . It is , certainly , wrong to presume that in order to meet out the shortage of food-grain in the world today , man should take to unnatural diet and eat fish and fouls . It would mean only to under root the very foundation of Ahimsa belief and to push the common man in the dump of cruelty and barbarity ; which will turn him to become more beastly in his daily dealings than ever before . The present crisis due to the shortage of food-grain is the creation of man himself and he can easily ward it off provided he adheres the principle of Ahimsa . Much of the tillable land today is utilised for growing tobacco crop and tons of edible grains are destroyed in producing alcohol . If man stops smoking and drinking intoxicants , which are a manace to the mankind , the problem of the shortage of food would certainly be solved to a greater degree .
Besides it a greater area of tillable land is also left unsown as grazing ground for animals meant for provision of meat dishes . In this respect , Hon’ble Mr. Peter Freeman , M. P. Has proved that “ an acre of land used for the grazing of cattle or sheep can produce about 1000 Ibs. of animal food per annum , but the same acre can produce an average of 5000 Ibs. of cereals , or as much as 20000 Ibs. of vegetables such as potatoes , and probably some fruit in eddition . With the world’s population growing at such a pace that it will reach 3000 millions by the end of the century , as against 2200 millions today , the urgent necessity of using all land to the best possible advantage can readily be seen . ” ( The Voice of Ahimsa , Vol. No. 5 p. 20 ) And when this economical vegetarian aspect will be substantiated with the sacred vow of observing austherities in diet , not only the crisis of food shortage will be removed , but man will contribute remarkably to create an atmosphere of universal peace and happiness . Shri Richard B. Gregg , the renowned Pacifist , is emphatic on the point , when he writes in his letter addressed to me :
“ I agree with the Jain belief that vegetarianism is now a real element in Ahimsa and a factor in the promotion of World Peace . There are now in this world too many people to be supported by the available acres of tillable land . Only if people stop eating meat can every one be fed . So people who eat meat are causing others to starve . ”
Obviously the meat-eater is responsible to bring about a deterioration and loss of cattle all over the world ; which tells highly on the growth of grain production . Thus it is only Ahimsa which can solve all our problems , as well as can advance us in every respect .
An International Scientific Food Committee was set up after the first World War by the League of Nations , composed among others of representatives of Great Britain , U.S.A. , Russia , France , Germany , Italy and Holland . Hon’ble Mr. Peter Freeman , M P. informs that one of the questions this Committee was asked to answer , was: ---
“ What is the minimum meat ration necessary to keep a soldier on active service in good health ?”
After securing all the expert Military Medical and other evidence from all over the world , Mr. Freeman says , the answer , brifly was: ---
“ NONE In view of the fact perfect health can be maintained by a soldier on active service without any meat at all .”
Thus it is obvious that meat is not necessary at all to sustain life . Most of the strongest and most enduring animals are vegetarians , including the horse , zebra , elephant , rhinoceros , buffalo , bison , all the deer tribe , giraffe , monkey , gorilla , cattle , sheep , hares and rabbits .
Many world’s records have been won by vegetarians of long standing and vegetarian workers have performed some of the greatest , feats of strength and endurance .
In certain quarters , however , an objection is raised against vegetarian diet on the ground that the plants also have life : as such it also involves violance i. e. Himsa . But this objection is vain and thoughtless . No doubt plants have life ; but they are neither killed nor hurt in getting their products . When the fruits or the grain of wheat or barley are ripe , they become detached from the plants in their natural way . Nobody uproots a fruit or harvest tree in order to get its products ; only a natural process is gone through to get them . But in meat diet , the animals are killed , rather butchered mercilessly for their flesh ; which involves greater Himsa
( injury ) and creates a violent atmosphere . Moreover the Jain Thinkers enlighten us in this respect that every living being from vegetable kingdom to mean , all survive in life due to vitalities , called ‘ PRANAS.’ These Pranas
( Life vitalities ) are ten in all , namely five senses of touch , taste , smell , sight and hearing; three strengths of mind , speech and body ; respiration and age . Man and animals possess all the ten vitalities ; while the vegetable life have only four . In vegetable life these four vitalities are consisted of one sense of touch , one strength of body , respiration and age . Now if there could be any tinge of violence in procuring a vegetarian diet , then it is of the lowest and least degree . The motive behind the vegetarian diet is to cause not even the least possible injury to life . Certainly a vegetarian do not wants to hurt even the vegetable life . He satisfies his hunger with the products of plants , such as fruits , nuts , dry grain etc ., which the nature provides itself . In fact a vegetarian life creates a peaceful and prosperous atmosphere , which is most beneficial for humanity at large .
the way of Ahimsa life , which a true Jaina layman lives gladly . The Jaina
tradition abounds with many humance deeds of its enthusiastic followers of
Ahimsa . Here I restrict myself to the mention of only one example of recent
date . Some time ago famine and draught visited the vicinity round about
Dronagiri in M. P. (
Thus the real solution of the Food Problem of the world today is hidden in food reform and in adoption of a life of Ahimsa . Through Ahimsa the food craving instincts of man can be regulated and controlled . Being vegetarians and Ahimsaists at the same time , they can become self sufficient and satisfied . Mr. Donald Groom , a representative to the World Pacifists Conferance , is reported to have said at Wardha that “ Pacifists should take that a vegetarian population needed a smaller area of land for its support than one dependent on meat . ” “ The Pacifists ” , he said , “ consider the implications of this fact for thamselves .”