Binit Nalinkumar Shah
Based on a book by Dr. Hukam Chand Bharill "Vegetarian Food and Jain Conduct"
The Jain community is a vegetarian-food-based community, but due the influence of time and western cultures, it has started being empowered by laxity. If the Jain community does not remain awake now, then this disease of laxity can spread even more widely.
Often when discussions take place on Vegetarian food, these are centred on green-vegetables only. However carrots, radishes etc. tuber-root, brinjal, cabbages and all root-vegetables are non-edibles for Jains. The majority of the Jain community is still vegetarian, but some laxity is there such as eating food at night and drinking of non-filtered water and the eating of root-vegetables.
Like renunciation of night meals, for the reasons of innumerable creatures that come out at night, drinking of filtered water is also scientific. Pure water is essential for healthy life.
Eggs are the progeny of five-sensed beings. Food produced out of eggs is clearly flesh food. Some people argue that a vegetarian egg cannot give birth to a child; it is lifeless. This statement is untrue because it is a product of the sexual organ of the hen. So not only is it impure but it also increases in size after birth and does not become rotten. Therefore it is alive, though it may not possess the capacity to evolve form, but in no way can it be treated as lifeless.
Some people say that the milk of a cow or goat is also part of the body. However there is a vast difference between milk and eggs. This understanding is incorrect because an egg is the progeny of a hen, similarly milk is not the progeny of the cow. By taking milk out of the body of a cow or goat, no harm is done to their lives; whereas by use of the egg the creture inside the egg is killed. If the milk producing cow or goat is not milked at the proper time, agony is caused to it. Having said this, there are still issues about the way dairy cows are treated and their culling as soon as they are past their prime milking days.
Along with the renunciation of wine and meat, Jain religion also preaches the renunciation of honey also. Honey is the excrement of bees. It is produced out of their destruction and incessantly innumerable Jivas are born it.
The basic foundation of Jain food is non-violence. First of all, we should only take such food, which involves least possible injury. The question of killing five-sensed beings doesnt arise at all; we should avoid injury to mobile beings also. It is necessary to avoid destruction of even one sensed beings as far as possible. Jain-food-conduct has been determined keeping all these things in view.
The use of cereals like wheat, rice etc., pulses like gram etc., and oil-seeds etc., has been advised, because these are fully non-injurious food. Cereals, oil-seeds, pulses etc. are produced only when their plants get dried of their own after their age ends. If green plants are cut, then the cereals too will not be produced in right state. Their drying in the standing form in the fields is necessary. Therefore, these foods are fully non-injurious food.
Although wheat etc. are fully inanimate even then they grow on being sown, but rice is even better than these. If the husk is removed from rice, it will not grow upon sowing. Non-germinated cereals, rice, pulses and oil-seeds, devoid of ants and worms, is the best vegetarian food. These include dried fruits also. After these, in sequence, the fruits that become ripe on the branches of trees or those fallen from trees on their own after becoming ripe, are to be considered. These fruits involve no anguish to any creatures or insects.
The reason that they come in order after cereals is that ripen fruits are wet being juicy. Therefore, there remains the possibility of fast-germination of mobile beings in them. This is the reason why they are not considered as harmless as cereals. After these, in sequence, vegetables are considered, because vegetables are in green form only. These are plucked from trees and plants in living (sachitta) state only. Being crooke (appratishthit) vegetables, these may not contain living beings, but by plucking these that tree or plant is definitely anguished.
Root vegetables (tuber-roots) are totally forbidden as uneatables for 2 reasons. The first being that vegetables grown underground are the depository of countless of small creatures. The second reason being the uproot of such vegetables definitely results in the destruction of plants and trees.
In Jain conduct, uneatables are stated to be of five kinds:
- Articles involving injury or death of mobile-beings e.g. Meat.
- Articles involving injury or death to many creatures
E.g. Root vegetables as they involve destruction of countless one-sensed beings.
- Intoxicants e.g. Wine etc.
- Articles not worthy of use e.g. Saliva, Stool, and Urine.
- Deprecables Articles causing harm to the health are uneatables of the fifth category.
The basis of Jain Food is non-injury (Ahimsa). These days, the inclination to use ready-made articles of food and drink is gaining ground continuously. In the use of such articles, knowingly or unknowingly the use of meat and wine is involved. The people who are totally vegetarian, non-violent, they too knowingly or unknowingly eat and drink these articles, so are thus involved in the use of wine and meat in some form or other. This guide is for you!
Those, who desire their souls to be happy, wish to obtain spiritual peace, in other words want to evolve Right Faith- Knowledge- Conduct, wish to realise self-soul, they too should pay attention towards these things. Their life and living should also be endowed with virtue; they should lead a pious life; their surroundings too should be pious and virtuous. "This is the activity of the body" by saying this it is not desirable to ignore such practices.
Dr. Hukamchand Bharill finishes with the following words " I conclude with the pious desire that all souls capable to attain liberation may get happiness and peace in their life by adopting vegetarian-food and Jain-conduct in their life".