Animals and Hinduism

This is technically part 2 of this Animals and Religions series. I never thought BUAV’s association with religious organisations looked potentially effective, curious to see the impact the new video [neither captioned nor subtitiled, previously embedded here, something happened where my blog replaced it with a sega, so look for Vanaron ka Udhaar] will have, perhaps song is the best medium to carry the message to Hindus? I had met the vet involved in monkey breeding, a Hindu, who came to a ‘debate’ to defend the monkey trade and call anyone who didn’t support it terrorists. There was otherwise no apathy at the event (public screening of Earthlings, that the BBRH municipality sponsored kindly) but it’s disheartening to witness the levels of individual apathy concerning absolutely every issue here (by most, not only religious folks).

An example of this apathy may well be reflected in comments to the video on YT: One comenter said ‘May Hanuman help [the monkeys]’. Will people help them too? In a country far from secular, one could think this ‘trade’ shouldn’t be happening in the first place. We need to help raise awareness, help bring a stop to this! When politicians use religious and cultural places as their personal platform, I wish religious leaders who have pledged support to BUAV would confront them on the monkeys’ behalf but it seems unlikely.

Whether or not one is inspired by the ancient epic where Hanuman is a character, bottomline: hinduism claims to preach ahimsa. What actually happens in our lives and everyday life is anything but ahimsa. Arguably himsa is a defining trait of our world but we ought to strive to do the least possible harm. Should temples and monasteries not at least quit dairy? And tell people that animal testing entails false claims that it is potentially helpful when it is actually harmful? Are they making people aware of viable alternatives to vivisection? Are they telling people that animal reseach is scientifically unsound? Would people believe them when people have been brainwashed to be skeptical of even the few scientists who can speak about this openly without repercussions (funding issues or worse)? Are they reminding people that most detergents on sale in this country involve pointless and cruel tests on animals? It’s relevant, people shower specifically to attend a Hindu ritual or temple. If they hear of any issues at temples or monasteries, people hopefully follow up on them and become more aware and perhaps likely to act.

Many people go on religious pilgrimage to India regularly and because of the demographics most Mauritians surely know a relative, neighbour or friend who goes there. The culture here is such that one may ask for purchases one cannot find here, usually these entails jewellery and clothing, in Tamil or Marathi regions, and Benares and so on, mostly silk – cruel silk, or in what conditions were the gold or stones mined (emphasis on pilgrimage!)?

Ahimsa by the way was borrowed from Jainism. “There are a number of animal sacrifices mentioned in the Vedas such as mantras for the sacrifice of a Goat in the Rig, the Horse sacrifice and the Human sacrifice in the Yajur, whilst in the Jyotistoma three animal-sacrifices are performed. The Yajurveda is considered the Veda of sacrifices and rituals, and consists of a number of animal sacrifices, such as mantras and procedures for the sacrifices of a white goat to Vayu, a calf to Sarasvati, a speckled Ox to Savitr, a Bull to Indra, a castrated Ox to Varuna and so on. During the rule of the Buddhist king, Ashoka Maurya, an edict was passed and from then on, social reaction with regard to the sacrificial (brahmanas) texts can be traced. A reaction against these sacrifices came from the Charvakas, who documented their criticism in the Barhaspatya sutras in the 3rd century BCE.” See Ahimsa, vegetarianism and other food customs. Ghee is considered food for the privileged hindu casts, Ambedkar said in 1936 that it is something untouchables were to stay away from. Ghee is still in its special place, even used for burning sacred lamps in hindu monasteries that run on donations (and while it is a product of murder of a calf and immense suffering).

“The main battle is not the Mahabharata, but the fight between Krishna and Jarasandha who is killed by Krishna. Ultimately, the Pandavas and Balarama take renunciation as Jain monks and are reborn in heavens, while on the other hand Krishna and Jarasandha are reborn in hell. In keeping with the law of karma, Krishna is reborn in hell for his exploits (sexual and violent) while Jarasandha for his evil ways. Prof. Jaini admits a possibility that perhaps because of his popularity, the Jain authors were keen to rehabilitate Krishna. The Jain texts predict that after his karmic term in hell is over sometime during the next half time-cycle, Krishna will be reborn as a Jain Tirthankara and attain liberation. Krishna and Balrama are shown as contemporaries and cousins of 22nd Tirthankara, Neminatha. According to this story, Krishna arranged young Neminath’s marriage with Rajamati, the daughter of Ugrasena, but Neminatha, empathizing with the animals which were to be slaughtered for the marriage feast, left the procession suddenly and renounced the world.” Jain version of Mahabarata. While I can’t elaborate in this post, I must add: the concept of karma is an oppressive tool (often an excuse to condone violence or apathy).


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