Sage Uddalaka instructed his son Svetaketu: “Food when consumed, becomes threefold. The gross particles become the excrement, the middling ones flesh, and the fine ones the mind.” My child, when curd is churned, its fine particles which rise upwards form butter. Thus, my child, when food is consumed, the fine particles which rise upwards form the mind. Hence, verily, the mind is food.”
In the Hindu view of life, the real value is placed upon the moral and spiritual worth of the man. Man is more than just body and mind; he is essentially an ever-perfect, ever-pure and ever-free spirit in his true inner nature. Human birth is given as an opportunity and a means to attain this sublime knowledge of his inner spiritual nature and to regain his divinity. In this process, all grossness and animalistic tendencies have to be totally eliminated from the human personality. Non-vegetarian diet, which is gross and animal by its very nature, is a great hindrance to this process. Whereas, pure sattvic diet is a great help to the refinement of the human nature.
The chemical components of different foods vibrate at varying rate. Each particle of food is a mass of energy. The intake of certain food-stuffs sets up discordant vibrations in the physical body which throw the mind into a state of oscillation and disequilibrium. Concentration of mind is rendered difficult and high thinking is disturbed, because elevating thoughts imply fine vibrations.
Flesh-eating involves the exercise of cruelty which is not an elevating virtue. It is a bestial quality which degrades man. Cruelty is condemned by all great men. Pythagoras condemned meat diet a sinful food. The cruel slaughter of animals and the taking of innocent lives which flesh-eating entails makes it abhorrent to all right thinking men and women all over the world. Butchery and blood-shed is a great disgrace to civilization and culture. Killing of animals for food is a great blunder; and the mentality it engenders is fraught with potential dangers for the life of humanity, a recognition of which made George Bernard Shaw say that as long as men torture and slay animals and eat their flesh, we shall have war.
If you want to stop taking mutton, fish, etc., just see with your own eyes the pitiable, struggling condition of the animals at the time of killing. Now mercy and sympathy will arise in your heart. You will determine to give up flesh-eating…. If this also cannot give you sufficient strength to stop this habit, go to the slaughter-house and the butcher’s shop and personally see the disgusting, rotten muscles, intestines, kidneys and other nasty parts of the animals which emit bad smell. This will induce vairagya (dispassion) in you and a strong disgust and hatred for meat-eating.
All slaughter-houses should be abolished, and the use of animal flesh as food should be absolutely given up. Flesh-eating is unnecessary, unnatural and unwholesome. The countless instances of reputed philosophers, authors, scholars, athletes, saints, Yogins, rishis who lived on vegetable diet conclusively prove that vegetarian diet produces supreme powers both of mind and body, and is highly conducive for divine contemplation and practice of Yoga. What is needed is a well-balanced diet, not a rich diet. A rich diet produces diseases of the liver, kidneys and pancreas.
People who are slaves to the flesh-eating habit cannot give up animal diet, because they have become confirmed and inveterate meat-eaters, and hence they try to justify their habit by various arguments and statistics. One cannot change their ways merely by argumentation and disputation. Ultimately, it is only the force of personal example that has a strong effect upon the people around you.
Excerpted from Bliss Divine by Sri Swami Sivananda; courtesy of www.dlshq.org.