Is vegetarianism necessary for spiritual advancement?

by Chaitanya Charan dasOctober 8, 2011

Question: Is giving up meat-eating necessary for making spiritual advancement? When the highest heads of several religions eat meat, aren’t those who claim the necessity of vegetarianism indirectly claiming to be more advanced than the heads of other religions?
Answer: Yes and no; yes to the first question, no to the second.

All the theistic wisdom-traditions concur that all of us, irrespective of our religious denominations, are spiritually sick. Just as getting cured entails abiding by the medical prescriptions and proscriptions, making spiritual advancement entails abiding by two kinds of scriptural injunctions:

1.         Affirmative injunctions that prescribe activities which promote the development of pure love for God, which is the essential, universal goal taught by all the great theistic wisdom-traditions of the world.

2.         Regulative injunctions that proscribe or minimize activities which obstruct the development of that love.

Abstaining from meat is one such regulative injunction. We can understand the importance of this principle if we contemplate the implication of love. If a child loves the parent, an essential way that love becomes evident is by the love shown to one’s brothers and sisters. Similarly, if we love the Supreme Parent, an essential way that love becomes evident is by the love shown to our brothers and sisters in God’s family – including our nonhuman brethren, for they are also God’s creatures and, moreover, they, unlike us humans, can’t speak for their rights.

That’s why the Vedic wisdom-tradition enjoins those aspiring for authentic, pure love for God to abstain from meat. Vegetarianism is recommended as the desired ideal even in major non-Vedic traditions like Christianity, as is intuited at first brush from the commandment “Thou shall not kill” and is confirmed by well-researched books like the encyclopedic volume “Animals on the Agenda: Questions About Animals for Theology and Ethics” edited by Rev. Andrew Linzey & Dorothy Yamamoto. Consequently, thousands of such God-seekers have discontinued the unfortunate self-delusion inherent in claiming to love God while causing pain and death to God’s mute creatures just for the sake of one’s taste buds.

Those who stick to meat can still advance spiritually to the extent that they adhere to the affirmative injunctions for spiritual advancement. Those who adhere to both the affirmative and regulative injunctions experience spiritual advancement in its full acceleration. When they urge their fellow God-seekers to switch to a vegetarian diet, they do so not due to a feeling of spiritually superiority, but with a desire to share the warming of heart in love to all of God’s creatures – and thereby God – that they have experienced due to not partaking of a diet tainted by blood. Why let one’s taste buds stall or slow the tasting of divine love?  Why continue a past misdirection mistake when compassion, scripture and experience all concur to redirect us?

About The Author
Chaitanya Charan das
27 Comments
  • satya prakash
    October 8, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    well being vegetarian is not good enough. even monkeys are vegetarians. that does not mean they are spiritually more advanced. religion is defined as belief in a particular way of life. this can change depending on many factors. however dharma is essential nature of a vastu. if a white powder is not sweet, then it is not sugar. because the dharma of sugar is sweetness. one can not change dharma of any vastu.

    likewise essential nature of a living entity (human beings, plants , animals etc.) is to love and serve. unless one learns to love and serve god. one can not be happy. also the idea is not to become happy, but to make god happy by loving him and serving him.

  • Gurrappanaidu
    October 8, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Wonderful article !

    Very nicely explained about vegetarianism, it’s importance in spiritual advancement with quotes from different scriptures.

    I appreciate from core of my heart each and every one behind the scene who published this article.

    Thank you so much
    GG.Naidu

  • Arjun K Ramachandra
    October 8, 2011 at 8:23 pm

    Thank you for making this controversial issue so clear and easy to understand!

  • October 8, 2011 at 8:59 pm

    Thank you very much for this excellent article. Any body with some common sense and intelligence will be convinced by this. But unfortunately, today we see several who do not want to think and act.

  • Ashish agrawal
    October 10, 2011 at 10:29 am

    Very aptly described the prohibitions in all the religions as ‘Regulative Injunction’………….
    but the question asked by Parshuram in one of the comment – ‘I am not able to understand when we say other animals are our brothers and sisters then plants are also living being ‘…….
    is very important as it is the famous and the 1st counter question raised by any common man when this issue comes up….May be it can be address in subsequent issues…..

  • tushar vora
    October 10, 2011 at 11:02 am

    it is indeed commonsensical to partake of a vegetarian diet. Sadly, people who are obstinate do not want to share this commonsense since they have no control over their taste buds and to make it worse, they justify their meat-eating habit by quoting scriptures out of context or by misinterpreting scriptural quotes.

  • October 10, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    The sages used to eat meat after sacrifices. Even Sage Adastya ate meat (Pl. recall the story of Vatapi & Ilvala). Can any body kindly explain when this system was stopped.

  • manjunath
    October 11, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    Hare krishnaa
    Very nicely explained about vegetarianism, it’s importance in spiritual advancement with quotes from different scriptures.
    people muct educateeee

    thank you
    Regrds
    Manjunath
    9845918842

  • October 12, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    I have seen in my life when I started spiritual life, automatically I become vegetarian.

  • October 13, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    Hare Krsna Prabhuji,

    Referring to Parasuram Prabhuji’s comments, Lord Krsna in Bhagavat Gita has said that “Patram, Pushpam, Falam, Toyam” can be offered to Me with love and devotion and thereafter these can be taken as prasadam. If God had not allowed “patram, pushpam, falam & toyal” to be eaten by human beings, then it would have been difficult for the human being to survive. Seeds and grains are also part of “falam”. Hence as per scriptures, eating by-products of plants as food by human beings will not be a sin.

    Any comment on this?

  • Siddhardha P
    October 17, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    As some people pointed out here, I do not believe Vegetarianism has got anything to do with not harming our ‘brothers and sisters’. In other yugas, even sages used to consume meat. There are references in Ramayana, where sage like Agasthya was said to have consumed meat. My understanding about meat eating is: “In other Yugas, people were allowed to eat meat as they used to perform proper pachana of meat before eating it and hence make themselves free of Karmic reactions”. But in Kali yuga, there are no Yajnas/Yagas prescribed/supposed to happen. Hence, for Kali yuga meat eating is prohibited. And if one eats meat, he should be ready to face the karma!

  • Arnab Karmakar
    December 2, 2011 at 9:39 pm

    “Abstaining from meat is one such regulative injunction. We can understand the importance of this principle if we contemplate the implication of love. If a child loves the parent, an essential way that love becomes evident is by the love shown to one’s brothers and sisters. Similarly, if we love the Supreme Parent, an essential way that love becomes evident is by the love shown to our brothers and sisters in God’s family – including our nonhuman brethren, for they are also God’s creatures and, moreover, they, unlike us humans, can’t speak for their rights.”

    Are plants not the creation of God? Just because they cannot speak or feel(because of the absence of nervous system) does not mean that we can cut them and feed ourselves. If a chicken cannot be eaten for the regulative injunction mentioned above, then to my understanding a fruit cannot be eaten too because that is meant for new plant/tree formation.

    Thanks
    Arnab

    • ajay gopalrai
      December 21, 2011 at 5:43 pm

      it is also a sin to kill plants, but if we offer it to krishna he takes all the sin of killing the plant, in bhagavad gita krishna says that he accepts vegetarian foodstuffs offered to him with love and devtotion

      if we offer him a plant then there is no sin attached to it because we offered it to krishna

  • vishnu
    December 3, 2011 at 1:19 am

    Then why did Mr God made us Omnivores

  • Akash
    December 17, 2011 at 3:31 am

    The argument why then kill plants?

    1. Material body needs to eat, so what to eat? Lord Krishna states what he will accept, so this can be our first reference point.
    2. Not convinced? Apply common sense; a spiritually inclined and thoughtful person would want to minimise harm and violence, no? Key word is minimise: so just as we discriminate between a human and animal because human life has more inherent value, similiarly another sentient life has more value than a plant – unless one says his mother is non-different from a dog, hope not. Clearly, eating plants is less harmful and violent than eating meat, but not totally – hence the need to offer to the Lord with love and transform food into prasadam.
    3. Omnivore teeth argument – the Lord has also given us higher and lower instincts/faculties e.g. selfless vs selfish, responsible vs irresponsible, use of intellect and strength to protect and care vs harm and exploit. “Stupid” designer has also given us these – the choice which one to use is yours my friend.

    • ajay gopalrai
      December 21, 2011 at 5:41 pm

      it is also a sin to kill plants, but if we offer it to krishna he takes all the sin of killing the plant, in bhagavad gita krishna says that he accepts vegetarian foodstuffs offered to him with love and devtotion

      if we offer him a plant then there is no sin attached to it because we offered it to krishna

      even if you eat vegetarian food that is not offered to krishna you’re just eating pieces of sin

      offer everything to krishna

      hare krishna

  • Charudatta
    January 23, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    Simply superb n truthful discourse.

  • keshav kashmiri
    September 16, 2014 at 7:07 pm

    at times ,it feels very sad ,that we need to clarify even such things like why meat eating is bad . why the hearts of those meat eaters don’t melt .is it their hearts so hard that even after enormous amount of logic and scientific evidences ,they still tend to argue . even a simple common sense and conscience of human beings are enough to understand that meat eating is bad . but some ,don’t get satisfied even after showing them all the proofs of its harmful effect . thus no wonder ,this age is celebrated as age of kali ,where even the simple things would be argued ,just to make our senses and genitals satisfied .

Leave a Response

Please type the characters of this captcha image in the input box

Please type the characters of this captcha image in the input box

*