Are chanting praying and meditation the same?
Question: So chanting and meditation are ways by which we connect to God, are they the same or which is the right way to do it?
Answer: Chanting, or rather, Praying is when we speak to God. Meditating is when he hear God. In chanting we do both, speak to God and hear from God. Normally, praying is … we are just expressing our desires and in meditating we are trying to become silent and connect with inner voice. In chanting, we are expressing ourselves, so we are speaking. While speaking the Hare Krishna Mahamantra…serving, please engage me in your service. But at the same time Krishna is manifesting as divine sound. And because He is manifesting as divine sound so we are connecting with Him also, we are hearing Him. So that’s why chanting integrates both praying and meditating. We can pray, we can meditate. They are also devotional services. Sravanam is also a limb of bhakti but kirtanam, chanting includes all these. Chanting is the best way we can do all these.
Question: Muslims are devoted to Allah, then why are they meat eaters?
Answer: Islam has developed in a particular historical context. It was in a desert and in desert areas grains are not easily available. So now there are devotees and secular scholars who have written books about Islam and vegetarianism. And there are several references within the Koran …..and then they have the Islamic traditions. So there are quotations and analysis from various places where Mohammad himself says…. if one can go to a place where one can live on vegetarian food then they don’t need to commit violence. So one of our Iskcon scholars is Steven Rosen, Satyaraja Prabhu. He has written a very good book on vegetarianism in world traditions. And there he gives series of quotes from Islamic scholars which talk about how one should abstain from meat and abstaining from meat is a higher religious principle than eating meat. And specifically regarding the Bakri-Id or other religious festivals where they slaughter animals, these are contextual sacrifices which have been made essential. That means what? In a particular sacrifice situation where people are going to eat meat….kill the animal and there is Halal…the animal has to be killed in a particular way… it is supposed to be painless…and then after killing only a portion of the animal is to be eaten….this system becomes just a license for slaughter of animals and feasting on meat. That is not how the original idea is. The original idea was that of concession for people who wanted to eat meat. And especially in India the whole thing has become further theo-politicised….. There are so many countries where Muslims are there and where animals are not available for slaughtering. For example in Middle East and other places where cow is not available. So is it that if they don’t kill cows they are lesser Muslims? No. But somehow in India the whole thing has become very politicised and they make it appear as if killing animals is like expression of our religious rights. But if we go into their scriptures, it’s not an essential part of the religion; it is contextual thing which has been made unnecessarily into an essential.
So people have a tendency to eat meat and the religions of the world give a license. You want; under certain circumstances you can eat meat. But even within their scriptures, what to speak of Islamic scriptures or any other scriptures, there is overall encouragement to give up such things. But often that part is neglected and the part which is convenient for one’s gratification that is what is utilized and that is what is propagated. And then the religion becomes as if equated with killing of animals. And that is an unfortunate misinterpretation of the religious doctrines. Thank you!