If we have canine teeth for eating meat, then doesn’t it go against the regulative principle of no meat-eating?
From Madan Govinda Prabhu
Transcription by– Keshavgopal Das & Ambuj Gupta
Question: You mention that we have few canine teeth which are meant for us to eat meat in a small quantity but isn’t meat eating against the regulative principle then how do we understand this?
Answer: There is a difference between a concession and a recommendation. Concession means that which are allowed to do because we want to do it and recommendation means that which we are urged to do because it is good for us. So often concession may not be good but its allowed because that’s what we want to do.
The fact is that meat eating is undesirable. It is undesirable physically, psychologically and spiritually.
Physically there are many medical surveys which show that our body is overall made for eating vegetarian food. For example, our elementary canal is much longer similar to herbivorous animals. Meat which rots quickly stays inside the body and cause a lot of diseases. Normally somebody gets heart attack, somebody gets cancer and one of the biggest causes for this is known to be meat. People are recommended to shift over vegetarian diet if they have heart problems. I have article on my web site www.thespiritualscientist.com “Think Before You Eat” where it describes that what are the problems of meat eating. I give in the acronym “HELP the world”. HELP is health, environment, livestock and poverty. All these four can be improved if we shift to vegetarian diet. Physically it’s not good.
Psychologically, it’s in the mode of passion. It involves violence and destruction is there. That’s what the impression comes in the mind.
Spiritually, how can we have compassion for others if we actually kill and feast on them. It’s quite clear that meat eating is not good but just because something is not good doesn’t mean that everybody is going to give it up. Just because people are not ready to give it up doesn’t mean that they have to thrown out of the house of religion. The Vedic scriptures are accommodating. That means even if people cannot give up meat eating so there are animal sacrifices in which under strict regulation people can sometimes eat meat. In a small quantity occasionally allowing meat eating for those who are unable to live without it, that is allowed so that even while eating meat people can at least perform dharma. So Vedic scriptures are not in the sense of digital logic, 1 or 0, whether you are religious or you are irreligious. No, they are in the sense of analog progression.
There can be degrees of religiousity and degrees of irreligiousity. So some people can be devoted to Kali, people can be devoted to Shiva and they can still eat meat. They are on the continuum and they will gradually progress. In the Mahabharata as well as in the Bhagavatam it is clear that the regulative principles are desirable for those who want to make spiritual advancement and that’s why these regulative principles are there. It is not that because we have canine teeth we all have to eat meat. It’s not a recommendation or instruction. It’s a provision in the form of concession. It’s not good but if we want to do it you can do it and there is some provision for it.
The presence of canine teeth, certainly all our teeth are not canine and definitely it doesn’t justify eating meat at regular basis as a part of our diet. Even at occasional eating if we see canine teeth is just one part of it but overall if we see the biology it is not very healthy. So in terms of biological capacity we can eat meat. It’s not entirely incompatible with our bodily systems but it is not healthy. It is in the long run harmful. It’s the concession that is allowed. It’s not an instruction or recommendation that has to be done. What is allowed in the concession is the principle of dharma that we gradually give it up and move towards pure religion where we don’t cause any violence to others. Thank you.