Hinduism is a religion which does not put restrictions on habits related to food, drink, sleep and other physical body needs. From our Hindus scriptures we can clearly understand that our Hindu Rishis (Seers) were quite generous and very compassionate in their nature and in their advice.. Though they mentioned that meat eating is not an enlightened eating habit, they did not forbid eating meat. They advised Hindus to offer the animals to gods.
Meat eating was discussed at many places in our scriptures including Bhagwad Gita. In Gita there is an explicit mention of “Dog Meat Eater” and wise men do not discriminate people who eat dog meat. It means there used to be Hindus who were eating dog meat. (sva pakeca panditaah sama darsinah Bhagawad Gita 5.18)
Valmiki Ramayana says that Lord Rama and Lakshmana hunted down deer to offer in the sacrifices, though it was not mentioned that Rama ate them.
tau tatra hatvaa caturaH mahaa mR^igaan | varaaham R^ishyam pR^iSatam mahaa rurum |
aadaaya medhyam tvaritam bubhukSitau| vaasaaya kaale yayatur vanaH patim ||
Valkiki Ramayana 2-52-102
Having hunted there four deer, namely Varaaha, Rishya, Prisata; and Mahaaruru (the four principal species of deer) and taking quickly the portions that were pure, being hungry as they were, Rama and Lakshmana reached a tree to take rest in the evening.
Hindu system recognizes four varnas (Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaisya and Sudra). Out of these all three Varnas are allowed to eat meat. Only Brahmins are forbidden from eating meat. “Let him give food to Brahmanas, be it only roots, fruits or vegetables. Thereby he performs that sacrifice to men. ” Yaajnavalkya Smiriti Chapter 188.8.131.52.
Varna system is not rigid anyone can move from one varna to another varna. Therefore a person who eats meat automatically loses his Brahmana Varna.
Ritual Slaughter in Hinduism
The intention of this article is not to explain how to cut the animal! Hence I will confine myself on what not to do when killing an animal for offering.
Hindu vedas do contain a concept called “Bali”. The Animal meat offering to Gods is called “pasu-purodasa”[Animal Cake]. They deploy Rigveda richas 1.93.2 and 6 respectively while doing this.
Satapatha Brahmana (Sukla Yajurveda) extensively discusses this ritual sacrifice of Animals. Especially please refer to Kanda III, Adhyaya 8, Brahmana 3. This 3rd Brahmana starts with “atha” which means the animal which is prepared as “pasu-purodasa” is already killed. [Refer to Katyayana commentary on Satapatha Brahmana 6, 29].
The following is my commentary based on what I understood from the Satapatha Brahmana. I understood from various sources the following:
1. Any animal killed is only for gods [Satapatha Brahmana – Yajurveda 184.108.40.206]
2. Eating Cows and Ox is strictly forbidden [considered sin] there is only one exception with regards to eating Ox meat to this rule. [Exception not discussed in this article]
“Let him not eat (the flesh) of either the cow or the ox; for the cow and the ox doubtless support everything here on earth. The gods spake, ‘Verily, the cow and the ox support everything here: come, let us bestow on the cow and the ox whatever vigour belongs to other species ‘ Accordingly they bestowed on the cow and the ox whatever vigour belonged to other species (of animals); and therefore the cow and the ox eat most. Hence, were one to eat (the flesh) of an ox or a cow, there would be, as it were, an eating of everything, or, as it were, a going on to the end (or, to destruction). Such a one indeed would be likely to be born (again) as a strange being, (as one of whom there is) evil report, such as ‘he has expelled an embryo from a woman.” [Satapatha Brahmana 220.127.116.11]
A buck sacrifice was narrated in Yajur Veda. From Valmiki Ramayana, verse quoted above, we understand the bucks were hunted. And it is clear they may have followed the instructions from Satapatha Brahmana.
3. Slaughterer has to say Apology to the animal: Touch the heart of the animal killed and say that you did it only for necessary substance of life and that you offer them to gods and let gods be the judges of your killing act.
4. It is the heart of the animal the slayer has to strike first. “The heart is the self”. The slaughterer has to say ritual apology for the animal for getting killed.
5. All animals belong to “Tvastri”. The gods already decided to take the animal’s life. In order to save the animal “Tvastri” spat on the head of the animal [to save them from getting killed] the portion from neck above in the animal is called “anukya”. And it is the spittle of “Tvastri” hence one should not eat the portion above the neck for it belong to Tvastri. [Reference: SB 18.104.22.168]
What is halal meat?
The Islamic form of slaughtering animals or poultry, dhabiha, involves killing through a cut to the jugular vein, carotid artery and windpipe.
Hindus are forbidden from eating Halal meat
It is clear from the concept of Halal that they make a cut in the neck. Our Hindu vedas consider that such a thing is forbidden. In Halal they make a portion of the neck and Vedas forbidden such a thing. We have the following explicit instruction in Veda:
“Since Tvashtri spat upon the neck, therefore let him not make a portion of the neck. Thereupon he says (to the Hotrz), ‘ Recite (the invitatory prayer) to Agni and Soma for the havis of the buck” [Satapatha Brahmana 22.214.171.124]
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Peace be to humans and Animals and all!!
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Pundit Turumella Madhava Kumara Sharma
Assistant Secretary of Council of Dharmic Faiths, CoDF (UK)
[Anil Bhanot as the Hindu Advisor to the MoD has had requests from the Hindu soldiers to be served Jatka meat only – Jatka method requires an instant kill to minimise suffering which is now additionally assisted by pre-stunning]
Picture taken from theguardian.com