A nation that aspires to be world leader in technology is currently grappling with the issue of cows! In the 21st century, we are discussing if beef was eaten by our vedic ancestors. Our liberals are up in arms against the government’s interference in the culinary preferences. A man was allegedly killed because he was suspected to have killed a cow. Some political leaders are trying to sway the electorate by claiming to uphold the rights of cows, while others claim to be acting in the interest of the beef eaters. One political stalwart also got possessed momentarily by the Devil and said things he shouldn’t have. Such are the challenging times we live in.
Can Hindus eat cows? There is no answer to this question. Each region, each caste, each household and each individual will have a different answer for the question. That the cow is an object of adoration in Hinduism is known to all. Hindu texts sing paens to the glory of the cow. However, historical research indicates that our vedic forefathers were not averse to sacrificing the cow and consuming its beef. There are scriptures that expressly mention the benefit of beef. However, nearly 3500 years transpired between the Vedic age and today. Numerous practices and social mores that were a norm in the Vedic ages have now fallen into disuse. Influenced by Jain and Buddhist principles of non-violence, a chunk of Hindu society turned vegetarian, to the extent that they extolled and propagated the values of vegetarianism as being superior to meat eating. That having been said and the fact that Hinduism is a diffused religion, cultural practices differed from region to region and person to person. For example, Bengali Brahmins have traditionally eaten fish, whereas a Brahmins in the north have been lacto vegetarians. These discrepancies have been an accepted norm in Hinduism. In places such as Kerala, centuries of cohabitation with Muslims and Christians has meant that Beef is tolerated as a part of Hindu diet, whereas the same has been taboo in say, Bihar. In parts of the North East, Beef is consumed freely, whereas in a place like Gujarat, one would be horrified to even discuss the matter. The fact is that India is way too large and way too complex a nation to have the same set of norms everywhere.
The context having been said, there is no doubt that beef is a silly issue in the present time. A Beef eating Hindu is no lesser a Hindu than a pure vegetarian Hindu. Even though Hinduism extolls the virtues of vegetarianism in general, it at no point condemns meat eaters to the Hindu equivalent of hell. And even if it did, in this day and age, who really cares? We know enough of science today to know that there is a slim chance after death of Aatma migrating into another body based on our karma. Hence, one should stop this brouhaha over Beef eating. Those who want to should eat their meat. Hence, I appeal to BJP members to apologize to Engineer Rashid for what they did to him today. I appeal to the murderers of Akhlaq to repent and accept the rule of law. I appeal to all vegetarians (or non- beef eaters) to be more considerate to the viewpoints of others.
Now that this issue has been settled, Hindus can eat beef and no one can stop them, we must try and rescue compatriots belonging to minority religions from the clutches of obsolescent and antiquated religious practices. To all the Marxists who organized beef parties in Kerala, to Engineer Rashid who organized Beef mela in MLA hostel, to all liberals who cried themselves hoarse on the issue of Beef ban, I appeal them to throw similar parties distributing pork. Let the Islamic holy months be celebrated by a wholesale slaughter of swine. During Lent Fridays, let us throw gala fetes and distribute chicken and meat. At the time of the Jewish festival of Hannukkah, let us eat crabs. During the Jain festival of Paryushan, let us eat chicken. Let us demolish these dietary dos and don’ts that archaic and anachronistic religions have established over us. Let us revolt against these dietary restrictions and claim the freedom to eat what we want to, when we want to and where we want to. Let the 21st century be a revolution against irrelevant religious dogmas!
And if you feel it would take a while for that to happen,or that it is impractical, Let us respect the sensibilities of people around us. Out of deference to others (and even when you have all the rights), let us eat Beef in private,knowing fully well that it offends millions of our countrymen, let us be careful not to expose slaughtered animals during Paryushan, Let us not kill swine before a place of worship and let us not invite a Jew to dinner and serve Crabfish. A society is as tolerant as its members. It is easy to talk of rights, It is more difficult to do what is right.
Cut the noise and let sense prevail.