No Beef in Vedas
We had published an analysis of the allegation that Vedas have references of beef-eating and animal sacrifice in http://agniveer.com/68/no-beef-in-vedas/ . We provided ample evidences in this work that:
A. Vedas are completely against animal killing and violence on innocent creatures
B. Vedic Yajna is by definition non-violent and animal sacrifice is against Vedic precepts
C. Contrary to claims of beef consumption in Vedas, there are references that call for protection of cows and destruction of those who kill this most productive and harmless animal.
Thankfully after the publication of this work, the slanderous campaign against Vedas has lost its teeth significantly and no reasonable rebuttal to the content of the work ever surfaced. However, a few minor voices have continued to mislead people on this issue using splinter quotes from translations of Vedic literature by incompetent western indologists and juxtaposing them with their own agenda. In this work, we would attempt to address some of those allegations and make the two part work a reasonable single point reference to counter any such misled campaign in future. For those desiring a more detailed exposition, we have already provided a list of references at the end of Part 1 of the work.
So lets begin:
It is well-known that animal sacrifice was necessary in Yajna. Vedas are full of praise of Yajnas.
Yajna word is derived from root ‘Yaj’ by adding Nan pratyaya. Yaj root has three meanings : Devapuja (behaving appropriately with the entities around- worshipping Eeshvar, respecting parents, keeping the environment clean etc are few examples), Sangatikaran (Unity) and Daan (Charity). As per Vedas, these form the primary duty of human beings and hence Yajna is so emphasized not only in Vedas but in almost entire Indian literature of ancient era.
What is important however is the fact that Yajna has no reference to animal killing whatsoever. In fact, Nirukta (Vedic vocabulary) clearly states in 2.7 that Yajna is called Adhwara. Dhwara means violence and hence it is totally banned in Yajna.
In other words, forget about animal killing, any kind of violence – through mind, body or voice – is completely banned in Yajna.
Adhwara is used to imply Yajna in a large number of mantras in the Vedas. For example, Rigveda 1.1.4, 1.1.8, 1.14.21, 1.128.4, 1.19.1, Atharvaveda 4.24.3, 18.2.2, 1.4.2, 5.12.2, 19.42.4. Around 43 mantras in Yajurveda refer to Adhwara.
In fact Yajurveda 36.18 clearly states that “May I look upon everyone – Sarvaani Bhootani (and not only human beings) with friendly eyes.”
Thus, Vedas, nowhere justify animal sacrifice and on contrary condemn any form of violence on innocent beings.
Historically, there may have been prevalence of animal sacrifice, but that has nothing to do with content of Vedas. Many Muslim girls and boys have been working as vulgar models and actresses in film industry. In fact in Bollywood, most top actors and actresses have been Muslims. This does not necessarily mean Quran justifies vulgarity. Similarly, adultery and pre-marital sex is widespread in Christian countries. This does not mean Bible demands them to indulge in these vices.
In same vein, while animal sacrifice may have been an historical phenomenon due to decadence of Vedic values, we openly challenge anyone to cite even one single reference from Vedas that talk of animal sacrifice in Yajna.
If that be so, what about Ashwamedha, Naramedha, Ajamedha, Gomedha yajnas? Medha means killing and Vedas even justify Naramedha (human sacrifice).
We have already discussed in Part 1 that the word medha does not necessarily mean slaughter. It denotes an act done in accordance to the intellect. Alternatively it could mean consolidation or nurturing, as evident from the root meaning of medha I.e. Medhru San-Ga-me (refer Dhatupath)
When we already know that Yajnas are supposed to be Adhwara or non-violent, why should we take Medha to mean violence? Don’t we call an intelligent person – Medhaavi or name our daughters Medhaa. Do we imply they are violent people or intelligent persons?
Shatpath 220.127.116.11 and 18.104.22.168 clearly states that:
A Yajna dedicated to the glory, wellbeing and prosperity of the Rashtra the nation or empire is known as the Ashwamedh yajna. Thus likes of Ram Prasad Bismil, Ashfaq, Netaji, Shivaji, Tilak etc performed Ashwamedha Yajna.
To keep the food pure or to keep the senses under control, or to make a good use of the rays of Sun or keep the earth free from impurities[clean] is called Gomedha Yajna. The word Gau also means the Earth and the yajna dedicated to keep the Earth the environment clean is called Gomedha Yajna. (refer Nighantu 1.1, and Shatpath 13.15.3).
The cremation of the body of a dead person in accordance with the principles laid down in the Vedas is called Naramedha Yajna. Dedicated efforts for training and productivity of people is also Naramedha Yajna or Purushmedha Yajna or Nriyajna.
Aja means grains. So Ajamedha Yajna refers to increasing agricultural productivity or in a very narrow sense : using grains in Agnihotra. Refer Shantiparva 337.4-5.
Vishnu Sharma in Panchatantra (Kakoliyam) clearly states that those who perform animal sacrifice in Yajna are fools because they do not understand Vedas properly. If one goes to Heaven by animal sacrifice, what could be the path to go to Hell!
Mahabharat Shantiparva has two shlokas in Shantiparva that those who state that Yajna contain alcohol, fish or meat are frauds, atheists and devoid of knowledge of Shastras. (263.6, 265.9)
What about Yajurveda 24.29 which uses words ‘Hastina Aalambhate’ that means sacrifice of elephants?
Who told you that Alambha derived from Labha root means sacrifice or killing? Labha means to acquire or gain. While Hastina has a deeper meaning beyond elephant, even if we take it to mean elephant in this mantra, it only says that the king should acquire elephants for nurture of his kingdom. What is so violent about it?
Alambha is used in several places to mean ‘acquire’ or ‘gain’. For example, Manusmriti prohibits indulging in women for Brahmacharis by saying ” Varjayet Streenam Alambham”.
Thus this conjecture is completely out of place. May be those who concocted Aalambhate to mean killing in Vedic mantras were themselves addicted to killing animals for food and hence their first instinct of deriving benefits from animals was to imply killing them.
But what about ‘Sanjyapan’ used in Brahmana and Shraut texts to mean sacrifice?
Refer Atharvaveda 22.214.171.124 which says that we should do Sanjyapan of mind, body and heart. Does it mean we should commit suicide! Sanjyapan simply means unity and nurture. The mantra says that we should strengthen our mind, body and heart and ensure they work in unity. Sanjyapan also means ‘to inform’.
You are escaping every time from being trapped. But no more. What do you have to say about Yajurveda 25.34-35 / Rigveda 1.162.11-12 which states that:
“What from thy body which with fire is roasted, when thou art set upon the spit, distilleth,— Let not that lie on earth or grass neglected, but to the longing Gods let all be offered.”
“They who, observing that the Horse is ready, call out and say, The smell is good; remove it; And, craving meat, await the distribution,—may their approving help promote our labour.”
Very clearly there is explicit description of horse sacrifice.
We believe you have quoted from the trash works of Griffith.
The first has no reference to horse. It simply means that when people are suffering due to high temperatures/ fever, the doctors should care for them and provide them treatment.
In second mantra, all he did was to assume that Vaajinam word means ‘horse’. However, ‘Vajinam’ means a brave/strong/ dynamic/ fast entity. Thus horse is also known as Vaajinam. There can be many interpretations of the mantras, however none lead to horse sacrifice.
In fact, even if we mean that Vaajinam means horse, still the very verse in fact means that those who attempt to kill horses (Vajinam) should be prevented from doing so. We strongly recommend reviewing the translation by Swami Dayanand Saraswati for these mantras.
Also, refer to huge number of mantras provided in Part 1 of the article (http://agniveer.com/68/no-beef-in-vedas/ ) that explicitly prohibit animal killing and severe punishment for animal killers – especially killers of horses and cows.
What about reference to Goghna or killing of cows in Vedas? What about Atithigva/ Atithigna or a person who served beef to guests?
In Part 1, we gave ample references of cow being Aghnya or Aditi – not worthy of being killed. We also gave references of strict punishment in Vedas for those who destroy cows.
Gam root means ‘to go’. That is why planets are also called ‘Go’ because they move. Atithigna/ Atithigva means one who goes towards the guest or serves his guests sincerely.
Goghna has several meanings. Even if we take ‘Go’ to mean cow, Goghna means Go+Han : Approaching cow. (Han root means Movement and Knowledge apart from Violence).
There are many references in Vedas where Han is used for approaching and not killing, For example, Atharvaveda states “Husband should Han-approach the wife.”
Thus these allegations are equally baseless.
Vedas talk of not killing young cows. But old barren cows (Vashaa) are supposed to be killed. Similarly, Uksha or bulls should be killed as per Vedas.
This hypothesis was popularized in recent times by yet another pseudo-scholar D N Jha to defend his assertion of beef-eating in Vedas despite obvious contradictions that come up because of verses in Vedas that state the exact opposite. With home-grown defective pieces, who needs enemies from outside!
The fact is that Uksha refers to a medicinal herb, also known as Soma. Even someone like Monier Williams in his Sanskrit-English Dictionary states the same.
Vashaa refers to controlling powers of God and not a barren cow. If Vasha is used to mean a barren cow, then many Vedic verses will make no sense.
For example, Atharvaveda 10.10.4 uses Sahasradhara or Thousand flows in relation with Vasha. How can a barren cow be compared with Sahasradhara used to denote ample food, milk and water.
Atharvaveda 10.190 states that Vashi means controlling power of God and is recited twice daily in Vedic Sandhya.
In other verses, Vashaa is used also as productive land or a good wife with children (Atharvaveda 20.103.15) or a medicinal herb. Monier Williams also uses the word to mean a herb in his dictionary.
We fail to understand which divine inspiration prompted these pseudo-scholars to concoct that Vashaa means a barren cow.
Brihadaranyak Upanishad 6.4.18 clearly states that if a couple desires a noble son, they should eat Meat with rice (Mansodanam) or Bull (Arshabh) or Calf (Uksha).
1. Now that there is nothing to show in Vedas, focus of allegation has shifted to Upanishads. But even if one is able to prove beef eating in Upanishads, that still does not prove that there is beef in Vedas. And the foundation of Hinduism is that Vedas are supreme. Refer Purva Meemansa 1.3.3, Manusmriti 2.13, Manusmriti 12.95, Jabalasmriti, Bhavishya Puran etc which clearly state that if there is discrepancy between Vedas and other Shastras, then Vedas are considered supreme and the rest is rejected.
2. Having said this, we will show that the particular references from Brihadaranyak has been misinterpreted.
3. Let us take Mansodanam first. There are 4 more verses just before this verse that recommend eating particular edibles with rice for having a child with Vedic wisdom of different types. The other edibles are: Ksheerodanam (Milk with rice), Dadhyodanam (Yogurt with rice), Water with rice and Tila (a pulse) with rice for experts in other Vedas. Thus it is ONLY for mastery of Atharvaveda that Mansodanam or meat with rice is recommended. This itself shows that the particular reference is an anomaly.
4. In reality, the right word is Mashodanam and NOT Mansodanam. Masha means a kind of pulse. Hence there is nothing fleshy about it. In fact, for pregnant women, meat is completely prohibited as per Ayurveda. Refer Sushruta Samhita. There is also a verse in Sushrut Samhita that recommends Masha for husband and wife for a good son. Thus it is obvious that Brihadaranyaka has also explained the same concept as elucidated in Sushruta Samhita. There is no reason why the two texts would differ in Masha and Mansa.
5. Even if someone asserts that it is not Masha but Mansa, still Mansa means pulp and not necessarily meat. There are ample usages of Mansa as pulp in ancient texts. Thus Amramansam means pulp of mango. Khajuramansam means pulp of date. Refer Charak Samhita for such examples. Taittriya Samhita 2.32.8 uses Mansa for curd, honey and corn.
6. We have already seen that Uksha means a herb or Soma, even as per Monier Williams Dictionary. The same dictionary also lists Rishabh (from which Arshabh is derived) to mean a kind of medicinal plant (Carpopogan pruriens). Charak Samhita 1.4-13 lists Rishabh as a medicinal plant. Same is mentioned in Sushrut Samhita 38 and Bhavaprakash Purna Khanda.
7. Further both Arshabh (Rishabh) and Uksha mean bull and none means ‘calf’. So why were synonyms used to mention the same thing in the shloka from Brihadaranyak. This is like saying, one should eat either curd or yogurt! Thus, obviously the two words mean two different things. And considering that all the other verses mention herbs and pulses, these words also mean the same.
What about Mahabharat Vana Parva 207 that explicitly states that King Rantideva used to have Yajnas where huge number of cows used to be killed?
Again, as mentioned previously, if there is dispute between Vedas and any other text, then Vedas are considered supreme. Further, Mahabharat is a grossly interpolated and adulterated text and hence not considered authority in itself.
The allegation of cow-killing at Rantideva’s palace is a fraud allegation refuted decades ago by several scholars.
1. Anushasan Parva 115 lists Rantideva as one of the kings who never consumed meat. How can that be possible if beef was amply available at his palace?
2. We have already proven that Mansa does not necessarily mean meat.
3. The particular shloka alleges that each day 2000 cows were killed. This means more than 720,000 cows were killed each year. Is it logical to take such a shloka seriously?
4. Mahabharat Shantiparva 262.47 asserts that one who kills cows or bulls is a great sinner. The same Mahabharat calls King Rantideva a great saint and pious person. How can there be such a blatant contradiction in same text?
5. In reality, the shlokas have been distorted by misled scholars like Rahul Sankrityayana who are known for their Vedas bashing. Rahul Sankrityayana deliberately quoted only 3 lines of the verse and left 1 line from Dronaparva Chapter 67 first two shlokas. He misinterpreted Dwishatsahasra to mean 2000 when it actually means 200 thousand. This itself shows his competence in Sanskrit.
None of these lines have any reference to beef. And when combined with 4th line that he deliberately missed, it means that Rantideva had 200,000 cooks in his kingdom who used to serve good food (rice, pulses, cooked food, sweets etc) day and night to guests and scholars.
Then the word ‘Masha’ from the next shloka was changed to ‘Mansa’ to imply that it talked of beef.
6. On contrary there are ample verses in Mahabharat which talk of non-violence and condemn beef eating. Further they praise charity of cows and their nurture.
7. Fools have interpreted Badhyate to mean killing. However this is not so as per any Sanskrit text on grammar or usage. Badhyate means to control.
Thus, there is no way that one can prove that King Rantideva used to have cows killed.
To conclude, all allegations of beef or meat in Vedas or Vedic texts are merely desperate attempts by perverted minds to project their own vices on the most noble texts of the world.
May the light of wisdom enlighten their minds and may we all together make the world a sensible place.