Hindu Scriptures and Beef Eating (1/2)

"Herbs, trees, cattle, birds, and (other) animals that have been destroyed for sacrifices, receive (being reborn) higher existences." (Manu Shastr)

“Herbs, trees, cattle, birds, and (other) animals that have been destroyed for sacrifices, receive (being reborn) higher existences.” (Manu Shastr)

Present day Hindu culture is pivoted solely on the cow. Its material and spiritual concepts are both engulfed in cow worship. The Hindutva brigade propaganda machinery uses the politics of cow to mobilize the innocent Hindu masses and make them angry. The ban on cow slaughter is one of the pillars of the Hindutva ideology. According to M.S.Golwalkar, a Hindutva ideologue, beef eating in India was started by Muslims and was followed by the British people.(1)
In the past, several futile attempts have been made by proponents of Hindutva to pass a law to ban the slaughter of cows at the national level. In the NCERT school textbook for Class VI, 2002 we read:
“Among the animals, the cow was given the most important and sacred place. Injuring or killing of cow was prohibited in the Vedic period. The cow was called Aghnya (is not to be killed or injured). Vedas prescribe punishment for injuring or killing cow by expulsion from the kingdom or by death penalty, as the case may be.”(2)

Opinions of Some Hindu Scholars on Beef Eating

But the theory that in Vedic times there was no cow slaughter is historically inaccurate,as beef was offered as food to guests and persons of high status. Ancient Hindu scriptures clearly permit the consumption of meat, even of cows. True scholars know this. For example, Swami Vivekananda who is considered as a major force in the revival of Hinduism in modern India admitted that ancient Hindus used to eat meat. He says in this regard:
“You will be astonished if I tell you that, according to the old ceremonials, he is not a good Hindu who does not eat beef. On certain occasions he must sacrifice a bull and eat it.”(3)
He adds: “There was a time in this very India when, without eating beef, no Brahmin could remain a Brahmin.”(4)
Let us now look at the evidence from Hindu texts which prove that Hinduism not only permits beef eating but also requires its followers to institute certain cow sacrifices.

Yajna and Animal Sacrifices

In Hinduism, Yajna is a ritual of sacrifice derived from the practice of Vedic times. It is performed to please the gods or to attain certain wishes. A Vedic yajna is typically performed by an adhvaryu priest, with a number of additional priests such as the hotar, udgatar playing a major role, next to their dozen helpers, by reciting or singing Vedic verses how to deal with the animal that is to be sacrificed in the Yajna, be it a goat, a horse or a cow.

Rituals of Cutting the Sacrificial Animal in Hinduism

The rituals were mentioned in the Aitareya Brahman of the Rigveda as follows:

“Turn the animal’s feet northwards. Make its eyes go to the Sun, dismiss its breath to the wind, its life to the space, its hearing to the directions, its body to the earth. In this way, the Hotar (priest) connects it with these worlds. Take of the entire skin without cutting it. Before opening the navel tear out the omentum (a fold of peritoneum connecting or supporting abdominal structures such as the stomach and liver). Stop its breathing within (by stopping its mouth). Thus the Hotar puts breath in the animals. Make of its breast a piece like an eagle, of its arms (two pieces like) two hatchets, of its forearms (two pieces like) two spikes, of its shoulders (two pieces like) two kashyapas (tortoises), its loins should be unbroken (entire); make of its thighs (two pieces like) two shields, of the two kneepans (two pieces like) two oleander leaves; take out its twenty-six ribs according to their order; preserve every limb of its in its integrity. Thus he benefits all its limbs. Dig a ditch in the earth to hide its excrements.” (5)

In addition the scripture says: “Present the evil spirits with the blood.”

Subsequently, the same Aitareya Brahman instructing how to distribute different parts of the sacrificial animal says:
“Now follows the division of the different parts of the sacrificial animal (among the priests). We shall describe it. The two jawbones with the tongue are to be given to the Prastotar; the breast in the form of an eagle to the Udgatar; the throat with the palate to the Pratihartar; the lower part of the right loins to the Hotar; the left to the Brahma; the right thigh to the Maitravaruna; the left to the Brahmanuchhamsi; the right side with the shoulder to the Adhvaryu; the left side to those who accompany the chants; the left shoulder to the Pratipasthatar; the lower part of the right arm to the Neshtar; the lower part of the left arm to the Potar; the upper part of the right thigh to the Achhavaka; the left to the Agnidhra; the upper part of the right arm to the Aitreya; the left to the Sadasya; the back bone and the urinal bladder to the Grihapati (sacrificer); the right feet to the Grihapati who gives a feasting; the left feet to the wife of that Grihapati who gives a feasting; the upper lip is common to both, which is to be divided by the Grihapati. They offer the tail of the animal to wives, but they should give it to a Brahmana; the fleshy processes (maanihah) on the neck and three gristles (kikasaah) to the Grahvastut; three other gristles and one half of the fleshy part on the back (vaikartta) to the Unnetar; the other half of the fleshy part on the neck and the left lobe (Kloma) to the Slaughterer (Shamita), who should present it to a Brahmana, if he himself would not happen to be a Brahmana. The head is to be given to the Subrahmanya, the skin belongs to him (the Subrahmanya), who spoke, SvaahSutyam (to morrow at the Soma Sacrifice); that part of the sacrificial animal at a Soma sacrifice which belongs to Ilaa (sacrificial food) is common to all the priests; only for the Hotar it is optional.All these portions of the sacrificial animal amount to thirty-six single pieces, each of which represents the paada (foot) of a verse by which the sacrifice is carried up.”
“To those who divide the sacrificial animal in the way mentioned, it becomes the guide to heaven (Swarga). But those who make the division otherwise are like scoundrels and miscreants who kill an animal merely.”
“This division of the sacrificial animal was invented by Rishi Devabhaaga, a son of Srauta. When he was departing from this life, he did not entrust (the secret to anyone). But a supernatural being communicated it to Girija, the son of Babhru. Since his time men study it.”(6)

Excuses of Some Hindus

Some Hindus make the excuse that these are the translations of a non-Hindu European scholar with ‘ulterior motives’. This is a common response by some Hindus, who have negligible knowledge of Hindu scriptures. To establish the authenticity of the above translations, I will produce before you passages from the ‘Purva Mimamsa Sutras’ of Jaimini, its commentary called ‘Shabarbhasya’ and the views of renowned Arya Samaj scholar, Pandit Yudhishthira Mimamsak on them.
It must be noted that the Purva Mimamsa Sutras (compiled between 300-200 B.C.E.) was written by Rishi Jaimini, one of the most important ancient Hindu philosophical texts. It forms the basis of Mimamsa, the earliest of the six orthodox schools (darshanas) of Indian philosophy.

Purva Mimamsa Sutras of Jaimini and Beef Eating

Commenting on Purv Mimansa Sutra Adhyaya 3, Para 6, Sutra 18, the Shabarbhasya says:
संति च पशुधर्माः- उपाकरणं, उपानयं, अक्ष्णया बंधः, यूपे नियोजनम्, संज्ञपनं, विशसनमित्येवमादयः
There are also certain details to be performed in connection with the animals, such as (a) Upaakaranam [Touching the animal with the two mantras], (b) Upaanayanam [Bringing forward], (c) Akshanyaa-bandhah [Tying with a rope], (d) Yoopeniyojanam [Fettering to the Sacrificial Post], (e) Sanjnapanam [Suffocating to death], (f) Vishasanam [Dissecting], and so forth.(7)

Comments of Pandit Yudhisthira Mimamsak on Beef Eating

Expounding on this, AryaSamaj scholar, Pandit Yudhisthira Mimamsak writes in his ‘Mimamsa Shabar Bhashyam’
“In this case and otherwise it appears from the Jaimini Sutras that the offering of sacrificed animals is to be made in the Yajnas. It is clearly mentioned in the Mimamsa Sutras.”(8)
Moving on let us see Mimamsadarshan Sutra 3/7/28 which says:
शमिता च शब्दभेदात्
The ‘Shamita’ (slaughterer of the animal) is not distinct from the major priests.
Commenting on it the Shabarbhashya says:
क्लोमा चार्द्धवं वैकर्तनं च शमितुः तद् ब्राह्मणाय दद्यात् यद्य ब्राह्मणः स्यात्
“The liver and the upper quarter belong to the Shamita Priest; one should give it to a Brahmana if he be a non-Brahmana.”
Notice that this is exactly the same things that we saw was said in Aitareya Brahman Book 7; Para 1 above (the highlighted part). This proves that Shabarbhashya is confirming the Aitareya Brahman and the translation is also accurate.
Pandit Yudhisthira Mimamsak also confirms this when he says:
“The division of the meat of the sacrificed animal as instructed in the Aitareya Brahman clearly proves that during the time of the writing of Aitareya Brahman and the time when it was edited by Saunaka, animals were sacrificed in the Yajnas and their meat was consumed by the Brahmins.”

A Question on Sacrifice and its Answer

Some half-baked Hindus who like to play games might try to call all these references as later interpolations. However, the scholar Yudhisthir Mimamsak out rightly rejects such a bogus conclusion when he says: “There is no strong evidence to consider these passages as later interpolations.”(10)
Further in Mimamsa Sutra 3/8/43 it is mentioned:
मांसं तु सवनियानां चोदनाविशेषात
“Only the ‘Savaniya’ cakes should consist of flesh”
All these passages prove that the flesh of the sacrificed animal was consumed as per the instructions of the Hindu texts.
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(1) M.S.Golwalkar, Bunch of Thoughts, p. 496.
(2)Social Sciences Textbook for Class VI, p. 89.
(3)The complete works of Swami Vivekananda, vol. 3rd, p. 536.
(4)Ibid.
(5)Aitareya Brahman, Book No. 2, para 6 and 7.
(6) Aitareya Brahman, Book No. 7, Para 1, Translated by Martin Haug.
(7) Shabhar bhashya on Mimamsa Sutra 3/6/18; translated by GanganathJha.
(8) Mimamsa Shabharbhasyam, adhyaya 3, p. 1014.
(9) Shabhar bhasya on Mimamsa Sutra 3/7/28; translated by GanganathJha.
(10) Mimamsa Shabarbhashyam by YudhishthirMimamsakAdhyaya vol. 3, p. 1075.
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Source: This article has been taken from:islamhinduism.com with modifications.

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