Sunday, May 19, 2013

Meat eating and Krishna. What is the answer?

My friend Satyaraj Das, the founder and editor of the Journal of Vaishnava Studies, a successful, prolific and popular writer on subjects related to Vaishnavism, is writing a book on vegetarianism and Vaishnavism. He has already written successful books on the subject and is revisiting the subject from a deeper and broader perspective. He asked me my opinion on Krishna's recommending the killing of animals for the Govardhana Puja, as in the Vishnu Purana (5.10.38) and Harivamsa (2.16.21).

Why not just take it as a historical development? We don't have to anchor ourselves to the past. This is a big problem with the way that Prabhupada presented Krishna consciousness to us, as something fixed in the past and unchangeable to which we must return. This is impossible, is it not? You never put your toes into the same flowing stream twice.

But that is a big piece for most devotees to swallow. How can Krishna not have been perfect, if he was indeed a historical reality, etc.? And if he was not a historical reality, then what is the point of the avatar doctrine?

If we say that Krishna or God Himself is revealed in humanity over the course of time, or the concept of God evolves as humanity grows in maturity and understanding of itself, is perhaps possible to introduce to the devotee community, but such ideas will always be for the "inner circle" as the outer reaches of the community have been irrevocably tied to Prabhupada's writings, the scriptures as interpreted historically by the sampradaya, etc.

And this of course will create confusion at some point, as those like myself and perhaps Hridayananda Maharaj, yourself and others who think that way, will be forced to produce a whole new set of arguments and understandings and concepts to justify newly emerging visions of Krishna. And it is inevitable that such visions will be based in an acceptance of "myth" as "reality", and that they will differ, leading to much controversy and dispute.

My personal vision is that prema is the prayojan. Krishna as mediated by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, revealed as the Godhead in two aspects, male and female. As such they are united in love. The devotee participates mystically in that union, which is the meaning of sakhi bhava. Since the perfection of love is the meaning and purpose of God and religion itself, it only stands to reason that this should manifest itself in an attitude towards the environment, to other creatures and to humanity in a particular way, i.e., one that is based in an attitude of love.

All tools for analyzing human society, economic, social, political, anthropological, etc., all need to be framed in the optic of prema. Whoever (Christians, etc.) agrees with that optic is our partner in dialogue and potentially in action.

1 comment:

Gauraharidas Avadhuta said...

That's right Prema is the Prayojana. This is still not deep enough practical understanding because the process of attaining this goal is not revealed in this article so if you like the add to you can post this. If one respectfully, faithfully hears instructions, and about the Lilas of God from a devotee who has attainted Premabhakti or such transcendental affectionate love awakens when he describes such activities, then one makes rapid progress towards the goal and very quickly such devotion will awaken in the heart of those who hear regardless of whether they eat meat or not. As a matter of fact a perfect Brahmin, celibate, vegetarian is considered in a lower position farther away from the goal of this Premabhakti, or the kingdom of God than a low born meat eating prostitute but who has wisely taken shelter of of a genuine Prema devotee. Mary Magdalene is the shining example of this miraculous transformation of being a sincere surrendered, submissive maidservant of a Vaishnava. The Moslem beef eating tailor of Srivas Thakur is another example of Lord Caitanya overlooking the offense of eating meat and give the wealth of devotion to him simply because he was a affectionate servant of Srivas Thakur sewing cloths for him