Buddha, a non-vegetarian

There are many people who believe that it was due to Buddhism that Vegeterianism was introduced into Hinduism. Again let me quote some paragraphs from the book I am reading now “Gem in the Lotus”:http://penguinbooksindia.com/Books/aspBookDetail.asp?ID=2951 by Abraham Eraly.

bq. Buddhist monks were not vegetarians, but they were forbidden to eat the meat of an animal specifically slaughtered to feed them, for that would indirectly make them the killers of the animal. Said Buddha: “Let no one, O monks, knowingly eat the meat[of an animal killed for that purpose…] I prescribe, O monks, that flesh (or fish) is pure to you in three cases: if you do not see, if you have not heard, if you do not suspect[that it has been caught or killed specially to prepare food for you].”


That was from the chapter titled “Gem in the Lotus”, which is what Eraly calls Buddha. He continues to mention that Buddha himself was a non-vegetarian. On his way to Kushinara, Buddha was resting at a place called Pava and one of his devotees, a metalsmith of the name Cunda invited Buddha for a meal.

bq. There sitting the Exalted One called to Cunda and said: “Cunda, as to that fat hog’s flesh which you have prepared, serve me with it, but serve the brethren with whatsoever food both soft and hard, you have prepared”

bq. Buddha, it seems had a weakness for pork—his favourite food, says Milinda-panha, was “tender boar’s flesh, and rice porridge boiled in milk”

But after eating this food prepared by Cunda, Buddha fell seriously ill, and with great difficulty he reached Kushinara and left his body.

“Srijith”:http://www.srijith.net/trinetre/ sent a link to an article “Paradox of the Indian Cow”:http://www.ercwilcom.net/~indowindow/sad/godown/history/dnjha.htm which traces the attitudes to beef eating in Ancient India, and you will find that beef eating was not much of a big deal.

So “Brahmins were non-vegetarians”:http://varnam.org/archives/000088.html. Buddha was a non-vegetarian. So from when did this Vegetarian thing get such prominence in Hinduism ?

7 Comments

  1. Vegetarianism as directed social policy is all about control of natural resources. I remember fat Bramhin priests lecturing my poor widowed aunt, and later my grandmother about the evils of eating fish when their exalted “grihapti” was wallowing in purgatory waiting to be re-incarnated as grey aliens (or something). All the while, as part of a price for their prayers and incantations, a multi-course meal with chicken and fish was mandatory.

  2. Suman said: “All the while, as part of a price for their prayers and incantations, a multi-course meal with chicken and fish was mandatory.”

    Wow, I never knew Brahmin priests in Bengal ate fish and chicken though I have heard of some Brahmin communites that eat fish alone.

  3. Hi JK, Veganism is a most natural end to the spiritualism experienced by Buddha or most other, similar figures, Christians have a residue of it…no meat on Friday..few know where that practice was derived, Jews separate dairy from meat, a curious activity, if one does not connect it to veganism. The ancients were so..the teeth of same… were specifcally designed to grind vegetable matter… the organ: appendix is suspected.. to aid in digestion of vegetables. And so on…Best of fortune, ak

  4. Adam, I suspect Jewish used to separate their dairy from meat because they didn’t know of refrigeration (so am I told by my Jewish friends). As for Vegetarianism being natural to humans, I disagree. Agriculture did not develop until very recent times and before that, the main source of food was of course, meat!

  5. This commentary that the Buddha had a prediliction for pork is seriously in doubt.

    http://www.budsir.org/Eb_hist70.htm

    The Buddhist commentaries and teachers have not reached agreement as to just what this sukaramaddava actually was. Some say it was “piglet” (translating literally from sukara, “pig.” and maddava, “young” or “baby”). Some believe it was a kind of mushroom, while others say it was a certain kind of fine delicacy that Indian people used to cook specially for people for whom they had the highest respect, such as deities. It was a food even more refined than milk rice.

    The Buddha told Cunda to offer that sukaramaddava only to him, while the other food was to be offered to the other monks. And when the Buddha had finished eating the meal, he summoned Cunda and told him to bury the sukaramaddava remaining from the Buddha’s meal in a hole, because no one other than a Buddha could digest it. Then the Buddha inspired Cunda with a teaching, causing him to rejoice in his own meritorious actions, and took leave of him to travel on to Kusinara.

    It is fairly certain that Buddhists are “convenient vegetarians” – and that only when begging from house to house for food must not be picky, even if the food is meat.

    In a non-begging context, Buddhists should not eat meat according to the first precept – do not kill nor support the causes and conditions of killing.

  6. If we consider man also being an animal like others then Man is a Vegetarian animal and not a Non- Vegeterian as Man has similar set of teeths like other Vegeterian animals and not like Cheetak, tiger or crocodile. All carnivorous animals teeth are designed by almighty to be long sharp and curved in a shape to tear apart flesh. Can Man hunt like a cheetah or a tiger? Can man’s teeth tear flesh of a animal like elephant, rhino? MAN can only eat meat when it is cut into pieces using tools which are sharp like the teeth of a shark, lion etc..So, Man is made to be vegetarian and there are couple of other reasons too that why a human should practise being a vegeterian.

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