Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Sunday Chat: "We are not vegans, but..." (Srila B.A. Paramadvaiti Maharaj)

Colombia, May 19, 2013 

Dear devotees,

I send all my love from the Colombian coast, where we spent a few days of much meditation with our native brothers of different villages.

When I was in the last Mela in Germany, I was surprised with a vegan prasadam recipe made by the devotees of Italy. From that moment I asked my office to distribute this recipe, because for a while we decided along with Gurudeva Atulananda that our Govinda restaurants should offer vegan options, since the most important part is the distribution of prasadam to everyone.

We know that the Vedic culture is not vegan, but it is a culture full of commitment to the protection of animals, especially cows. Vedically it is unthinkable that a Vaishnava could be involved in the suffering of animals, and that has not changed, the devotees have unconditional love for all their fellow brothers in animal bodies, because they understand the law of karma in its entirety. The difference is that the modern world, influenced by developments in the Age of Kali, presents devotees with different circumstances that did not exist before. Today animals are exploited and abused in most cases, especially in industries related to meat and dairy. Therefore, any one attitude and decision taken in this regard should be completely humble and respectful toward those who have gone another way, as the subject of vegetarianism and veganism has been very special among animal protection. This is a general law, not only in this case but in any aspect of the life of a devotee; one should never appear before others as if your life’s philosophy is the highest and everything else that everyone does is nonsense.

We are not strictly vegan, but we love all that vegans love, even more so to those who are activists for animal protection. We can not become vegan because we come from a culture that worships cows, that consumes dairy products and offers them to God. However there is one thing we should be clear on and that is that we must be very conscious and avoid consuming any dairy product that comes from animal suffering and what to say of offering it to Sri Krishna at the altar. We are not vegans, but we can not be accessories in the mistreatment of animals and consume products from the market that are marked with suffering. We should try to get natural milk for our farms and temples as far as possible and make rich homemade preparations to offer to the deities.

In our family we have two GoShalas, which are sites for the protection of cows: one in India by Lalita Madhava, where they care for more than 200 cows and another in Italy, on the farm, where we have five cows. It is a small-scale effort, so we must also commit ourselves to our dairy consumption in the least harmful way as possible. There is another very important point in the act of offering. A little cow whose milk is offered to God is purified immediately, just from connecting with the divine in that manner. So the life of an animal, a fruit or a vegetable happens to have a complete purposeful sense because their life is meant for God. Thus, Vaishnavas attempt to implement a full criteria to situations, and they don’t just say "do not eat anything that comes from animals", because in that case you could question to the point of asking where does the fertilizer of the vegetables you eat come from? If the answer is "cow" then the origin is the animal, and if the answer is "chemicals" then you do not consume any animal, but then you are damaging Mother Earth with those very chemicals.

The solution to all this is to do the best you can, in the most conscious manner and offer everything to Krishna, as he is the enjoyer and the ultimate controller of all things. If something does not work perfectly, Krishna handles it in such a way to harmonize it and help souls in their spiritual growth.

Most important of all is love, love for all living beings. That means acting as a well wisher of others, and killing someone is totally contrary to the position of a well-wisher. The conclusion of this discussion is that we deliver everything we do to God and have faith that we always stay connected to it, either directly or indirectly.

All that is done in connection with God and His holy name is completely beneficial to the person involved and who is around. This is my message today, short words I hope will help out for all those who have been confused with these issues.
A big hug.

Your always well-wisher,
Swami B. A. Paramadvaiti.

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