Sikh Meat Issue

A Sikh is instructed to keep complete 'suchum', that is cleanliness of the body and soul. A Sikh is instructed to rise early in the morning and bathe daily, to keep clean thoughts in his/her mind and to cleanse the soul by repeating God's name. The body is regarded as a temple and if you want God to come and take residence in it then it must first be cleaned. The soul needs it nurishment, that of Naam and it is nurished by a daily dose of Gurbani and Simran. In the same way the body must also be kept clean and purged of all pollutants. A Sikh is instructed to refrain from alcohol, drugs and tobacco, but hand in hand with this a Sikh must refrain from consuming the flesh of other animals, for the polluting properties of meat cannot be ignored. For those Sikhs who are in name only this will be a tall order but for those who have been blessed by their Guru it is an absolute must.

It is a disturbing thought that many Sikhs today have lost sight of their spiritual objective and now freely indulge in consuming the flesh of animals without a second thought to the consequence on the soul. The karmic penalty of eating flesh cannot be ignored.

 
    Sant Ji never advocated eating meat.

According to the rehat maryada booklet , Kuttha the meat prepared by the Muslim ritual killing is prohibited for a Sikh, regarding eating other meat, it is silent. Siri Guru Granth Sahib Ji (SGGS) makes various references to not eating meat but since it does this in a subtle way this has been ignored by many. Unless you are 'naam-abyasee' then you cannot begin to understand the implications of meat consumption, alas the majority of Sikhs today are so engrossed in daily life and activity and their access to Sikh principles are through the internet or hearsay that most have a very eskew idea of their faith. And lets face it, if you enjoy chicken kebab then you are going to listen and agree with those arguments that allow you to indulge, it is only a blessed soul who will really understand the arguement against meat and act upon it.

Many 'modern' Sikhs will say that man as a hunter gatherer evolved with a meat diet and that infact it was the meat diet that increased the size of the human brain that let to the superiority of man. Now, it is true that man has evloved over the ages, but if he was a monkey once does he still have to retain the monkey urges? If man can now survive quite adequately without a meat diet and man knows that eating meat slows his spiritual progress then is that not enough to refrain from this act? Only we have the capacity to evolve spriritually, and to do this we must have dicipline and fortitude. As for meat being an essential part of our diet, there are millions of vegiertians and vegans who would disagree.

One 'evidence' the pro-meat lobby will site is that Guru Hargobind Sahib ji and Guru Gobind Singh Ji were accomplished hunters, if they hunted then so can we, "if they hunted meat then they must have consumed it, right ?" Wrong.

Firstly our ego filled minds bring down our glorious Gurus to our level, we treat them as if they were like one of us, they were not. They were the divine light and what acts they performed we can only stand back in awe, we can never emulate what they did. Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji recited one thousand shabads every day as part of their daily routine, can we even begin to emulate this? Yet we are all so quick to make assumptions that if the Gurus hunted then so can we, and then consume it.

The author of a called Sikh & Sikhism writes about the Gurus hunting, he states : "The game would have been cooked and put to good use, to throw it away would have been an awful waste."

 

The author provides no evidence to back up his claim, pure conjecture. We cannot see past the physical world, the Guru's were pure souls, at One with the Almighty. Guru Gobind Singh Ji in his glorious autobiography Bachittar Natak writes that after many eons of tapasia (meditation) the two (Guru Ji and God) became One. There is no doubt that Guru Sahib Ji had merged with the Almighty. If a glass of water is poured into the ocean who is to say which part is now the water from the glass and which is not, it becomes one, in the same way the Guru's were at One with God. Where ever they went they granted mukhti (salvation) to all who were ready to take it. Guru Nanak Dev Ji on his udasis's (journeys) saved such people like Sujjan Thug - who would invite people to his house and then in the dead of night strangle them, Kaudda Rakhsh, who indulged in cannibal activites and Walli Quandhari the mean fakir who would not let anyone use his well. So, from the very begining the Guru's have been blessing and granting mukhti to those souls whose karmic circle needed breaking, and who can do this ? Only the True Guru.

In the same way Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji and Guru Gobind Sahib Ji went hunting, not for pleasure - for the Guru's were way above the pleaseures of this world - or the need to satisfy their taste buds, they were above this also , it was to instill a sense of pride and self confidence in the downtrodden people of India who for centuries had grovelled to any invader who happen to come their way. Guru Sahib Ji indulged in royal activities, like wearing of the Kalgi, jewelled plumes on the turban, use of the chaur sahib, as symbols of royalty, not because Guru Ji had any need for these superfluouse items, but rather to instill a sense a self pride within the ordinary Indian, and also in the process to settle long overdue 'accounts', to release the souls of the poor unfortunate animals who may have wronged in the past, to grant them Mukti (salvation).

There is a story of Guru Gobind Singh Ji who sent out his white falcon to hunt an animal, once caught Guru Ji watched as the baaj tore into the animals flesh. Asked by one of his Sikhs what was the reasoning behind this Guru Ji stated that in a previous life this animal was a man and had borrowed some money from the baaj and swore on Akal Purkhs name that he would pay it back, he never did and now it was pay back time. There are many instances like this which illustrate that the Gurus were not hunting for meat but to save these souls from the continuous cycle of birth and death. In two Hukamnamas of Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji there are clear cut instructions prohibiting the eating of meat, fish etc.

 

   
 
Hukumnana of Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji.    

When Guru Nanak in his sixth form prohibits Sikhs from eating flesh in such a strong language, how can he, in his tenth form, issue instructions absolutely contrary to and in negation of his own earlier instructions?

 
     

Dr Gopal Singh in his History of the Sikh People writes something rather curious:" In the Gurus kitchen (or Guru Ka Langar) meat dishes are not served , maybe it is on account of it being perhaps expensive, or not easy to keep for long."

When has money been an obstical for the Sikhs? An appeal at any local Gurudwara for donations for a project or disaster fund will yield hundreds of pounds by the sangat on the spot, and Guru ka langar is 'untuth' (unbroken or without bounds) so to say that meat dishes are expensive for then langar is a bit of a red herring, reading between the lines it seems apparent that doubt is being planted in the minds of the Sikhs regarding meating.

Giani Sher Singh in his Philosophy of Sikhism writes : "Kabir held the doctrine of Ahinsa or non-destruction of life, which even extended to his followers. The Sikh Gurus, on the contrary allowed and even encouraged the use of animal flesh for food……"

However the author does not expand on this, he provides no evidence for this, again pure conjecture and speculation.

One should step back and think for a moment what is being said here. The Gurus were pure souls, Sikhs believe them to have merged with Akal Purkh, are we then to believe that they would tear into a chicken leg at meal time? Piayrio don't even go there. Eating meat is a very primitive act and the Gurus taught us to be above this, to control our emotions and urges if we were to develop spiritually.

 
 

H.S Singha in his Mini Encyclopedia of Sikhism : 'Guru Amar Das Ji ate only rice and lentils but this abstention cannot be regarded as evidence of vegetarianism, only of simple living.'

The key phrase here is 'simple living', the Gurus promoted simple living above all - Naam jappo (sing the Lords praises), kirat karo (earn an honest days living) and whand kay shako (share your food with those around you) - these are the fundamentals of Sikhism and simple living is at the heart of it. Simple folk live on simple foods and that does not include meat. Remember when Guru Nanak Dev Ji on his first Udassi (journey) met Malak Bhago the merchant, Guru Ji refused to eat his rich food perfering to eat the dried chapatti of Bhai Lalo. If we look at the lives of the Gurus we should try to emulate as much of them as possible because we regard their lives as ideal living, then simple living on a vegetrian diet should be part of it.

Guru Gobind Singh Ji's "updesh" or instruction to Bhai Daya Singh ji which is mentioned in "SUDHARAM MARAG GRANTH" say quite clearly :

"One who does not Steal, Commit adultery , Slander anyone , Gamble , eat meat or drink wine will be liberated in this very life (i.e. Jeewan Mukt)".

Mohsin Fani (1615-70), the well known historian and a contemporary of Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib, rites in his work DABISTAN-E-MAZAHIB as follows:

"Having prohibited his disciples to drink wine and eat pork, he (Nanak) himself abstained from eating flesh and ordered not to hurt any living being. After him this precept was neglected by his followers; but Arjun Mal, one of the substitutes of his Faith, renewed the prohibition to eat flesh and said: This has not been approved by Nanak."

 

Mata Ganga Ji longed for a son. She confided in her husband, the fifth Guru, Guru Arjan Dev Ji. "My Lord when shall we be granted a son?" she asked. It must be remembered that Guru Arjun Dev Ji was Lord of all the worlds, people from far and wide came to seek blessings from Guru ji and have their minds wishes fulfilled, they left with blessings overflowing, yet here we have Mata Ji asking for a son but Guru Ji not granting it directly. The reason is that as in all of the incidents relating to the Gurus it was a lesson for us folk. Guru Ji could have granted a son to Mata Ji but instead to illustrate an important principle Guru Ji played out this incident to show people like us the importance of humility and devotion and the high regard Guru Ji had of his Sikhs.

Guru Sahib Ji instructed Mata Ji to prepare some food and seek the blessing of Baba Buddha Ji, a learned Sikh who had served all the previous Gurus in complete devotion, and spiritially a Braham Giani. Mata Ji prepared all manner of dishes of rich and spicey foods and went with great pomp and ceremony on a chariot to be blessed by Baba Buddha Ji. When Baba Ji saw the dust trail in the distance coming toward his place of residence he was not impressed. Baba Ji was also not inpressed by all the fuss and rich food, despondent Mata Ji returned home. Upon enquiring the outcome Guru Arjun Dev Ji urged her to prepare another meal but this time a simple meal of Missi roti (chapatties) , yoghurt , achaar (pickle) , onions and lassi , and to make it with her own hands and this she did. This time she went on foot and with great humbless and Baba Ji was very impressed.

Baba ji was a Brahm Giani (a stage of spiritual enlightenment) and ate simple wholesome foods, he did not care for rich spicey foods, instead he was happy to eat missi roti and yoghurt. He took the onion and brought his fist upon it to break it open, and said " You will be blessed with a son Mata ji and like this he will crush the heads of the oppressors", in due course Mata ji was blessed with a son who later became the sixth Guru, the fearless mighty Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji.

The point being made here is that all spiritually enlightened souls lead simple lives and eat simple food. In fact they eat very little and what they do eat is purely vegetarian, the Name of the Lord is their sustainer, they have no need to entertain their taste buds with rich spicey food let alone the spiritually corrupting meat.

 

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