Meat Eating, Tulasi Tea, Women

Meat eating in Shastra

Question: There is some evidence that Rama-Laksmana-Sita’s diet is meat from hunting. Some examples:

In the Ayodhyakanda, on the first night of exile, Rama fasts. The next day, after walking a long while by the Ganges, “On the further bank the brothers killed four large animals–a boar, an antelope, a gazelle and a great black buck. They were famished and took meat hurriedly …” (II. 46.78-79). What do you say to that?

Answer: Yes, that is possible. It is also described in Mahabharata that the Pandavas killed deer for yajna. My only defence is that shastra has its own adhikaris – for whom it is written. Except for Srimad Bhagavatam everything else is part of varnashrama – with dharma,artha, kama and moksha as their purusarthas. If our purusartha is prema or priti, then SB is the authority and SB is very clear about meat eating (see verses 11.5.11,13). This is the Amala Purana, and it speaks of parama dharma free of kaitava [cheating] (SB 1.1.2). Therefore anything which contradicts SB has to be rejected.

There is a principle of bala-abala vicara [different significance] while considering shastric statement and SB is supreme. It overrides everything else.



Tulasi Tea

Question: I just had a consultation and one of the things the therapist prescribed was Tulasi tea. I recall having heard from a friend that Tulasi was not meant to be ingested. Can you clarify for us please?

Answer: He must be speaking from Vaishnava point of you. As Vaishnavas, we rever Tulasi as a great devotee of Krsna. We use it in His service. We can ingest it as prasada after it has been offered to Him. Tulasi leaves are put on top of any food offered to The Lord. They are also offered to His feet and these leaves can be ingested as prasad but we do not take tulasi leaves directly and ingest them. This is a Vaishnava principle.



Adressing Women

Question: There has been some controversy regarding addressing women as prabhus.The argument against doing so is from an etiquette perspective and maybe a more technical application to the word itself.  I’ve heard some argue against addressing women in this way by using the argument that prabhu is only used for the masculine gender.  Based on your understanding, both from a Vedic perspective and a grammatical one, would you say a women should not be addressed in such a manner or is it ok to do so.  I, for one, have and continue to address Vaisnavis of a high caliber in this manner.  I will not quote you on this one, I am just curious what others think about this issue.

Answer: In Vedic society there is no tradition of calling women prabhus; moreover, prabhu is used for masculine gender and sounds very odd to the ears of those who know it. It is like calling a woman ‘Sir’. But these days women are becoming more like men and if they like to be addressed as prabhus why shall I object? Let them be happy!

7 thoughts on “Meat Eating, Tulasi Tea, Women”

  1. My understanding is that generally Puranas do not give ALL details. They teach through examples. Hence we do not even seem any names of Gopis mentioned though they are the topmost model of bhakti. Also they are not written on the same item the events happened. Itihasas are record like daily diaries.The importance is on the lesson than these details on names , place etc.Hence I would like to know how much is SB an authority for Vidhi and nisedha kind of actvities(eating habits) which are more known from purva mimamsa or grya sutras etc.Ofcourse books alone (purana or veda) can not be enough to learn. one must follow a bhakta. To know bhakti or jnana , one knows it through a bhakta or jnani.Puranas explain about such bhaktas.

    What is the dharma taught in SB which is not kaitava? Is it sadhyo mukti? Essentially we see most exalted devotees too leave their body and enter Goloka, hence moxa still seems to be an “essential” by-product of bhakti. Is not body the last anartha? Is it that a devotee in material world can same give happiness to Lord like those in Spiritual worlds? If such proximity and intimacy is available in material world , there should not be any experience of pain and pleasure since there is no antahkarana to experience them.I would like to learn what is taught in SB which is anti-moxa.

    Following references(shown below from SB) indicate that meat eating is not totally prohibited.Do gaudiyas interpret the meat to be herbs?

    1. The context of 11th canto 5th chapter is to describe the condition of those who do not worship the Lord, and Karabhajana describes yugavatars.Before describing the conditions of non-worshippers(as explained in 11.5.11) ,in 11.5.2 varnashrama dharma is explained as a method to worship the lord .Hence is it that SB too talks about dharmarthakamamoxa(cheating dharmas) and bhakti or it talks exclusively about bhakti?

    2. In 5.7.6 , there is an example shown how bhakti is not jnana karma soonyam. King Ambarisha is shown as example . If Sri Rama’s diet included meat , is it not natural to think his forefather King Ambarisha also had this tradition? Also commentary to 11.5.11 mentions kula parampara praptadvad iti jneyam(these are indulged as part of family tradition)

    3.In 10.23.3 , it is mentioned the brahamans were performing satra yaga of type angirasa. Does not this yAga involve animal sacrfice?

    4.In 9.6.6 it is mentioned that King Ikshvaku performed sraddha with meat. It is commonly accepted that all kings listed in SB as anaya bhaktas did perform sraddha.

    5.In 10.24.9 kratu was supposedly performed in tradition by Nanda maharaj to indira. If I am right the arguments of Krishna was based on karma mimamsa and the only mistake was that Indira got annoyed. This kratu was later resumed.

    Finally if Sri Rama ate meat , does this not imply Sri Krishna too since essentially both are same or atleast Ones form is included in the other.

    1. 1. SB talks about all three but recommends bhakti.

      2. Unless I read the Sanskrit I cannot really comment, these slokas can be translated in so many different ways. The context has to be also considered. I am no expert on Rama. In general, anyone who is in goodness does not like to eat meat. It is no food for spiritual elevation.

      3. no

      4. They didn’t perform sraddha with meat.

      5. Thanks for your observation. As far as the present situation is concerned, no one is doing kratu, but they definitely worship Govardhana.

      6. I don’t understand your point. None of these verses said they eat meat.

      Please don’t confuse Rama for Krsna and vice versa, Krsna danced with gopis and Rama banished His own wife. They are the same, but they are not in the same mood, so you cannot assume anything like that.


    2. 2. Per commentary to 10.23.8 by sri vishvanath , it appears this was an animal sacrfice.

      Eating is contaminating from the initiation until the animal sacrifice but not otherwise. In the sautramani sacrifice eating is forbidden but not in other sacrifices.This indicates the animal was already killed.

      Please kindly clarify

    3. Response to point 3 :
      3. Per commentary to 10.23.8 by sri vishvanath , it appears this was an animal sacrfice.

      Eating is contaminating from the initiation until the animal sacrifice but not otherwise. In the sautramani sacrifice eating is forbidden but not in other sacrifices.This indicates the animal was already killed.

      Please kindly clarify

    4. The verse is spoken by the cowherd friends of Krishna who went to beg food from the Brahmanas of Mathura who were engaged in Yajna. Guessing that Brahmanas would refuse their request on the pretext that food of a yajamana or host who has taken diksha for yajna should not be eaten because it is contaminated, the boys are speaking the principle. The food is contaminated only after the yajamana has taken diksha until the animal is sacrificed, pashu-samstha, not after the animal has been sacrificed. Since the boys were begging the food and knew the principle, it implies that animal was already sacrificed and thus food was not impure anymore and could be given to them. The other principle is that food is always contaminated in the Sautramani yajna.
      I hope this makes it clear.
      Now you may raise the question that there was animal sacrifice and therefore they were eating meat. I think you are asking the question with that intention. Let me say that there is no mention of eating meat there. If u want to assume it that is your choice.
      Second point i want to make is that the word used here is pashu-samsthayah. It does not necessarily mean killing an animal. It could mean simply touching it. The word samstha means, standing, completing and also destroying. The word aalabhana has both the meanings – killing and touching. So Visvanatha Cakravarti has not clearly commented that an animal was killed. He has used two words, alabhana and samstha which can be interpreted either way. You have preferred to interpret it as ‘killing’ and that is fine but it can also be interpreted differently.

    5. Thank you for the time and esp for explaining the word samsthayah.

  2. In the srimad bhagavatam 6 canto chapter 4 verse 9 says:
    By nature’s arrangement, fruits and flowers are considered the food of insects and birds; grass and other legless living entities are meant to be the food of four-legged animals like cows and buffalo; animals that cannot use their front legs as hands are meant to be the food of animals like tigers, which have claws; and four-legged animals like deer and goats, as well as food grains, are meant to be the food of human beings.

    By nature’s law, or the arrangement of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, one kind of living entity is eatable by other living entities. As mentioned herein: the four-legged animals, as well as food grains, are eatables for human beings (dvi-padām).

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