The beef ban in certain Indian states have created quite a hullabaloo, especially in the media. Witha lot of to and fro going on between various sections of society, it’s quite confusing trying to figure what the true position in Hinduism is. Here’s an interesting take from Sadhguru, in a recent interview to the Economic Times, and another video snippet below in an interview to CNN-IBN.
Question: You recently said, “For me, food is food, there is nothing religious about it. And my sense is we can eat anything that our system can take in naturally…” Does that stand extend to beef too? If so, what do you think about the blanket ban on cow slaughter, beef, et al in Maharashtra and Haryana?
Sadhguru: Beef ban is not against any religion. First thing I would say is ban the ban. Banning is not the answer, education is the answer. First of all, as food, beef is not good to eat. Every nation, every doctor in the planet is telling you that. Americans are giving up beef, turning to vegetarianism. We have been vegetarians for thousands of years. Now we are turning to beef. Do we want to go through all the health problems they underwent, do we want to spend $3 billion on our health bill. Do we want to go in that direction? FDA is changing its rules. But we want to go in that way. Definitely it is not a wise thing to do.
In our country, we believe if there is an animal that has any emotions in it, you must not consume it. A cow can love you, shed tears for you, just like humans. It is not about the cow, it’s about any animal that shows human emotions. Can you cut up and your dog and eat it? We have a pastoral culture where before industrialisation happened, 90% people were involved in agriculture. Cow is not just an animal. It is part of the family. You drink the cow’s milk. Children are taught cow is like a second mother. It is part of the culture. So when you cut the cow and eat it, it is aesthetically impossible in the Indian mind.
When somebody is eating, you don’t mind. But now it is becoming a major business. India is exporting beef, which I don’t agree with. India should not export beef. If someone is eating beef, I may want to educate him about the harmful effects of eating it. But it’s not for the government or me to tell him not to. About 80% of the country’s sentiment you ignore and you kill millions of cows and export beef, it is not acceptable. Now you want to mix religion even into food? You can’t turn everything into a majority versus minority argument. This is a game being played by certain people, which is unnecessary.
Sadhguru: The legislation to ban beef in Maharashtra was already there and was just waiting for the President’s approval. The President has grown up in the Congress and if he thinks it is right, why are you going after the Central government? What is the logic?
Question: Is it that simple, because states where BJP was never in power, the party forms a government there and announces a beef ban…
Question: In Haryana?
Sadhguru: The law is not there yet. They have announced it but it has to go through the assembly. The law was there much before the BJP came to power. The government and the PM represent the nation now. Not one word he has said that he represents a certain religion. I am not saying this to protect him, but if you try to damage fundamental institutions that make a nation by questioning certain things and casting aspersions on them you will weaken the country and make it a banana republic.
Democracy is built by institutions. If you want to weaken every institution because someone created a bogie, the nation will be weakened. The PM too is an institution. If he says all of you need to be Hindu, we can have him out. But a rule that has always been there gets President’s approval…It was passed by the assembly to please the majority and kept it waiting there to please the minority. This is not the way to run a nation. Stop this kind of managing the nation. Be clear of what you want to do.
There is no beef in many villages, not by law but by norm. Even minorities respect and appreciate that sentiment. If someone wants to eat it, he gets it and quietly eats it. Others know that too but they don’t bother because it is their home. But if you are going to cut the cow in the street and hang it in front of my house, it is not acceptable for me, because my aesthetics and emotions don’t go with it. They also respect that. But now you are making it, you have to eat beef otherwise you are not universal or secular. You want me to be eating beef to be secular? You cannot question the country’s secular credentials or mine. When no country on the planet had thought about democracy, kings here were practising democracy.
Except tyrants, kings would consult public on decisions. Democracy and secularism are not new to us. We are a land without religion. Each person can follow whatever faith he wants as long as he doesn’t rub it into me. But now you are rubbing it into me. I am poor and you give me food, say give up your God, come to my God. This is happening in a crude way. This is about the nation, not about this group or people or that group. My concern is 50 million people in this nation have no access to nutrition. In the name of my god and your god, you are destroying everything. Freedom has to become a living possibility. The PM comes from a poor background. When you are poor, what matters is what goes into a belly. Hunger is not a joke. Which heaven I will go to is not even of consequence.