[Advaita-l] Advaitic Foods - Vedic ritual involving animal-killing

Shrisha Rao shrao at nyx.net
Sat Dec 18 01:22:02 CST 2010

El dic 18, 2010, a las 10:03 a.m., V Subrahmanian escribió:

> I have always wondered what was the compelling reason for Sri Madhwacharya
> to introduce the practice of using a 'pishTa pashu', a flour-image of a
> pashu, in Vedic yAga?  

I don't think it is accurate to credit Madhva with introducing such practice, which is already sanctioned in Manu (V-37) and finds justification in the Mahabharata as well.

> Here is a source for this information of mine:

There is also a paper titled "To Kill or Not to Kill the Sacrificial Animal" by Jan Houben (1999) which you may want to look up (part of a volume that is available as a Google Book).  It is not really a type of literature I care much for, with its excessive use of footnotes (like some postmodernist literature, it has more text in the footnotes than in the main body, and is thus and otherwise too verbose and digressive), and also follows the pattern of modern Indology in citing mainly the secondary or tertiary works of other Indologists (thus raising opinions, misinterpretations, and surmises to the status of unquestioned facts) rather than the primary sources.  Still, one can look at this paper and learn some facts from it, even if one has little patience with the author's style or much agreement with his reasoning and conclusions.

> Is there any provision/sanction in the scripture to the effect that 'in Kali
> yuga jyotiShToma type of sacrifice should not involve a real animal but only
> an alternative like flour-made, etc.?' Has Sri Madhwacharya cited any such
> authority for the piShTa-pashu practice introduced by him?

I seem to recall that the पराशर-स्मृति gives a list of कलिवर्ज्‌्यs including meat-eating, which were allowed in other Yuga-s but are not permitted in the Kali Yuga.  The quote कलौ पराशरस्मृतेः (from the पराशर-स्मृति itself) is said to justify why these restrictions should be followed now, rather than adopting the more relaxed standards permitted in other स्मृतिs.  However, I do not believe this is unique to Madhva's tradition; even orthodox स्मार्तs accept this reasoning.

> In the Brahmasutra 'अशुद्धमिति चेन्न शब्दात्’ 3.1.25 Shankaracharya has
> argued that the Veda will not be teaching something that will bring sin to a
> performer of a vedic ritual, as ordained by the Veda.  And the vedic
> injunction involving an animal is not violative of the general rule: mA
> himsyAt sarvaa bhUtAni (no being should be injured).  He has said that the
> two operate like a general rule and an exception.  I do not know how the
> other Acharyas have commented on this sutra.

I believe Madhva takes the locus of this सूत्र as foodgrains (not animals) -- cooking hurts and kills the जीव who has taken birth as a seed, etc.  
(See "The Brahmasutras and Their Principal Commentaries" by B.N.K. Sharma.)  So is such cooking (in a ritual manner) unclean?  Not so, for it is sanctioned in the Veda; otherwise, when cooked without the proper observances, भुञ्जते ते त्वघं पापा ये पचन्त्यात्मकारणात.  It is of interest that the ancient Indian literature describes plants as subject to enjoyment and suffering (cf. the छान्दोग्य's पेपीयमानो मोदमानस्तिष्ठति, or the Puranic description of soul's suffering in a particularly gruesome hell as akin to the suffering of a plant that has just been pulled out by its roots), but the Western traditions have never done so.


Shrisha Rao 

> subrahmanian.v

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