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     > Indian Philosophy and Nonviolence

Indian Philosophy and Nonviolence

The Vedic Scriptures of India, which predate Buddhism, also stress nonviolence as the ethical foundation of vegetarianism. The Manu-samhita, the ancient Indian code of law, states, "Meat can never be obtained without injury to living creatures, and injury to sentient beings is detrimental to the attainment of heavenly bliss; let him therefore shun the use of meat." In another section, the Manu-samhita warns, "Having well considered the disgusting origin if flesh and the cruelty of fettering and slaying of corporeal beings, let him entirely abstain from eating flesh."

In recent years the Hare Krishna movement has introduced these ethical considerations around the world. Srila Prabhupada, the movement's founder-acarya (spiritual master), once stated, "In the Manu-samhita the concept of a life for a life is sanctioned, and it is actually observed throughout the world. Similarly, there are other laws which state that one cannot even kill an ant without being responsible. Since we cannot create, we have no right to kill any living entity, and therefore man-made laws that distinguish between killing a man and killing an animal are imperfect ... According to the laws of God, killing an animal is as punishable as killing a man. Those who draw distinctions between the two are concocting their own laws. Even in the Ten Commandments it is prescribed, 'Thou shalt not kill.' This is a perfect law, but by discriminating and speculating men distort it. 'I shall not kill man, but I shall kill animals.' In this way people cheat themselves and inflict suffering on themselves and others."

Emphasizing the Vedic conception of the unity of all life, Srila Prabhupada then stated, "Everyone is God's creature, although in different bodies or dresses. God is considered the one supreme father. A father may have many children, and some may be intelligent and others not very intelligent, but if an intelligent son tells his father, 'My brother is not very intelligent; let me kill him,' will the father agree? ... Similarly, if God is the supreme father, why should He sanction the killing of animals who are also His sons?"

Author: Drew Danaher (

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