Spirituality And Vegetarianism
Spiritual approach in life is a path of purity and positivity. It entails every aspect of life, which helps an individual to attain the purity of thoughts and purity in actions. Ashtaang-Yog of Patanjali describes three such qualities, which a spiritual seeker should develop, in this reference. These are Ahimsa (non-violence), Shouch (internal & external hygiene/purity) and Tap (austerity). It is in addition to the fourth dimension of spirituality i.e. identifying the “Self” with the world around. None of these spiritual qualities are attained by consuming non-vegetarian foods.
Thousands of years back, when there were no grains, non-vegetarianism was a physiological compulsion but in present age, non-vegetarian foods are consumed for physical pleasure, which is against the basic tenets of spiritual life. It indicates selective unkindness to the natural fauna, which is as important a creation of universe as the mankind. Therefore non-vegetarian eating habits take an individual away from identifying the ‘self’ with the creation, around.
Vegetarian diets also have an evolution link with the growth of human civilisation. Thousands of years back, when human being was not aware of agriculture and horticulture, then mankind was compelled to lead a nomadic life, in search of food & shelter. Accidental discovery of corn (grains), imparted stability to the human race. It is on account of the art & science of the cultivation of soil for growing different crops, that human race started settling in colonies. Hence, stable human settlement in colonies, which is important for the development of human race, could become possible only after the knowledge of agriculture and horticulture (science of vegetarian kingdom).
Scientific advancements also indicate role of vegetarian diets in the prevention of many cancers. Together with dairy products, vegetarian diets form a complete food source for a happy and prosperous human life and desired physical, mental growth. These are rich in fiber, low in calories/unit volume, carry low risk of obesity, reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases, cancers and osteoporosis.
Scientifically labelled deficiencies of vegetarian diets, which are said to be complemented by the non-vegetarian sources, also need further scientific scrutiny. We know of many human populations and animal species, which are vegetarian in habits and are able to live a successful, productive and purposeful life, without consuming non-vegetarian diets, during their whole life span. Hence the claims of dietary deficiencies on account of not consuming non-vegetarian diets and reflecting on the performance in life, need further scientific evaluation, by the experts.
Holistically, vegetarianism is more conducive for much desired environmental protection and protection of many animal species, which is seriously attempted through many legislative, voluntary and social efforts.
Spiritual approach in life has a lot to do with the vegetarian eating habits. Vegetarianism is deeply concerned with the purity of thoughts and action, which leads to self-realisation. Hence it is beyond the physical and physiological merits of vegetarian eating habits. Therefore this link needs a paradigm shift, through aggressive scientific investigation. It will also help in better growth of human race on this beautiful planet of ours. How critically we examine this issue, remains to be seen?
By Dr Dipak Shukla