Saturday, October 25, 2008


Can humanity dispel its animal nature?
Mr. Bertram Perera has posed the above question in the Opinion/Letters page of "The Island" of October 16, 2008.

My answer to his query is a definite ‘Yes’ and I have no doubt that it would be the same answer from all right thinking Buddhists and Hindus the world over.

All long established religions, Buddhism, Saivism, Brahminism and Jainism - these four being the off-shoots of Hinduism - and also Zoroastrianism, have advocated abstinence from flesh food. Some even regard Hinduism as the ‘mother’ of all the other religions as no one seems to know for certain how and when it originated.

So if there is to be abstinence from flesh food according to these religions, it is crystal clear that there should be no ‘killing’ or ‘slaughter’ of animals (which includes fish - a cold blooded animal living wholly in water) for food.

Vegetarianism is a direct consequence to the adherence of ‘Ahimsa’ (compassion) and ‘Metta’ (loving kindness) advocated by both Buddhism and Hinduism.

I disagree totally with Mr. Bertram Perera that "Man, the animal, has no choice but to remain an omnivore": I would rather state that Man has every choice to be a herbivore like, for example, the elephant, (the strongest animal on earth), the horse (one of the fastest animals), the bull/cow, the camel, the deer, the monkey etc. if he has ‘reverence’ for animal life.

I agree with Mr. Perera that "Man’s superior intellectual powers are dependent on the food he consumes", but this does not imply that he should depend on a carnivorous or omnivorous diet. He need not be that to be a world class cricketer or an Olympic champion as revealed for example by Sachin Tendulkar (cricket) and Martina Navratilova (tennis) and Vassily Jirov, former Olympic (1996) Cruiser weight boxing champion.

Amongst other notable vegetarians the following may be cited:

Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Sir Isac Netwon, Plato, Pyhthogoras, George Bernard Shaw, Shakespeare, Mahatma Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore, Aristotle, Seneca, Socrates Rajendra Prasad (the first President of Independent India), Abdul Khalam (a Muslim), the immediate past President of India and (Sir) Paul and (late) Linda Mc Cartney.

Even today, the misconception prevails amongst many, that certain people have special nutritional requirements and may have to eat meat, but this is not correct. Being a medical man myself, I would like to categorically state that medical opinion is is currently of the view that there is nothing more nutritious that could be obtained from a carnivorous (flesh) diet than what could be obtained from a well chosen lacto-vegetarian diet and I might add that this is accepted by the World Health Organization (WHO) as well as the American Medical Association (AMA).

Let me conclude by quoting Dr. Koshalya Walli: " Meat can never be obtained without injuring creatures and so by injuring sentient beings meat eating is detrimental to heavenly bliss and should therefore be shunned. One should consider the disgusting origins of flesh and the cruelty of slaying sentient beings and abstain from flesh eating.

He, who permits the slaughter of animals, he who cuts up, kills, buys, sells, serves it up and eats, everyone is a slayer of animals.

Meat cannot be obtained from straw or stone. It can be obtained only by slaughtering a creature, hence meat is not to be eaten."

So let us "Live and Let Live"

May All Beings Be Well and Happy!

Prof. M. Sivasuriya
Colombo 8


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