HAPPINESS THROUGH RIGHT CONSCIOUSNESS
The Vedas describe hew to have a clean body and consciousness, and how to act purely to have permanent peace, which is the root of happing. Such lasting peace can be had by choosing foods from the vegetable kingdom as the Lord commands, instead of from the moving entities. This is the real solution to world peace. The Vedas and most scriptures of the world command us to have respect for others, thus the Golden Rule.
In today’s modern world, people hold large scholarly gathering to propose ways to obtain world peace. Even though they spend fortunes, peace still remains beyond their grasp. Peace cannot be created by men, as some imaginative and idealistic people think. Peace lies only in living in accordance with the instructions of the Supreme Lord. Unless we follow the laws in the ancient scriptures, we can only dream about having peace. Those with a little common sense will reach the root cause of their problems, and carefully follow the God-written scriptures step by step and quickly obtain lasting peace.
The basic system of peace is explained in the Taitirya Upanisad in the following way:
ahara suddhau satva suddhih
satva suddhau dhruva smrtih
smrtih labdhe sarva granthinam vipra moksah iti
“By consuming clean and pure foods, one develops clean consciousness, which increases the finer brain tissues of memory that actually relieve one from all problems of life.”
KARMA AND REINCARNATION
Psalm 104 of the Bible shows us God’s, close identification with beasts, sea creatures and birds. He blesses them, as well as humans by saying, “Be fruitful and multiply (Gen. 1:22).” Although statements by God exist regarding equal treatment, for all moving entities, many Western philosophers, including Aristotle, believed that an animal’s soul is not immortal. He conjectured that there are two types of souls, mortal and immortal. Nowhere in the can we find such a statement.
Any creature that has the six signs of life—birth, growth, producing by-products, experiencing happiness and distres, dwindling and death—has a soul. The Vedas say, “ma himsyat sartra bhutani, do not kill any category of living entity.” Yet Augustine, a recognized Western philosopher, argued, “Since animals have no soul, they are meant for our use, dead or alive. It only remains for us to apply the commandment, ‘Thou shall not kill’ to man alone, oneself and others.” (The City of God). Such statements became accepted within Christian Doctrine. Killing any creature means forcefully removing its lawful right to live.
The Vedas say that the soul enters the body at the time of conception. Thomas Aquinas, a philosopher, argued that the soul is created along with the body, and then becomes mortal or immortal. Aquinas’ theory was accepted, and became the of¬ficial doctrine of the Catholic Church. Again, where is the reasoning here? We know that God breathed life into man, but this does not imply that the soul did not pre-exist. The Vedas tell us that the Lord stores up the souls in a deep sleep state until He is ready to manifest them. Aquinas believed that each “human soul” is created one at a time, lives his life, and at death is saved or damned eternally. For Aquinas there was no possibility for the reincarnation of the soul. By denying the process of reincarnation and its eternity, such philosophers as Aquinas and Augustine made it difficult for people to understand the Supreme Justice of God. Unless there is a conse¬quence experienced from good and evil actions, how can there be any justice in this world? Transmigration of the soul into good or bad status of life, or into higher or lower births, depend on one’s good or evil acts in one’s prior life. If there is no transmigration of the soul in this creation, then where is the account for being born into good fortune or into misfortune? We see so many people who are born rich, beautiful, healthy and pious and others who are born poor, deformed, ignorant and impious. How can such situations be possible if the soul lives for a finite time or just one life? This has to be the result of one’s previous actions.
The truth of the eternity of the soul is found in the timeless Vedic literatures of India that prove the law of Karma. Lord Krsna told His disciple Arjuna, “There was never a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor all these kings; nor will there ever be a time when we do- not exist.” (The Song of God, 2.12). The soul actually passes through different bodies, according to its Karma, as air passes through a foul or fragrant place carrying its smell. Similarly, the soul, when it performs evil acts brings low birth or experiences misfortune. When it acts according to the desire of the Lord, it experiences lasting happiness and has birth in heavenly planets. This is practical, and fits in with the day-to-day experiences of every living being.
However, because Western culture does not accept the transmigration the soul, they limit the power of God and His mercy. Western scholars say that at death, you either go to heaven or hell, or cease to exist forever. On the contrary, the Vedas describe the Lord as all merciful, and He loves His created beings. But those who do not follow His desires are punished by Him, as a disobedient son is punished by the father. The father does not hate his son; therefore, his punishment is to correct the child. But if the child is able to behave himself from the beginning and receive his father’s blessings, then why should the child misbehave and get punished? Therefore, following the Vedic system of purification results in unlimited happiness in this life.
Actually, the strict vegetarian foods that are explained in the scriptures are the foods that keep our consciousness clean and increase the brain tissues. Problems in life begin when our consciousness is soiled. Lord Krsna also speaks in The Song of God (Bhagavad Gita) regarding foods that are in the mode of goodness, passion and ignorance. Whatever quality of nature one is in, that is the quality of food he appreciates. But it is important that people change their diet to the most superior quality of food in order to be happy.
The Bhagavad Gita was spoken five thousand years ago by the Lord Himself in India where He said:
ayu satva vvala arogya sukha priti vivardhanah
rasyah snigdhah sthira hrdya aharah satvika priyah
(The Song of God, 17.8)
“Foods which increase the duration, of life, purify one’s existence, give strength, health, happiness, satisfaction, and are tasty, enduring and pleasing to the heart are very dear to persons in the mode of goodness.”
katvamla lavanaty usna tiksna ruksa vidahinah
ahara rajasasyesta duhkha sokamaya pradah
(The Song of God, 17.9)
“Foods that are very bitter, sour, salty, steamy hot, very pungent, dry or very spicy, cause distress, lamentation, and disease. They are dear to those who are in the mode of passion.”
yata-yamam gata-rasam puti paryusitam ca yat
ucchistam api camedyam bhojanam tamasa priyam
(The Song of God, 17.10)
“Food cooked three hours before being eaten, which is tasteless, stale, putrid, or untouchable, as well as leftovers from others is food eaten by people in the mode of ignorance.”
satvam sukhe sanjayanti rajah karmani bharata
jnanam avrtya tu tamah pramade sanjaty uta
(The Song of God, 14.9)
“Goodness attaches one to happiness, passion to the fruits of action, and ignorance, by covering one’s knowledge, attaches one to madness.”
The root of happiness is peace, as we have previously discussed, which can only be obtained by living in goodness, and eating the pure foods. But if one consumes foods of passion or ignorance, then one only dreams about having peace. As it is generally said, “You are what you eat.” Therefore, for those who desire peace, the Lord recommends in the Gita to at least become vegetarian so a glimpse of peace can be experienced.
STATUS OF MEAT-EATERS
One may ask, if the vegetarians are classified in goodness, passion and ignorance then- what is the classification of those who are non-vegetarians in this world? According to the Vedas, they are outside classification. Human beings are designed by God to eat the same quality of foods as He accepts. In the Bible it is said, “Man is made in the image of God.” It signifies that whatever food is accepted by God is the food to be eaten by man. The category of food the Lord accepts to eat is stated in the ancient scriptures of India, where the Lord Says:
patram puspam phalam toyam yo me bhaktya prayacchati
tad aham bhakty-upahrtarm asnami prayatatmanah
(The Song of God, 9.26)
“One who offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, a fruit, or water—I accept it.”
Also in the Vedas it is explained that foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains and beans, milk products, nuts, salt and sugar, if mixed in proper proportion, are accepted by the Lord, and they increase longevity, health and happiness. These foods are in the quality of goodness. The Lord does not accept foods in passion or ignorance, let alone non-vegetarian. It is a fact that vegetarians are seen to be less agitated, less frustrated and less diseased than carnivores. But it is rare for non-vegetarians to be happy, either in life or after death. As the cream of the ancient Indian scriptures says:
ye tvanevam vido ‘santah stabdhah sad abhimaninah
pasun druhyanti vistrabdhah pretya khadanti te ca tan
(Srimad Bhagavatam, 15.5.14)
“Those who are against the Supreme Personality of God or are very proud, or those who are in ignorance of the intricacies of Vedic religious principles think themselves as very advanced, and kill animals without any hesitation to eat them. However, they do not know that the same animals will eat them on their way to hell as soon as they die.”
Therefore, according to the Vedic standard, these people are considered below any natural category of law and order in the material nature. Thus, they are dealt a severe penalty. One must be very careful not to fall into this category.
THE REACTION OF EATING MEAT
Non-vegetarian food is defined by the greatly realized souls of India. Such great souls could directly converse with God. The analysis goes the following way:
mamsa bhaksayitamutra yasya mamsam ihadmyaham
etat mamsasya mamsatvam pravadanti manisinah
“Meat is called Mamsah in the ancient Sanskrit language of India. Breaking this word down we have ‘mam’ meaning ‘me’ and ‘sah’ meaning ‘with him’. So I am eating him with me. This means anyone who eats meat will be eaten by the killed creature after his death. This is the exact definition of the word ‘meat’ in the Sanskrit language.”
If such is the case, that a meat-eater will be consumed by the animal he eats, then every thoughtful person needs to consider becoming a vegetarian.
Vegetarians are not involved in violence because most of their edibles are obtained from plants. When a non-vegetarian eats meat, an animal had to experience great pain and suffering to be used for food Killing an animal means removing a conscious being’s right to live in that body. The Lord, who gave birth to the killed animal, had decided the particular soul to live in that body for a set amount of time and die a natural death. The very first law of the Bible indicates that people should be vegetarians. “And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat (Genesis, 1.29).” Every major religion of the world mandates that we must not cause any sorrow to any living creatures.
When an animal is killed untimely for obtaining meat, it creates disaster to the body, mind, intelligence and soul of the person eating this meat. The soul in each body is permanent and changes its physical body according to its Karma. For example, cars, jeeps and trucks are different in size and shape, yet each is operated by a human. Similarly, each living entity, which may seem externally different, has one and the same type of soul within. When we take away the rights of a soul, we commit a crime in the eyes of the Almighty Lord.
ARE VEGETARIANS INVOLVED IN KILLING?
Each person, as an intelligent human being, has questions in his mind. The law of human nature is that no one wants to be found guilty of having faults. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth; if you find fault in me I will find them in you. So naturally, non-vegetarians will find some fault in vege¬tarians. If the meat-eater is held accountable for killing animals, then surely the vegetarian is held accountable for killing plants. Vegetables, such as spinach and potatoes, have life too. Whether someone steals one dollar or millions of dollars, each is called a thief, and is punishable. Similarly, the killer of a small or big living entity involves one in consequence and punishment. If this is the case, can anyone, vegetarian or non-vegetarian, claim to be better than the other?
It is a fact that plants have the six symptoms of life, which are birth, growth, experiencing pain and pleasure, producing by-products, dwindling and death; therefore, they also have souls. If this is the case, then vegetarians must also experience consequences like meat-eaters. No one in this creation, either a small or big sinner, is free from punishment for his unwanted actions. The court of the Supreme Lord does not discriminate, for He sees everyone in His creation with an equal vision. As the Lord says in the Gita:
samo ‘ham sarva-bhutesu na me dvesyo ‘sti na priyah
ye bhajanti tu mam bhaktya mayi te tuse capi aham
(The Song of God, 9.29)
“Being equally disposed towards everyone, I neither envy nor admire anyone. But those who render devotional service unto Me are attached to Me, and I to them.”
To maintain one’s physical existence in this world, one has to kill and consume other living entities. Unless one eats other living entities, it is practically impossible to maintain life. This is the law of nature. As the ancient Vedic literature states:
ahastani sahastranam apadani catus-padam
phalguni tatra mahatam jivo jivasya jivanam
(Srimad Bhagavatam, 1.13.47)
“Those who do not have hands are food for those who have hands; those who have no legs are food for the four-legged. The weak are the subsistence of the strong, in this way one living entity is the food for another.”
Even though it is the law, that one living entity subsists on another living entity, there is also a law of good sense for human beings to obey. Such scriptural laws of discrimination are impossible for the animals to follow. A tiger may attack, kill and eat a weaker animal or a human being, yet human beings have to act in certain ethical ways for their peaceful existence. Exploitation of the weaker living entity by the stronger is natural for existence. It cannot be checked by any official means except by the practice of spiritual regulations, stated in the Vedic scriptures. According to Vedic laws, it is not right for human beings to kill and eat the weaker animals, while tea¬ching other people about peaceful coexistence. This action is hypocritical. If humans do not allow animals to exist peacefully, then how can they themselves expect peace in human society? For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Therefore, it is necessary for humans to abide by the laws of God expounded in the ancient scriptures.
People ask, if vegetarians are also involved in killing, then why do we speak against eating meat? The answer is that when something is recommended by the authority, even though it involves killing, it becomes justified. The Supreme Lord is the Supreme Authority in all cases and situations. The Lord said, “If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit, or water—I accept it.” This means the Lord is vegetarian and gives a license to humans to be vegetarian. If human beings follow this rule of the Lord, they remain free from the consequences of killing. Take the example of a soldier on the battlefield. In following the orders of his commander, he kills many people from the opposing side, and he is rewarded for it. However, if the same soldier comes home on vacation, has a disagreement with somebody and kills that person because he became angry, he gets punished for his act. Even though killing is involved in both cases, the two separate acts do not carry the same results. In the first case he followed the orders of his commander, and in the second case he followed his own whims; therefore, he is rewarded and punished respectively. Similarly, the Supreme Lord is the chief director of creation. Every soul has come from Him; He is the owner of everyone and everything. If we follow what He says, we get rewarded with lasting happiness and liberation. Whimsical acts, such as breaking the laws of the Lord, bring punishment. Therefore, everyone should abide by the laws of God that are taught in the Vedic scriptures. Whatever category of food the Lord eats should be offered unto Him and eaten by humans. Any other food is considered to be contaminated and brings consequences.
ETHICAL LAW IN KILLING
One may question, didn’t God give man dominion over the animals (Gen.1.26)? Yes, but later He also forbade their use for food (Gen. l.29). Do not confuse the terms dominion and domination. Dominion means guardianship, not killing or exploiting. It is clearly an injustice to raise and breed animals solely for meat. Each year, billions of animals and birds are being killed for food. While most animals are killed in the slaughterhouses, many are killed for so-called sports, such as in games like cock fights. While killing the poor animals, people don’t consider the animals’ pain. Even though Lord Jesus said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” many have no feelings for the animals’ suffering. In Vedic civilization also it is said, “atmavat sarva bhutesu yah pasyati sa panditah, in this world, those who see other’s pain and pleasure as their own pain and pleasure are said to be wise.” Even though animals and birds do not speak our language, they do scream with pain while they are being killed. Every creature that moves on this planet is a child of God; therefore, each civilized man must protect them. Having pleasure at the cost of others’ lives is a crime in the Karmic law. “He who kills an ox is like he who kills a man.” (Isaiah, 66.3). No one can hide his actions from the wide eyes of the Lord. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Finding such ethical reasons, many great people of this world became attracted to vegetarianism. If there is any consequence suffered by the vegetarian, that consequence is considered to be the least one of all.
ANCIENT VEDIC PHILOSOPHY
The Vedic scriptures of India date even before the time of Buddhism. Not only do these scriptures forbid eating meat, Vedic civilization also requires a life for a life. One cannot even harm an ant without being held responsible for its harm or death. The scriptures say that if one cannot create a creature from nothing, one should not dare kill any living entity. In Vedic civilization, the word ‘kill’ applies to every creature of this world, not just to humans alone. Therefore, the foundation of nonviolence and vegetarianism is strongly stressed for hunan beings.
It is unreasonable to say that, because Jesus ate fish, we can kill and eat fish. One must remember that Jesus also created many fish. Therefore, unless we have the power to create, we cannot be involved in killing. One may argue that the commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” of the Bible is meant for man and not for animals. This argument became accepted because Augustine distinguished between the soul of man and the soul of animals. Killing applies to any living thing as the dictionary defines the word. It is not for us to misinterpret the obvious meaning. The Vedic standard is that, for every creature killed by a human that person must also forfeit his life, because in the eyes of God each of His creatures has an equal value. If one would simply observe an animal, either one’s own pet or an animal in the zoo, he will see that it behaves almost like a human being. It eats, sleeps, mates, takes care of its offspring, plays, fights, thinks, feels, wills and responds to calls. Such universal equality is found in animals. However, because the animals’ intelligence and emotions are not as developed as those of a human being, the meat-eater justifies killing animals for food. Should we kill retarded people or young children because they are not fully developed? Our Spiritual Master Srila Prabhupada once stated, “God is considered to be the Supreme Father of every living entity. Even though the father has many children, some may be intelligent and others may not be. But, if an intelligent son tells his father, ‘My brother is not very intelligent; let me kill him,’ will the father agree? Surely not. Similarly, if God is the Supreme Father, why should He sanction the killing of animals who are also His sons?” Actually, if we do not improve ourselves and become vegetarian, then cannibalism will be the next step. We even hear of stories of cannibalism in modern society.
It must be understood that every living creature is the son of the Supreme Lord, and He does not tolerate even an ant being killed. One has to pay for the unnecessary pain caused to others. Therefore, to be free from the consequences of one’s actions, one must be very kind-hearted to every moving creature on earth. Lord Krsna says in the Bhagavad Gita. “One who is kindhearted, friendly and not envious of any living entity, who is unattached to family ties, who is free from the false ego and equipoised in happiness and distress, who is self-satisfied and constantly engaged in devotional service, whose senses are under control, and whose mind and intelligence are dedicated to Me—such a devotee is very dear to Me.” (The Song of God, 12.13-14)
In the same Bhagavad Gita Lord Krsna declares that the soul is present in the form of consciousness in every living being. The vital force which is the same in quality in every living being is superior to the matter composed in the temporary gross body. This soul, or the owner of the gross body, transmigrates into another body after death, just as a person changes apartments when the lease expires. This process of transmigration is applied to every living being, life after life. As Lord Krsna says:
vasamsi jirnani yatha vihaya navani grhnati nari’ parani
tatha sarirani vihaya jirnany anyani samyati navani dehi
(The Song of God, 2.22)
“Just as a person gives up old and worn-out garments for new ones, similarly, the soul, after giving up the old body, accepts a new body.”
This same imperishable soul sometimes, according to his deeds, changes his body into lower or higher species of life. It is the Lord who decides, according to one’s present Karma, one’s next body from the six categories of 8,400,000 bodies. Scientists have not yet discovered all of them. As one of the ancient Vedic scriptures, Garuda Purana states:
jalajanava-laksani sthavarahl laksa-vimsati
krmayoh rudra-samksakah paksinam dasa-laksanam
trimsa laksani pasavah catur-laksani-manavah
“There are 900,000 categories of bodies under water; 2,000,000 kinds of bodies in the plant world; 1,100,000 kinds of bodies in the insect and reptile world; 1,000,000 kinds of bodies in the bird kingdom; 3,000,000 kinds of bodies in the animal kingdom and there are 400,000 kinds of bodies in the human kingdom.”
We cannot choose our next body. Only the Lord chooses our next destiny according to our present activities. Unless somebody is connected to a qualified Spiritual Master, his soul restlessly continues to journey from one body to another through the above varieties of bodies until it is liberated. It all depends on the mental state of the living being while on his death bed. As the Lord says to His disciple Arjuna in the Gita:
yam yam vapi smaran bhavam tyajaty ante kaleveram
tam tam evaiti kaunteya sada tad-bhava-bhavita
(The Song of God, 8.6)
“Whatever thoughts one has at the time of quitting the body, to that state one goes without fail. Whatever thoughts abound, they are remembered at the end.”
The mind is like a television screen which displays its complete recorded activities at the time of death. At the time of death, whatever state of mind one is in, that state carries one into a particular physical body in his next life. Our mind constantly records our thoughts and desires and thus leads us to a particular body. Therefore, the body we presently occupy is the accurate state of our mind at the time of our last death. The Lord also confirms this in the Gita thus:
mamaivamso jiva-loke jiva-bhutah sanatanah
manah sast hanindriyani prakrti-sthani karsati
(The Song of God, 15.7)
“All living entities are My eternal fragmental parts. Due to being conditioned by material nature, they are strug¬gling very hard with the six senses, which include the mind.”
The immortal soul does not end when the body dies, as some say. It even carries its trained senses and mind with it to its next physical body. As the Lord says in the Gita:
sariram yad avapnoti yac capy utkramatisvarah
grhitvaitani samyati vayur gandhan ivasayat
(The Song of God, 15.8)
“When the master of the body, the spirit soul, changes from one body to another, he carries all these senses and the mind with him, as the air carries the aroma from a flower.”
srotram caksuh sparsanam ca rasanam ghranam eva ca
adhisthayam manas ca yam visayan upasevate
(The Song of God, 15.9)
“Upon accepting another gross body, the living entity develops suitable ears, eyes, touch, tongue, and nose, which center around the mind for sense enjoyment.”
Because they are not able to discriminate, the lower species only ascend towards higher births after their death. However, due to their knowledge of matter and spirit and power to choose between good and bad, human beings risk falling into the lower species of life if they do not properly prepare spiritually. The Law of Karma is the definite arrangement by God for a human being winch unfailingly fulfills the present mentality of a person. If a person remains ignorant of his human goals, he descends into the animal kingdom. As Lord Krsna says in the Gita:
urdhvam gacchanti satva-stha madhye tisthanti rajasah
jaghanya-guna-vrtti-stha adho gacchanti tamasah
(The Song of God, 14.18)
“Those situated in goodness go upwards to the heavenly planets; those in the mode of passion remain on the earthly planet; and those in the mode of ignorance go down to the hellish planets.”
If one says, “I don’t care; even if I am born as an animal, bird or plant, I will enjoy everything that gives me pleasure in this life,” this will also lead him to unhappiness in this present life, because the laws of material nature are such that everything must change in due course. Therefore, every intelligent person is advised to prepare himself or herself for the present as well as the future by accepting a Spiritual Master, and in this way avoid a negative situation.