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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Non-injury (Ahimsa) as the foundation of Dharma - Series 80 (Continued)

There are several important passages in this section. For example:

सर्वेषां यः सुहृन नित्यं सर्वेषां हिते रतः
कर्मणा मनसा वाचा धर्मं वेद जाजले

This means that being good in thought, words and actions towards all creatures is Dharma.

One passage has the same meaning as Sloka 6 of Iśa Upanishad:

सर्वभूतात्मभूतस्य सम्यग भूतानि पश्यतः

This means “one who sees oneself in all creatures and all creatures in oneself”.

Finally, Tuladhara condemns some of the practices listed in the earlier paragraph and says: “These are some of the wicked and dreadful practices that are current in this world. You follow them because they have been in practice by your ancestors from ancient times, and not because you have thought about them and they agree with your conscience. One should practice what one considers to be one's duty, guided by reasons, and not blindly follow the practices of the world”.

In Tuladhara’s own words (actually, Vyasa’s words):

केवलाचरितत्वात तु निपुनान नावबुध्यसे
कारणाद धर्मम अन्विच्छेन लॊकचरितं चरेत

Which means: “Do not blindly follow what everyone does; use your reason and think for yourself”.

Jajali has doubts about this advice and says: “if one were to follow your teachings, there will be no sacrifices and penance. If there are no sacrifices, the gods (devas) will not be pleased. If they are not pleased, there will be no rain. If there is no rain, there will be no grains and lives will suffer". Jajali calls Tuladhara an atheist for such teachings.

Tuladhara replies calmly that there are several problems with the way sacrifices and penance are done. His list can be applied at any period in history. He says that penance and sacrifices done as rituals without understanding the meaning and which harm creatures do not please the gods. For example, “How can sacrifice be done with wealth acquired by unrighteous means (not dharmic) to please gods? How can a sacrifice be called by that name when the sacrifice and the priest who conduct it are both acting with a desire for the results of that sacrifice? How can you harm and injure creatures and call it a sacrifice?” And, "there are also those who disregard the scriptures completely not based on critical thinking but on false reasoning (for convenience)". 

Th entire “sermon” by Tuladhara places knowledge and understanding as superior to rituals done with desire for the fruits of those rituals, rituals performed with ill-gotten wealth and rituals done without understanding the meaning.

Truth and self-restraint are emphasized. It says that real sacrifice is mental and calls those who sacrifice themselves mentally as “atmayagnin”.

Earlier in this section, animal sacrifice is condemned. So is any sacrifice performed for personal gains and show of pride. There is also a statement that meat, fish, grains and wine are not prescribed for sacrifice. Is this a rebuke to one form of tantric worship in which these four and sexual union (called five m’s or maamsa, matsya, mudra, madya and mithuna) are parts of the ritual?

At one section we find that items of importance during oblation (called ahuti in Sanskrit) are cow’s milk, curds and butter. Then comes a list which includes “the hair in its tail, hoofs and horns”. I do not know what it means. It may mean that clipping a part of the nail, or the horn or the hair in her tail will not hurt the animal and therefore acceptable. But, one interpreter says that water used to wash the tail and horns and the dust from the hoof are also acceptable.

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