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Eating, Animal Protection and Good Friday
Conversations with Hansadutta das
News24.com - 13 April 2006 - Vienna: Row over 'crucifix' protest A row erupted on Thursday over plans by animal
protectionists to symbolically "crucify" three activists with animal
masks in a Good Friday protest outside Vienna's St. Stephan's
Cathedral. The militant pro-animal group PETA said the activists would
be suspended from crosses with crowns of thorns on their heads. The
slogan of the protest action would be "We suffer and die for your sins
... The Archdiocese of Vienna said: "It's a completely unacceptable
falsification of the religious dimension of Good Friday." As
well-intentioned as the animal protectionists might be, the crucifixion
of Jesus Christ was not suited "to transport secondary messages."
Did Christ say what he meant and mean what he said?
Guest: I don't
think God intended us to take "Thou shalt not kill" so literally.
Hansadutta: What is the use of Jesus talking, if you are going to
interpret everything he says? He must be intelligent enough to say what
he means. Why should you assume that he did not mean what he said? It
is disrespectful to make Jesus the object of everyone else's opinion.
In that way the Bible becomes meaningless.
Everyone is very quick to interpret the Bible to suit his convenience.
The law cannot be interpreted by the citizens. If there is a
disagreement over some point of law, it goes before a judge, and then
he will decide. Similarly, the tenets of the Bible or the Bhagavad-gita
should be taken literally, strictly, as they are.
What is the harm in refraining from killing animals? Nonviolence is
very good. Even Saint Francis, who was one of the greatest saints in
the Christian Church, never killed animals. He was so saintly that he
would not even kill a bug. Nonviolence is a saintly quality. In the
modern age it has become standard practice to kill animals for food,
but it is not at all saintly; it is uncivilized and barbaric. You can't
create an animal, so why should you kill it?
The difference between a priest and a construction worker
of God includes love of everything, because everything comes from God.
If you love God, you must also love His creation. If you want to return
to your original state, living in harmony with all of God's creatures,
you have to stop killing them. Christ says, "Whatever you do unto the
least of my brothers, you do it unto me."
Guest: Some of the world's most renowned religious leaders eat meat. I
can think of one who eats veal. [Here referring
to the late Pope John Paul II.]
Hansadutta: Meat eating makes men vile. That makes them animal killers.
Guest: This seems awfully hard to take. I mean, these people are very
Hansadutta: What is the definition of holy? What makes them holy?
Guest: Well, they are kind.
Hansadutta: What makes them kind?
Guest: Everyone regards them as great gentlemen.
Hansadutta: What is a gentleman? Give me a definition.
Guest: A gentleman is a God-fearing man, a man who lives by high moral
Hansadutta: What is a God-fearing man? What are high moral standards?
Guest: A God-fearing man is someone who recognizes that God is the
Father, that God is great.
Hansadutta: How do we know that a man recognizes this? How shall we
know whether this person has recognized God? What are the symptoms?
Guest: He is always talking about God. Yesterday a great religious
leaders arrived on a nationwide tour, and he said that the youth of
America should learn to love God and avoid temptation.
Hansadutta: What is temptation? This so-called religious leader is
eating flesh and drinking alcohol. What are the temptations he is
Guest: He said that we should reject fads.
Hansadutta: What kind of fads?
Guest: We should reject the possibility of sinning.
Hansadutta: What is sin?
Guest: Sin is transgression of God's laws.
Hansadutta: God's law is "Thou shalt not kill". Does your religious
gentleman follow this law? Does he kill, or does he not kill? He is
eating animals that have to be mercilessly killed. Is he following the
law of God or not?
Guest: He is very concerned that young people are losing their feeling
for God and morality. It is a very deep concern that is shared by
virtually all religious leaders, priests, rabbis and born-again
Hansadutta: If they are so concerned, why don't they set the example?
If they have no idea what religion is, if they set no example, then how
can they expect the young people to become religious and moral? The
priest is smoking, drinking, and eating meat. What is the difference
between him and the layman working on a construction site, also getting
a salary, taking a vacation, smoking, drinking and eating meat?
Guest: I think you are demanding an awfully high standard.
Hansadutta: We are not demanding the standard; God is demanding it.
What is the difference between a priest and a construction worker?
Guest: The priest can point the way to the mercy of God.
Hansadutta: How can he do that if he hasn't got any mercy? If he is
eating animal flesh, where is his mercy? What is your idea of mercy?
Guest: Only Christ could be perfect.
Hansadutta: If only Christ could be perfect, then why did he say, "Be
ye perfect, even as your Father who is in heaven is perfect." (Matthew
5:48) Why don't these so-called followers of Christ become perfect
also? If the priest is as imperfect as we are, why should we follow
him? What benefit shall we get?
Guest: It is a long-standing Christian teaching that no one can be
perfect except Christ, and we just have to accept the blood of Christ.
How can we be perfect? We are all sinners.
Hansadutta: You can become perfect by surrendering to the perfect: the
bona fide spiritual master, who is God's representative. The Bible
confirms this: "The disciple is not above his master, but everyone that
is perfect shall be like his master." (Luke 6:40) If a teacher writes
"A", then all the student has to do is follow and write "A". By doing
so, the student will be perfect.
Guest: The mercy of God seems so great that even though we are sinners
we can be saved.
Hansadutta: What do you mean by "the mercy of God"?
Guest: We all make mistakes, but somehow God will wipe them out.
Hansadutta: Why should He? Suppose you get 20 speeding tickets. Is the
judge going to wipe them out? You have to pay. If you do not pay, you
will be arrested. Why should God wipe out your mistakes? You are here
to become perfect.
Guest: I was under the impression that we are here to manifest God's
Hansadutta: Do you know what love is? What is God's love? People talk
of God—"In God we trust"—but how can I say I trust God if I do not
follow His laws?
Guest: The Bible says, "Do not add to these teachings."
Hansadutta: I am not asking you to add to them. I am asking you to
follow them! The Bible says, "Thou shalt not kill," so do not kill
anything, not even the animals. The Bible says that meat eating,
intoxication, illicit sex and gambling are forbidden. There is no
sanction for these. Anyone who says there is sanction is mistaken. You
must stop these things; then only will there be a possibility of
understanding and loving God.
Stop Bringing Meat
Guest: I read in
the Bible that it is not what goes into a man's mouth, but what comes
out of it. In Krishna consciousness, it is said that one should not eat
meat, fish or eggs.
Hansadutta: The Bible also says that you should not kill.
Guest: But isn't that a contradiction in the Bible?
Hansadutta: What is the contradiction?
Guest: If you say, "Thou shalt not kill" means that we should not eat
meat, then why did Jesus say that it doesn't matter what goes into a
Hansadutta: You are quoting out of context. If you read the verse in
context, you will see that it has a completely different meaning. In
the Bible it says:
Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem, saying, "Why do
your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? They do not wash
their hands before they eat their bread." And calling to the throng, he
said to them, "Hear and understand! Not that which enters into the
mouth contaminates a man, but that which comes out of the mouth—this
contaminates a man." Now answering, Peter said to him, "Please explain
this parable to us." Then Jesus said, "Are you also ignorant of this
point? Do you not yet understand that everything that goes into the
mouth becomes the contents of the bowels and is finally evacuated into
the latrine? Now these things which come out of the mouth come out of
the heart, and these things contaminate a man. For out of the heart
come wicked reasonings, murders, adulteries, prostitutes, thefts, false
testimonies and calumnies. These things make a man impure. But eating
bread with unwashed hands makes no man impure." (Matthew 15:10-20)
He was not
talking about eating meat, but about eating bread with unwashed hands.
What goes into the stomach does indeed determine what comes out. The
book of Daniel tells the story of Daniel as a child. When
Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem, he ordered that the talented
children of the princely order should be raised in the palace and
taught the language of the Chaldeans so that in the future the King
could avail himself of their services. He specifically ordered that
they should be given a share of his own stock of meat and wine.
Amongst these children were the four great devotees of the Lord:
Daniel, Hananiah, Mishel and Azariah. Daniel was determined not to
defile himself by eating the meat and wine of the King; therefore he
requested his guardian not to feed him these things. But the guardian
replied taht if they did not eat it they would surely not be as robust
and healthy as the other children, and the King, seeing this, would
have him beheaded for his negligence in the matter. Then Daniel turned
to the servant who was directly responsible for feeding them and said,
"I beg you just give us a 10-day trial, and feed us vegetables and
water. After 10 days, compare our appearance with that of the other
children who have been eating the meat and drinking the wine, and as
you see, deal with us."
The guardian consented to their request. After 10 days, they appeared
healthier and better fed than all the children who had been eating meat
and drinking wine. Therfore the servant stopped bringing them meat and
wine, but fed them only vegetables.
The story ends by saying that God gave these four children knowledge
and skill in all learning and wisdom, and Daniel especially had
understanding in all visions and dreams. It is also said in the Old
Testament, "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean thing? Not
one." (Job 14:4)
The King will not Eat His Subjects
Guest: The Bible
says that God gave all animals to man to eat. What I'm referring to is
in the Old and New Testaments. I would like to know what you feel about
Hansadutta: Where do you find the word eat? In Genesis, on the
first page, it says that God gave to man dominion over all the beasts
and fowl of the earth. Dominion does not mean that they were given to
man to eat. The king has dominion over his subjects, but does that mean
he is going to eat them? The king's duty is to protect the citizens.
Similarly, the reference in the Bible to God giving man dominion over
the lower species of life means that it is man's business to give them
Guest: In Chapter 9 of Genesis it says, "Every moving thing that liveth
shall be meat for you; even as the green herb I have given you all
Hansadutta: According to the same book of Genesis, before man committed
sin, he dwelt happily in paradise and was strictly vegetarian; he ate
only fruits, seeds and herbs of the earth. After his fall, man lost his
right to paradise and became habituated to many kinds of vices,
including meat eating. If you want to return to paradise, you must do
this: after having been purified of all sin by accepting Christ, you
must show that you are actually pure by exemplifying life as it was in
paradise. Become a pure vegetarian like Adam. In the New Testament the
Apostle Paul has given numerous instructions regarding meat eating:
meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is
evil for that man who eateth with offence. It is good neither to eat
flesh, nor drink wine, nor anything whereby thy brother stumbleth, or
is offended, or is made weak. (Romans 14:20-21)
Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat not flesh
while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend. (I
All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient; all
things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. (I Corinthians
Paul says that
it is better not to eat meat. The showy acceptance of Christ does not
mean that one is so pure that he can do or eat whatever he likes,
because although all things may be lawful for him, they may not
necessarily be expedient or edifying. We must therefore always choose
that which is better, and Paul says that it is better not to eat meat
or drink wine. Many so-called Christians are not fully accepting the
teachings of the Bible. They only accept those parts which are
convenient for their sense enjoyment. On the other hand, the devotees
of Krishna follow all the teachings of Christ; therefore they are the