Vegetarian Wisdom of the Sages
The Lord of Love, omnipresent,
dwells in the heart of every living creature.
Why, of all the regions on this planet have the lands of India emerged as the soil upon which vegetarian principles have thrived? Why has India remained the lone nation in which people forgo their own desires for the welfare of weaker beings, beings that possess no voice, power, great presence, or beauty? Why has it been solely the inhabitants of this nation who have expressed thoughts of brotherly love and compassion for all beings? Do not all people, of all nations, strive to be just and humane? Certainly!
The answer as to why the peoples of India have emerged as individuals manifesting unconditional humaneness and compassion for all beings can be found within foundational teachings of the great spiritual traditions of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. Such humane concern for all beings has become one of deeply rooted spiritual beliefs that have passed on from generation to generation to become fundamental to the value system of the entire nation. Amongst those of Hindu faith, this value system can be said to embody the essence of their recognition of the presence of God in all beings, in all life, and in all creation.
Hinduism’s vegetarian values have evolved over thousands of years from within its most fundamental teachings. These teachings are those embodying the realization that God has created all from Its very essence. All in existence is considered a manifestation of God. Therefore, all beings must be shown the same love, compassion, and mercy as would be shown God. These fundamental Hindu teachings evolved through a series of realizations.
GOD’S PRESENCE IN ALL BEINGS
God pervades the essence of all, hence God is present in all that exists
and in all that does not.
God is the past, present, and the future,
and is the essence within all beings and all life.
ALL LIFE IS ONE INTERCHANGING UNIT
All that exists has always existed and always will.
Each life is merely a step in the cyclic continuum of God’s plan.
All beings have always evolved from one life form into another,
and always will.
ONE’S ACTS OF CRUELTY IN THIS LIFE WILL RETURN TO THEM IN ANOTHER
One’s actions (Karma) direct the course of the future.
All actions have resultant effects.
One’s actions in one’s present life direct the quality and course of one’s future lives.
THE SOUL IN EVERY BEING IS THE ‘SOUL OF GOD’
God’s Universal Soul is present in the soul of all creation.
Hence God’s Soul is present in all cosmology,
all the earth, all humans, and all beings.
One must reach back in time to the early roots of the Hindu faith – the sacred Hindu texts – to understand the philosophies that emanated from these.
For it is by weaving together the threads that form the pattern of Hinduism’s sacred value system and have led to its spiritually oriented philosophy purporting non-violence and compassion toward all beings. These sacred values include worship of a God, recognition that such a God presents in many forms and many ways, and an essence, or a spark, of such a God as present in all. Hinduism’s sacred texts also recognize that all life is a continuum and within this continuum the soul within all beings is one with the immortal Soul of God.
They see the Self (of God) in every creature and all creatures in the Self (God).
Bhagavad Gita 6:29
Eknath Easwaran, The Upanishads (Tomales, California: Nilgri Press, 1987) 223.
Eknath Easwaran, The Bhagavad Gita (Tomales, California: Nilgri Press, 2001), 107.