Vegetarianism as per Manusmruti (a Dharma Sastra)

Information below contributed by Mayur Ahir as a comment in response to a question in a wrong thread : 

Question : by sos

I wanted to ask your opinion on an unrelated topic.

Why does hindusim prescribe vegetarianism? I know it is on basis of sattvic gunas and also ahimsa. Then what about all the animal products we use especially silk saris.. Aren’t we being hypocritical then?

What’s your take on this?

Answer by Mayur Ahir : 

It is said in Manusmruti,
अध्‍याय ५, श्‍लोक ५६
न मांसभक्षणे दोषो न मद्ये न च मैथुने ।
प्रवृत्तिरेषा भूतानां निवृत्तिस्‍तु महाफला ।। – मनुस्‍मृति,

Meaning: Since man has a natural inclination towards consuming alcohol, meat and copulation, having a desire for them does not amount to sin. But being free from the three is beneficial.

Another shloka in Manusmruti advises giving up all consumption of non-vegetarian food by looking at the origin of meat, the shackling and slaughter of animals for meat. All points elucidated in these shlokas are advice to Hindus by the religious texts.

All people associated with meat are destructive / vicious in nature: It has been said in Manusmruti,
अध्‍याय ५, श्‍लोक ५१
अनुमन्‍ता विशसिता निहन्‍ता क्रयविक्रयी ।
संस्‍कर्ता चोपहर्ता च खादकश्‍चेति घातका: ।। – मनुस्‍मृति

Meaning: One who promotes or supports non-vegetarianism, the butcher, one who sells or purchases meat, the one who cooks it, serves it or consumes it, are all destructive / vicious in nature.

A person who has a non-vegetarian diet does not attain happiness:
अध्‍याय ५, श्‍लोक ५४
य: अहिंसकानि भूतानि हिनस्‍ति आत्‍मसुखेच्‍छया ।
स जीवंश्‍च मृतश्‍चैव न क्‍वचित्‌ सुखमेधते ।। – मनुस्‍मृति

Meaning: One who slaughters non-violent, helpless animals for his own happiness never attains happiness when alive and even after death.

As against this, Manusmruti says about those not consuming non-vegetarian food:
अध्‍याय ५, श्‍लोक ४६
यो बंधनवधक्‍लेशान्‍प्राणिनां न चिकीर्षति ।
स सर्वस्‍य हितप्रेप्‍सु: सुखम्‌ अत्‍यंतम्‌ अश्‍नुते ।। – मनुस्‍मृति

Meaning: One who does not have a desire to shackle and slaughter animals, becomes the well-wisher of animals and acquires infinite happiness.

A non-vegetarian diet makes one susceptible to the effects of negative energies and also results in sin. For some reason if consuming non-vegetarian food is unavoidable. In this regard, a verse (shloka) says:

गोमूत्रं गोमयं चैव क्षीरं दधि घृत तथा ।
पंचरात्रं तदाहार: पंचगव्‍येन शुद्ध्‌यति ।।

Meaning: By consuming panchagavya, that is, a mixture of cow-urine, cow-dung, cow-milk, curd and ghee made from cow’s milk over five nights, the sin caused by consumption of non-vegetarian food is obliterated.

If it is not possible to perform this remedy, then maximum chanting of God’s Name can help in purification. This makes us realise that the Hindu Scriptures have given due thought to save man from any sins committed knowingly or unknowingly, thus leading him on the path of Spirituality.

Manusmruti also says that, if a person consumes an animal’s meat on Earth, then that animal will consume the person’s meat after his death / in the other world.

My answer : 

Neither I nor my Guruji wear silks because it causes avoidable pain to silkworms.

However, you kill germs when you bathe, take antibiotics and even just chew food with your saliva. Complete ahimsa is un-achievable.
I don’t think cotton plants or rice plants like being harvested or flowers like being plucked for pooja.

ahimsa is incorrectly translated as non-violence or non-injury. It means non-”torture”. So if some person hunts a deer and eats it without wastage and with respect to nature and divinity and without excess, then that person is being natural and need not be frowned upon. Perhaps you are wrong in assuming that hinduism prescribes vegetarianism. Modern gurus prescribe vegetarianism and it will definitely benefit the global climate… the same water can feed more vegetarians than non-vegetarians in an agriculture vs poultry/animal husbandry comparision.

That said, I am a vegetarian as my family and guruji and many of my friends are voluntarily embracing vegetarianism out of kindness to larger animals and concern for the climate.

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