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Re: Re: Re: Sikh and Meat
EYE WITNESS ACCOUNTS OF EUROPEAN TRAVELLERS OF SIKH DIET DURING THE 18TH AND 19TH CENTURY
There are a number of eyewitness accounts from European travellers as to t the eating habits of Sikhs. Although there is no prohibition on Sikhs for eating beef, it is clear that Sikhs as a mark of respect for their Hindu neighbours did not partake in eating beef:
John Griffiths writes in February 17th 1794
The Seiks receive Proselytes of almost every Cast, a point in which they differ most materially from the Hindoos. To initiate Mohammedans into their mysteries, they prepare a Dish of Hogs legs, which the Converts are obliged to partake of, previous to admission??????..They are not prohibited the use of Animal food of any kind, excepting Beef, which they are rigidly scrupulous in abstaining from.
William Francklin in his writing about Mr George Thomas 1805 writes
The seiks are remarkably fond of the flesh of the jungle hog, which they kill in chase: this food is allowable by their law. They likewise eat of mutton and fish; but these being unlawful the Brahmins will not partake, leaving those who chose to transgress their institutes to answer for themselves.
It is clear from the above that there is a clear distinction between Sikhs (meat eaters), and those who chose to follow Brahmanical practices (Vegetarians), however there appears to be no dispute over this issue as people are allowed to decide for themselves.
The following is an extract from an officer in the Bengal Army and is taken from the Asiatic Annual Register 1809:
Now become a Singh, he is a heterodox, and distinct from the Hindoos by whom he is considered an apostate. He is not restricted in his diet, but is allowed, by the tenets of his new religion, to devour whatever food his appetite may prompt, excepting beef.
Clearly, this gives us an idea that even independent observers of Sikhs who saw their eating habits. These Sikhs were around some 100 years after the demise of the last physical Sikh Guru and represented hardcore Sikh philosophy at that time.
WHY MEAT IS NOT SERVED IN LANGAR
Taken from www.sikhs.org
The reason why meat is not served at langar in the Gurdwaras is because langar is supposed to be a symbol of equality of mankind where all people no matter what race, religion or caste can eat together in the atmosphere of brotherhood. Hindu, Sikh, Muslim, it does not matter who they are. Different religions have different dietary restrictions. Hindus cannot eat cow, muslims cannot eat pork and will only eat halal meat. Jews will only eat kosher meat, others cannot eat fish or eggs. But in a gurdwara langar, it does not matter what their dietary taboos or religious beliefs are, the food is designed so that all can eat together and no one will be offended or not be able to partake of the meal.
WHY JHATKA MEAT?
Extract take fromwww.sikhs.org
What is Jhatka Meat and Why?
Jhatka meat is meat in which the animal has been killed quickly without suffering or religious ritual.
Sikhism, A Complete Introduction, Dr. H.S.Singha & Satwant Kaur, Hemkunt Press
Sikhs and Sikhism, Dr. I.J.Singh, Manohar Publishers.
THE FINAL AUTHORITY
Guru Nanak Devji tackled this entire issue head on and rubbished the claims of so called spiritual people who thought themselves more pious and religious simply because they did not eat meat.
Page 1289 Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji
This tukh specifically deals with the arguments that rage today about spirituality and meat eating. The purpose of this essay, stated in the beginning is not to look at meat eating?s pro?s and con?s in terms of the wider biological debate, but to look at I terms of Sikhism and spirituality. As Sikh, one should be concerned with getting into the triviality of such worthless debates and certainly one should not mistranslate, or misrepresent the Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji to back up a certain point of view.
In the process of researching this paper we have both felt that the entire issue surrounding is that of a "smokescreen". We both strongly felt that it is an issue that has come to a head and pushed through by external forces in order to divide the Panth. There have always been vegetarian Sikhs, and there have always been Meat eating Sikhs and the two groups have happily sat together and consumed a mutually acceptable Vegetarian Langar side by side. So why in the 20th and 21st Century has this issue caused so much debate and controversy?
This maybe traced back to the Times of the British Raj and encouragement of recruitment of Sikhs into the British Army. Many new converts to Sikhism came into the fold, many of whom still practiced Hindu Vaishnav practices of strict vegetarianism.
This need to cause division amongst Sikhs may even be traced earlier. In ?Mobad? Dabistan-I Mazahib 1645-46, the author states:
Many person became his disciples. Nanak believed in the Oneness of God and in the way that it is asserted in Muhammadan theology. He also believed in transmigration of souls. Holding wine and pork to be unlawful, he had [himself] abandoned eating meat. He decreed avoidance of causing harm to animals. It was after his time that meat-eating spread amongst his followers. Arjan Mal, who was on of his lineal succesors, found this to be evil. He prohibited people from eating meat, saying "This is not in accordance with Nanak?s wishes". Later, Hargobind, son of Arjan Mal, ate meat and took to hunting. Most of their [the Gurus] followers adopted his practice.
Now clearly we know the message of the Guru?s was uniform. It was not that they contradicted each other on issues such as meat eating. If some of this authors writings are to be believed as factual, then one can only conclude that some of the Guru?s were indeed vegetarian and some meat eaters, but it was not an issue that mattered to them or which they attached importance to. The author in this instance has liberally applied his own thoughts in order to show a contradiction amongst the Sikh Guru?s teaching and possibly a mean to exploit division. There was no contradiction in Sikh though from the First Master to the Last.