Wednesday, August 12, 2009

036 Beef eating during Ramayana period

Source: Uttara Rama Charitra.
Writer: Bhavabhuti, a reputed 8th Century Sanskrit poet.

End of Act 3. Third Intermission.

Place of happening: Hermitage of Valmiki.

Time (Context): Sita was under sage Valmiki's protection with her twin sons Kusa and Lava, aged about 12.

Rama's Guru Vasishtha took Kausalya and Janaka to Valmiki's hermitage. Valmiki received them with great festivities and feasts. That day was declared as a holiday for the disciples of Valmiki.

Two students Bhandayana and Saudhataki converse with one another. A part of the conversation is reproduced below:

Saudhataki:- Aagatam anadhyaaya kaaranam savisheesha bhuutam adya jiirn`a kuurchaanaam. I understand in depth with all the specialities, the reason for declaring today as a day of no studies (anadhyanam), i.e. the long beards.

Saudhataki: Bhoo Bhandayana! Kim namadheeye eeva mahataha sthavirasaardhasya dhurandharoo aadya ciiradhaarakoo atithir aagataha.. What is the name of the great man wearing the linen clothes and who led the big gang of the guests which has arrived?

Bhand`ayana: Dhik prahasanam! Nanuvayam Rishyasringaasramaad Arundhati puraskritaan Mahaaraja Dasaradhasya daaraan adhisht`hasya Bhagavan Vasisht`ha praaptaha. Tat kim eesham pralaapasi? Stop the farce! Don't you know that Bhagavan Vasisht`ha led by Arundhati (his wife), the wives of the Great King Dasaratha have just arrived? Why do you talk loosely about them?

Saudhataki Hum! Vasisht`ha! Hum! Vasishta!.

Bhand`aayana: Atha kim! Yes!

Saudhataki: Mayaa punar gnaatam vyaaghroo vaa vrikoo vaa na iti!
I thought he was either a tiger or a wolf!

Bhand`aayana Aaa! Kim uktam bhavati? (Angrily): What do you say?

Saudhataki Teena paraapati tee naiva saa paraakii kalyaan`ii kapilaa mad`a mad`aayitaa. No sooner did he come, the orphan (poor) Kapila (black calf) Kalyaan`ii (auspicious name of the calf) was munched.

(Meanings: parakikaa = orphan. Parapatiteena iva = the moment he came. Mad`a mad`aayita = was munched.).

Bhand`aayana Samaamsoo madhuparkam iti amnaayam
bahumanyamaanaa s`rootriyaa
yaabhagataaya mahaajam vaa
vis`vasanti griha meethina
iti dharma suutra kaara samaa manati.

Meanings: Bahumanyamaana = standardised, recognised by many people.
Aamnaayam = Vedas.

That which is accompanied by flesh as "Madhuparkam" - this, the Vedas and the Codemakers (such as Bodhayana and Apasthambha) have standardised.

Srootriya = A well-learned Brahmin who has been anointed with all the purificatory ceremonies (sanskaaras: prescribed religious ceremonies and vows such as celibacy, sacred thread etc. Brahmano, gneeyaha, sanskarai)).

Abhyagata = guest who arrives without notice and stays not more than one night. (Eeka raatram eeva paragrihee nivasan, agnaatoo brahmanaha atidhi gnaatastee abhyaagataha).

Vatsatari = calf.

Mahooksham = big bull.

Maha ajam = big goat.

Grihamethina nirrapanti = house holders feed.

Gist: Householders feed venerable scholars and guests with calfs or big bull or big goat. Thus the code-makers prescribed.

Saudhaataki: Bhoo! Nigrihitoo asi! Oh! You have lost! (You have been defeated in the argument. Nigraham = defeat in argument).

Bhand`aayana: Katham iva? How? (How did I lose?).

Saudhaataki: Yeena aagateeshu Vasisht`ha
Mis`reeshu vatsatarii vis`asitaa
adyaiva pratyaagatasya Raajarsheer Janakasya Bhagavataa Valmikir dadhi madhubhyaam eeva nirvartitoo madhuparkaha vatsatarii punarvivarjitaa.

Meanings: Yeena = Because. Vatsatarii = Young calf. Vis`asita = killed. Aadyaiva = today.
Gist: While Valmiki has slayed the young calf to feed Vasisht`ha Misra, he (Valmiki) gave just curd and honey to the sage king Janaka, without adding the beef.

Bhand`aayana: Nivritta maamsaanaam eevam kalpam rishayaha manyantee, nivritta maamsa stu tatra Janakaha.

Those who have relinquished flesh, take a preparation which does not have meat.

Saudhaataki: Kim nimittam? What for?

Bhand`aayana: Sa yad iiva devyaa Sitaayaa taadris`am
daiva durvipaakam upasritya Vaikhanasa samvrittaha, tadhaa asya katipayee samvatsaraat Chandra dviipa tapoo vanee tapas tapya maanasaha.
Having heard that Sita was unfortunately banished to forests, Janaka left to forests, having adopted the tenets of Vaikhanasa. He did penance in Chandra Dviipa (The Island of Moon).

Saudhaataki: Tataha kim iti aagataha?. Wherefrom did he come?

Bhand`aayana: Chirantava priya suhridam bhagavantam pracheetasam drasht`um. (He has come) to see his long time friend God Praacheetasa (Vasisht`ha).

Saudhaataki: Api aadhya sambandhinii bhi samam samvrittam asya dars`anam na vaa itihi. Has he not seen his relatives? (Daughter Sita's mother-in-law Kausalya et al).

Bhand`aayana: Samprat yeeva Bhagavataa Vasisht`heena deeyaha Kausalyas sakaas`am Bhagavat Arundhatii prahitaa, yat svayam upeetya Vaideehoe drasht`asya itihi.

Meanings: Sakaas`am = to Kausalya. Prahita = was sent.

Arundhati was sent to Kausalya to take her to Janaka. He was a respectable sage king. Besides, he was hurt by the banishment of Sita.

Saudhaataki: Yathaa Sarvee yeatee sthavivaraa parasparam mil`itaaha tathaa avaam api pat`ukai saha mil`itvaa anadhyaaya mahotsavam kheelantau sambhaavayaavaha. Thus, we have playfully learnt many things on this No-study- day.

Bhand`aayana: Tadayam brahmavaadii puraan`a rajarshir Janakaha praacheetasa Vasisht`han upaasya samprati aas`ramasya bahir vrikshamuulam adhitisht`hati, ya eeshaha. Now, the Veda-knowledgeable, great sage king Janaka is sitting at the root of the tree outside the hermitage.

Descriptive verse: Hridi nityaanushakteena Sita s`ookeena tapyatee Antaha pravriddha dahanoo jwalan niva vanaspatihi. With fire raging in his inner consciousness- agrieved by Sita's hardships, Janaka was standing like a tree being burnt by the inner fire of its old age.

*It is very clear that respectable Brahmin guests were fed with preparations made of beef.
*Janaka too consumed beef till he was hurt by the misfortune which had befallen to Sita.
*The poet, through the character Saudhataki, compares Vasisht`ha to a tiger / wolf.

*Rama and Sita cannot lag behind, if Janaka and Vasit`ha consumed beef. It was a custom of those days.

*I do not wish to blame Vasisht`ha or Valmiki or Rama. But, can we call them really compassionate?


Anand said...

Can you give evidence of this kind of act from the original valmiki ramayana? If so, there is some necessity to investigate. Otherwise it is a cock and bull story.

vitahavya said...

What you said is true. Goghna in sanskrit means a guest also. There are five occasions when a cow has to be presented to a guest - when a snataka returns (i.e., after completion of studies); a bridgegroom (at the time of his arrival); a srotriya when invited for sacrifice (such as soma). One at death and the other when great brahmins arrive. Incidentally Goghan also means cow killer.

Yajnavalkya was particularly fond of veal saying that it is amasala = soft. particularly when it is not more than 3 days old.

In Soma sacrificies one has to sacrifice a barren cow to Varuna. Baudhayana sutra deals with penances that it is to be done when it is found to be carrying a calf. (it discusses the options and then suggests the remedy).

Whether one likes it or not, ancient hindus did eat beef.
I am a brahmin myself and I do practice sacrifices. I regard myself as orthodox. I have kept sacrificial fires when I was a student. I intend to sacrifice soma at least for three days once I get money. so y

ybr said...

Reply to Shri Anand:

Do you mean to say that bhavabhooti, the great poet of compassion, 7th/8th Century told a cock and bull story?

You will not get evidence in Valmiki Ramayana because it used to be regularly recited and preached in VaishNava temples, and the preachers/interpreters conveniently sanitised it.

BhavabhUti's uttara rAma caritra was not recited in temples. It was not as popular as kALidAsa's Sakuntalam and pancakAvyAs. Very few people read it completely in depth, with a critical mind. Hence, probably, no guru cared to excise it.

ybr said...

Reply to Shri Vitahavya:
Simply because some obnoxious practice existed in ancient days, we need not repeat that in 21st Century. 21st Century Hindus/Indians can be nobler than their Aryan ancestors.

Another example: When Swami Vivekananda wanted to sacrifice a goat during Durga PUja at bElur math, Sarada mAtA (wife of rAmakrishNa paramahamsa)dissuaded it. She suggested substituting it with banana fruit.

Evidence for this, you can see at my blog.

There is no need to remove obnoxious verses from ancient scriptures. We can just observe them, note them as regretable. We can now be better souls.

Another observations: There are reasons to believe that Aryans migrated from Latvia/Lithuania of North West Europe. For this you can see my blog. The early NW European Aryans were not influenced by Buddhism or practice of non-violence on animals. For them cow was money and an object of economics. Sacredness of cow was limited only to that point.

Today, as better Indians, we can regard not only cows, but also buffalos,camels, goats (or any animal whose milk we drink), as our mothers and sacred. There is a need for us to protect them till they die their natural death, and not sell them to kabelas. Society may have to support cow-buffalo homes by subscriptions. Not just cow protection!