Beef has been all over the news in the last couple of weeks. It’s clearly a topic that’s hard to avoid, as one of the unlikeliest of personalities entered the argument – The Dalai Lama. On Wednesday, the 14th Dalai Lama was having an interaction in Arunachal Pradesh when the topic was brought up.
A woman in the audience posed the question: Should food habit be an issue in India and does Buddhism, a religion professing peace and non-violence, endorse non-vegetarianism? In response to this question, the Dalai Lama cited a Sri Lankan monk he had met years ago to say Buddhists are neither vegetarian nor non-vegetarian.
“But it is all right to have meat of dead animals, not those slaughtered or purposefully killed for meat,” he said. His comments come only days after a man was killed by cow vigilantes in Rajasthan and an ongoing drive against illegal abattoirs in Uttar Pradesh that many meat sellers say is targeting Muslim-owned shops.
The 81-year-old spiritual leader pointed out many in the Buddhist world are vegetarians because they believe it is wrong to slaughter any creature. However, the Dalai Lama is non-vegetarian. An American journal in 2010 had quoted one of his aides saying that the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader does a balancing act by sticking to a vegetarian diet in Dharamsala but having meat dishes when offered by his hosts elsewhere.
Many Buddhists in north-western Arunachal Pradesh are vegetarian, but some eat the meat of yak, that Buddhists consider sacred. “But yak meat eaters make it a point not to slaughter animals themselves. They occasionally engage people from other communities to do the job,” a local yak researcher said.
The Dalai Lama also mentioned that religion, should be about kindness without complicated philosophy. “My religion is kindness. All religions have serious scope for promoting harmony.” Truer words were never spoken. Let’s stop spreading hate and violence and promote harmony.