We often hear or come across arguments, debates, opinions, writings, etc., regarding should one eat meat (another Jeeva or life).
The purpose of this post is to find out exactly what does the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) consider a Jeeva (living being, life).
As asserted in the SGGS, there are four sources of creation or life: Andaj (ਅੰਡਜ: the egg-born), Jeraj (ਜੇਰਜ: foetus-born or born from the womb), Setaj (ਸੇਤਜ: the sweat-born), and Outabhuj (ਉਤਭੁਜ: the earth-born). The Gurbani call all these four “Jantaa” (“ਜੰਤਾ”), that is, beings or Jeeva. In other words, as indicated in the following verses, according to the Gurbani, the universal “Joti” (Light…) dwells in all.
- ਅੰਡਜ ਜੇਰਜ ਸੇਤਜ ਉਤਭੁਜ ਘਟਿ ਘਟਿ ਜੋਤਿ ਸਮਾਣੀ ॥: The Light (Universal Energy) fills all those born of eggs, born from the womb, born of sweat and born of the earth, each and every heart. (sggs 1109).
- ਅੰਡਜ ਜੇਰਜ ਉਤਭੁਜ ਸੇਤਜ ਤੇਰੇ ਕੀਤੇ ਜੰਤਾ ॥: (O Divine, Hukam, Law of Nature…) the Jeeva born of eggs, born of the womb, born of the earth and born of sweat, all are created by You (sggs 596).
The Gurbani further affirms that each and every grain is a Jeeva as well. For example, if one sows a grain (seed), it will grow into a plant or a tree (ਉਤਭੁਜ-born from the earth).
- ਜੇ ਕਰਿ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਮੰਨੀਐ ਸਭ ਤੈ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਗੋਹੇ ਅਤੈ ਲਕੜੀ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਕੀੜਾ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਜੇਤੇ ਦਾਣੇ ਅੰਨ ਕੇ ਜੀਆ ਬਾਝੁ ਨ ਕੋਇ ॥: If one accepts the concept of impurity, then there is impurity everywhere. In cow-dung and wood there are worms. As many as the grains of food, none is without Jeeva (i.e, life etc.). First, there is life in the water, by which everything else is made green. (sggs 472).
Thus, according to the Gurbani, all sources of creation on this earth are in fact Jeeva (beings, life…).
Not only that, the Gurbani proclaims that water is also Jeeva!
As a matter of fact, water is responsible for the existence of this world. Water sustains life, keeps vegetables, grain, crops, trees, etc., alive or green. Similarly, it also keeps the livestock alive. In addition, water has countless micro Jeeva in it. In addition, there are also countless micro Jeeva in air we breathe, and the earth we walk on.
- ਪਹਿਲਾ ਪਾਣੀ ਜੀਉ ਹੈ ਜਿਤੁ ਹਰਿਆ ਸਭੁ ਕੋਇ ॥: First, the water is Jeeva itsels (there is life in it), by which everything else is made green. (sggs 472).
- ਤੋਇਅਹੁ ਅੰਨੁ ਕਮਾਦੁ ਕਪਾਹਾਂ ਤੋਇਅਹੁ ਤ੍ਰਿਭਵਣੁ ਗੰਨਾ ॥ ਤੋਆ ਆਖੈ ਹਉ ਬਹੁ ਬਿਧਿ ਹਛਾ ਤੋਐ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਬਿਕਾਰਾ ॥: From water are produced corn (that other Jeeva eat), sugarcane (that other Jeeva eat) and cotton (that other Jeeva wear its clothes) and (thus) from water the whole universe springs forth. Water says, ” (thus) I am good in many ways.” All these are the modifications of water (i.e., there is countless stuff in water). (sggs 1290).
The implication is that if all sources of creation on this earth in fact are Jeeva (beings, life…), then, regardless of what we eat in this world throughout a day or throughout life, we will just be eating another Jeeva (beings, life…) only!
That is, Jeeva eats Jeeva — meaning all humans and animals are naturally non-vegetarian! In other words, to be a strictly vegetarian, one has to completely stop breathing air, drinking water, eating any grain or plant food…
- ਜੀਆ ਕਾ ਆਹਾਰੁ ਜੀਅ ਖਾਣਾ ਏਹੁ ਕਰੇਇ ॥: Jeeva are the food (diet) of Jeeva, this is what they eat (dine, live on…). (sggs 955).
Clearly first, strictly based on what one eats, one is no less worthy and one is no more worthy of Truth-Abidance. The same One Universal Energy (Mool, Joti…) dwells in all.
- ਮਾਸੁ ਮਾਸੁ ਕਰਿ ਮੂਰਖੁ ਝਗੜੇ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਧਿਆਨੁ ਨਹੀ ਜਾਣੈ ॥ ਕਉਣੁ ਮਾਸੁ ਕਉਣੁ ਸਾਗੁ ਕਹਾਵੈ ਕਿਸੁ ਮਹਿ ਪਾਪ ਸਮਾਣੇ ॥: The fools argue about (saying ਮਾਸ ਮਾਸ) flesh flesh, but they know nothing about contemplation and Spiritual Wisdom (Aatam Giaan). (accordingly, they don’t reflect-Vichaar on) What is called flesh, and what is called green (vegetables)? (And, eating) What leads to sin? (sggs 1289).
- ਖਾਣਾ ਪੀਣਾ ਪਵਿਤ੍ਰੁ ਹੈ ਦਿਤੋਨੁ ਰਿਜਕੁ ਸੰਬਾਹਿ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਜਿਨ੍ਹ੍ਹੀ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਬੁਝਿਆ ਤਿਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਾ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਨਾਹਿ ॥੩॥: Whatever Rijak (food…) is made available (“ਸੰਬਾਹਿ”) to you, eating and drinking it is pure. O Nanak! By becoming the Gurmukh, who understood this, to him Sootak sticks not (doubt, impurity, ਭਰਮ, ਅਪਵਿਤ੍ਰਤਾ…). (sggs 472).
- ਅੰਧਾ ਸੋਇ ਜਿ ਅੰਧੁ ਕਮਾਵੈ ਤਿਸੁ ਰਿਦੈ ਸਿ ਲੋਚਨ ਨਾਹੀ ॥ ਮਾਤ ਪਿਤਾ ਕੀ ਰਕਤੁ ਨਿਪੰਨੇ ਮਛੀ ਮਾਸੁ ਨ ਖਾਂਹੀ ॥: They alone are blind, who act blindly (ਜੋ ਅੰਨ੍ਹਿਆਂ ਵਾਲਾ ਕੰਮ ਕਰਦਾ ਹੈ). They have no eyes in their hearts (i.e., devoid of Aatam Giaan or Spiritual Wisdom – ਸਮਝ ਤੋਂ ਖਾਲੀ) . (Otherwise, think about it -) they are produced from the blood of their mothers and fathers, but they do not eat fish / meat (ਭਾਵ, ਮਾਸ ਤੋਂ ਹੀ ਪੈਦਾ ਹੋ ਕੇ ਮਾਸ ਤੋਂ ਹੀ ਪਰਹੇਜ ਕਰਦੇ ਹਨ । ਪਹਿਲਾਂ ਭੀ ਤਾਂ ਮਾਂ ਪਿਉ ਦੇ ਮਾਸ ਤੋਂ ਹੀ ਸਰੀਰ ਪਲਿਆ ਹੈ). (sggs 1290).
- ਮਾਸੁ ਛੋਡਿ ਬੈਸਿ ਨਕੁ ਪਕੜਹਿ ਰਾਤੀ ਮਾਣਸ ਖਾਣੇ ॥ ਫੜੁ ਕਰਿ ਲੋਕਾਂ ਨੋ ਦਿਖਲਾਵਹਿ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਧਿਆਨੁ ਨਹੀ ਸੂਝੈ ॥: Those who renounce meat, and hold their noses when sitting near it, devour men at night (in secret they plan to cheat, exploit…). They practice hypocrisy (that they do not eat meat), and make a show before other people, but they do not understand anything about meditation or Spiritual Wisdom (Aatam Giaan, Divine Knowledge). (sggs 1289).
However, as time and again indicated, the Gurbani does not want us to go on a rampant sense-gratification! In other words, the Gurbani does not allow us to succumb to the ceaseless demands of the senses. Accordingly, the Gurbani never gets tired of urging us to quench the thirst for Mayaic tastes by becoming the Gurmukh — the follower of Truth.
- ਕਿਆ ਖਾਧੈ ਕਿਆ ਪੈਧੈ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਜਾ ਮਨਿ ਨਾਹੀ ਸਚਾ ਸੋਇ ॥: What is achieved by eating, and what by dressing, if the Truth does not abide within the mind? (sggs 142).
- ਉਰਝਿ ਰਹਿਓ ਇੰਦ੍ਰੀ ਰਸ ਪ੍ਰੇਰਿਓ ਬਿਖੈ ਠਗਉਰੀ ਖਾਵਤ ਹੇ ॥੧॥: (Man) lured in the pleasures of the senses is eating poison (of Bikaar, sense-objects, Maya, etc., ||1|| (sggs 821).
- ਹਰਿ ਬਿਨੁ ਕਛੂ ਨ ਲਾਗਈ ਭਗਤਨ ਕਉ ਮੀਠਾ ॥: Without Hari (Mool…), nothing appears sweet to His devotees (sggs 708).
- ਆਸ ਅਨਿਤ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਮਿਟੈ ਨਾਨਕ ਨਾਮ ਅਰੋਗ ॥੧॥: Desires for transitory things (ਨਾਸ-ਵੰਤ ਪਦਾਰਥਾਂ ਦੀ ਆਸ) are effaced for (the person) who has become the Gurmukh; O Nanak; Naam alone keeps (that person) free of the disease (of desires etc.) ||1|| (sggs 254).
At the same time, the Gurbani does not want us to starve either, or stop drinking water, or stop breathing air!
In other words, the Gurbani challenges us to be engaged in this world, but with a detached attitude and with Wisdom (ਅਕਲ, ਬਿਬੇਕ-ਬੁੱਧ, keen understanding, discerning intelligence) — be in the word, but not of the world!
- ਬਿਨੁ ਖਾਏ ਬੂਝੈ ਨਹੀ ਭੂਖ ॥: Without eating, hunger is not satisfied. (sggs 1149).
- ਨਾਨਕ ਸਤਿਗੁਰਿ ਭੇਟਿਐ ਪੂਰੀ ਹੋਵੈ ਜੁਗਤਿ ॥ ਹਸੰਦਿਆ ਖੇਲੰਦਿਆ ਪੈਨੰਦਿਆ ਖਾਵੰਦਿਆ ਵਿਚੇ ਹੋਵੈ ਮੁਕਤਿ ॥: O Nanak! Meeting the Satigur (Knowledge of Truth – ਸਚ ਦਾ ਗਿਆਨ), one comes to know the Perfect Way of life (thus). While laughing, playing, dressing and eating, become liberated (Freedom from Bikaar: lust, anger, greed, etc.). (sggs 522).
However, the Pujaaree groups in Sikhi sell people a fake or counterfeit Dharma and god (ਨਕਲੀ ਧਰਮ, ਨਕਲੀ ਰੱਬ). They have been exploiting and plundering people by keeping them ignorant of the real Giaan or Wisdom of the SGGS, fearful, misguided (ਗੁਮਰਾਹ), confused, entangled in Karamkaand or rituals, doubt-ridden (ਵਹਮ-ਭਰਮ), wandering, superstitious, foolish, etc.