We often hear or come across arguments, debates, opinions, writings, etc., regarding should one eat meat or not.
The purpose of this post is to find out exactly what does the Gurbani consider a Jeeva (living being).
Now, let’s ask the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) as to what is Jeeva and and what is not Jeeva?
As indicated 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 ॥: Andaj jeraj setaj outbhuj ghati ghati joti samaanee: (The Lord’s) Light 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 ॥: Andaj jeraj outbhuj setaj tere keete jantaa: (O Lord) 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 asserts 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).
- ਜੇਤੇ ਦਾਣੇ ਅੰਨ ਕੇ ਜੀਆ ਬਾਝੁ ਨ ਕੋਇ ॥: Jete daane ann ke jeeaa baajhu n koi: As many as the grains of food, none is without Jeeva (i.e, life etc.). (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 asserts that water is also Jeeva! in fact water is responsible for the existence of this world. Water sustains life, keeps vegetables, grain, cotton, sugar cane, etc., alive or green. Similarly, it also keeps the livestock alive. In addition, water has countless micro Jeeva in it (also 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 a life, we will just be eating another Jeeva (beings, life…) only! That is, Jeeva eats Jeeva — meaning we all are naturally non-vegetarian.
- ਜੀਆ ਕਾ ਆਹਾਰੁ ਜੀਅ ਖਾਣਾ ਏਹੁ ਕਰੇਇ ॥: Jeeaa kaa aahaarr jeea khaanaa ehu karei: Jeeva are the food (diet) of Jeeva, this is what they eat (dine, live on…). (sggs 955).
Here is another widely quoted verse of the Gurbani:
- ਮਾਸੁ ਮਾਸੁ ਕਰਿ ਮੂਰਖੁ ਝਗੜੇ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਧਿਆਨੁ ਨਹੀ ਜਾਣੈ ॥ ਕਉਣੁ ਮਾਸੁ ਕਉਣੁ ਸਾਗੁ ਕਹਾਵੈ ਕਿਸੁ ਮਹਿ ਪਾਪ ਸਮਾਣੇ ॥: Kaounu maasu kaoun saagu kahaavai kisu mahi paap samaane: 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).
Clearly, first – strictly based on what one eats – one is no less worthy and one is no more worthy of Spiritual Realization (of one’s Mool within – Source, Origin, Joti, ਅਸਲਾ…). The same One universal “Joti” (Light) dwells in all.
Second, to transform a Mayaic or conditioned mind into an Unconditioned Mind (Jot Saroop, Mool...), the Gurbani does not require to follow any dogmas, rituals, special diet, etc.
However, as time and again indicated, the Gurbani does not want us to go on a rampant sense-gratification! At the same time, the Gurbani does not want us to starve either.
In other words, the Gurbani does not allow us to succumb to the ceaseless barrage of demands of our defiled senses (ਦੁਨੀਆ ਦੇ ਪਦਾਰਥਾਂ ਦੇ ਰਸ, ਨਾਸ-ਵੰਤ ਪਦਾਰਥਾਂ ਦੀ ਆਸ…). Accordingly, the Gurbani never gets tired of telling us to quench our thirst for the Mayaic tastes (hunger for Maya, love of Maya, ਮਾਇਆ ਦੀ ਭੁੱਖ…) by becoming the Gurmukh.
- ਉਰਝਿ ਰਹਿਓ ਇੰਦ੍ਰੀ ਰਸ ਪ੍ਰੇਰਿਓ ਬਿਖੈ ਠਗਉਰੀ ਖਾਵਤ ਹੇ ॥੧॥: Urjh rahio indree ras prerio bikhai thagouree khavat hai ||1||: (Man) lured in the pleasures of the senses is eating poison (of Bikaars, sense-objects, Maya, etc., ||1|| (sggs 821).
- ਹਰਿ ਬਿਨੁ ਕਛੂ ਨ ਲਾਗਈ ਭਗਤਨ ਕਉ ਮੀਠਾ ॥: Hari binu kachhoo na laagaee bhagtan kaou meethaa: Without God (Naam: Aatam-Giaan…), nothing appears sweet to His devotees (sggs 708).
- ਆਸ ਅਨਿਤ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਮਿਟੈ ਨਾਨਕ ਨਾਮ ਅਰੋਗ ॥੧॥: Aas anit Gurmukh mitai Nanak naam arog ||1||: 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).