Jeeva Eats Jeeva

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).
Filed Under: Diet, Abuse, Gurbani, sense-gratification
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9 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Baljinder Singh

    Can we make a distinction between plants or grains and animals or meat by saying that in grains there is life but it has not taken form of body meaning it has not produced any plant, but animals are already ‘living’ and thus have ‘man/aatma/jio? Hence, killing animals and eating them can’t be equivalent to eating grains. Just a thought that came up, please if anyone can further clarify this on the basis of gurbani? Thanks

    • Thank you Bhai Sahib Baljinder Singh Ji for taking the time to reply. Welcome to the Gurbani Blog!

      SGGS asserts: ਜੇਤੇ ਦਾਣੇ ਅੰਨ ਕੇ ਜੀਆ ਬਾਝੁ ਨ ਕੋਇ ॥: As many as the grains of food, none is without Jeeva (i.e, life etc.). (sggs 472).

  2. Harvinder Singh

    I absolutely agree that metaphors are used to make us understand the Gurbani!! May be I did not phrase words correctly in my previous post.

    I don’t know about too many examples here from Gurbani like you do, Singh ji, :)
    But how about the following verse from kabir ji.

    ਕਬੀਰ ਭਾਂਗ ਮਾਛੁਲੀ ਸੁਰਾ ਪਾਨਿ ਜੋ ਜੋ ਪ੍ਰਾਨੀ ਖਾਂਹਿ ॥

    Kabeer Bhaang Maashhulee Suraa Paan Jo Jo Praanee Khaanhi ||

    कबीर भांग माछुली सुरा पानि जो जो प्रानी खांहि ॥

    Kabeer, those mortals who consume marijuana, fish and wine

    58740 ਸਲੋਕ (ਭ. ਕਬੀਰ) ਗੁਰੂ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਸਾਹਿਬ : ਅੰਗ ੧੩੭੭ ਪੰ. ੨
    Salok Bhagat Kabir

    ਤੀਰਥ ਬਰਤ ਨੇਮ ਕੀਏ ਤੇ ਸਭੈ ਰਸਾਤਲਿ ਜਾਂਹਿ ॥੨੩੩॥

    • Thank you Bhai sahib Jee for taking time to share your Vichaar.

      Before I get to your inquiry, let me say this: As I indicated in the post and in my previous rejoinder, the specific PURPSE OF THIS POST was to to find out exactly what does the Gurbani consider a Jeeva.

      By focusing on eating and drinking, I feel we are going off topic. There is much more to life than contemplation on eating and drinking. Therefore, Waheguru Willing, perhaps we can dedicate a future post specifically to drinking and eating (also, may be dressing, robes…).

      Having said that, let’s get back to your inquiry.

      First, let’s take the second line of the verse you quoted – ਤੀਰਥ ਬਰਤ ਨੇਮ ਕੀਏ ਤੇ ਸਭੈ ਰਸਾਤਲਿ ਜਾਂਹਿ ॥੨੩੩॥

      There are three rituals mentioned in this line. they are: Teerath (ਤੀਰਥ), Barat (ਬਰਤ), and Nem (ਨੇਮ).

      Please note that all such rituals are emphatically repudiated (ਖੰਡਨ) throughout the Gurbani (as “ਫੋਕ ” – useless…). In other words, the Gurmat (Gur-Shabad, Gur-Giaan…) does not allow us to practice them. What it means is that the one who practices them is a Manmukh (self-willed, Saakat, ਮਨਮਤੀਆ…) — not a Sikh (ਗੁਰਮਤੀਆ…).

      So clearly, that verse is addressed to the Manmukhs (self-willed, Saakat, ਮਨਮਤੀਆ…).

      Second, the Gurbani in a way (as an irony, suggestion, or ਵਿਯੰਗ…) is indicating to these Manmukhs (self-willed, Saakat, ਮਨਮਤੀਆ…) that if by performing these rituals you still end up in hell because you partook Bhaang, Maachhulee, Suraa, and Paan, then your rituals — Teerath (ਤੀਰਥ), Barat (ਬਰਤ), and Nem (ਨੇਮ) — are inferior (or less powerful…) than even Bhaang, Maachhulee, Suraa, and Paan (i.e., useless)!!

      Finally, please also consider these verses:

      •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).

      So, the bottom line is becoming a Gurmukh. Until then we will be haunted and tortured by doubts (ਭਰਮ), duality (Doojaa-Bhaav)…

  3. Harvinder Singh

    I hear ya, what you saying! and I don’t disagree.
    BUT, In my brief experience, what I have felt and continue to feel is that Gurbani is full of METAPHORS.
    There is so much to read between the lines.
    So sometimes we just can’t derive the meaning of the word literally.
    Many a times, words in Gurbani have profound and vast meaning than it looks or feels on the surface.

    • Gurbani is full of METAPHORS.

      Yes. Metaphors are used in the Gurbani to help us to understand the Gurbani, NOT to confuse us.

      • ਕਿਆ ਖਾਧੈ ਕਿਆ ਪੈਧੈ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਜਾ ਮਨਿ ਨਾਹੀ ਸਚਾ ਸੋਇ ॥: What is achieved by eating, and what by dressing, if the True Lord does not abide within the mind? (sggs 142).
      • 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).
      • ਜੰਮਣੁ ਮਰਣਾ ਹੁਕਮੁ ਹੈ ਭਾਣੈ ਆਵੈ ਜਾਇ ॥: Birth and death are subject to the Hukam; through His Bhaanaa we come and go. (sggs 472).

  4. Harvinder Singh

    Wow…I can’t believe what I am reading here.
    So you are saying that killing an innoncent animal for your taste buds is OKAY…
    Absolutely Not,, I say.
    Even though I eat meat myself BUT never ever I condone eating meat through religion/Gurbani. Eating meat is bad news, Period.
    One just needs basic common sense to figure out that Meat is not a healthy food for human body, Let alone seeking answer in Gurbani.

    It’s just your interpretation does not necessarily means it is the RIGHT/ULTIMATE interpretation.

    • The purpose of this post was to find out what’s Jeeva according to the Gurbani.

      And according to the Gurbani:

      •ਜੇਤੇ ਦਾਣੇ ਅੰਨ ਕੇ ਜੀਆ ਬਾਝੁ ਨ ਕੋਇ ॥: Jete daane ann ke jeeaa baajh n koi: As many as the grains of food, none is without Jeeva (i.e, life etc.). (sggs 472).
      •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).

      Thus, according to the Gurbani, “many as the grains of food, none is without Jeeva”, and “The Jeeva born of eggs, born of the womb, born of the earth and born of sweat, all are created by You”.

      In other words, as indicated by the Gurbani, ALL sources of creation on this earth in fact are Jeeva (beings, life…).

      In that sense, the post says “Jeeva eats Jeeva”.

      The post does not advocates what anybody should or should not eat or drink. That’s for you to decide.

      The post simply explores the truth of the Gurbani as to exactly what does the Gurbani consider a Jeeva.

  5. Jatinder pal singh

    where is dya while killing advanced soul of goat lamb etc.

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