(This article was posted in the ?Meditations? column of the Hindustan Times on 24 October 2002.)
MEAT-EATING IS unhealthy and expensive. It?s ostentatious and becoming unfashionable. It?s also environmentally unfriendly, and causes starvation. But what to do with all the ownerless cows loitering in the streets of Delhi, draped over traffic islands and eating piles of garbage? Ship them all off to Brindaban? That?s what some think. Maybe it?s not such a bad idea. Or create animal shelters and keep them there? That?s another thought.
All this is leading to Diwali and the tendency to make resolutions at the start of a New Year. But resolve flies in the face of traditional and fatalistic ideas about karma and predestination. And it?s been intimated that ?the road to hell? can be ?paved with good intentions?. Besides how can I, one person, make a difference?
In my humble opinion, one of the strongest personal choices we can make is to foreswear flesh. Such abstention may feel socially awkward at first, but the benefits far outweigh the liabilities. It?s a direct link to a personally less selfish world, and it restores the bridge over the waters of ignorance.
Lucid satellite photographs from the US show the existence of a now underwater bridge from India to Sri Lanka. NASA?s caption says the bridge appears to be ?man-made.? Three weeks ago, Indolink.com made these photos downloadable, and hundreds of bulletin boards worldwide displayed printed versions. We shouldn?t be surprised. In the Ramayana, there is wisdom: Ram and His associates worked tirelessly to help good triumph over evil. Values of right and wrong, as espoused in the history of the Ramayana, are what young people need to hear and live by. Without such principles, we face a future of unmitigated hedonism, indecency, increased crime and terrorism. And from whence do such ideals emanate, but from the epic histories of our own past.
India is the land of Ram, and we can live for His eternal return, instead of just once a year.
So with the New Year upon us, why not set aside ?me-ism?, and think how to best benefit the human family, worldwide. India, like no other country, can headquarter the ?united nations of the spiritual world.? And if but a fraction of the millions who read this newspaper stopped eating meat, it would surely affect the world. It?s a start, and a decision that?s do-able.
The writer is emeritus GBC of the International Society For Krishna Consciousness.