I gape with mixed feelings at the many strange customs that would do well to shun them.
In this context it is not uncommon to come across butcheries, irrespective of one’s like or dislike to the diabolical slaughter of animals for reasons, both temporal and divine.
The sangfroid of the sacrificial animals hurt me since my childhood. Their bleats and groans drove me mad, and I wish I had saved them all from the voracious gods (or humans?). Needless to say that I never had my way.
I was recently a witness to a gory scene of butcher sawing the neck of a goat writhing in pain. The others awaiting their turn, downcast and disturbed, were a pitiful sight. The next in the line was going euphoric and sarcastic as it is, another was being driven by nuptial lust.
The irony I felt was our tendency towards violence that is athwart the philosophy of the peace movement; the innocent, who do not understand what death actually is, are being killed.
Not long ago, I was shocked to see a priest at a temple doing the same as a butcher.
The idol turned bloody. It made me rethink: can a life be sanctified by killing animals in the name of
sacrifice? I think it sort of made me an agnostic.
My morning was spoilt. I left the temple heaping anathema upon the foes of life and the right to life.
A few days later, I was at a stupa. The baroque architect, the idols, the trumpets and longhorns excited me. However, among the galaxy of the monks was a customer of the butcher. And he was a follower of
Buddha’s dictum of ahimsa! I left the scene annoyed. I wanted to be clear on our practice of rituals. I inquired a Hindu priest and a Buddhist monk about it.
The priest said that sacrifice is a de rigueur in some communities and alluded it to Puranas and the Tantra-saadhanaa.
The latter said that it was okay to consume flesh without killing animals himself. He also insisted that the founder of his religion resorted to it. When I asked them about spiritualism and the right of every creature to live, they weren’t forthcoming.
I know, killings cannot be justified, when the palates
are still tickling from either yesterday’s barbeque or the gourmet. I understood that barring a few, most of the religious places were only a place of pretentious prophets.
We have abandoned many foul customs and there is no reason why many more cannot be left once and for all. Succession and ecosystem notwithstanding, we have been
going a bit overboard.
Although this is an era of science, we can still find a harmonious equation with spirituality for the betterement of society.
Let others also bear beatific smiles on their faces. All organisms have right to live just like ours. Be wise and give the system of sacrifice up!
(Published in The Himalayan Times on January 1, 2004)