Misconceptions About Eating Meat
by Sandeep Singh Brar
Comments of Sikh Scholars
Sikhs and Sikhism
by I.J. Singh, Manohar, Delhi
Throughout Sikh history, there have been movements or subsects of Sikhism
which have espoused vegetarianism. I think there is no basis for such
dogma or practice in Sikhism. Certainly Sikhs do not think that a vegetarian's
achievements in spirituality are easier or higher. It is surprising
to see that vegetarianism is such an important facet of Hindu practice
in light of the fact that animal sacrifice was a significant and much
valued Hindu Vedic ritual for ages. Guru Nanak in his writings clearly
rejected both sides of the arguments - on the virtues of vegetarianism
or meat eating - as banal and so much nonsense, nor did he accept the
idea that a cow was somehow more sacred than a horse or a chicken. He
also refused to be drawn into a contention on the differences between
flesh and greens, for instance. History tells us that to impart this
message, Nanak cooked meat at an important Hindu festival in Kurukshetra.
Having cooked it he certainly did not waste it, but probably served
it to his followers and ate himself. History is quite clear that Guru
Hargobind and Guru Gobind Singh were accomplished and avid hunters.
The game was cooked and put to good use, to throw it away would have
been an awful waste.
Sahib, An Analytical Study by Surindar Singh Kohli, Singh Bros. Amritsar
The ideas of devotion and service in Vaishnavism have been accepted
by Adi Granth, but the insistence of Vaishnavas on vegetarian diet has
A History of
the Sikh People by Dr. Gopal Singh, World Sikh University Press, Delhi
Commenting on meat being served in the langar during the time of
Guru Angad: However, it is strange that now-a-days in the Community-Kitchen
attached to the Sikh temples, and called the Guru's Kitchen (or, Guru-ka-langar)
meat-dishes are not served at all. May be, it is on account of its being,
perhaps, expensive, or not easy to keep for long. Or, perhaps the Vaishnava
tradition is too strong to be shaken off.
Sikhism by Gyani Sher Singh (Ph.D), Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee.
As a true Vaisnavite Kabir remained a strict vegetarian. Kabir far from
defying Brahmanical tradition as to the eating of meat, would not permit
so much, as the plucking of a flower (G.G.S. pg 479), whereas Nanak
deemed all such scruples to be superstitions, Kabir held the doctrine
of Ahinsa or the non-destruction of life, which extended even to that
of flowers. The Sikh Gurus, on the contrary, allowed and even encouraged,
the use of animal flesh as food. Nanak has exposed this Ahinsa superstition
in Asa Ki War (G.G.S. pg 472) and Malar Ke War (G.G.S. pg. 1288).
A Popular Dictionary
of Sikhism, W.Owen Cole and Piara Singh Sambhi, England
The Gurus were loath to pronounce upon such matters as the eating of
meat or ways of disposing of the dead because undue emphasis on them
could detract from the main thrust of their message which had to do
with spiritual liberation. However, Guru Nanak did reject by implication
the practice of vegetarianism related to ideas of pollution when he
said, 'All food is pure; for God has provided it for our sustenance'
(AG 472). Many Sikhs are vegetarian and meat should never be served
at langar. Those who do eat meat are unlikely to include beef in their
diet, at least in India, because of their cultural proximity to Hindus.
Sikhism, A Complete
Introduction by Dr. H.S. Singha and Satwant Kaur, Hemkunt Press, Delhi
In general Sikhism has adopted an ambivalent attitude towards meat eating
as against vegetarianism. But if meat is to be taken at all, Guru Gobind
Singh enjoined on the Khalsa Panth not to take kosher meat ie. Halal
meat slaughtered and prepared for eating according to the Islamic practice.
In fact it is one of the kurahits for every amritdhari Sikh. One who
infringes it becomes patit (apostate).
by Surinder Singh Kohli, Harman Publishing, New Delhi
A close study of the above-mentioned hymns of Guru Nanak clarifies
the Sikh standpoint regarding meat-eating. The Guru has not fallen into
the controversy of eating or not eating animal food. He has ridiculed
the religious priests for raising their voice in favour of vegetarianism.
He called them hypocrites and totally blind to the realities of life.
They are unwise and thoughtless persons, who do not go into the root
of the matter. According to him, the water is the source of all life
whether vegetable or animal. Guru Nanak said. "None of the grain
of corn is without life. In the first place, there is life in water,
by which all are made green" (Var Asa M.1, p. 472). Thus there is life
in vegetation and life in all types of creatures.
to Sikhism by Dr. Gobind Singh Mansukhani, Hemkunt Press, Delhi
The Gurus neither advocate meat nor banned its use. They left it to
the choice of the individual. There are passages against meat, in the
Adi Granth. Guru Gobind Singh however prohibited for the Khalsa the
use of Halal or Kutha meat prepared in the Muslim ritualistic way.
to Sikhism by G.S. Sidhu, Shromini Sikh Sangat, Toronto
There are no restrictions for the Sikhs regarding food, except that
the Sikhs are forbidden to eat meat prepared as a ritual slaughter.
The Sikhs are asked to abstain from intoxicants.
The Sikh Faith
by Gurbakhsh Singh, Canadian Sikh Study and Teaching Society, Vancouver
According to the Maryada booklet 'Kutha', the meat prepared by the Muslim
ritual, is prohibited for a Sikh. Regarding eating other meat, it is
silent. From the prohibition of the Kutha meat, it is rightly presumed
that non-Kutha meat is not prohibited for the Sikhs. Beef is prohibited
to the Hindus and pork to the Muslims. Jews and Christians have their
own taboos. They do not eat certain kinds of meat on certain days. Sikhs
have no such instructions. If one thinks he needs to eat meat, it does
not matter which meat it is, beef, poultry, fish, etc., or which day
it is. One should, however, be careful not to eat any meat harmful for
his health. Gurbani's instructions on this topic are very clear. "Only
fools argue whether to eat meat or not. Who can define what is meat
and what is not meat? Who knows where the sin lies, being a vegetarian
or a non-vegetarian?" (1289) The Brahmanical thought that a religious
person should be a vegetarian is of recent origin. Earlier, Brahmans
had been eating beef and horse meat. In conclusion, it is wrong to say
that any person who eats meat (of course Kutha, because of the Muslim
rituals is prohibited) loses his membership of the Khalsa and becomes
of Gurbani, Paper by Dr. Devinder Singh Chahal
The above discussion leads us to the conclusion that the Sikh Gurus
made people aware of the fact that it is very difficult to distinguish
between a plant and an animal, therefore, it is difficult to distinguish
between a vegetarian and a non-vegetarian diets and there is no sin
of eating food originating from plants or animals.
of Sikhism by H.S. Singha, Hemkunt Press, Delhi.
The practice of the Gurus is uncertain. Guru Nanak seems to have eaten
venison or goat, depending upon different janamsakhi versions of a meal
which he cooked at Kurukshetra which evoked the criticism of Brahmins.
Guru Amardas ate only rice and lentils but this abstention cannot be
regarded as evidence of vegetarianism, only of simple living. Guru Gobind
Singh also permitted the eating of meat but he prescribed that it should
be Jhatka meat and not Halal meat that is jagged in the Muslim fashion.