Misconceptions About Eating Meat
by Sandeep Singh Brar
The Times of the Gurus
for Amusement & Sport - Not for Any Religious Reasons
Singh, Vachitra Natak, Chapter 8, Chaupai 1-3
"When I became a Spiritual Sovereign, I tried to spread Religion to
the best of my ability. I hunted various games in the forest, including
bears, nilgaus and elks. Then, I left my home and proceeded towards
the city of Paunta. On the banks of the Kalindri, I refreshed and amused
myself with many kinds of amusements. There, I killed many ferocious
lions and also nilgaus and elks."
Var 26 Pauri 24
"Earlier Gurus sat on the pontific throne, Leading a life of peace and
contentment; Hargobind keeps dogs for sports, And goes out for hunting
Creation of the
Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699
All of the Sikh cronicles record the fact that during the ceremony of
initiating the first five Sikhs into the Khalsa brotherhood Guru Gobind
Singh asked for volunteers who would be willing to give their heads. He
took each volunteer into the tent and a loud thud was heard and blood
trickled out of the tent. Guru Gobind Singh then emerged from the tent
with his sword dripping with blood and asked for the next volunteer. Eventually
Guru Gobind Singh emerged from the tent with the five beloved ones alive.
He pulled back the covers of the tent and revealed to the thousands gathered
that he had really slaughtered five goats with his sword and not the five
Guru Nanak Eating
Bhai Mani Singh, Gyan Ratnavali, pg. 123
At Kurukshetra, a great centre of Hindu pilgrimage, where a big fair was
being held on the occasion of the solar eclipse. A follower of the Guru
offered him deer meat to eat. The Guru who had never made any distinction
between one kind of food and another and took whatever was offered to
him, did not refuse the courtesies of his devotee. And he allowed him
to roast it for his food.
A History of
the Sikh People by Dr. Gopal Singh, World Sikh University Press, Delhi
It first occurs in Bhai Mani Singh's Gyan Ratnavali (pg. 123) which
mentions Nanak having been engaged in debate with a Pandit, called Nanau
Chand. The deer-meat was, according to this version, brought to him
as an offering by a Prince and his consort, who having been dispossessed
of their realm, came to him for a blessing. In the dialogue that followed
with the Pandit, he is not only convinced of Nanak's logic, but persuades
also the fellow Brahmins, basing his argument on the Veda, the Puranas
and even the Quran, saying that even the Hindu gods could be propieated
since the earliest times only through yagnas in which meat was invariably
served, and that it has been the dharma of the Kashatriya Kings since
ages to hunt.
Guru Angad and Guru
Amar Das Eating Meat
The Sikh Religion,
Volume II by Max Arthur Macauliffe
One day the Guru had a meat dinner prepared. Amar Das said, "If the
Guru is a searcher of hearts, he must know that I am a Vaishnav and
do not touch flesh". The Guru (Guru Angad), knowing this, ordered that
dal should be served him. Amar Das then reflected, "The Guru knoweth
that meat is forbidden me, so he hath ordered that dal be served me
instead." Amar Das then rapidly arrived at the conclusion that any disciple,
whose practice differed from that of the Guru, must inevitably fail.
He therefore told the cook that if the Guru were kind enough to give
him meat, he would partake of it. The Guru, on hearing this, knew that
superstition was departing from Amar Das's heart, and he handed him
his own dish. When Amar Das had partaken of it, he for the first time
felt peace of mind, and as he became further absorbed in his attentions
and devotion to the Guru, celestial light dawned on his heart. Thus
did he break with the strictest tenet of Vaishnavism and become a follower
of the Guru. One day the Guru, in order to further remove Amar Das's
prejudices, thus began to instruct him: "The meats it is proper to abstain
from are these - Other's wealth, other's wives, slander, envy, covetousness
and pride. If any one abstaining from meat is proud on the subject and
says, 'I never touch meat,' let him consider that the infant sucks nipples
of flesh, that the married man takes home with him a vessel of flesh."
Guru Angad then repeated and expounded Guru Nanak's sloks on the subject.
He also related to Amar Das the story of Duni Chand and his father,
giving in the Life of Guru Nanak. "If you think of it," continued the
Guru, "there is life in everything, even in fruits and flowers, so say
nothing of flesh; but whatever thou eatest, eat remembering God, and
it shall be profitable to thee. Whatever cometh to thee without hurting
a fellow creature is nectar, and whatever thou recievest by giving pain
is poison. To shatter another's hopes, to calumniate others, and to
misappropriate their property is worse than to eat meat."
with the most learned Sikhs of his time when he wrote this over 100
years ago. The exact written source of this account is unknown.
Guru Hargobind Eating
Mohsin Fani was a historian, traveller and mystic who was born around
1615 in Persia. During the lifetime of Guru Hargobind he migrated to
India and studied the religions of India. He became very good friends
with Guru Hargobind and spent a great deal of time with the Guru upto
the Gurus death in 1644. In between 1645 and 1654 he produced his great
work 'Dabistan-e-Mazahib' meaning 'the schools of thought of various
religions'. This book provides the most accurate account of the life
of Guru Hargobind and the Sikhs at that time. Mohsin Fani writes:
"The Guru believes
in one God. His followers put not their faith in idol-worship. They
never pray or practice austerities like the Hindus. They believe not
in their incarnations, or places of pilgrimage nor the Sanskrit language
which the Hindus deem to be the language of gods. They believe that
all the Gurus are the same as Nanak. The Sikhs are not restricted in
the matter of eating or drinking. When Partap Mall Giani saw a Hindu
boy who had a mind to embrace Islam, he said, 'Why do you become a Muhammadan?
If you have an inclination to eat everything, you may become a Sikh
of the Guru and eat whatever you like."
Some use a quote
from Mohsin Fani to prove that Guru Nanak and Guru Arjan did not
allow Sikhs to eat meat. Since he only emigrated to India during the
lifetime of Guru Hargobind, his information about Guru Nanak and Guru
Arjan cannot be considered an eyewitness account of his. Also vegetarian
proponents usually only give a partial quote, the full quote of his
abstained from animal food and the prudent Arjan endevoured to add to
his saintly merit and influence by a similar moderation; but the adventurous
Hargobind became a hunter and an eater of flesh, and his disciples imitated
him in these robust practices."
Another contemporary of the Guru, Gokul Chand Narang provides the following
to devote most of his time to wrestling, riding, tent-pegging and hunting
the tigers and the boars. With the change of aims the occupation changed,
and with the change in the occupation came a change in tastes and even
diet. Animal food was not only sanctioned but encouraged."
The Khalsa Army
Under Banda Singh Bahadur Eating Meat
An eyewitness account
of the siege of the Khalsa army at Gurdaspur and how the Khalsa soldiers
and Banda Singh Bahadur bravely held out against the Mughal army for
eight months is provided below:
Muntakhabul-Lubab, pg. 723
"The Sikhs were not strict observers of cast, they slaughtered oxen
and other animals and not having any firewood, ate the flesh raw. Many
died of dysentry and privation... when all the grass was gone, they
gathered leaves from trees. When these were consumed, they stripped
the bark and broke off the small shoots, dried them, ground them down
and used them instead of flour, thus keeping body and soul together.
They also collected the bones of animals and used them in the same way.
Some assert that they saw a few of the Sikhs cut flesh from their own
thights, roast it, and eat it.