Hey Bhaggaawaan !

KarmaMona a friend of ours says “Hey Bhaggaawaan” rather dramatically when things go wrong. It’s become our little family joke & we say it too whenever things go wrong in a loud & exaggerated fashion … Helps because it makes us all laugh out loud. But what’s happening in our country in the name of religion is definitely no laughing matter. I usually skim the headlines because I really don’t want to start off my day with news about dirty politics, rapes, murders & strife. I’d like to bury my head in the sand like an ostrich.

The “meat ban” though was something I couldn’t ignore especially since I’m half Jain. And every time I read about it I wanted to cry out in exasperation “Hey Bhaggaawaan” !!! I’m a Gujarati by birth. My father is a Brahmin & my mother is a Jain.Through my growing years I’ve been to both the Mandir & the Derasar not because either of my parents were overtly religious … but just because my paternal grandmother was & through her I loved worshipping the little idols, collecting flowers for them & the best part, eating prashad. Next to my Nana’s house was a Derasar & I loved going there too. We cousins would go there in between our games; walking on that cool marble floor, enjoying the peace & especially getting the chandan ka tikka put on my head. I have faint memories of my Mom doing the choviyaar during Paryushan. And I know the Namo Ariyantanam because that was the only prayer she said every morning. Neither of my parents are particularly religious or ritualistic & neither am I though I consider myself deeply spiritual.My parents were vegetarians but started eating non vegetarian food out of curiosity with their meat eating Maharashtrian friends. And though my Nana who was a Jain scholar & has written about the Jain Dharam never stopped my Mom or us from eating non vegetarian food. Ditto for my religious Brahmin grandmother ! In fact she went ahead & told my parents to start making non vegetarian food at home since we all loved it & used to eat it outside. Her only request was that separate vessels were used for cooking the meat etc. Having grown up in such a progressive & liberal family I completely fail to understand why we all can’t be religiously tolerant ??? Is it so difficult to say I’ll practice my religion my way & you practice yours in your way ?

I’ve read various arguments & counter arguments regarding the meat ban. And this is what I understand of it :-

A) it’s been around for years but it’s being politicised right now

B) the jain community is not the one asking for it, it’s the people acting on their behalf.

In principle I’m against the ban !

If people are eating meat the whole year round & it doesn’t affect the sentiments of the Jain community then…why should it suddenly become such an issue only during the holy days of Paryushan ? Aren’t all days holy & isn’t life sacred at every moment ? I’m not even going to get into the whole should we kill animals for food debate because I believe in the circle of life & at certain times in my life I’ve wanted to turn vegetarian because it felt right. Either way it doesn’t grant me the right to tell another person whether he/she should be a vegetarian or non vegetarian… For a few days or forever. That is their choice & I would be infringing upon their personal rights.What about live & let live ? We are a democratic, secular country & our constitution grants the Right to Freedom of Religion. Which means every citizen has the right to profess, practice & propagate any religion of their choice. There shall be no discrimination on grounds of religion.

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And yet every single day in the name of religion people are being killed, discriminated against & persecuted… This is happening not only in our country but all over the world. That’s because we’ve all forgotten our purpose for being on earth. All things have a karma & a reason for being here. Waters karma is to quench thirst. Fires karma is to provide heat. And mans karma is Humanity ! Your karma is to be a vegetarian & mine is to be a non vegetarian but collectively all of us have only one Karma & that is to be a Good Human Being.

If we did that then there would be no need for any of us to cry out in exasperation: Hey Bhagwan, Ya Allah or Dear Lord !

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