Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Did Sita cook meat in her rasoi?

Today we do the Spinach Thing.  

No, maybe another day.  

Should Sita really be cooking meat in her rasoi?  Can she (or he) be sending entries to the Bakr Eid blog events?  Did she speak with deer she fed leaves to on still sultry exile afternoons?  Did Rama ever have Ibrahim's tears in his eyes?

 In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto

Michael Pollan clearly endorses plants as a preferred source of true food.  The benefits of vegetarianism clearly outweigh those of other food choices, though Okinawa, sea food, Atkins, South Beach, and other healthy animal protein approaches have received favorable press and widespread adoption among heavy meat consumers.

But what about the ethical concerns of killing living animals?  

Buddhism does not prescribe vegetarianism.   Buddhist monks are permitted to eat meat in many traditions, (e.g., fish in Thailand, yak meat in Tibet) and there are others who discourage it.
For the more rigid, there are instructions that if a piece of meat has been offered to them as alms, they are obliged to eat it, as long as the “meat” has not been killed on their behalf.

Has meat sold in stores not been killed specifically on our behalf?  One can argue for lifetimes.

For a truly scholarly study on vegetarianism in ancient India and what Buddhist scriptures say about meat eating versus vegetarianism, see this post by Shravasti Dhammika.

In Hindu tradition, there is wide divergence of opinion on killing living beings, such as cows when climate and land conspired to deplete livestock across central Asia, and certain species became more equal than others, and meat eating is practised across cultures and beliefs.  On Sunday afternoons, did Sita choose deer or fowl?  If one goes by the word, there was a lot of meat getting cooked in the perfect kitchen.

Ayodhya kanda:
suraaghaTasahasreNa maamsabhuutodanena cha |
yakshye tvaam prayataa devi puriim punarupaagataa || 2-52-89

tau tatra hatvaa caturaH mahaa mR^igaan |
varaaham R^ishyam pR^iSatam mahaa rurum |
aadaaya medhyam tvaritam bubhukSitau|
vaasaaya kaale yayatur vanaH patim || 2-52-102

samaashvasa muhuurtam tu shakyam vastum iha tvayaa || 3-47-22
aagamiSyati me bhartaa vanyam aadaaya puSkalam |
ruruun godhaan varaahaan ca hatvaa aadaaya amiSaan bahu || 3-47-23

Of course, it is obvious that everything from medium rare to well done was well done.  Ramashraya Sharma’s classic work Socio-Political Study of the Valmiki Ramayana also has an exhaustive section on the perfect kitchen, including the varieties of sarava, karaka, and galvarka to help the meat along.

Here is The Spinach Recipe.  Music it yourself.  Jai Sri Ram!
The Ramayana: A Shortened Modern Prose Version of the Indian Epic (Penguin Classics) 


  1. This is really interesting. We confuse vegetarianism with Hinduism though it is not so. Vegetarianism is not even brahmanism as many Brahmins also ate and do eat meat. Human beings are ominvores- eating meat is a choice or a habit induced by the ecosystem in which one lives.

  2. This is where I found your blog first time:-)Now all those recipes are inspiring me again.