Can Sikhs Eat Meat?

Meat or Veg? The debate continues. What does Gurbani Say?

Some misconceptions about eating meat.

The vision of Sikhism is that eating meat or abstaining from it is an option for individuals. A Sikh is not considered at all minor or mostly Sikh if ​​they eat meat or are vegetarian.

The final Hukam of the Akal Takht

The Akal Takht represents the last authority in the controversial problems about the Sikh Panth; for that reason the problem of eating meat was considered. The Hukamnama issued by the Akal Takht Jathedar: Sandhu Singh Bhaura dated February 15, 1980 says that the Amritdhari Sikhs can eat meat as long as it is not the meat of the jhatka (Islamic or Jewish sacrifice) and that eating meat is not against the code of conduct, Kurehit, of Sikhism. Thus a Sikh can not be "excommunicated" by eating meat.

The Times of the Gurus

Purely Hunting for Amateur & Sport - Not for Any Religious Reason. Guru Gobind Singh, Vachitra Natak, Chapter 8, Chaupai 1-3,

"When I became a Spiritual Sovereign, I tried to extend the Religion with my best skills, I hunted in several games in the forest, including bears, nilgaus and elk, so I left my house and proceeded to the city of Paunta. Kalindri banks, I refreshed myself and had fun with many types of entertainment. There I killed many ferocious lions and also nilgaus and elk. "

Bhai Gurdas, Var 26 Pauri 24

The earliest Gurus sat on the papal throne, while leading a life of peace and contentment, Hargobind had dogs for sports, and went out to hunt wild animals. "

The creation of Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699

All the Sikh chronicles record the fact that during the baptism ceremony of the first five Sikhs in the Khalsa/Guru Brotherhood, Guru Gobind Rai asked for volunteers who were willing to give their heads. He took every volunteer in the tent, a loud thud was heard and blood dripped out of the tent. Guru Ji  then left the tent with his sword that dripped blood and asked for the next volunteer. Later, Guru Gobind Singh came out of the tent with the five dear ones alive. He opened the tent and revealed to the thousands of attendants that he had killed five goats with his sword and not the five dear ones.

Guru Nanak Eats Meat

The Bhai Mani Singh, Gyan Ratnavali, ANG. 123

In Kurukshetra, a large Hindu pilgrimage center where a large fair was being held on the solar eclipse. A follower of the Guru offered him deer meat to eat. The Guru who had never made a distinction between one type of food and another and had taken 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, Sikh World Press University, Delhi.)

It happened first in Bhai Mani Singh Gyan Ratnavali (ANG 123) that he mentions that Nanak has been engaged in the debate with a Pandit, named Nanau Chand.

The flesh was deer, according to this version, brought to him as an offering by a Prince and his consort who having been dispossessed of his kingdom came to him for a blessing. In the dialogue that followed with the Pandit, he was convinced not only of Nanak's logic, but also persuaded the fellow Brahmins, while basing his argument on the Vedas, the Puranas and even the Qur'an, saying that even the Hindu gods could only receive offerings from the earliest times through yagnas (sacrifices) in which the flesh was invariably served, and which has been the dharma of the Kashatriya Kings since the ages began.

Guru Angad and Guru Amar Das and Meat

From “The Sikh Religion, Volume II” by Max Arthur Macauliffe

One day the Guru was having a dinner of prepared meat. Amar Das said, "If the Guru is a seeker of hearts, he should know that I am a Vaishnava and I do not touch the flesh." The Guru (Guru Angad), knowing this, asked dal to be served to him instead. Amar Das then reflected, "The Knower, the Guru does not forbid the flesh, yet he has asked for dal to be served instead." Amar Das quickly concluded that any disciple whose practice differs from that of his Guru must inevitably fail. He therefore told the cook that if the Guru were kind enough to give him meat, he would share it with him. The Guru, hearing this, knew that superstition was starting from the heart of Amar Das and he gave him his own dish. When Amar Das had shared with him, for the first time he felt peace of mind, and when he became absorbed in his attentions and devotion to the Guru, the celestial light dawned on his heart. Thus done, the stickler in the principles of Vaishnavism becomes a follower of the Guru. One day the Guru to take it further and remove the prejudices of Amar Das, began to instruct him: "The meats that are proper to abstain from are desiring the wealth of others, desiring the wives of others and slander, envy, and greed. If anyone abstains from the flesh and is proud of the matter and says, 'I never touch the flesh', let him consider that the infant sucks nipples of meat and the married man takes home with him a vessel of flesh." The guru Angad then repeated and recited the sloks of Guru Nanak in the matter. He also told Amar Das the story of Duni Chand and his father, who lived in the time of Guru Nanak. "If you think about it," continued the Guru, there is life in everything, even in fruits and flowers, not to mention meat; but whatever you eat, remembering God will be profitable to you. Eating anything without hurting a fellow creature is nectar, and anything you receive by giving pain is poison. Crashing another's hopes, slandering others, and stealing their property is worse than eating meat. "

Guru Hargobind Eats Meat

Mohsin Fani was a historian, traveler and mystic who was born around 1615 in Persia. During the life of Guru Hargobind he emigrated to India and studied the religions of India. He became very good friends with Guru Hargobind and spent a long time the Guru until the death of the Guru in 1644. Between 1645 and 1654 he produced his great work 'Dabistan-e-Mazahib' which means' 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 a God, his followers did not put their faith in idol worship, they never pray or practice austerities like the Hindus, they do not believe in their incarnations, or places of pilgrimage, nor the Sanskrit language that the Hindus judge being the language of the gods, they believe that all the Gurus are the same as Nanak. The Sikhs do not restrict themselves in the matter of eating or drinking. When in the Partap Mall Giani saw a Hindu boy who had a mind to embrace Islam, he said, 'Why do not you become a Muhammadan? If you have a penchant for eating everything, you can become a Guru Sikh and can eat anything you like. "

Some use the following quote from Mohsin Fani to show that Guru Nanak and Guru Arjan Dev did not allow the Sikhs to eat meat. Since he emigrated to India during the life of Guru Hargobind, his information about Guru Nanak and Guru Arjan Dev cannot be considered an eyewitness account. Also, vegetarian advocates usually only give a partial appointment, the complete appointment is:

"Nanak himself abstained from animal food and Guru Arjan added to his holy merit and influence practiced a similar moderation, but Hargobind the adventurer became a hunter and a meat eater, and his disciples imitated him in these robust practices."

Gokul Chand Narang

Another contemporary of the Guru, Gokul Chand Narang provides the following eyewitness account:

"Hargobind began to devote most of his time to fighting, riding, nailing his tent and hunting tigers and boars." With the change of objectives the occupation changed, and With the change in occupation, a change came into the flavors and the diet as well. Animal food was not only allowed but it was also encouraged to consume it "

The Khalsa Army Under the Command of Banda Singh Bahadur eats Meat

A story from an eyewitness of the Khalsa army at Gurdaspur and how the Khalsa including Banda Singh Bahadur bravely fought against the Mughal army for eight months is provided below: Kan Khafi, Muntakhabul-Lubab, (ANG. 723)

"The Sikhs are not strict observers of vegetarianism, they killed oxen and other animals and having no firewood, they ate raw meat, many died of dysentery and deprivation ... when all the grass was gone, they collected leaves and when they were all consumed, they stripped the fruit of the small shoots, dried them, ground them and used them in place of the flour, keeping mind, body and soul together They also collected the bones of the animals and used them. Some claim that they saw some Sikhs cut off their own flesh, roast it, and eat it."

The Bani of Guru Nanak

Guru Nanak wrote a passage from the very long Bani where he clearly and precisely ridiculed the relationship between vegetarianism and the bani of religion. The question appears on ANGs 1289 to 1290 of the Guru Granth Sahib and is reported to have been written by the Guru when He ate meat at a Hindu festival.

Bani of Guru Nanak regarding eating meat

The Pahilan masuhn nimmiya masai andari vasu (Guru Nanak, ANG1289-1290 Granth Sahib, Raga Malar)

SLOK,  FIRST HOUSE:  First, the mortal is conceived in the flesh, and then he dwells in the flesh. When he comes alive, his mouth takes flesh; his bones, skin and body are flesh. He comes out of the womb of flesh and takes a mouthful of flesh at the breast. His mouth is flesh, his tongue is flesh; his breath is in the flesh. He grows up and is married and brings his wife of flesh into his home. Flesh is produced from flesh; all relatives are made of flesh. When the mortal meets the True Guru, and realizes the Hukam of the Lord’s Command, then he comes to be reformed. Releasing himself, the mortal does not find release; O Nanak, through empty words, one is ruined.  || 1 ||  

FIRST HOUSE:  The fools argue about flesh and meat, but they know nothing about meditation and spiritual wisdom. What is called meat, and what is called green vegetables? What leads to sin? It was the habit of the gods to kill the rhinoceros and make a feast of the burnt offering. Those who renounce meat, and hold their noses when sitting near it, devour men at night. They practice hypocrisy, and make a show before other people, but they do not understand anything about meditation or spiritual wisdom. O Nanak, what can be said to the blind people? They cannot answer, or even understand what is said. They alone are blind, who act blindly. They have no eyes in their hearts. They are produced from the blood of their mothers and fathers, but they do not eat fish or meat.  But when men and women meet in the night, they come together in the flesh. In the flesh we are conceived, and in the flesh we are born; we are vessels of flesh. You know nothing of spiritual wisdom and meditation, even though you call yourself clever, O religious scholar. O master, you believe that flesh on the outside is bad, but the flesh of those in your own home is good. All beings and creatures are flesh; the soul has taken up its home in the flesh. They eat the uneatable; they reject and abandon what they could eat. They have a teacher who is blind. In the flesh we are conceived, and in the flesh we are born; we are vessels of flesh. You know nothing of spiritual wisdom and meditation, even though you call yourself clever, O religious scholar. Meat is allowed in the Puraanas, meat is allowed in the Bible and the Koran. Throughout the four ages, meat has been used. It is featured in sacred feasts and marriage festivities; meat is used in them. Women, men, kings and emperors originate from meat. If you see them going to hell, then do not accept charitable gifts from them. The giver goes to hell, while the receiver goes to heaven — look at this injustice. You do not understand your own self, but you preach to other people. O Pandit, you are very wise indeed. O Pandit, you do not know where meat originated. Corn, sugar cane and cotton are produced from water. The three worlds came from water. Water says, “I am good in many ways.” But water takes many forms. Forsaking these delicacies, one becomes a true Sannyaasee, a detached hermit. Nanak reflects and speaks.  || 2 ||  

PAUREE:  What can I say with only one tongue? I cannot find your limits. Those who contemplate the True Word of the Shabd are absorbed into You, O Lord. Some wander around in saffron robes, but without the True Guru, no one finds the Lord. They wander in foreign lands and countries until they grow weary, but You hide Yourself within them. The Word of the Guru’s Shabd is a jewel, through which the Lord shines forth and reveals Himself. Realizing one’s own self, following the Guru’s Teachings, the mortal is absorbed into Truth. Coming and going, the tricksters and magicians put on their magic show. But those whose minds are pleased by the True Lord, praise the True One, the Ever-stable Lord.  || 25 ||  

SLOK,  FIRST HOUSE:  O Nanak, the tree of actions done in Maya yields ambrosial fruit and poisonous fruit. The Creator does all deeds; we eat the fruits as He ordains.  || 1 ||   SECOND HOUSE:  O Nanak, burn worldly greatness and glory in the fire. These burnt offerings have caused mortals to forget the Naam, the Name of the Lord. Not even one of them will go along with you in the end.  || 2 ||  

PAUREE:  He judges each and every being; by the Hukam of His Command, He leads us on. Justice is in Your Hands, O Lord; You are pleasing to my mind. The mortal is bound and gagged by Death and lead away; no one can rescue him. Old age, the tyrant, dances on the mortal’s shoulders. So, climb aboard the boat of the True Guru, and the True Lord will rescue you. The fire of desire burns like an oven, consuming mortals night and day. Like trapped birds, the mortals peck at the corn; only through the Lord’s Command will they find release. Whatever the Creator does, comes to pass; falsehood shall fail in the end.  || 26 ||  

Commentary

In the first stanza Guru Nanak establishes the fact that we are a creation of flesh. We are composed of flesh and we were created from the flesh of our fathers.

At the beginning of the second verse, Guru Nanak discredits the duality of vegetarians who oppose eating meat. Guru Nanak says that these people have their priorities confused, they fight for the virtues of not eating meat, however they do not spend their time in contemplation of God. He says that every living thing is life, if one is killing an animal or a plant, he asks can the vegetarian please tell him where the sin lies if he is killing living things, be they plants or animals? Then Guru Nanak goes on to talk about how animal sacrifice of the rhinoceros was an integral part of the Hindu religion that is willing to sacrifice animals for religion, however he says he, himself does not make such sacrifices. It is another contradiction exposed by the Guru. Guru Nanak then talks about the duality of these people who engage in innumerable sins and then make a public display of their "great piety" by saying that they do not eat meat because it is a sin, another contradiction. Guru Ji then says how the vegetarian Brahmin is a creation of the flesh, yet he maintains that eating meat is a sin.

Guru Nanak establishes the fact that eating meat is a historical fact in the Muslim, Christian and Hindu faiths and has been a part of daily life for many ages, so why is the vegetarian Brahmin denying his own story? Then Guru Nanak talks about the absurdity that kings who eat meat must all go to hell, however the vegetarian Brahmin who lives on his ill-gotten donations and charity will go to heaven. Finally, Guru Nanak concludes that all vegetables and meat are the same because their basic ingredient is water and that if the Brahmin vegetarian really wants to practice his religious renunciation instead of not eating meat, he should stop drinking water completely.

Comments of Sikh Scholars Regarding Meat

The Sikh Reht Maryada (The Official Code of Conduct)

An Amritdhari Khalsa Sikh is not allowed to eat the flesh of an animal killed in the Muslim manner. In Punjabi the word "Kuttha" specifically is the meat prepared according to the Muslim ritual slaughter.

Punjabi-English Dictionary, Punjabi University, Dept. of Lexicography of Punjabi, Dic Published. 1994.
"Kuttha: the animal or bird meat slowly slaughtered as prescribed by Islamic law."
English-Punjabi Dictionary, Singh Bros., Amritsar "Kuttha: Tortured, killed according to Mohammedan law".

What is Jhatka Meat and Why?

Jhatka meat is meat in which the animal has been killed quickly without suffering or without religious ritual. (Sikhism, A Complete Introduction, Dr. HSSingha & Satwant Kaur, Hemkunt Press)

We must give the reason behind prescribing jhatka meat as accepted food for the Sikhs. According to the ancient tradition of the Aryan Hindu, only such meat as is obtained from an animal that is killed with a blow of a weapon that causes instant death is good for health and for human consumption. However, with the coming of Islam in India and the Muslim political hegemony, it became a state policy not to allow the killing of animals for food in any other way except as explained in the Koran - like Jewish meat, prepared by disengaging the main artery from the throat of the animal slowly while the verses of the Koran are recited. A sacrifice is made to God and sins are expiated with the killing. Guru Gobind Singh took a pretty serious view of the matter. Therefore, while it is permissible to take meat as food, the entire theory of this atoning sacrifice and the right of Muslims to rule over non-Muslims were repudiated. According to this, he made jhatka meat required for the Sikhs who may be interested in taking meat as a part of their food. (Sikhs and Sikhism, Dr. IJ Singh, Published by Manohar.)

The Semitic practice is rejected in the Sikh code of conduct because it is clearly eating the flesh of an animal cooked in a ritualistic way, which means both Jewish meat and halal meat. The reason is not again in the religious principle but rather in the point of view that killing an animal with a prayer will not ennoble the flesh. No ritual, whoever directs it, will do anybody or anything good, neither the animal nor the diner. Man can do what is needed to soften his hunger if what he gets is used well and he shares portions with the needy, then it is used well and well spent, on the other hand if this is not done, then no.

Why is Meat not served in the Langar?

The reason why meat is not served in Langar in the Gurdwaras is because the Langar is supposed to be a place of equality of humanity where all people do not care what race, religion or caste they can eat in an atmosphere of brotherhood. The Hindu, Sikh, the Muslim, it does not matter who they are. Different religions have different dietary restrictions. Hindus cannot eat the cow, Muslims cannot eat pork and will eat only halal meat. The Jews will eat only Jewish meat, others cannot eat fish or eggs. But in the Guru’s Langar, no matter what your dietary taboos or religious beliefs are, the food is designed so that everyone can eat together, and no one will be offended or unable to share the food.

In this Tuk, meat is classified with good foods like bread, not with bad foods like wine.

"The body is the bottle, the presumption is the wine, and the desire to drink is the company of the companions." The vessel of the longing of the mind fills and floods with falsehood, the Messenger of Death is the waiter. In this wine, O Nanak, one assumes innumerable vices and corruption, so make your molasses of spiritual wisdom, and the Praise of God your bread, let the Fear of God be the plate of meat. Oh Nanak, this is the true food, allow the True Name to be your only Support. " (Baba Mardana, Bihagara, ANG 553)

In society, sometimes meat was avoided by Hindus and certain types of meat by the Muslims. The Gurus tried to explain to these people that eating meat was not the real sin but rather taking away the rights of others is the real thing to be avoided

“To take what rightfully belongs to another, is like a Muslim eating pork, or a Hindu eating beef. Our Guru, our Spiritual Guide, stands by us, if we do not eat those carcasses. By mere talk, people do not earn passage to Heaven. Salvation comes only from the practice of Truth. By adding spices to forbidden foods, they are not made acceptable. O Nanak, from false talk, only falsehood is obtained." (SGGS, ANG 141)

Falsehood it is the real thing to avoid

"Profiting from lies, man eats flesh, yet he goes to warn others against it. O Nanak, such personages seem to be leaders, but they lie and deceive their comrades." (Guru Nanak, Slok, ANG 140)

“The dogs of greed follow me everywhere. In the early morning, they are barking at the wind. I kill with the dagger of deceit and, lying through my teeth, I feast on dead carcasses. I live as a wild hunter, O Creator! (Guru Nanak, Sri Rag, ANG 24)

Bad intellect, bad heart, slander and anger are the real things to avoid

“False-mindedness is the drummer-woman; cruelty is the butcheress; slander of others in one’s heart is the cleaning-woman, and deceitful anger is the outcast-woman. What good are the ceremonial lines drawn around your kitchen, when these four are seated there with you? " (Guru Nanak, SGGS, ANG.15)

Greed, falsehood, scams and slander are the real things to avoid

Throughout the Guru Granth Sahib, it is clearly declared what the acts are that draw us further away from God, in no part is eating meat mentioned as one of these acts.

“They take the noose in their hands, and go out at night to strangle others, but God knows everything, O mortal. They spy on other men’s women, concealed in their hiding places. They break into well-protected places, and revel in sweet wine. But they shall come to regret their actions — they create their own karma. Azraa-eel, the Angel of Death, shall crush them like sesame seeds in the oil-press.”  (Guru Arjan Dev, Pauri, SGGS ANG 315)

“Renounce sexual desire, anger, falsehood and slander; forsake Maya and eliminate egotistical pride. Renounce sexual desire and promiscuity and give up emotional attachment. Only then shall you obtain the Immaculate Lord amidst the darkness of the world. Renounce selfishness, conceit and arrogant pride, and your love for your children and spouse. Abandon your thirsty hopes and desires and embrace love for the Lord. O Nanak, the True One shall come to dwell in your mind. Through the True Word of the Shabd, you shall be absorbed in the Name of the Lord. " (Guru Ram Das, ANG 141)

"Abandon sexual desire, anger, greed and emotional attachment. Thus you shall be rid of both birth and death.  Pain and darkness shall depart from your home, when the Guru implants spiritual wisdom within you, and lights that lamp. One who serves the Lord crosses over to the other side. O servant Nanak, the Gurmukh saves the world." (Guru Arjan Dev, Gauri, ANG 241)

"The world is burning in the fire of desire, in greed, arrogance and excessive ego. People die over and over again; they are reborn and lose their honor. They waste away their lives in vain.  || 3 ||   Those who understand the Word of the Guru’s Shabd are very rare. Those who subdue their egotism, come to know the three worlds. Then, they die, never to die again. They are intuitively absorbed in the True One." (Guru Amar Das, Majh, ANG 120)

The superstitions of the impurity of certain foods, such as meat, were exposed and given a real emphasis:

“If one accepts the concept of impurity, then there is impurity everywhere. In cow-dung and wood there are worms. As many as are the grains of corn, none is without life. First, there is life in the water, by which everything else is made green. How can it be protected from impurity? It touches our own kitchen. O Nanak, impurity cannot be removed in this way; it is washed away only by spiritual wisdom.    The impurity of the mind is greed, and the impurity of the tongue is falsehood. The impurity of the eyes is to gaze upon the beauty of another man’s wife, and his wealth. The impurity of the ears is to listen to the slander of others. O Nanak, the mortal’s soul goes, bound and gagged to the city of Death. All impurity comes from doubt and attachment to duality. Birth and death are subject to the Command of the Lord’s Will; through His Will we come and go. Eating and drinking are pure, since the Lord gives nourishment to all.”  (SGGS Guru Nanak, Slok, ANG 472)

“What good is food, and what good are clothes, if the True Lord does not abide within the mind? What good are fruits, what good is ghee, what good is sweet molasses, and what good is flour? What good are clothes, and what good is a soft bed, to enjoy pleasures and sensual delights? What good is an army, and what good are soldiers, servants and mansions to live in? O Nanak, without the True Name all this paraphernalia shall disappear.”  (Guru Nanak, ANG 142)

" The True Food is the Love of the Lord; the True Guru has spoken. With this True Food, I am satisfied, and with the Truth, I am delighted." (Guru Angad, Pauri, ANG 146)

"The Lord Himself leads the people of the world astray; they tell lies, and by telling lies, they eat poison. They do not recognize the ultimate reality, that we all must go; they continue to cultivate the poisons of sexual desire and anger." (Guru Amar Das, Pauri, ANG 145)

"Do only that, by which no filth or pollution shall stick to you. Let your mind remain awake and aware, singing the Kirtan of the Lord’s Praises.  Meditate in remembrance on the One Lord; do not be in love with duality. In the Society of the Saints, chant only the Name.  || 1 ||   The karma of good actions, the Dharma of righteous living, religious rituals, fasts and worship — practice these, but do not know any other than the Supreme Lord God.  Those who place their love in God — their works are brought to fruition.  Infinitely invaluable is that Vaishnaav, that worshipper of Vishnu, says Nanak, who has renounced corruption."  (Guru Arjan Dev, Gauri, ANG 199)

" Fire, air and water are polluted. The food which is eaten is polluted.  The actions of those who do not worship the Lord are polluted. Attuned to the Naam, the Name of the Lord, the mind becomes immaculate.   Serving the True Guru, pollution is eradicated, and then, one does not suffer death and rebirth, or get devoured by death. "(Guru Amar Das, ANG 229)

Glorious God is not only compared to the fish and the net price, but also to a fisherman - a fish killer for food.

"God is the fisherman and also the fish. He is the water and also the net. He is the weight, and He is the bait." (Guru Nanak, Sri Rag, ANG 23)

There is no difference between plants and animals. God in his perfection has designed all things, all living beings to eat what they eat. We eat the flesh as part of the natural order of things designed by God. Man has been eating meat and vegetables for millions of years, God has not designed human beings to eat meat by mistake. The only things forbidden to the Sikhs are tobacco, drugs and alcohol.

“Tigers, hawks, falcons and eagles—the Lord could make them eat grass. And those animals which eat grass—He could make them eat meat. He could make them follow this way of life. He could raise dry land from the rivers, and turn the deserts into bottomless oceans. He could appoint a worm as king, and reduce an army to ashes. All beings and creatures live by breathing, but He could keep us alive, even without the breath. O Nanak, as it pleases the True Lord, He gives us sustenance." (Guru Nanak, Slok, ANG 144)

“He Himself made the earth; He Himself made the sky. He Himself created the beings there, and He Himself places food in their mouths. He Himself is All-pervading; He Himself is the Treasure of Excellence. O servant Nanak, meditate on the Naam; He shall remove all your mistakes." (Guru Ram Das, Slok, ANG 302)

In all living beings there is a breath. They are all identical in matter and within the whole light is the same. The One Light is contained in all different and diverse things.

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