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The truth behind everyday things

I’ve been discussing vegetarianism with friends. When I showed them the videos of cruelty meted out in the preparation of meat, most of them felt guilty, at least touched. Satyēna vidhṛtaṃ sarvaṃ sarvaṃ satyē pratiṣṭhitam, says the Mabhabharata. Truth upholds everything, everything rests upon the truth. It got me thinking.

Why not show the contents/ingredients of everyday things just when we buy those things ? Food products have their ingredients listed on their labels. Why only food ? Why are they not listed on bags, shoes and clothes ? Will vegetarians buy leather shoes when it is labelled to be made from the skin of murdered animals ? — I feel that many will hesitate. Will people buy silk clothes when it is labelled as “5000 worms were intentionally killed for your pleasure” ? I’m sure a few of them will be turned away. Ahimsā paramō dharmaḥ.

Imagine you’re at home, spending quality time with your family. For no fault of yours, some strangers barge in to your house, threaten you out and steal your stuff. Do you feel happy, unhappy or indifferent ? Now apply the same logic to honey bees — humans kill, injure and chase away the bees from their home to steal their honey. Let there be empathy towards all living creatures. Minimal damage to the nature and envrionment.

ātmaupamyēna mantavyaṃ buddhimadbhiḥ kṛtātmabhiḥ
mṛtyutō bhayamastīti viduṣāṃ bhūtimicchatām
kiṃ punarhanyamānānāṃ tarasā jīvitārthinām
arōgāṇām-apāpānāṃ pāpair-māṃsōpajīvibhiḥ

“Intelligent and purified selves should consider other beings as similar to themselves and act accordingly. The welfare-seeking wise are themselves afraid of death. How can animals — which also exhibit a desire to live, which are healthy and didn’t commit any sin — not be afraid of death?” (Mahabharata, Anuśāsana-parva, 13.116.22–23)


COMMENTS: The above verse can be found in:

* BORI: mbh–13.pdf, pg. 583/750. As above,

* PPS Sastri: anushasana-parva-part2.pdf, pg. 294–295.

* Kumbakonam: 13.anushasanaparva.pdf, pg. 297. ASI.nic.in

* Gita Press: mahabharata06rauoft.djvu, pg. 487.

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PPS Sastri’s Preface of every Parva gives the corresponding chapter of

his work (which he calls Southern), with that of BORI/Pune edition and

the Kumbakonam edition. Then you’ve to find the verse. Easy!

I hereby start a global movement called the “Contents of Everything” (sakala-vastu-sūcikā) — a movement to declare the contents of everyday things that we use. I propose that a set of colors be used to codify the ingredients of all the stuff that we use. Given that it is impractical to list every small ingredient used in every small thing, I propose the idea of five symbols:

The Contents of Everything
The Contents of Everything

The list is in priority (Red > Orange > Dark Green > Green > Grey). “Intentional” implies that the plant or animal was deliberately harmed, injured or killed in the process of manufacturing the object in question. “Unintentional” means the opposite — for example, shoes made from the skin of naturally-dead animals or vases made from the wood of a fallen tree. “Synthetic” implies derivation from neither plant nor animal sources (for example, minerals derived from rocks, lab-produced meat, etc.).

If the truth behind everyday things are exposed to the general public, they can make informed decisions about their lifestyle. Note that I’m not asking for imposing vegetarianism on the world. All that I’m saying is that people be made aware of what they are eating, what they are wearing and what they are buying. Let people decide and act for themselves. Karma will take care of you.