Do the Vedas ban the entry of canines into properties? We’re a pure vegetarian household, can we our golden retriever solely a vegetarian food plan? Is it potential to make vegetarian meals for canines that meets their dietary necessities? Do such questions hassle you? In case you are the proud proprietor of a vegetarian canine, do you assume your pet is calm and peaceable as a result of it’s a vegetarian. If such pondering is impressed due to godman Jaggi Vasudev’s plea for vegetarianism, you want some sociological insights.
It was at a veterinary clinic in Athani taluka of Karnataka’s Belagavi district that I first encountered a household that wished to boost their pet as a vegetarian. A father (engineer) and daughter (BSc), the Hiremaths (caste) had simply added a Labrador retriever pet to their household. They had been on the clinic for common recommendation and vaccination.
As they obtained the pet vaccinated, the daughter requested what the pet needs to be fed and informed the physician that the household ate pure vegetarian meals and that they deliberate to boost the canine as a vegetarian. The physician checked out them with some shock however didn’t attempt to persuade them in any other case. Milk and bread would work for now and packed vegetarian meals for canines was all the time obtainable, he mentioned.
It is not uncommon information in veterinary science that canines are omnivores and a balanced food plan for them might want to have meat. The physician didn’t need to contest the assumption of the vegetarian household and I suppose that he would have concerned loads of his time and persistence.
In case you are one such proprietor of a (vegetarian) canine, to begin with, congratulations on embracing a pet with a lot compassion. In the event you come from a household that has been pure-vegetarian for ages, you’re a part of a revolution as canines in these households had been thought of lowly as “untouchables” – to not be allowed inside the home and by no means to achieve the respect and love that was reserved for the pure cow.
You shouldn’t be stunned if politicians or spiritual leaders examine some social teams or ladies with canines as a result of such concepts do have some spiritual sanctity. Beneath is a few textual content from the Legal guidelines of Manu on lowly creatures, together with the canine:
“Neither a ‘Fierce’ Untouchable, nor a pig, a cock, a canine, a menstruating lady, or an impotent man needs to be watching the clergymen dine.  No matter any of those appears upon at an providing into the hearth, a gift-giving ceremony, a feast, or an providing for the gods or ancestors goes incorrect.  The pig destroys (the choices) by sniffing them, the cock with the flapping of his wings, the canine by letting his gaze fall upon them, and a low-class particular person by his very contact.”
Not surprisingly, in 2015, Union Minister of State VK Singh had stoked an argument together with his remarks on the homicide of two scheduled caste youngsters, saying the Central authorities can’t be held accountable if somebody stones “a canine”.
Girls in “pure” and privileged households are thought of quickly untouchable throughout their menstrual cycles and such knowledge on their non permanent impurity is drawn from spiritual texts.
In 2020, Krushnaswarup Dasji of the Swaminarayan Temple in Gujarat mentioned in his sermon, “Menstruating ladies who prepare dinner meals for his or her husbands will take beginning as canines of their subsequent life whereas males consuming meals ready by ladies having durations will probably be reborn as bullocks, as per spiritual texts.”
Totally different from the Vedas in a number of respects, the Manusmrti does nonetheless make our hierarchical worldview firmer and clearer. Nevertheless, the Manusmrti can not have the final phrase. there could possibly be texts that reserve a greater place for canines. One might learn Bibek Debroy’s Sarama and her Youngsters: The Canine in Indian Fantasy (Penguin 2008) for such a line.
Nevertheless, for our function and to allow extra pondering on the moral dilemmas of elevating a vegetarian canine, the Manusmrti stays necessary.
Vegetarianism is a cultural and spiritual imposition on “pure” and privileged castes. It’s not an moral alternative however a part of dharma that degrades meat eaters to low standing. Vegetarianism in India, in contrast to veganism, just isn’t pushed by compassion for animals.
I’ve beforehand defined how Indian vegetarianism just isn’t veganism (vegans, along with being vegetarians, additionally abstain from animal merchandise) and it isn’t essentially pushed by any take care of animals.
As a substitute, non-vegetarian meals (and non-vegetarian individuals) generate disgust amongst vegetarians in India – a peculiar feeling that requires distance, each social and bodily, from non-vegetarian meals and non-vegetarian individuals. The concept of purity hooked up to vegetarian meals tells us in regards to the ideology of caste and never compassion.
Opposite to the obsession with purity and caste-centered vegetarianism, modern urbane love for the canine defies a number of conventional hierarchies and even concepts of intimacy. Such love for canines and cats is impressed by new individualism and urbanism throughout cultures and societies.
In cities, as households change into tiny, we search companionship in pets and so they change into a part of our sociality. Not all states admire such hyper-individualism that makes canines a part of households. In Iran as an example, canines are animals are thought of impure in Islamic custom. Within the eyes of the present regime of Iran canines have change into an emblem of the “Westernisation” and the state has even banned import of pet meals.
The modern city love for canines in our type of urbanism just isn’t all free flowing and compassionate. As an illustration, there’s nearly a category system in canine choice and a research confirmed that 62% among the many upper-class and higher middle-class desire a pedigree or purebred canine as an alternative of the native stray canines – nearly making a caste system amongst canines.
The concept of elevating a vegetarian canine is a regressive concept, much like the backlash in cities like that of Ahmedabad in opposition to the sale of non-vegetarian meals on the streets. Vegetarianism is a contested ideology in India and even now, most proceed to eat meat.
There’s little doubt about the truth that animal sacrifice and meat consumption was allowed within the Vedas. A most up-to-date educating scholarship on the matter of animal sacrifice in Cedic traditions and its Buddhist critique is Hyoung Seok Ham’s PhD thesis (College of Michigan 2016) titled, “Buddhist Critiques of the Veda and Vedic Sacrifice: A Research of Bhāviveka’s Mīmāṃsā Chapter of the Madhyamakahṛdayakārikā and Tarkajvālā”.
Vegetarianism is a serious a part of our tradition and socialisation, like organized same-caste marriages and the apply of dowry. It’s not essentially an moral or non-violent core.
The concept of elevating a vegetarian canine is a violent concept of civilizing a canine into one thing that it isn’t meant to be. Denying canines meat-based meals is related to the compulsive privileged caste obsession with purity.
In cities, we can not preserve cows inside our properties and the canine is a practical alternative. A vegetarian canine, nonetheless, is a paradox to be solved not celebrated. It could be vital, due to this fact, to serve canines meat-based meals even if you’re a pure vegetarian – an indication of compassion and concrete cosmopolitanism.
Suryakant Waghmore is professor of Sociology at IIT-B, visiting scholar at CESDIP Paris and Fellow, New India Basis.