NDTV Consulting Editor Barkha Dutt engages Sadhguru in a conversation during the Penguin Random House “Spring Fever Festival” in Delhi. Sadhguru looks at why Indian culture always recommended that a human being avoid eating beef. He explains how it isn’t about morality, but about what is most appropriate for the body.
Barkha Dutt: We live in times when faith and spirituality have become very inflammable…
Sadhguru: Don’t put them in the same basket.
Barkha Dutt: Okay, let’s talk about faith first.
Sadhguru: Mhmm (Indicating agreement).
Barkha Dutt: We live in times when faith for certain has become a very inflammable, easily politicized conversation. If faith should have been personal today, it’s not. Today you actually have decisions taken in the name of somebody’s faith being injured. So you mentioned food right now, I read somewhere that you said there’s nothing religious about the act of food, just eat what you like.
Sadhguru: No, no, no, I didn’t say that.
Barkha Dutt: Eat what’s good for you?
Sadhguru: I said eat what’s good for you.
Barkha Dutt: Okay, eat what’s good for you.
Sadhguru: It’s a very different thing (Laughs).
Barkha Dutt: I correct myself (Sadhguru laughs) – eat what’s good for you. But today we have a highly politicized conversation around banning beef in the name of faith. How…
Sadhguru: It’s definitely not good for you to eat it.
Barkha Dutt: Beef or any meat?
Sadhguru: I’ll come to that. Finish it, finish the question.
Barkha Dutt: Okay, okay. So I’m offering that as one example of how I see a politicized conversation taking place around faith. How do you reconcile the faith of a large number of people with questions of individual liberty? I know I have read that you like books written by Salman Rushdie. We were the first country to ban him again in the name of faith. How do we reconcile faith with individual liberty?
Sadhguru: See, it’s always been said “faith moves mountains.” Yes, but it freezes your mind. But the greatest crime you can do on this planet is to move a mountain. You should not move a mountain, it should be where it is, it has not just dropped from somewhere, it’s grown because of various forces functioning in a particular way, phenomenal activity has happened to build a mountain. You should never move a mountain but (Laughs) people with frozen minds always want to move a mountain, okay? Having said that, this needs to be understood - that when we say faith, it’s an import for this culture. We have never had faith in this culture. You must look back little beyond thousand years since we’ve been under occupation. Here, we have been told always, “Your life is your karma.” Karma means action. Whose action? Your action.
So what we are saying is your life is entirely your making. There is no someone sitting up there and managing this for you. This is entirely yours but for every action that you perform -whether physical, mental, emotional, energy-wise - whatever kind of action you perform, there is bound to be a consequence. If you’re ready for the consequence, do whatever. If you’re going to cry about the consequence, control the action right now. Based on this… Now you came to food, see the food consumption has been looked at very carefully in this country. If you just bring this back, the world will be healthy, do you understand? Here, we have identified different type of people, what they should eat. If you’re doing menial jobs, how you should eat. If you’re doing trading, how you should eat. If you’re into spiritual process, how you should eat. If you’re into education, how you should eat. Why this is is each person needs a different type of building of the body. You want to run hundred meters next to Mr. Bolt, what kind of food you should eat. You just want to work in Delhi, what kind of food you should eat. You want to think in a certain way, what kind of food you’d… you should eat. For all these, we have very clear prescriptions.
Now when it comes to food, what it means is, we are taking another life, whatever that is - it may be plant life, animal life, whatever - you’re taking another life, ingesting it and you have to make it your life – that’s the whole thing. What is your life, what is that life, if you look at it, all life on this planet is coming from the earth. This body (Gestures) is also the same soil, this (Gestures) is also same soil, if there is a (an?) earthworm, that is also same soil but see how it has become, how this (Gestures) has become, how that (Gestures) has become. If I give you… You like a mango or a banana?
Barkha Dutt: Mango.
Sadhguru: Mango. I know, (Laughs) you’re ru… you’re ruling the state right now (Referring to the Aam Aadmi party (translates as The Common Man party), currently in power in Delhi, the word “aam” means common and also mango) (Laughter). Now, if you eat a ma… mango, this mango becomes a woman in you. If I eat a mango, the same mango becomes a man in me. If a cow eats a mango, the same mango becomes a cow in the cow. Why is this happening? There is a certain information or software in you - whatever you eat it transforms it into a woman. If I eat, it transforms into a man. If a cow eats, that becomes a cow. So every life is happening the way it is happening because of a certain dimension of information or in modern terminology, let’s call it software. There is a certain software, which is an arrangement of information.
Now, the idea is to eat as simple a software as possible. If you eat that kind of life, which is a very simple software, your ability to override that software and make it entirely a part of you is very good. As that software gets comp… complex, more and more complex, your ability to integrate it goes down. So, especially if it’s a creature which has some sense of thought and emotion, if it has emotion, then you should not eat it. This is the understanding. An animal, which has any emotion, displays certain emotions… especially if it displays emotion which is near to human emotion, you should not eat it because it will not integrate itself. That animal nature will start manifesting itself.
Or in other words, in India, today maybe in cities people do not know, you see in the villages, people have very intimate relationship with a cow. They have drunk the milk of that cow, their children are drinking the milk of that cow, there is a very deep relationship. If you do not know this, cow is one creature, if something happens to you and you are in some kind of grief or misery, you don’t have to be near the cow, wherever the cow is in your house, it will str… it’ll start shedding tears for you. You know, I’ve seen this with my eyes, I couldn’t believe – when somebody is dead in the house it… what does a cow know, it is somewhere, simply tears flowing. So when it’s… has such deep emotions, if you kill it, it’s like killing a human being, it’s murder or it’s cannibalism.
So because of that – this is not a faith thing, this is not a religious thing, we thought this is a fundamental sense. Why (Fumbles)… When we are hungry, why can’t I cut you up and eat you? What’s wrong (Laughter)? What’s wrong, I’m asking?
Barkha Dutt: But what you’re saying should be about many more animals than just the cow.
Sadhguru: Yes, yes of course.
Barkha Dutt: And when it becomes about only the cow, then there is a… there is certainly a perception…
Sadhguru: I… It is not…
Barkha Dutt: …that it is a political decision or a religious decision.
Sadhguru: No, no, I am not talking about the… whatever the laws that are happ…
Barkha Dutt: This is not about people getting up and saying, “It’s cruel to be… to be a meat-eater.” That would be a different argument.
Sadhguru: Hmm, I am not even talking about cruelty. Even cutting a plant is cruel, in my experience but you have to do it. But if you are conscious of it, you will do it to the minimum possible extent, not do it wantonly, that’s the whole thing.
Now, about this political ban about cow slaughter or whatever, this has many things. One thing is there is a sensitivity, once you drink milk from the cow, she is like your mother. Killing your mother and eating her up is something people cannot digest in this country. Still eighty percent of the people belong to that category and they’re… they’re hugely… there’s a huge emotion, such a (an?) emotion, which because they’ve always been made to be docile in a certain way, they have not violently rela… reacted to it but in some places it has happened, in villages and other places. There is already a beef ban in many villages just by norm, not by any law, that you don’t bring these kind of thin… things into the village.
I am not saying you must ban it or not ban it. I am saying the sensitivities of your population, you… without considering, you can’t go do this blatantly. Because it is growing, it’s becoming a growing business; India is becoming a major exporter of beef, that’s not right. Even if somebody ate something, it is up to them, it’s their personal taste, whatever but now you’re promoting it and you’re making it grow. There is serious concern but our people don’t express it, our people don’t go out on the street and not going to kill anybody because they killed a cow.
So ban is not what is needed, more education was needed rather than banning. But definitely, eating larger creatures… Why can’t you have a dog bet (pet?) and if you’re hungry cut it up and eat it today? Or why can’t you cut up your wife and eat her today? I mean it’ll all come to that one by one. This may look like an extreme argument but I’m telling you once… human mind is such, you give it little latitude, it will go on taking advantage of it, it’ll go, go, go, go. After hundred years, they’ll be doing something that you can’t imagine that a human being can do.
Barkha Dutt: But you haven’t spoken to what happens when faith… Faith repeatedly seems to come into conflict with individual liberty by the banning of books. There were people killed in Paris because they were seen to have mocked, you know of the Prophet Mohammed and so on.
Barkha Dutt: So where does this end? Where do we stop violence and politics in the name of religion?
Sadhguru: If you… If you want that to stop, you must understand this. You’re saying, “Today, today.” It’s not today. In the last 2,000 years, this is the history of the world, continuously it’s happening all over the world.
Barkha Dutt: So is that bombers are a new phenomenon?
Sadhguru: Well, you’ve forgotten about the Crusades and the other things, which have not been reported in history (Laughs). Hundreds of millions of people have been killed in the name of god, all right? It’s new to us here, but even here, thousands… hundreds and thousands have been slaughtered in northern part of India just because the faith that they belonged to when the invasions happened. Nobody writes about it because we never took the pen and wrote, somebody wrote history for us the way they like it. Because all history is sponsored by kings, they wrote the history the way they want and they said they are great emperors but what they did was absolutely terrible.
So you need to understand, faith is a new thing to us. When I say new, in this country which has 12-15,000 years of history behind us, 1,000 years is new for us, we’ve still not come to terms with it; we’re still struggling with it. But struggling within ourselves, not creating a struggle on the street because that’s not our nature because here always we’ve (it’s?) been drilled into us, whatever you do there’ll be a consequence for you. Even if you come back another life, another life, it won’t leave you, it’ll come back to you. Tch, this has been told… This controls people, this is a… This is a tremendous technology, please understand this, and it’s not simply a fake thing, it is a real thing. Everything that you think, feel, act, there is a consequence. Not because there is somebody thinking he must give… gift… give you a reward or a punishment. It happens in your own chemistry.