Why is there a controversy in the Panth over eating meat?

The Sri Akaal Takht Sahib

The Panthic Sikh Rehit Maryada (Sikh Code of Conduct) makes it clear that the four Bajjar Kurehits (cardinal prohibitions) for a Sikh, which result in apostasy from the Sikh faith:

੧) ਕੇਸਾਂ ਦੀ ਬੇ-ਅਦਬੀ ।
੨) ਕੁੱਠਾ ਖਾਣਾ ।
੩) ਪਰ-ਇਸਤ੍ਰੀ ਜਾਂ ਪਰ-ਪੁਰਸ਼ ਦਾ ਗਮਨ (ਭੋਗਣਾ) ।
੪) ਤਮਾਕੂ ਦਾ ਵਰਤਣਾ ।

The four transgressions, which must be avoided are (1) Dishonouring the hair, (2) Eating Kuttha, (3) Intimate relationship with a person other than one’s spouse, and 4) Using tobacco (i.e. intoxicants).

The question is, what is Kuttha? While Sikh scholars have defined Kuttha in modern times to mean “meat slaughtered in the Muslim way” or “Halaal meat”, the other interpretation is “slaughtered animal” or “killed animal” (viz. meat). As a result of this difference in interpretation, some Sikhs understand the word “Kuttha” to mean Halaal meat as opposed to meat in general.

In the early 1990s when the SGPC was searching for the consensus to form the Panthic Sikh Rehat Maryada, the majority of the Panth (unlike today) ate meat or believed eating meat was acceptable, however this knowledge was not based on deep Gurbani study as most people were illiterate. There were strict vegetarians at the time, the majority being the Sikh saints, however they too did not force their view upon the masses or the Panthic scholars because eating flesh was socially accepted. The SGPC added a footnote to the word “Kutthaa” to state it meant meat slaughtered in accordance to the Muslim tradition.

Many prominent Sikhs did not sign the drafted Maryada, even though they had participated widely in various deliberations. The absence of appropriate dietary recommendations in the Maryada was one of the main reasons. Also, as noted by some Sikh scholars, proper records of Sikh history, meanings of Gurbani, influence of social circumstances and role of other religious forces were not properly understood in the late 1800s and early 1900s. In the past 60 years the common Sangat’s knowledge of Gurbani and Gurmat has increased with a wider access to understanding Gurmat through books, TV, radio, Internet, kathaa and santheyaa given at Gurdwaras. Now the majority of the Panth believes eating any type of meat is unacceptable, if the same discussions were held in regards to the Maryada then it would be certainly changed to as it should be.

USING GURBANI TO ADDRESS MEAT-EATERS POINTS

If killing living beings is bad then is killing pest and insects okay?
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Shabad Vichaar:Jeeaa Ka Aahaar Jeea”
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Part 1 – Damdami Taksaal on Meat

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Part 2 – – Damdami Taksaal on Meat

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Debate on Meat and Gurmat (Part 3 of 3)

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SRI GURU GRANTH SAHIB JI CLEARLY PROHIBITING EATING MEAT

Those who eat meat are not labelled as ‘Sikhs’ or ‘Gurmukhs’ in Gurbani, rather they are called labelled deceitful:

ਕਾਹੇ ਕਉ ਕੀਜੈ ਧਿਆਨੁ ਜਪੰਨਾ || ਜਬ ਤੇ ਸੁਧੁ ਨਾਹੀ ਮਨੁ ਅਪਨਾ ||੧|| ਰਹਾਉ ||
ਸਿੰਘਚ ਭੋਜਨੁ ਜੋ ਨਰੁ ਜਾਨੈ || ਐਸੇ ਹੀ ਠਗਦੇਉ ਬਖਾਨੈ ||੨||
“Why do you practice meditation and chanting, when your mind is not pure? ||1||Pause and reflect|| The human who considers a lion’s food (i.e. meat) as their food, know such a person to be a god of thieves (‘thugg’). ||2||”
(Ang 485)

The fundamental principle of Gurmat (the Guru’s teaching) is:

ਦੂਖੁ ਨ ਦੇਈ ਕਿਸੈ ਜੀਅ ਪਤਿ ਸਿਉ ਘਰਿ ਜਾਵਉ ॥
“Do not cause suffering to any living beings, and you shall go to your true home with honor.”
(Ang 322)

Gurbani clearly states:

ਕਬੀਰ ਭਾਂਗ ਮਾਛੁਲੀ ਸੁਰਾ ਪਾਨਿ ਜੋ ਜੋ ਪ੍ਰਾਨੀ ਖਾਂਹਿ ॥
ਤੀਰਥ ਬਰਤ ਨੇਮ ਕੀਏ ਤੇ ਸਭੈ ਰਸਾਤਲਿ ਜਾਂਹਿ ॥੨੩੩॥
Kabīr bẖāʼng mācẖẖulī surā pān jo jo prānī kẖāʼnhi.
Ŧirath baraṯ nėm kī­ė ṯė sabẖai rasāṯal jāʼnhi. ||233||

Literal Translation: “O Kabeer! Those mortals who consume marijuana, fish and wine – no matter what pilgrimages, fasts and rituals they follow, they will all go to hell. ||233||”
(SGGS – Ang 1377)

Meaning of words:

Note:Through the Revealed Word of God, Bhagat Kabir Ji explains to himself to instruct the world about the prohibitions in religious discipline (kurehits). It is false to believe that this salok (hymn) only prohibits the consumption of cannabis, fish and alcohol. One has to look beyond the surface level and dive deeper into Gurbani. Guru Ji cannot make a vast list of drugs, foods and wines that one is forbidden to eat or drink. This would be a waste of time. Instead Guru ji categorises drugs, meat/flesh/killed animals and wines/alcohol under three general categories which represent all products associated and in the same category.

ਭਾਂਗ (bẖāʼng) = marijuana, cannabis |
The category of ‘cannabis’ or ‘bhung’ includes opium, heroine, tobacco, and all drugs whether inhaled, eaten, smoked or injected through needles.

ਮਾਛੁਲੀ (mācẖẖulī) = fish |
The category of ‘fish’ includes all killed animals whether sea or land animals and allied products like egg, i.e. all meat and flesh.

ਸੁਰਾ (surā) = liquor, alcohol | ਪਾਨਿ (pān) = one who drinks |
The category of alcohol or wine includes all types of alcohol whether beer, whisky, rum, brandy, or any type of wine etc.

ਜੋ ਜੋ ਪ੍ਰਾਨੀ (jo jo prānī kẖāʼnhi) = whosoever, everyone | ਖਾਂਹਿ (kẖāʼnhi) = eat, consume |
Gurbani is not prohibiting drugs, meat and alcohol to only Sikhs. It is clear that Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji is addressing everyone, i.e. Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Sikhs and the whole world.

ਤੀਰਥ (Ŧirath) = pilgrimages |
Guru Ji is addressing everyone and not only Sikhs. For Hindus, pilgrimage is bathing at the sixty-eight sacred places revered across India. For Muslims, pilgrimage is going on Hajj, i.e. visiting Mecca. For Christians, pilgrimage is visiting Bethlehem and Jerusalem. For Sikhs, pilgrimage in a physical sense is visiting Sri Harimandir Sahib (also known as the ‘Golden Temple’) in Amritsar as well as other historical Gurdwaras in India and Pakistan, but in a spiritual sense pilgrimage means travelling from your mind to one’s soul through bathing and immersing oneself in Naam.

ਬਰਤ (baraṯ) = fast |
Hindus keep fasts on certain days related to their deities as an act of penance. Muslims observe ‘Roza’ or a fast during the month of Ramadan. Christians keep a fast or give up certain foods during ‘Lent’ (before Easter). Sikhs observe the permanent fast of not telling lies, not cheating anyone else or stealing the wealth of others.

ਨੇਮ (nėm) = (religious) routine, practice | ਕੀਏ (kī­ė) = perform, follow |
Hindus perform daily rituals (puja) and chant devotional prayers as part of their daily routine. Muslims perform five prayers (namaaz) as part of their daily routine. Christians say the Lord’s prayer as part of their daily routine. Sikhs wake up Amrit-vela (the early ambrosial hours) and repeat and meditate upon Naam (the Divine-Name) followed by reciting the five prayers of the morning, and reciting Rehraas Sahib in the evening and Sohila Sahib before bed.

ਤੇ ਸਭੈ (ṯė sabẖai) = they will all |
Again, Guru Ji talks about everyone. There are no exceptions.

ਰਸਾਤਲ ਜਾਂਹਿ (rasāṯal jāʼnhi) = become useless, there is not an iota of benefit, go to hell. |233|
Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, the Pefect True Guru, the Complete Truth, the Word of God, the Universal Truth, instructs us that if anyone (irrespective of faith or background) consumes drugs or intoxicants, eats any fish or meat, or drinks any wine or alcohol then all their pilgrimages, fasts and religious practices and prayers lose their value and become worth nothing. That person becomes worthy of hell and reaps no benefit from his religious commitments and efforts.

This salokh on ang (page) 1377 is crystal clear that a Sikh is prohibited from eating meat or any flesh. Anyone who accepts and has full faith in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji as their Satguru will not doubt Gurbani. With one Hukam from Gurbani a Sikh accepts and obeys. On the other hand, a Manmukh would continue to ask for further proof or evidence and remain unsatisfied and unwilling to submit to the instructions of Satguru.

WHAT IS HALAAL MEAT?

Cow’s throat being slit for blood to slowly pour out in accordance to Islamic law.

Halaal meat is meat obtained by the Muslim method of slaying an animal.

This method of slaughtering animals consists of a swift, deep incision with a sharp knife on the neck, cutting the jugular vein and carotid arteries of both sides but leaving the spinal cord intact, while reciting religious prayers.

Muslims claim that this is the most humane method of animal slaughter.

WHAT IS JHATKA MEAT?

A goat being slaughtered by a modern day ‘Sanatan’ Sikh.

The concept of “Jhatka” as it is known today is a Hindu one borrowed from the Rajputs who still do it today and have done it for ages before the Sikhs. Proponents of this practice explain this concept as a “Singh” cutting the head of a goat with one blow while shouting a Jaikara (the cry of “Sat Sri Akaal” (God is True). But in Gurbani we are faced with the question:

ਜੀਅ ਬਧਹੁ ਸੁ ਧਰਮੁ ਕਰਿ ਥਾਪਹੁ ਅਧਰਮੁ ਕਹਹੁ ਕਤ ਭਾਈ ॥
ਆਪਸ ਕਉ ਮੁਨਿਵਰ ਕਰਿ ਥਾਪਹੁ ਕਾ ਕਉ ਕਹਹੁ ਕਸਾਈ ॥2॥
“You kill living beings, and call it a righteous action. Tell me, brother, what would you call an unrighteous action? If you religious people are doing “religious” killing for meat, then what is A-dharam (atheism)? If you are a religious person then whom will we call a butcher? ||2||”
(Ang 1103)

ਕਬੀਰ ਜੋਰੀ ਕੀਏ ਜੁਲਮੁ ਹੈ ਕਹਤਾ ਨਾਉ ਹਲਾਲੁ ॥
ਦਫਤਰਿ ਲੇਖਾ ਮਾਂਗੀਐ ਤਬ ਹੋਇਗੋ ਕਉਨੁ ਹਵਾਲੁ ॥੧੮੭॥
ਕਬੀਰ ਖੂਬੁ ਖਾਨਾ ਖੀਚਰੀ ਜਾ ਮਹਿ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਲੋਨੁ ॥
ਹੇਰਾ ਰੋਟੀ ਕਾਰਨੇ ਗਲਾ ਕਟਾਵੈ ਕਉਨੁ ॥੧੮੮॥
“O Kabeer! (Tell the Mullah,) to use force is tyranny, (you grab animals and saying God’s Name you kill them) you you call this legal. (But committing this sin, have you ever thought) when your account is called for in the Court of the Lord, what will your condition be then? ||187|| O Kabeer! (Despite the Mullah eating meat, believing he is within God’s Law) eating the dinner of beans and rice is excellent, in which there is only salt. Who would cut his throat (in paying for the sin) to have meat with his bread? ||188||
(Ang 1374)

Someone could argue that Guru Sahib is addressing the Muslims and in the other cases the Hindus when giving teachings of not to kill animals for food. However, Gurbani is clear:

ਪਰਥਾਇ ਸਾਖੀ ਮਹਾ ਪੁਰਖ ਬੋਲਦੇ ਸਾਝੀ ਸਗਲ ਜਹਾਨੈ ॥
“Great holy men speak the teachings by relating them to individual situations, but the whole world shares in them.”
(Ang 647)

HALAAL MEAT AS A TABOO

Some Sikhs who choose to eat meat argue that one of the Bajjar Kurehits (cardinal prohibitions) is to eat Halaal meat as opposed to eat meat in general. The primary reason for this is that Halaal meat is considered a cruel way to kill an animal due to the length of time it takes for the animal to die.

Sikhs generally hold the view that the Halaal method of slaughter is indeed cruel. Other groups such as the The Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC), which advises the UK government on how to avoid cruelty to livestock, hold the same view and say that the way Kosher and Halaal meat is produced, causes severe suffering to animals. In addition, the Humanists movement, which has previously called for the abolition of ritual slaughter, says ethical values should be put above religious ones.

Sikhs do believe it is good practice for society to move away from this type of ritual slaughter of an animal. But below is presented evidence from Sikh scriptures and edicts from the Gurus that encourage and promote a lacto-vegetarian diet as the best for a human being.

INTERPRETATION OF THE WORD “KUTTHAA”

In Dictionary of Guru Granth Sahib by Surinder Singh Kohli on page 205 is the following entry:
Kutha: (ਕੁਠਾ) adj (from Punjabi Kohana) Slaughtered.

From Punjabi-English English-Punjabi Dictionary by Krishan Kumar Goswani Page 91
Kohnaa ( ਕੋਹਣਾ ) v To torture, to slay, to kill

1. The word ਕੁਠਾਰੁ “Kuthaar”

a) SGGS page 693:
ਬਜਰ ਕੁਠਾਰੁ ਮੋਹਿ ਹੈ ਛੀਨਾਂ ਕਰਿ ਮਿੰਨਤਿ ਲਗਿ ਪਾਵਉ ॥
bajar kuthaar mohi hai chheenaaN kar minat lag paava-o.
“I fell at the Guru`s feet and begged of Him; with the mighty axe, I have chopped off emotional attachment.”

Here word “Kuthaar” appears to mean “Axe”

b) SGGS page 714
ਕਾਢਿ ਕੁਠਾਰੁ ਪਿਤ ਬਾਤ ਹੰਤਾ ਅਉਖਧੁ ਹਰਿ ਕੋ ਨਾਉ ॥1॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
kaadh kuthaar pit baat hantaa a-ukhaDh har ko naa-o. ||1|| rahaa-o.||
“The Name of the Lord is the medicine; it is like an axe, which destroys the diseases caused by anger and egotism. ||1||Pause||”

Again the word “Kuthaar” appears to mean “Axe”

2. The word ਕੁਠਾਰਿ “kuthaar”

SGGS Page 1225 Full Shabad
ਹਰਿ ਕਾਟੀ ਕੁਟਿਲਤਾ ਕੁਠਾਰਿ ॥
har kaatee kutiltaa kuthaar.
The Lord has cut down the crooked tree of my deceit.

3. The Word ਕੁਠੇ ॥ “kuthay”

SGGS Page 1019 Full Shabad
ਅਜਰਾਈਲਿ ਫੜੇ ਫੜਿ ਕੁਠੇ ॥
ajraa-eel farhay farh kuthay.
“Azraa-eel, the Angel of Death, seizes and tortures them.”

The word “Kuttha” (ਕੁਠਾ) appears in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji a number of times. Kuttha can have two meanings: either to butcher, kill or destroy or alternatively, it can mean meat (the product of killing, butchering, destroying). The root of “Kuttha” is “Kutthaar” or axe. A word that operates like “Kuttha” is “muthha” which refers to the act of looting and also the product of looting i.e. “the loot”. In this way, Kuttha can mean, “to butcher/ kill/ destroy” and also refers to the product i.e. “butchered meat”. It cannot by any means refer to Halal meat or Muslim meat.

Everyday we kill countless organisms just through breathing or stepping, but that is much different than Kuttha. Kuttha is the meat of an animal that has been ‘butchered’ and then ‘intentionally’ eaten.

SOME HISTORICAL SOURCES

If we look at the lives of the Gurus we should try to emulate as much of them as possible because we regard their lives as ideal living, then this should be part of it.

Dr. Ganda Singh, a 20th century famous Sikh historian, collected historical edicts and commands written by the Guru Sahibs and published them in his book “Hukamnamas”. On page 64-65 a photograph of the Sixth Nanak, Guru Hargobind Sahib’s Hukamanama (edict) is given with a translation of it in Punjabi:

Historical edict hand written by Guru Hargobind Ji.

The Hukamnama clearly states:

ਮਾਸ ਮਛੀ ਦੇ ਨੇੜੇ ਨਹੀਂ ਆਵਣਾ |
“Do not come near (i.e. consume) meat and fish.”
(Hukamnama of 6th Guru found at Sri Harimandir Sahib, Patna Sahib)

The last line clearly says not to go near meat or fish. This can’t be just a hoax because all Hukamnamas collected issued from the bear this order. The reason for issuing such an edit proves that historically some followers of the Sikh religion have hunted for eating meat and consumed flesh. But this was not in accordance to Sikh teachings and therefore, to clear the doubts of the Sikhs. The Guru and his Sikhs hunted to defend villages and people from dangerous animals and also to give selected animals salvation who had previously been Sikhs of the Guru or had dealings with them when they were in the human life. Unfortunately, some Sikhs misunderstood this and began to hunt for killing animals for food. As a result of this Guru Hargobind Ji issued the edict above.

Mohsin Fani (1615-70), the well known historian and a contemporary of Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib, rites in his work DABISTAN-E-MAZAHIB as follows:

“Having prohibited his disciples to drink wine and eat pork, he (Nanak) himself abstained from eating flesh and ordered not to hurt any living being. After him this precept was neglected by his followers; but Arjun Mal, one of the substitutes of his Faith, renewed the prohibition to eat flesh and said: This has not been approved by Nanak.”

 A modern-day Nihang removing the skin of a killed goat, contrary to Gurmat (the Guru’s teachings).

The philosophical poetry (Vaars) of Bhai Gurdaas Ji, the nephew of the third Guru and close associate of the subsequent Gurus, is given the utmost respect in the Sikh religion. Bhai Gurdaas Ji poetically describes the killing of a goat for it’s meat, and explains to Sikhs the consequences of eating meat through the eyes of the Goat being killed:

ਅਕ ਧਤੂਰਾ ਖਾਧਿਆਂ ਕੁਹਿ ਕੁਹਿ ਖਲ ਉਖਲਿ ਵਿਣਸੀ ॥
ਮਾਸੁ ਖਾਨਿ ਗਲ ਵਢਿ ਕੈ ਹਾਲੁ ਤਿਨਾੜਾ ਕਉਣੁ ਹੋਵਸੀ ॥
“I was eating ‘Ak’ and ‘Dhatura’ plants (weed plants found in India) for whole of my life, to which no body else liked to eat. And even then I am being brutally killed and my skin being ripped, What will happen to those who cut my throat and eat my meat?
(Vaar 25, Pauri 7)

Elsewhere, Bhai Gurdaas Ji says:

ਕੁਹੈ ਕਸਾਈ ਬਕਰੀ ਲਾਇ ਲੂਣ ਸੀਖ ਮਾਸੁ ਪਰੋਆ ॥
ਹਸਿ ਹਸਿ ਬੋਲੇ ਕੁਹੀਂਦੀ ਖਾਧੇ ਅਕਿ ਹਾਲੁ ਇਹੁ ਹੋਆ॥
ਮਾਸ ਖਾਨਿ ਗਿਲ ਛੁਰੀ ਦੇ ਹਾਲੁ ਤਿਨਾੜਾ ਕਉਣੁ ਅਲੋਆ ॥

“Goat is being killed, cut into pieces, and salt being spread on the pieces. While being killed goat says this all happened to me while I was just eating ‘Ak’ plant (weed found in India‘s desert fields). What will be the fate of those in the Court of the Lord who cut my throat with a knife and eat my meat?”
(Vaar 37, Pauri 21)

The Tenth Nanak, Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s “UPDESH” to Bhai Daya Singh ji which is mentioned in “SUDHARAM MARAG GRANTH” :

“One who does not steal, commit adultery, slander anyone, gamble, eat meat or drink wine will be liberated in this very life (i.e. Jeewan Mukt)”.

REASONS BEHIND NOT EATING MEAT

In the true sense neither meat or vegetables are condemnable or sinful in itself. Actually the commendable is the tyranny, violence and evil means adopted in the act of obtaining the meat, driven by one’s lustful palate and is, thus, a sinful act. Even vegetarian food obtained through foul means of bribery, extortion and exploitation is deplorable:

ਹਕੁ ਪਰਾਇਆ ਨਾਨਕਾ ਉਸੁ ਸੂਅਰ ਉਸੁ ਗਾਇ ||
“(Nanak) Grabbing the rightful share of others is like (a Muslim) eating pork and eating beef (for a Hindu).”
(Ang 141)

At Malik Bhago’s feast, Guru Nanak Dev Ji refused to eat any of the food because it was prepared through wealth snatched from the poor by force. When one kills the living beings for obtaining meat, the blood virtually flows out and the use of tyranny and oppression is obvious. Such an action is considered sinful according to Gurbani:

ਅਸੰਖ ਗਲਵਢ ਹਤਿਆ ਕਮਾਹਿ || ਅਸੰਖ ਪਾਪੀ ਪਾਪੁ ਕਰਿ ਜਾਹਿ ||
“Countless people are the cut-throats who commit murders. Numberless are the sinners, who go on committing this particular sin.”
(Ang 4)

Simply by avoiding meat as food no one can become holy person. One can become a religious person only by leading a pious life and simply by practising the rituals or by renouncing certain foods. Religion is far more deep and is about leading towards union with Vaheguru through Naam.

ਸਰਬ ਧਰਮ ਮਹਿ ਸ੍ਰੇਸਟ ਧਰਮੁ ||
ਹਰਿ ਕੋ ਨਾਮੁ ਜਪਿ ਨਿਰਮਲ ਕਰਮੁ ||
“Of all religions, the best religion is to chant the Name of the Lord and maintain pure conduct.”
(Ang 266)

Another reason linked to why a Sikh doesn’t eat meat is compassion. Mercy evaporates when we butcher and eat meat. A carrot may have life but it will never run away screaming when you go to the garden to get it. Guru Sahib is clear in Gurbani that life must sustain itself on life. There is no lack of mercy or daya (mercy) exercised when cutting a vegetable as it does not reacts to being cut. Contrast that with animals. These animals beg and cry and little calves cling to their mothers in terror when they sense they will be slaughtered.

Gurbani says:

ਅਠਸਠਿ ਤੀਰਥ ਸਗਲ ਪੁੰਨ ਜੀਅ ਦਇਆ ਪਰਵਾਨੁ ॥
“Rather than bathing at the sixty-eight sacred shrines of pilgrimage and the giving of charity – the most meritorious act that will be accepted by the Lord is showing compassion to all beings.”
(Ang 136)

ਦੂਖੁ ਨ ਦੇਈ ਕਿਸੈ ਜੀਅ ਪਤਿ ਸਿਉ ਘਰਿ ਜਾਵਉ ॥
“Do not cause any being to suffer, and you shall go to your true home with honor.”
(Ang 322)

ਜੇ ਰਤੁ ਲਗੈ ਕਪੜੈ ਜਾਮਾ ਹੋਇ ਪਲੀਤੁ ॥
ਜੋ ਰਤੁ ਪੀਵਹਿ ਮਾਣਸਾ ਤਿਨ ਕਿਉ ਨਿਰਮਲੁ ਚੀਤੁ ॥
ਨਾਨਕ ਨਾਉ ਖੁਦਾਇ ਕਾ ਦਿਲਿ ਹਛੈ ਮੁਖਿ ਲੇਹੁ ॥
ਅਵਰਿ ਦਿਵਾਜੇ ਦੁਨੀ ਕੇ ਝੂਠੇ ਅਮਲ ਕਰੇਹੁ ॥੧॥
“If one’s clothes are stained with blood, the garment becomes polluted. Those who drink the blood of others – how can those people’s consciousness be pure?”
(Ang 140)

Guru Nanak Dev Ji simply tells us that if blood stains our clothes are clothes become dirty and polluted, and the mind’s of the people who drink blood also becomes dirty. Therefore, blood is considered as unpleasant thing to drink. Blood can be obtained be killing any living being – whether man or animal through butchery, torture or slaughter. Guru Ji tells us that a cold-hearted person cannot maintain a pure mind, only a compassionate person can have a pure mind.


Video of animals screaming and crying out in a slaughterhouse:

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Meet Your Meat’ – video showing animals suffering for the sake of being killed to satisfy human appetite:

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Plants have no nervous system. Plants are a life form that can’t feel pain. Animals are not as such. The word “gardener” has no pejorative connotation. The word “butcher” on the other hand stands for someone who has no mercy. If one’s heart doesn’t melt at seeing the shrieks and anguish of animals, why would it matter when a human does the same? Why is it Muslims can do Halaal on humans? It’s because they have so much experience with animals that the jerking, gasping of dying animals and blood is something usual for them. A butcher will have the heart of a butcher. A butcher can never be a ‘Dharmee’ (spiritually pious) person.

ਬੇਦ ਕਤੇਬ ਕਹਹੁ ਮਤ ਝੂਠੇ ਝੂਠਾ ਜੋ ਨ ਬਿਚਾਰੈ ॥
ਜਉ ਸਭ ਮਹਿ ਏਕੁ ਖੁਦਾਇ ਕਹਤ ਹਉ ਤਉ ਕਿਉ ਮੁਰਗੀ ਮਾਰੈ ॥੧॥
ਮੁਲਾਂ ਕਹਹੁ ਨਿਆਉ ਖੁਦਾਈ ॥
ਤੇਰੇ ਮਨ ਕਾ ਭਰਮੁ ਨ ਜਾਈ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
“Call the religious ways of the Vedas and Semitic Books (Torah, Bible, Quran etc.) false, and one who does not realize this is also false. (O dear Mullah!) If you say that the One Lord is in all, so why do you kill chickens (as a sacrifice before that Lord)? (Does He not pervade in the chicken? What is the meaning of killing the creation of the Lord and presenting it before Him?) ||1|| O Mullah! Tell me: is this God’s Justice? The doubts of your mind have not been dispelled. ||1||Pause||”
(Ang 1350)

FURTHER QUOTATIONS FROM GURBANI

ਜਉ ਸਭ ਮਹਿ ਏਕੁ ਖੁਦਾਇ ਕਹਤ ਹਉ ਤਉ ਕਿਉ ਮੁਰਗੀ ਮਾਰੈ ॥੧॥

“(O Mullah!) If in all is the one God, then why kill a chicken?”
(SGGS – Ang 1350)

ਸਰਜੀਉ ਕਾਟਹਿ ਨਿਰਜੀਉ ਪੂਜਹਿ ਅੰਤ ਕਾਲ ਕਉ ਭਾਰੀ ॥
“You kill living beings and worship lifeless things, at your very last moment you will suffer terrible pain.”
(SGGS – Ang 332)

ਕਬੀਰ ਖੂਬੁ ਖਾਨਾ ਖੀਚਰੀ ਜਾ ਮਹਿ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਲੋਨੁ ॥
ਹੇਰਾ ਰੋਟੀ ਕਾਰਨੇ ਗਲਾ ਕਟਾਵੈ ਕਉਨੁ ॥੧੮੮॥
“O Kabeer! Blessed is the simple food of rice mixed with salt; who would risk his head to be slain hereafter, for the meat one eats here?”
(SGGS – Ang 1374)

ਕਬੀਰ ਜੋਰੀ ਕੀਏ ਜੁਲਮੁ ਹੈ ਕਹਤਾ ਨਾਉ ਹਲਾਲੁ ॥
ਦਫਤਰਿ ਲੇਖਾ ਮਾਂਗੀਐ ਤਬ ਹੋਇਗੋ ਕਉਨੁ ਹਵਾਲੁ ॥੧੮੭॥
“O Kabeer! Those that use force and kill and call it lawful (halaal), after going to the Court of God, what will be their state? ||187||
(SGGS – Ang 1374)

ਕਬੀਰ ਜੋਰੁ ਕੀਆ ਸੋ ਜੁਲਮੁ ਹੈ ਲੇਇ ਜਬਾਬੁ ਖੁਦਾਇ ॥
ਦਫਤਰਿ ਲੇਖਾ ਨੀਕਸੈ ਮਾਰ ਮੁਹੈ ਮੁਹਿ ਖਾਇ ॥੨੦੦॥
“O Kabeer! It is tyranny to use force and kill; the Lord shall call you to account. When your account is called for, your face and mouth shall be beaten. ||200||”
(SGGS – Ang 1375)

ਕਬੀਰ ਖੂਬੁ ਖਾਨਾ ਖੀਚਰੀ ਜਾ ਮਹਿ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਲੋਨੁ ॥
ਹੇਰਾ ਰੋਟੀ ਕਾਰਨੇ ਗਲਾ ਕਟਾਵੈ ਕਉਨੁ ॥੧੮੮॥
“O Kabeer! (Despite the Mullah justifies eating meat with the excuse of sacrificing it to God,) the dinner of beans and rice is excellent, if it is (just) flavoured with salt. I am not ready to have my own throat cut to have meat with my bread? ||188||”
(SGGS – Ang 1374)

ਦੂਖੁ ਨ ਦੇਈ ਕਿਸੈ ਜੀਅ ਪਤਿ ਸਿਉ ਘਰਿ ਜਾਵਉ ॥

“Do not cause any being to suffer, and you shall go to your true home with honor.”
(SGGS – Ang 322)

EATING MEAT AND HEALTH

“Doctors say eating meat is healthy – you get vitamins and good things – so there are benefits in eating meat, like with anything its about how much you eat.”

The health aspect we all know and there are lots of resources on the Internet on this issue. One site, which highlights the main risks of eating meat, is:

http://www.healthandgoodness.com/nutritiondiet/health_risks_meat.html.

Meat is disease-ridden and is a dirty thing to eat.

Gurbani tells us:

ਬਾਬਾ ਹੋਰੁ ਖਾਣਾ ਖੁਸੀ ਖੁਆਰੁ ॥
ਜਿਤੁ ਖਾਧੈ ਤਨੁ ਪੀੜੀਐ ਮਨ ਮਹਿ ਚਲਹਿ ਵਿਕਾਰ ॥1॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥

“O Baba, the pleasures of other foods are false. Eating which, the body is ruined (i.e. are unhealthy), and wickedness and corruption enter into the mind. ||1||Pause||”
(Ang 16)

The vegetarian diet is known to be light on the digestive system and easy to digest. In modern times, medical practitioners and dieticians alike have emphasized the virtues of vegetarian diet. In the western world, vegetarian diet is increasingly becoming popular in recent years.

www.cancerproject.org
“The World Health Organization has determined that dietary factors account for at least 30 percent of all cancers in Western countries and up to 20 percent in developing countries. When cancer researchers started to search for links between diet and cancer, one of the most noticeable findings was that people who avoided meat were much less likely to develop the disease. Large studies in England and Germany showed that vegetarians were about 40 percent less likely to develop cancer compared to meat eaters.”

ec.europa.eu:
“The use of six growth hormones 17ß-oestradiol, progesterone, testosterone, zeranol, trenbolone and melengestrol acetate (MGA) for growth promotion in cattle pose a risk to the consumers, but with different levels of conclusive evidence. This is the main finding of the Scientific Committee for Veterinary Measures relating to Public Health which has unanimously adopted an opinion on potential risks to human health from hormone residues in meat and meat products. The adverse effects include developmental, neurobiological, genotoxic and carcinogenic effects.”

DISTORTION OF GURBANI TO JUSTIFY EATING MEAT

The only Shabad (sacred hymn) in the whole of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji that is specifically cited by meat eaters in support of eating meat is the Shabad of Guru Nanak Sahib Ji in the Vaar of Raag Malaar that revealed at Kurekshetra during a solar eclipse day, a day considered holy by the Brahmins (Hindus priests). It begins with the couplet:

ਮਾਸੁ ਮਾਸੁ ਕਰਿ ਮੂਰਖੁ ਝਗੜੇ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਧਿਆਨੁ ਨਹੀ ਜਾਣੈ ॥
ਕਉਣੁ ਮਾਸੁ ਕਉਣੁ ਸਾਗੁ ਕਹਾਵੈ ਕਿਸੁ ਮਹਿ ਪਾਪ ਸਮਾਣੇ ॥
“Only the fool quarrels over the question of eating or not eating of the meat. He does not have the True Wisdom. Without True Wisdom or Meditation, he harps on which is flesh and which is not flesh and or Meditation, he harps on which is flesh and which is not flesh and which food is sinful and which is not.”
(SGGS – Ang 1289-1290)

The Guru is addressing a Vaishnav Pandit (scholar) who believes that he can achieve Nirvana (a state of liberation) only by avoiding meat as food and not trying to obtain the true wisdom through meditation. The Guru has stressed that only avoiding meat will not lead one to the achievement of Spiritual Bliss. Guru Sahib exposes the Pandit’s hypocrisy and double standards.

The same hymn states that everything is flesh, which is inappropriately used to argue that eating meat is okay:

ਪਹਿਲਾਂ ਮਾਸਹੁ ਨਿੰਮਿਆ ਮਾਸੈ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਵਾਸੁ ॥
ਜੀਉ ਪਾਇ ਮਾਸੁ ਮੁਹਿ ਮਿਲਿਆ ਹਡੁ ਚੰਮੁ ਤਨੁ ਮਾਸੁ ॥
ਮਾਸਹੁ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਕਢਿਆ ਮੰਮਾ ਮਾਸੁ ਗਿਰਾਸੁ ॥
ਮੁਹੁ ਮਾਸੈ ਕਾ ਜੀਭ ਮਾਸੈ ਕੀ ਮਾਸੈ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਸਾਸੁ ॥
ਵਡਾ ਹੋਆ ਵੀਆਹਿਆ ਘਰਿ ਲੈ ਆਇਆ ਮਾਸੁ ॥
ਮਾਸਹੁ ਹੀ ਮਾਸੁ ਊਪਜੈ ਮਾਸਹੁ ਸਭੋ ਸਾਕੁ ॥
ਸਤਿਗੁਰਿ ਮਿਲਿਐ ਹੁਕਮੁ ਬੁਝੀਐ ਤਾਂ ਕੋ ਆਵੈ ਰਾਸਿ ॥
ਆਪਿ ਛੁਟੇ ਨਹ ਛੂਟੀਐ ਨਾਨਕ ਬਚਨਿ ਬਿਣਾਸੁ ॥੧॥
“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||”
(SGGS – Ang 1289)

The fact is that a human’s own flesh is exactly like that of meat. Observing surgery or perusing internal medicine books, one notes that we are the same substance. That’s why Guru Nanak Sahib Ji has said not to hate meat. We are meat. But at the same time we cannot eat it because it would be like eating a dead body. It’s foul and unthinkable.

Vegetarianism by itself cannot confer spiritual merit or lead to the door of salvation (mukti). Spiritual achievement depends on Saadhana or religious discipline. However, it has been observed that a vegetarian diet helps to keep a healthy body and a healthy body makes a healthy mind. To practice hypocrisy, enter futile arguments, harbour hate for others or believe salvation rests in mere rituals or practices other than meditating on Naam (the Name of the Lord) is condemned by the Guru.

ਫੜੁ ਕਰਿ ਲੋਕਾਂ ਨੋ ਦਿਖਲਾਵਹਿ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਧਿਆਨੁ ਨਹੀ ਸੂਝੈ ॥
“They practice hypocrisy, and make a show before other people, but they do not understand anything about meditation or spiritual wisdom.”
(Ang 1289)

CONCLUSION

The word ‘Kuttha’ used in the Sikh Code of Conduct does not refer to Halaal or sacrificial meat at all, but refers to meat and allied products as a whole. It means simply to slay or cut the animal irrelevant of the method of slaughter. The use of the word in the same sense at a number of places in Gurbani brings out this point beyond any shadow of a doubt. Accordingly, eating flesh in general (and not only Halaal) is totally prohibited for the Sikhs and is one of the four Bajjar Kurehits (cardinal prohibitions) in accordance to Gurmat (the Guru’s teachings).

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13 Responses to “Why is there a controversy in the Panth over eating meat?”

  1. Vahegru Ji this is so great and I am so glad to look at this information.

    Please keep up the good work.

    Vaheguru Ji Bless you all who are doing a good work for the Panth.

  2. RealSikhism says:

    Great information. Please keep it up to educate people. Also, read:

    What kind of food should we eat? is it ok to eat meat?
    http://realsikhism.com/index.php?subaction=showfull&id=1248309400&ucat=7

    If we should not eat meat then why do we eat plants while both have life?
    http://realsikhism.com/index.php?subaction=showfull&id=1248309528&ucat=7

  3. Avtar Singh says:

    Vaheguru ji ka khalsa Vaheguru ji ki Fateh.

    Great work..Keep it up

  4. Onkar Singh says:

    very good job to show right path. Hope it will remove confusion among innocent peoples who become non veg due to false information being given on sikhism by oversmart persons.

    Maharaj had preached kauda rakshas to leave jeev hatya but unfortunately we ourself have started that path.

  5. Amanpreet Singh says:

    Greak Work !! We need these types of articles published in Newspapers and Magazine. Information should be distributed in Schools so that nobody has doubts about the religion.

  6. […] we should not justify our intentional killings. You can get more avl details on below links http://www.sikhanswers.com/rehat-mar…-in-the-panth/ http://www.realsikhism.com/index.php…8309400&ucat=7 Regards Onkar […]

  7. […] Why is there a controversy in the Panth over eating meat? […]

  8. Namless says:

    If its forbidden(not recommeded) to eat meat accordingly to Guru Granth Sahib JI.
    Why do you have photos of sikhs killing a coat and taking the skin of the animal?
    If you truely belive in Guru Granth Sahib JI please remove this pictures its against our belief.
    I dont want my religion to represent this.

    Sikhs are meant to be vegetarians. I cant see the view of a sikh killing an animal and taking of the skin of the animal. You are going against our True Gurus teachings.

  9. surinder singh says:

    It’s great to get these words. Panth really need this. I don’t know how but many sikh eat meat and also say it is allowed which is not good…even chicken is cut in gurudwara sahib too which is alarming for us

  10. My dear friends,

    Thank you so much for this page. As an Indian, who has Hindu origins I greatly appreciate the Sikh Religion because the Gurus spoke to ALL of India and not just their followers as well said above. “It is clear that Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji is addressing everyone, i.e. Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Sikhs and the whole world.”

    Hinduism is an old religion with some good but much bad, including the caste system, inequality of men/women, etc. The idea of detachment, karma, and yoga/meditation is good. Buddhism came along some 2500 years ago and simplified Hinduism and had the 5 precepts, 4 noble truths, and 8 fold path. Sikh Gurus came and spoke more recently and directly to all, but unfortunately their message was only received by a select few. Sadly, recent times have found much persecution because any new message is likely to be criticized. However, Sikhs continue to spread good will throughout the world, providing free vegetarian meals regardless of someone’s social status, gender, etc. at the same level (everyone sits together humbly on the floor). I find the Sikh writings to be such a gem of wisdom and comfort, and the songs to be the divine Voice giving comfort to all. I find Sikh women to be the most strong, confident and happy women because of the repeated teachings to value women and respect them.

    Lastly my friends, I want to present something. In the writings above, the message is to reduce suffering and be kind to animals. Vegetarian in India usually means to eliminate meat; however many continue to consume eggs and most continue to consume milk. Now there was a time when this was OK for the animals, because eggs were gathered from chickens roaming free and milk was gathered from a cow lovingly taken care of by a family and the calf was allowed to suckle and every day remainder of the milk was taken for the household children but with modern methods the animals are milked and eggs gathered to the point of exhaustion, and for cows, male calves are forcibly taken away and killed because we have no use of bullocks for labor because of trucks and heavy machinery, and for chickens since there is no use of male chicks they are usually killed soon after being born. Cows do not “give” milk unless they are made to be pregnant every year, and usually only live for 5-6 years instead of the usual 20-25 years. If you don’t believe this then you can do your own reading. Remember there would be no veal (baby calf meat) if there was no milk. India is the largest exporter of beef and also significantly leather for a reason. While beef may be prohibited in India, it is readily shipped across the borders. Without demand for milk, there would be no beef. Nourishment can be obtained readily by lentils and rice (Bhagat Kabeer said that “Khoob khana hai kichadi” remember? He did not say “khoob khana hai paneer/ghee/doodh”) But seriously, if the grains were not fed to the cow to give the milk, then more grain could be given to people. Raising cows is a very expensive way to obtain calories in the form of milk. Milk is for baby cows not for adult humans.

    Now on the other hand, if humans really needed milk or eggs you could justify the above by saying that it’s either an animal’s life or a human’s life. However, we have great alternatives for milk and eggs such as soya milk which is nutritionally superior to cow’s milk and reduces heart disease instead of promoting it like milk. Diabetes is also worsened by cow’s milk. Buffalo milk in India is actually twice the fat of cow’s milk. Maybe there was a time in history when milk was needed because of the extra fat and energy but my friends, it is no longer necessary because we don’t work in the fields with our hands and feet for 12-14 hours a day anymore. As far as eggs, if you like your morning omelette, let me suggest you get some besan, put about 3 tbsp of it in a bowl, and mix some ground flax seeds (about 1 tbsp); put enough water to make it into a nice batter, then putting your favourite Indian spices such as kala namak, ajwain, jeera, dhania, and if you wish, put onion and hari mirch and tomato. Then pour it on a hot tawa and wala! You have a nice besan “cheela” which is nutritionally superior to artery-clogging eggs. It is high in protein and fiber and a perfect substitute. Have it with some homemade soya-yogurt raita and you have a wonderful vegan breakfast. Soya milk is easily made and cheaply too at home, and soya yogurt is easily made; I make it every week from my previous batch.

    Please, my dear friends, go to this website for more inspiration, I urge you to try it for 3 weeks at 21daykickstartindia.org and you will see how it’s so good for you. If you want more info on the health benefits, go to You Tube and watch a video search for “Dr. Agarwal Khana Badlo Jeevan Badlo”.

    I can tell you the diet above reduces blood sugar, improves cholesterol, and gives youth and vigor to a body. You won’t lack for anything (the only things I suggest to take are vitamin b12 and vitamin D3), and after a few months it will come easy. Just get out the oil/butter/ghee also for even better health. No need to eat fried foods.

    If you follow the above you are respecting the traditions of the Gurus and preserving the Earth for the future, and reducing as much as possible, human and animal suffering, including your own from chronic disease.

    Once again, 21daykickstartindia.org

  11. lakhwinder singh saggu says:

    Guru Granth Sahib ji has prohibited eating meat at all in so many slokas.

    ਬੇਦ ਕਤੇਬ ਕਹਹੁ ਮਤ ਝੂਠੇ ਝੂਠਾ ਜੋ ਨ ਬਿਚਾਰੈ ॥
    ਜਉ ਸਭ ਮਹਿ ਏਕੁ ਖੁਦਾਇ ਕਹਤ ਹਉ ਤਉ ਕਿਉ ਮੁਰਗੀ ਮਾਰੈ ॥੧॥
    ਮੁਲਾਂ ਕਹਹੁ ਨਿਆਉ ਖੁਦਾਈ ॥
    ਤੇਰੇ ਮਨ ਕਾ ਭਰਮੁ ਨ ਜਾਈ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥

    ਅਸੰਖ ਗਲਵਢ ਹਤਿਆ ਕਮਾਹਿ || ਅਸੰਖ ਪਾਪੀ ਪਾਪੁ ਕਰਿ ਜਾਹਿ ||

    ਜੀਅ ਬਧਹੁ ਸੁ ਧਰਮੁ ਕਰਿ ਥਾਪਹੁ ਅਧਰਮੁ ਕਹਹੁ ਕਤ ਭਾਈ ॥
    ਆਪਸ ਕਉ ਮੁਨਿਵਰ ਕਰਿ ਥਾਪਹੁ ਕਾ ਕਉ ਕਹਹੁ ਕਸਾਈ ॥2॥

    ਕਬੀਰ ਭਾਂਗ ਮਾਛੁਲੀ ਸੁਰਾ ਪਾਨਿ ਜੋ ਜੋ ਪ੍ਰਾਨੀ ਖਾਂਹਿ ॥
    ਤੀਰਥ ਬਰਤ ਨੇਮ ਕੀਏ ਤੇ ਸਭੈ ਰਸਾਤਲਿ ਜਾਂਹਿ ॥੨੩੩॥
    When we say that we respect and consider Guru Granth Sahib as our Satguru and we still eat meat or argue in favour of eating meat it means that we don’t respect and follow our Guru’ word. We are just hypocrites not true Sikhs and try to twist the teachings in the way they suite our taste of tongue.One day one Sikh who was a meat eater said this is written by Kabir and not our Gurus so meat eating is not prohibited. I told him you are not a Sikh because you have divided Guru Granth Sahib into Pieces. Every Word in Guru Granth Sahib ji is the verdict of our Guru ji wheather that is written by Kabir ji, Farid ji, any Guru ji and equally respectful
    and to be followed as the word of our Guru. No word in Guru Granth Sahib is false. Every word is the Word of the Guru. I ask those Sikhs who eat meat and still claim to be true Sikhs either to stop eating meat right from today and repent for the past or they should proclaim that they are
    not Sikhs and don’t follow their gurus or Guru Granth Sahib ji. They are just hypocrites and just bow their heads before guru granth sahib and actually they in true sense don’t have any respect for what is written and preached in guru granth sahib ji. I pray to Guru Nank Dev ji to help my Sikh brothers ,sisters see sense and be TRUE SIKHS.

  12. Shanti says:

    Very informative about the teachings of Sikh Gurus. I have great respect for Guru Nanakji and now I am very happy to know that he guided against eating meat and killing animals.

    These days veganism is getting popular. Soya milk is presented as the alternative to animal milk that has now attached to it the tag of cruelty. But that is mostly imported and not available on mass scale to us. So should we conclude that the possibility of getting animal milk without cruelty is over now?

  13. Prabh says:

    Don’t confuse goodness of milk and milk products with barbarism of meat eggs and fish. Cows must be treated with love and affection. Without milk one becomes deficient in B12 without which nervous system fails. Those who are not vegetarian are unworthy of milk and milk products. Nonvegetarians must be sterilized – people who eat animals are dangerous and literally stink – they are living graveyards. Veganism is antidharmic – love and protect cows. Personally I avoid langar as it might be prepared by nonvegetarian hands. This article is incorrect when it states meateating was socially acceptable in Panjab. In beloved Bharat the only accepted diet has is and always will be is the vegetarian diet – no meat, no fish, no eggs. Milk and milk products (and gau mata) are held in high esteem. We need to create ahimsa dairies with protected cows, bulls and calfs.

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