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High time to become vegetarian

Khushwant Singh’s write up “In defence of meat eaters” (Saturday Plus, May 31) is an utter twaddle and contrary to the findings of eminent physicians and nutritionists. His write-up has come at a time when even science is in full agreement with the culture of vegetarianism and message of “ahimsa” delivered by Lord Mahavira after 12 years of penance.

Findings show that meat and fat are more linked to cancer and coronary heart disease. According to an experiment by Prof Iving Fisher of Yale University, vegetarians have more endurance than meat-eaters.

Dr Neel Barnard, President of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington, said fish flesh is as unhealthy for human beings as other meats because fish absorbs toxic chemicals from the water around them. Meat contains a considerable amount of saturated fats, cholesterol and uric acid and all these are harmful for human beings. He advocated the elimination of all meat, including fish, from diet and advised the intake of fruits, vegetables, beans, grains and nuts.

There are many anatomical and physiological similarities between herbivores and human beings. The length of intestines of humans is four times the length of their bodies. This helps in dealing with fermented bacteria involved in the digestion of vegetable foods. Human saliva being alkaline is ideal for digesting carbohydrates. Thus, Nature has not designed human body to consume meat. Meat is a poor source of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and roughage that are essentially required to maintain good immune function of body.

People across the globe are turning to vegetarianism but the writer seems to be oblivious to the sufferings of innocent animals that are abused for meat.



The writer’s arguments are one-sided. How can the structure of teeth and stomach of herbivores be more suitable for meat consumption?

Man, by nature, is a herbivore; it is another matter that he has become a meat-eater also. Meat eating is usually associated with consuming alcohol — the combination makes a man insensitive. Who could deny the tamsik (stimulating) effect of meat, fish, eggs, etc. on the body and mind of a man? One who kills animals won’t hesitate to kill men! Without sensitivity, man becomes the worst of all animals. Look at the prevalent crime graph.

Sensitivity is at the root of love and compassion. It enables man to appreciate beauty in nature and have compassion.

If the majority of animal species are predators or if most people in the world have become meat-eaters, it does not prove that man should become non-vegetarian. Man does not fit in anywhere in the natural animal food chain. How foolish it is for man to fight over jhatka or halal beef or pork and to perform animal sacrifice in temples!

Dr K.S. KAHLON, Patiala

Ambedkar’s spirit of national thinking

My attention has been drawn to Narinder Singh Jallo’s letter (Perspective, April 27) in response to Chaman Lal’s piece, “Ambassador of Humanity” (Spectrum, April 13). Jallo’s letter is factually flawed as far as Dr Ambedkar’s intention to embrace Sikh religion is concerned.

Dr Ambedkar had made a solemn proclamation on October 13, 1935 at Yeola that he was born a Hindu and he had no choice in that matter, but he would not die as a Hindu. By doing so, his aim was to get rid of the exploitative caste system because of which thousands of Dalits were forced to live in inhuman conditions. He wanted to liberate them socially, politically and economically and give them equal participation in shaping the destiny of our country.

His perception of Sikhism was that of egalitarian and universal brotherhood. He had studied Sikhism in depth and was satisfied that it was free from the basic evil of caste system. But ironically, the crusade waged by the Gurus to uproot the evil of caste system was rendered ineffective very soon by the well-entrenched vested interests in society.

Sikhism, thus, relapsed into the old “varna”. Dr Ambedkar found that though the Sikh religion itself was without caste system, its followers practised it in a virulent form. This contradictory aspect disillusioned him and he abandoned the idea of embracing Sikhism.

Viewed retrospectively, no worthwhile efforts have been undertaken by the Sikh polity to rectify the situation. Acts of discrimination, high-handedness, arrogance, casteist slurs, boycotts, rapes, separate cremation grounds, gurdwaras and dharamshalas are some of the grave instances the Dalits are subjected to.

The news of honour killings of girls in the event of their going in for inter-caste alliance, particularly in cases where their spouses happen to be from the lower castes, keep pouring in.

Ultimately, Dr Ambedkar’s choice was Buddhism. Going in for Buddhism was in keeping with the spirit of his national thinking as Gautam Buddha was an Indian and his philosophy had roots in India. Besides, there is no place for caste in its tenets and it is also all embracing and egalitarian in precept and practice.

Dr RAM LAL JASSI, Jalandhar


Of religion & paan

The article “Khandani paandans of Hyderabad” by Lotika Ramchandani (April 20) and subsequent rejoinder by Roshni Johar (May 18) were interesting. Paan is the symbol of society, goodwill and honour. But it has also been instrumental in change of religion.

Tansen, born as Ramtanu Mishra, is said to have been taken by his father to the Sufi saint Mohd Ghouse for blessing, who in benediction put a portion of his own half-chewed betel (beeda) in the child’s mouth. But members of the community declared him dharma bharisht and excommunicated him (BC Deva: 97).

Gopal Das, an ancestor of the famous Dagar family known for dhrupad singing of classical music, was a Saraswat Brahmin. Once invited to sing in the court of Mohd Shah Rangile, he pleased the king so much that besides valuable gifts, he was honoured with customary paan.

Gopal Das was in a quandary whether to eat it or keep it away (which tantamount to insulting the king). After bowing in gratitude, he put the paan in his mouth. When his disciples and friends pointed out that by doing so he had polluted himself and stood converted to Islam, Gopal Das said, “I have only eaten the paan, but if you insist, then I am a Muslim.” That’s how Gopal Das became as Imam Baksh (Newman: 104-105).

V.K. RANGRA, Delhi


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