By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Lord Caitanya said, “My dear uncle, I have come to your home just to ask you some questions.”
“Yes,” the Kazi replied, “You are welcome. Just tell me what is in Your mind.”
The Lord said, “You drink cows’ milk; therefore the cow is your mother. And the bull produces grains for your maintenance; therefore he is your father. Since the bull and cow are your father and mother, how can you kill and eat them? What kind of religious principle is this? On what strength are you so daring that you commit such sinful activities?”
Everyone can understand that we drink the milk of cows and take the help of bulls in producing agricultural products. Therefore, since our real father gives us food grains and our mother gives us milk with which to live, the cow and bull are considered our father and mother. According to Vedic civilization, there are seven mothers, of which the cow is one. Therefore Sri Caitanya Mahāprabhu challenged the Muslim Kazi, “What kind of religious principle do you follow by killing your father and mother to eat them?” In any civilized human society, no one would dare kill his father and mother for the purpose of eating them. Therefore Sri Caitanya Mahāprabhu challenged the system of Muslim religion as patricide and matricide. In the Christian religion also, a principal commandment is “Thou shalt not kill.” Nevertheless, Christians violate this rule; they are very expert in killing and in opening slaughterhouses. In our Krishna consciousness movement, our first provision is that no one should be allowed to eat any kind of flesh. It does not matter whether it is cows’ flesh or goats’ flesh, but we especially stress the prohibition against cows’ flesh because according to śāstra the cow is our mother. Thus the Muslims’ cow-killing was challenged by Sri Caitanya Mahāprabhu.
The Kazi replied, “As You have Your scriptures called the Vedas and Purānas, we have our scripture, known as the holy Koran.”
Chand Kazi agreed to talk with Sri Caitanya Mahāprabhu on the strength of the scriptures. According to the Vedic scripture, if one can support his position by quoting from the Vedas, his argument is perfect. Similarly, when the Muslims support their position with quotations from the Koran, their arguments are also authorized. When Lord Sri Caitanya Mahāprabhu raised the question of the Muslims’ cow-killing and bull-killing, Chand Kazi came to the standard of understanding from his scriptures.
The Kazi continued, “According to the Koran, there are two ways of advancement—through increasing the propensity to enjoy, and through decreasing the propensity to enjoy. On the path of decreasing attachment [nivrtti-mārga], the killing of animals is prohibited. On the path of material activities, there is regulation for killing cows. If such killing is done under the guidance of scripture, there is no sin.”
The word śāstra is derived from the dhātu, or verbal root, śas. Śas-dhātu pertains to controlling or ruling. A government’s ruling through force or weapons is called śastra. Thus whenever there is ruling, either by weapons or by injunctions, the śas-dhātu is the basic principle. Between śastra (ruling through weapons) and śāstra (ruling through the injunctions of the scriptures), the better is śāstra. Our Vedic scriptures are not ordinary lawbooks of human common sense; they are the statements of factually liberated persons unaffected by the imperfectness of the senses.
Śāstra must be correct always, not sometimes correct and sometimes incorrect. In the Vedic scriptures, the cow is described as a mother. Therefore she is a mother for all time; it is not, as some rascals say, that in the Vedic age she was a mother but she is not in this age. If śāstra is an authority, the cow is a mother always; she was a mother in the Vedic age, and she is a mother in this age also.
If one acts according to the injunctions of śāstra, he is freed from the reactions of sinful activity. For example, the propensities for eating flesh, drinking wine and enjoying sex are all natural to the conditioned soul. The path of such enjoyment is called pravrtti-marga. The śāstra says, pravrttir esā bhütānām nivrttis tu mahā-phalā: one should not be carried away by the propensities of defective conditioned life; one should be guided by the principles of the śāstras. A child’s propensity is to play all day long, but it is the injunction of the śāstras that the parents should take care to educate him. The śāstras are there just to guide the activities of human society. But because people do not refer to the instructions of śāstras, which are free from defects and imperfections, they are therefore misguided by so-called educated teachers and leaders who are full of the deficiencies of conditioned life.
As a learned scholar, the Kazi challenged Caitanya Mahāprabhu, “In Your Vedic scriptures there is an injunction for killing a cow. On the strength of this injunction, great sages performed sacrifices involving cow-killing.”
Refuting the Kazi’s statement, the Lord immediately replied, “The Vedas clearly enjoin that cows should not be killed. Therefore every Hindu, whoever he may be, avoids indulging in cow-killing.
In the Vedic scriptures there are concessions for meat-eaters. It is said that if one wants to eat meat, he should kill a goat before the goddess Kālī and then eat its meat. Meat-eaters are not allowed to purchase meat or flesh from a market or slaughterhouse. There are no sanctions for maintaining regular slaughterhouses to satisfy the tongues of meat-eaters. As far as cow-killing is concerned, it is completely forbidden. Since the cow is considered a mother, how could the Vedas allow cow-killing? Sri Caitanya Mahāprabhu pointed out that the Kazi’s statement was faulty. In the Bhagavad-gitā (18.44) there is a clear injunction that cows should be protected: krsi-goraksya-vānijyam vaiśya-karma svabhāva-jam. “The duty of vaiśyas (mercantile men) is to produce agricultural products, trade and give protection to cows.” Therefore it is a false statement that the Vedic scriptures contain injunctions permitting cow-killing.
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