Do spiritual leaders feel that mercy could be extended to other animals on this planet? When talking about self awareness, should our discourse include the relationship we have with other species? These questions and more were answered on Sunday at the Kumar Siddhachal in Market Yard.
It was first time and religious leaders from different schools of thoughts came together on one stage to talk about animals and vegetarianism. And each of them went back learning about veganism and abuse of animals in dairy industry.
Speakers representing Hindu, Muslim, Jain and Christian schools of thoughts presented their view on animal welfare, vegetarianism an in veganism. Speakers included, Mr Altab Hossain from Muslim Vegan, Shwetdeepdas Prabhu from ISKON, Mrs Rohini Phillips Virathan from 7thDay Adventist, Ms Prerna Gupta from Krupal Ashram and Mrs Aruna Jethwani from Sadhu Vaswani Mission.
Nearly 500 people came together to witness a discussion on Praanikalyan and Shahkahar. The event was organized by Mr. Manoj Oswal, founder of the Happy Animals Association. The topics included were the ethics of wearing leather, consuming dairy and physical, mental and spiritual well being.
The seminar started with Ms. Aruna Jethwani from the Sadhu Vaswani Mission who highlighted that all life is sacred. She urged that we should all try to love everyone and everything, as without love there is no life. She also mentioned November 25th, which is observed as world meatless day.
Altab Hossein took Ms. Jethwani’s point further when he explained the difference between vegetarianism and veganism. Altab, a vegan for 3 years, avoids using/ abusing animals and harming sentient beings as much as practically possible. “Why am I doing this to the animals when they haven’t done anything to me?” He spoke about the notion of being spiritual and merciful but indirectly engaging in violence whenever we eat meat, wear a leather shoe or a belt, or take away the mother’s milk from a calf.
Rev Jain Guru Labdhichandra Sagar Maharasaheb said that due to the industrialization of milk, it is nothing less than non-vegetarian. He encouraged his followers not to make animals a business but to consume in moderation. “We need to take good care of the cow and take milk and other dairy/animal products like ghee, milk, honey as if they were medicine”
Representing ISKCON, Shwetdeep Prabhu added that in Hinduism, meat is traditionally avoided and is considered as negative as adultery and gambling.
Doctor Dr. Rohini Phillip Virathan, the c/o of Shanti Sadan De-Addiction Center, shared the key to a long life. From her years practicing medicine, she realized that the key to a long life is getting a N.E.W.S.T.A.R.T, namely nutrition, exercise, water, sunshine, temperature, air, rest and trust! She added that in terms of nutrition, it is mainly foods derived from animals that add to cholesterol problems.
Prerna Gupta, from the Krupal Ashram says her main focus is vegetarianism. “If you are violent towards someone or something, you too would get violence in your life.”, she said. “Every organism is this planet is linked to others and being a vegetarian is a major part of being self-aware.” She invoked a minute of silence and asked everyone gathered to meditate upon what was being said and find their own reasons to lead a cruelty-free life.
Though each individual was a staunch practitioner of their respective faiths, there were a many shared sentiments. All in all, it seems that the main religious ideologies do in fact have the capacity to extend mercy to fellow sentient beings. Altab has a dream. By 2030, animal torture will end. And as Miss Jethwani said, “A journey of a thousand steps begins with one.”