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Sikh Vegetarianism

In their 1989 book, The Spiritual and Karmic Aspects of the Vegetarian Diet, Kirpal Singh and Sawan Singh write:
"A righteous person has his eyes on his weaknesses and through self-introspection, weeds them out one by one. Swami Shiv Dayal Singh advises that one should pick up his failures one by one and cast them out. All other saints have said this thing in the same strain. 
1. Love thy neighbor as thyself.
2. Do unto others as you would wish to be done by them.
"The whole of the religious philosophy hangs by these two cardinal principles. If one puts before him these two golden rules, his life will surely be transformed. 
"Insofar as you can, try to do no injury to anyone. Be good to all and you will be at peace with yourself and be a radiating center of loving grace around you. The prayers of others to whom you may have done good will help you. The good thoughts of others will swarm around you with a benediction. The very idea of doing good will first affect you and will draw all good vibrations from the surrounding atmosphere.
"In a nutshell, we have just laid a Pancha Shila or five fundamental truths on which we can build the wonderful mansion of spirituality. These are:
1. Nonviolence in thought, word, and deed.
2. Truthfulness.
3. Chastity.
4. Love for all and hatred for none, irrespective of position, wealth, or learning.
5. Selfless service -- physical and financial and a willing share in the joys and sorrows of others.
"The Living Master cuts asunder the Gordian knot of an initiate.
"The Disciple of the Master refrains from sins.
"Those who will follow the above will enrich their lives here and hereafter. They will control their mind and outgoing faculties by coming in contact with the Living-Word of God through the Living Master-Saint...
"...all beings in this world could be divided into classes: man; quadrupeds; birds; insects; the vegetable world...
"When the creatures of the other four classes are killed or injured, they cry out in pain. But not so the vegetables, though they have life. So the saints and sages concluded that the eating of vegetables was the least sinful. (The least burdened with karma.)
"...The moving creatures live upon each other, as well as on static creation -- to wit, vegetables, plants, shrubs, herbs, trees, and the like. Man, however, makes friends with, and loves creatures (birds and animals), who live upon other life -- and makes them his pets. The ancients knew well that man, bird, and animal were all bound up with the same karmic bond. Man with the thought of common brotherhood worked hard both for himself and his pets. He tilled the land, grew fruits, and produced food both for himself, his bird friends, and his kin and oxen. But in course of time, he grew ease-loving, with the result that he first preyed upon the animals' milk and then upon their flesh as well.
"According to the moral, social, and spiritual codes of conduct, one must not interfere with the lives of any animal in God's creation. In India, this standard is enunciated as Ahimsa or non-injury to all living creatures. This led to the vegetarian diet as contradistinguished from the nonvegetarian diet. 
"Rajasic, passionate, or energy producing diet includes besides vegetarian foods, products like milk, cream, butter and ghee, etc. In ancient India, the use of milk was restricted mainly to the princely order, as the princes needed extra energy for keeping under their control rough, turbulent and barbarous people not living up to any set principles of life. 
"The milking of dairy cattle was permissible only after the cows were bred and treated with extra care, and sufficient milk was left in their udders for feeding their own offspring, the calf. The residue of milk was allowed to man under special circumstances. This special rule was intended to prevent degeneration of the early civilization. 
"Rishis (saints and sages), in ancient times, also made a limited use of milk, leaving a sufficient amount for the use and growth of the animal progeny. The rishis lived alone in comparative isolation, devoting most of their time to meditation.
"The traditional custom of using only the residue of milk is still prevalent in some of the villages in India. But today, man in his lust for unbridled power, is violating all of the laws of nature under the pretext of the so-called freedom that he claims for himself...
"The only consideration of man today is to obtain as much milk as possible, even at the cost of the calves themselves. In some places, he... applies milking machines to the cow's udders to draw out the last drop of milk in order to keep pace with trade competition and profit-making. This is what some proudly call high technical skill and civilization...
"Tamasic, or stupefying diet, consists of meat, liquors..."
Kirpal Singh was asked: "...why we should not eat eggs, because the eggs... cannot be developed into chickens."
He responded: "There are so many eggs mixed together. When they sell eggs in the shops, you see, there is no differentiation. You cannot earmark definitely what is infertile or fertile -- first thing. The other reason eggs are not to be used is because they flare up passions. Any food which flares up passion is not to be used."
Kirpal Singh was asked: "Oftentimes you are invited by non-initiates, and they offer you certain foods which you are expected to take; if you do not take the food, they will be offended."
He responded: "If anybody offers you poison are you going to accept? Politely refuse. Especially poison. If anybody gives you meat and you eat it, then? You are to see what you are taking. A friend would not like to give you poison if he comes to know that it does not suit you. If a friend offers you something, and he knows fully well that it does not suit you -- will he press you to take it? No. Common sense. These are only lame excuses, I would say. Those who reason in this way want some excuse to have that food, that's all."
In Spiritual Elixir, Kirpal Singh writes:
"Regarding laxity in the prescribed diet, I wish to say to all aspirants on the Path that it is necessary, so long as one is in the physical body, that vegetarianism should be strictly adhered to. Any relaxation in the matter of diet would not only be a definite hindrance in meditation but would unnecessarily contract karmic reaction. The real Goal is to use every means possible to rise into full God-consciousness.
"It must be borne in mind that restriction to a pure vegetarian diet is of utmost necessity. Any transgression in this respect is liable to affect your spiritual progress adversely. 
"The prohibited food flares up carnal desires other than contracting karmic debt. Both are highly detrimental and should be avoided scrupulously. I hope you are abiding by all of the rules and that you take my advice in proper perspective in the larger interests of your spiritual progress.
"You state that you are healthy now and the doctor advises you not to live on meat. You also state that while away on business you have to oblige your friends by partaking some chicken. In this connection, I would like to remind you that the eating of the prohibited foods will definitely stand in the way of your spiritual progress without in any way helping you in your illness or in any way extending your lifespan. 'Thy days are numbered,' is a well known aphorism. 
"So why unnecessarily create karmic debts which you may easily avoid? You had better avoid these. It would be much better if you could influence your friend rather than be influenced by him, for you know of certain things of which he may be ignorant. So in such cases, behave lovingly with others and abstain from taking the prohibited foods."
According to contemporary Hindu scholar Satyaraja dasa (Steven Rosen): 
“Sikhism, founded by Guru Nanak (1469-1538), is an interesting blend of Hindu and Islamic beliefs.  Because of the Moslem influence, most branches of the Sikh religion are not strictly vegetarian.  Still, according to Sikh scholar Swaran Singh Sanehi of the Academy of Namdhari culture:  
"‘Sikh scriptures support vegetarianism fully.  Sikhs from the period of Guru Nanak had adopted the Hindu tradition and way of living in many ways.  Their disliking for flesh-foods was also a part of the same tradition and way of living.  Guru Nanak considered meat-eating improper—particularly for those who are trying to meditate.’  Of the ten million Sikhs, the Namdhari sect and Yogi Bhajan’s 3HO Golden Temple Movement are strictly vegetarian.”

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