Eminent Upanisadic philosopher Yajnavalkya says he enjoys eating Beef

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Eminent Upanisadic philosopher Yajnavalkya says he enjoys eating Beef

Post by Rashmun on Tue May 30, 2017 4:02 pm

“I, for one, eat it, provided it is tender.”

This declaration from one of ancient India’s greatest sages is something today’s Hindu nationalists would rather forget—if, indeed, they are even aware of it, a response from Yajnavalkya, one of Hinduism’s most revered minds, to the assertion: “Let him (the priest) not eat the flesh of the cow and the ox.”

The source of this exchange is a 1906 work called History of India: Volume 1—From the Earliest Times to the Sixth Century B.C. by Romesh Chunder Dutt, an economist and historian in the service of the old Baroda state. But you can find references to Yajnavalkya’s insistence on eating beef in a number of historical works that examine the Shatapatha Brahmana, where the sage’s riposte is contained.

The Shatapatha Brahmana is one of the chief sources of information about the Vedic age, a period roughly between 1,500 and 500 years before Christ, a time that saw the composition of some of Hinduism’s oldest scriptures, the Vedas. It is an era that many Hindus believe to be their golden age, attributing to it a pureness of scripture and spirit (and unsullied, of course, by the coming of Islam).

Yajnavalkya, an argumentative man who clearly revelled in challenging established wisdom, evolved many of the personal laws that Hindus use today. His approach to beef-eating, at a time when it was receding, is symptomatic of the questioning attitude that created one of the world’s oldest religions. But history’s nuances are difficult to shoehorn into Hinduism’s modern dogmas.



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