Jain nuns and monks from a variety of sects address the violence in dairy products in the video, and then there is an extended discussion between three principled vegans about the overlap between Jain ahimsak practice and veganism. It is in Hindi with English subtitles.
This photo shows Acharya Chandanaji from Veerayatan showing compassion for animals, however, she is not one of the ascetics in the video voicing support for veganism.
As we prepare to observe Paryushan and Das Lakshan Parva for this year, here is a resource for those that may wish to practice a non traditional pratikraman. This guided meditation takes us through an application of our Jain values to the climate crisis, suggesting ways we can reflect on our actions and commit to making positive changes as individuals, in our communities and as world citizens. Going vegan and advocating for veganism on a large scale is an important part of the solution.
You can download the text of the pratikraman here.
Yesterday, the Global Jain Network hosted a special program to pray for Thanksgiving. The full recording is here. Many Jains shared stories and reflections, including the meal contemplation that we’ll discuss in this post.
These meal reflections are adapted from The Five Contemplations in the Plum Village tradition, a Zen Buddhist practice led by the Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh. They have been continually revised by a thoughtful community and the latest version is described as the New Contemplations before eating. We have added #5 and #6 in keeping with our Jain sentiments. Through the years, the “Jain version” has changed a little (event a little different in the recording compared to what’s written below). The Thanksgiving version calls out turkeys in #6 as objects of large scale slaughter for Thanksgiving. The everyday version includes the animals that are tortured and killed everyday in the form of meat, eggs and dairy products.
Even as we express our sorrow at how the animals and our earth are harmed, we can find joy in a community that shares our purpose to transform our relationship with all beings. Perhaps this joy motivates us to take even more care in our diet and lifestyle to follow our highest ideals of non-violence. Happy Thanksliving! Happy Thanksvegan!
1. This food is the gift of the whole universe: the earth, the sky, numerous living beings and much hard, loving work.
2. May we eat with mindfulness and gratitude to be worthy to receive it.
3. May we recognize and transform our unwholesome mental formations, especially our greed, and learn to eat with moderation.
4. May we keep our compassion alive by eating in such a way that we reduce the suffering of living beings, stops contributing to climate change, and heals and preserves our precious planet.
5. May we ask for forgiveness from all living beings that we may have harmed, intentionally or unintentionally. May peace and compassion grow in ourselves and extend to all around us.
6. May we pray that all the people everywhere in the world will avoid inflicting harm on animals and fellow human beings and practice nonviolence and compassion.
7. We accept this food so that we may nurture our sisterhood and brotherhood, strengthen our community, and nourish our ideal of serving all living beings.
With inspiration from our traditional ritual and stories, (the elephant Meruprabha showing compassion in the midst of a forest fire above) and the undeniable science of the climate crisis, drJina wrote a non traditional climate focused pratikraman for adults. Below is a link to the pdf for the text of the pratikraman. drJina read from this version on Clubhouse on Sept 11, 2021. Here is the audio recording of the Clubhouse event.
So many Jains in so many places have started to recognize the violence inherent in dairy and are incorporating this information into their practices for Paryushan, our most important community observance. A new group on Clubhouse called the Jain Vegan Initiative has brought new energy to the cause. There is a daily paryushan support group. Also, members compiled a Jain vegan cookbook in record speed, which may be updated.
And pinkispalate.com has some advice for paryushan and a dosa recipe for those who are not fasting.
Caution: If you are fasting, the resources above may tempt you to eat!
Today a special English pratrikraman for kids included a recognition that consuming dairy and other animal products constitute himsa, and they also included a vow related to decreasing their carbon footprint.
The Applied Jainism group has a climate initiative oriented app that includes using only vegan and eco friendly cosmetics, not wearing silk and not wearing leather. My suggested next step– add eating only vegan food!
More images from the Jain vegan initiative are available, if you keep reading. Thumbnails are first and then a slide show with larger images follows.
Prof Miller called my attention to this not-so-recent, but still very relevant video recording of a Digambar ascetic discussing the himsa in milk. This was posted by Fauna Police, (a group conducting animal rescue and raising awareness about animal abuse) after showing watching videos and pictures of dairies, live transport and slaughter of cattle in India to Aryika Shree Chaitanyamati Mataji (Chelna didi). Now we see ascetics of both genders in many Jain sects calling for us to renounce dairy products.
English translation (courtesy of Fauna Police): You people say that milk that we are consuming is very beneficial to our body but how is it appropriate that a calf is separated from cow immediately as soon as (s)he is born? With the help of different kinds of injections, milk is extracted from the cows. Such milk cannot be considered drinkable. A child must not be snatched away from the mother as this is also violence. I have seen this with my own eyes how the mother cow suffers when that happens. She also suffers when milk is forcefully extracted from her body and even some blood leaks at that time. Thus, such milk amounts to meat consumption. We have several options for food for our survival so we should not consume such things that give pain to somebody. Milk is not vegetarian but it is non-vegetarian and this is why we have renounced it as well. Acharya also did the same. Earlier, people used to feed milk to the calves but today they are separated from the mother immediately after their birth. Moreover, the milk is extracted violently using injections. Within a few years, after milking the cow to the extreme, she is sent away to the slaughterhouse. The calves also die a painful death. Such milk cannot be vegetarian. We are humans and should have compassion. I urge you to watch some videos of such activities in the media and decide for yourselves. Recently I watched a small truck loaded with a large number of cattle that was stopped by an organization and rescued the cattle. We should support such organizations with all our time and money. It was very painful to watch how animals are loaded and unloaded in such trucks. We should all stop such cruelty and this is what the dharma of nonviolence teaches us.
Svetambar sadhu Padmasagar Maharaj talks to the community about the blood and pus consumed in drinking milk and encourages his followers to give up milk, too. He reminds them that mung beans and other legumes are very nutritious and a staple of the Jain diet.
I was born in the state of North Carolina in the US. Every meal I had up until about four years ago had body parts, animal secretions or both in them. This is still seen as normal, especially in the south of the country. You see, in the south, there is a whole culture, one where people proudly display stickers andlicense plates on their cars and trucks with pictures of happy pigs along with the word “barbeque”. There are billboards on the sides of roads advertising things like steak, cheeseburgers, chicken, tacos, fish, milkshakes… On and on it goes, billboard after billboard after billboard, all of them screaming out to us, “In the name of our profits and your desires, participate in this violence!”. The same message over and over again one after the other. Not only do we have billboards screaming these messages at us, but, for some reason, the advertisers seem to think the more body parts and secretions they put between two slices of bread, the better these things they are advertising will be to those that consume them. In actuality, there is a culture of more (more violence/more harm) equals better, and many restaurants in the country are cashing in because of it.
About four years ago I went vegan. Why? I saw footage from a film called “Earthlings”. This film is not for the faint of heart, as it dives deep into the dark details,showing us what goes on in the hidden places that the meat industry, dairy industry, and fishing industry need to thrive. By the way, a little sidenote here about the dairy industry, something that is important to know: the meat industry and dairy industry are tied together, not exactly two separate industries as many seem to think, they are pretty much one and the same. More here on that.
Now, back to the film… What changed my heart, the thing that went deep into me, was seeing a cow in a slaughter chute on her way into the area of the slaughterhouse where they put a bolt through her skull. Can you imagine the fear she was experiencing, the trauma? I couldn’t help but think of the smells, the sounds, the things she saw, what was happening inside her mind and body because of all this. I didn’t know what to do with what I was deeply experiencing due to this, so I did the only thing I knew to do, I paced the floor. Back and forth. Back and forth. Back and forth. My whole body felt like it was quaking. That day I made the decision to never participate in any of these things again, and I never did. Fast forward to the year 2020. This is where Jainism enters the picture.