Why did Buddha forbid certain types of meat?

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Why did Buddha forbid certain types of meat?

Postby Luke » Sun Jul 28, 2013 8:43 pm

"One should not consume elephant flesh... horse flesh... dog flesh... snake flesh... lion flesh... tiger flesh... leopard flesh... bear flesh... hyena flesh. Whoever should do so: an offense of wrong doing." — Mv.VI.23.10-15

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... .ch04.html

I am curious if anyone here knows why the Buddha forbade monks and nuns from eating these types of meat? I mean, I can imagine a number of reasons, but did Buddha or any of his disciples ever state clear reasons for this?
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Re: Why did Buddha forbid certain types of meat?

Postby David N. Snyder » Sun Jul 28, 2013 8:51 pm

I have read or heard two reasons:

1. These are the flesh of predators and the smell of their flesh would attract other predators to the bhikkhu.
2. They are considered "royal" / higher animals by custom and to adapt to the culture, the bhikkhu should not eat their flesh, even if it is offered.
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Re: Why did Buddha forbid certain types of meat?

Postby Luke » Sun Jul 28, 2013 9:00 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:I have read or heard two reasons:
2. They are considered "royal" / higher animals by custom and to adapt to the culture, the bhikkhu should not eat their flesh, even if it is offered.

Weren't cows also "holy" and "royal" animals in ancient India? And if so, why didn't the Buddha forbid people from eating the meat of cows, as well?
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Re: Why did Buddha forbid certain types of meat?

Postby David N. Snyder » Sun Jul 28, 2013 9:07 pm

Luke wrote:Weren't cows also "holy" and "royal" animals in ancient India? And if so, why didn't the Buddha forbid people from eating the meat of cows, as well?


Cows were venerated in the Vedas, this is true. However, I think cows may have elevated to the much higher status at a later date. The brahmanism 'religion' (not Hinduism, but perhaps a precursor) engaged in animal sacrifices, which included cows and bulls.
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Re: Why did Buddha forbid certain types of meat?

Postby Luke » Sun Jul 28, 2013 9:13 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:Cows were venerated in the Vedas, this is true. However, I think cows may have elevated to the much higher status at a later date. The brahmanism 'religion' (not Hinduism, but perhaps a precursor) engaged in animal sacrifices, which included cows and bulls.

Ah, very interesting! Were any animals sacred to ancient Hindus or were they willing to sacrifice all animals?
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Re: Why did Buddha forbid certain types of meat?

Postby lyndon taylor » Sun Jul 28, 2013 9:16 pm

Well just a crazy idea her but almost all of these animals that were forbidden are animals that can kill, maim or even eat you, whereas almost all the anmals you can eat, except for fish are docile vegetarians, kind of like most meat eating today.
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Re: Why did Buddha forbid certain types of meat?

Postby David N. Snyder » Sun Jul 28, 2013 9:28 pm

Luke wrote:
David N. Snyder wrote:Cows were venerated in the Vedas, this is true. However, I think cows may have elevated to the much higher status at a later date. The brahmanism 'religion' (not Hinduism, but perhaps a precursor) engaged in animal sacrifices, which included cows and bulls.

Ah, very interesting! Were any animals sacred to ancient Hindus or were they willing to sacrifice all animals?


Mostly goats and bulls; pigs very rarely. Pigs have been rarely used in animal sacrifices, not because they were considered "holy" but probably more likely because they were considered dirty.
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Re: Why did Buddha forbid certain types of meat?

Postby dagon » Sun Jul 28, 2013 10:58 pm

Hi all

One of these days I will get around to the multi quote skill – please bear with me.

"One should not consume elephant flesh... horse flesh... dog flesh... snake flesh... lion flesh... tiger flesh... leopard flesh... bear flesh... hyena flesh. Whoever should do so: an offense of wrong doing." — Mv.VI.23.10-15

The commonality of all of these animals is an association with killing, remember that elephants and horses were also used in warfare. At the time of Buddha there were concepts of transferred karma this continues to this day in certain Hindu sects. The other thing that is worth considering is the potential for “meat” to be tainted by human blood which would effective result in the consumption of part of a human body.

In Hindu beliefs cows were, and are considered to one of your mother, milk and other reasons.
The omission of cows from the list I belie to be telling, while in warfare cattle could be used to pull carts and such tasks, Kshatriyas (soldiers and nobles) did not directly fight from them. This was the caste that Buddha was born into and even without his all seeing eye he would have understood.

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Re: Why did Buddha forbid certain types of meat?

Postby chownah » Mon Jul 29, 2013 4:00 am

I think the Buddha disallowed any food that the culture of the times considered to be repulsive to eat.....the monks were after all representatives of the dhamma so the Buddha did not want them to do things considered to be repulsive by the people of the time. People were likely to not want to take refuge in a group of people who ate hyenas, snakes, and elephants for example. My view is that the posters here have given some of the reasons why certain meats were considered repulsive.
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Re: Why did Buddha forbid certain types of meat?

Postby Luke » Mon Jul 29, 2013 7:59 am

chownah wrote:I think the Buddha disallowed any food that the culture of the times considered to be repulsive to eat.....the monks were after all representatives of the dhamma so the Buddha did not want them to do things considered to be repulsive by the people of the time. People were likely to not want to take refuge in a group of people who ate hyenas, snakes, and elephants for example. My view is that the posters here have given some of the reasons why certain meats were considered repulsive.
chownah

That sounds plausible that Buddha was concerned with the image which his monks projected. I'm sure that Buddha did not want his followers doing disgusting things like the aghoris did.
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Re: Why did Buddha forbid certain types of meat?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Mon Jul 29, 2013 9:11 am

It's is mostly about what people disapproved of, but also about the danger of being attacked by wild animals.

Ten Kinds of Meat
  1. Human flesh (not helpful for arousing faith in those who have no faith)
  2. Elephant flesh (a symbol of royalty, and the king might disapprove)
  3. Horse flesh (a symbol of royalty, and the king might disapprove)
  4. Dog's flesh (disgusting)
  5. Snake flesh (disgusting, and some nāgas might harm the monks)
  6. Lion's flesh (danger from lions)
  7. Tiger's flesh (danger from tigers)
  8. Panther/leopard's flesh (danger from panthers)
  9. Bear's flesh (danger from bears)
  10. Hyena's flesh (danger from hyenas).

In Burma, Beef is also not often eaten by monks, largely due to the influence of Venerable Ledi Sayādaw.

Cow Dhamma

It's not prohibited by the Vinaya rule, as long as it is free from the three defects, but the Suttanta clearly show the debt of gratitude owed to cows who provide milk, and labour to till the land, thresh the crop, and transport the crop to market. When the Sayādaw was teaching (and in the Buddha's time of course), there were no diesel tractors or petrol vehicles. All the hard work was done by domestic draught animals.
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Re: Why did Buddha forbid certain types of meat?

Postby Luke » Mon Jul 29, 2013 1:00 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:In Burma, Beef is also not often eaten by monks, largely due to the influence of Venerable Ledi Sayādaw.

Cow Dhamma

It's not prohibited by the Vinaya rule, as long as it is free from the three defects, but the Suttanta clearly show the debt of gratitude owed to cows who provide milk, and labour to till the land, thresh the crop, and transport the crop to market. When the Sayādaw was teaching (and in the Buddha's time of course), there were no diesel tractors or petrol vehicles. All the hard work was done by domestic draught animals.

But it seems that honoring cows by not eating beef is just largely symbolic, since it seems that cows in the Indian dairy industry are slaughtered or exiled to the streets to die according to this article. So monks who still drink milk are really not honoring cows that much. Although perhaps milk cows are treated better in small villages in India.

http://www.thehindu.com/features/magazi ... 675921.ece

It's ironic that a country which obsesses over cows doesn't have a milk industry which treats cows well.
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