This rambling starts as my query to Webyogi, who has enough knowledge on spirituality and astrology. Why I say enough is that at least for me some answers have been simplified if not totally answered. The answer came as prompt, besides others to “Worship Lord Shiva and Parvati Mata is helpful too (no flowers).” My question was why without flowers. Thence started an email conversation, which I’m putting down, starting with the answer:
Worship without flowers and life
Horo Veda: There were views that shastra support use of flowers and looks like that these people ignored the fundamental right of life:
In my humble opinion, you are ahead of millions by just doing your worship without flowers. First of all, the purpose behind offering the flowers is important. Most people when doing pooja like to decorate with flowers and others like to offer the flower itself to bhagwan because the flower is pretty and the sent is pleasing. Now I know what I am about to say may seem a little extreme to some, but another way of looking at offering the flowers is like sacrificing the flowers so now the distinction is between violence and non-violence. It is the offering of a part of a plant to please another. And the question comes, what right do we have to offer something that does not belong to us in order to please another? The plant is also a living being, and we are naturally doing harm to it by plucking the flower. Now if our intent was different and maybe using the plant for medicine then we are more justified as our purpose is greater than decoration or to please someone. But even then we are creating some negative (bad) karma just not as to the same degree. So my advice is that first of all don’t use the flowers unless you have a justified reason and even then ask the plant for the flower first and then take the flower and in return give the plant water or fertilizer in exchange. So if we really think about it our intent here is to seek Divine help, and the Divine will naturally not appreciate such acts as we are harming another in order to help ourselves.
Yes, to sustain lives, vegetables have use. Let us consider following groups for simplicity to understand the concept little bit more in deeper sense:
- Group 1 : Wheat, and other grains (not taking plant life, no torture or stress to plant)
- Group 2: Underground crops-A: Peanuts, turmeric etc (not taking plant life, no torture or stress to plant)
- Group 3: Vegetables and Fruits (not taking plant life, but torture or stress to plant).
- Group 4: Underground crops-B: Potatoes, Onions etc (life form still persists)
- Group 5: Animal products (killing of an animal that has all the senses compare to plant life)
We harvest the grains when the crop is matured and so also other grains; no killing of the plant is involved. Since no killing of the plants involved, no accumulation of the negative Karma involved. Peanuts etc if harvested immaturely, it is not good for the oil production. For oil production, peanuts have to be matured and when you take it out, again no killing of the plant is involved and thus no accumulation of the negative karma involved. If you put onion etc on the shelves without dirt or fertilizer they will start to germinate as the life still persists. Thus, in this group one can see why accumulation of negative karma may involve. Thus, many people eat some of the crops grown underground but not all (even they know it is good for the health). The concept of non-violence is involved and this is related to accumulation of Karma. How one can imagine that Karma involved in eating above group of products to “sustain lives” will be the same?
Coming back to flowers, they are still the part of the plant like vegetables (like group 3 above). Are they required to “sustain lives”? Or, they are used for decoration, beauty, scent and thrown away and plant does not feel any stress when take it? (Please refer to my previous post with the example of Sanjivini Butti). Unless flowers have a medicinal or eating purpose, I can not think of comparing acts of plucking flowers with that of plucking vegetables have the same purpose. Which act is “wicked” or not is not up to me to decide, as on this Earth almost all can justify their doing. In my opinion, one has to weigh one act over the other, the intention and the purpose involved to reduce the accumulation of karma to free from the cycle of birth and death, the ultimate goal of every life form.
Hope it helps to understand the concept. Thus part of worshiping lord Vishnu to get divine help it is essential that the person is vegetarian if not already so.
Accumulation of Bad Karma
Q: I appreciate your idea about not hurting the plant and gathering negative karma. I turned vegetarian about one and a half year ago. In fact liquor too does have a lot of bacteria used for fermentation, hence one gathers more bad karma by killing millions of bacteria and living beings. I was reading a series of book – Aghora about six months ago. It talked about karma and bad karma in detail. It also talked about how people into tantra make sacrifices while at the same time they pray for the beings (animal) for a higher degree of birth in their next life thereby negating a part of the bad karma they’ve accumulated. Another aspect that it talked about was (I’m saying it with the risk of being misquoted or being misunderstood as it has to be read in totality and contextually where it has been said. Only a fragment cannot be picked up, but any way, let me mention the bit) that karma is like a cheque. If one does not affiliate oneself to the act of doing, the karma does not load itself on to the person. It’s like a cheque of say millions of Rupees given to a person, without signing it. You cannot get the money until signed. Similarly, karma too works like that. But it is impossible for a person to not feel guilty or proud of a karma, hence it keeps accumulating. Why I’m saying this is that while eating meat a thought for the goat or chicken did cross the mind hence karma was accumulated, while at the same time there was not affiliation of sort or feeling while offering flowers or plucking the flowers. So will that karma too be accumulated?
Horo Veda: No matter what, as long as we are in a life form, Karma will be accumulated, knowingly or unknowingly. Our lack of knowledge is not the bliss. As a result, we are born in different country, race, family or specie (not human but may be any living thing). Based on balance, we have an excess to knowledge or this is denied. You may easily see that there are several religions on our earth that do not have an excess to karma knowledge and that does not mean that whatever they do is justified due to ignorance. Thus, it is extremely hard for such people to come out and if they do a little it helps a lot. People may take granted as “free stuff” on this earth but in fact nothing is free, we all have to pay one day, The accumulation may be more or less depending on the intention but taking life in my opinion is not justified.
Q: So does that law of karma apply to a child too who is offered meat without any knowledge of karma by the parents?
Horo Veda: Yes, it will be applied to the child and there is no exemption as action has been performed and some one’s life has been taken away. The extent of negative accumulation may be different and more may go towards parents but after certain an age, it will go to the child’s account. Thats, how the previous Karma forced the person to born in that family.
Just for an understanding, some ones grand parents live in India, their son leaves in WEST where he is non vegetarian but not the parents. Thus, the grand child is non vegetarian. The grand parents love the grand child very much but thier health does not allow to attend the marriage of grand child who is living in WEST abroad. They have too much attachment towards the son and grand child and in the process they die with a desire to go abroad to see the grand child. In my opinion, the grand parents are more likely to born abroad in WEST as a child to their grand son, where they will be NON VEGETARIAN. This is know as MOHNIYA KARMA. Now it will require lot of efforts and good Karma to break this cycle and it continues.
Q: Another thing I would like to discuss with you is that I come from Himachal’s Shimla district, where there are a lot of deities (devtas) – gram devta, kul devta, sthaan devta and their head (chief devta). They have their local names and these devtas have a human mouthpiece, locally known as maali. The maali can be invoked any time to seek the guidance of the devta. You have to see it to believe it. So every family has a maali designated by the kul devta. When the person dies, a next mouthpiece is selected by the devtaa himself. So why am I saying all this? These devtas demand sacrifice of a goat from time to time either to ward off evil or as an appeasement of blessing. My question is that does the law of karma apply to devtaas as well?
Horo Veda: Law of Karma applies to all living beings and in my opinion it applies to non living beings. For there is some mountain, For most of people, it is non living thing, but who knows that some soul is living there as a part of Karma. Why we say that this mountain is so many million years old??? Consider an example of AHILYA, the wife of Gautum rishi from Ramayan who was cursed by her husband to become a stone and then Sri Ram’s grace becomes free.
Another example, Bhagwan Shankar and Shani Dev story is well known in our literature. Also, many we call DEVTAS may not be necessary living in Heavens. For our stand point of view they are “DEVTAS”. If they are living in heavens, there is no reason for them to come to the earth unless their work is related to the earth. For example, there are two families who do not like each other. One person from each dies. naturally for both families each person is worshiped by them respectively. Both are DEVTAS for their own family as they can come and help but do you think they will help to other family? So for one family the person is DEVTA but for the other it is “GHOST” or some other entity. But for who living in heavens, they are free from such notion and actions. Many think they will go to heaven after they die and with some good work. In my opinion, it is not so, the numbers in the whole year may not be even more than 10 ro 20 to enter. it is all the game of Karma.
Animal Sacrifice and Karma
Q: I understand while it’s the humans that perform the sacrifice but at the same time the life was offered to the deity. Another thing is that I have a small anecdote. These devtaas from time to time go to Badrinath and Kedarnath on a pilgrimage. About 10-15 years ago, our Graam devta, Banaad went to Badrinath. There were many devtas too who had come there from Himachal and Uttaranchal. Supposedly there is a Vishnu ka jhoola inside. The kardaars at Badrinath asked vegetarian devtas and non-vegetarian devtaas to come in separate lines. The vegetarian devtas get a chance to ride the Vishnu ka jhoola. So the people accompanying the Banaad devta lied that the devta was a vegetarian, i.e., he didn’t take a sacrifice. Once the devtaa came back from Badrinath back to the village, a huge fair was organised and the usual ritual was started. A goat was to be sacrificed. Now there is a ritual here too. While offering the goat to the deity, a prayer is conducted “Please accept the goat as a sacrifice.” If the goat shivers, it is assumed that the deity has accepted the sacrifice and there after it is slaughtered. Now, while the goat was being sacrificed, it refused to shiver for hours and hours together. The deity was finally invoked through the human mouthpiece. The deity asked, “Why did you tell a lie in Badrinath that I don’t take a sacrifice?” Thereafter, only sacrifice the deity accepts is a “sookhi bali”, i.e. a sacrifice of a coconut. Also, how does the bali (sacrifice) effect the deity, whether be it a an animal life or a coconut, or even a pumpkin? Does that life add up to the deity’s own life?
Horo Veda: How does it affect, I do not know. But I guess it is source of their supply energy to sustain life wherever they are and whatever form they have. What is the end result I have no idea.
Q: So where does this all lead to? Another incident I remember is that my cousin great grandfather once wanted to sacrifice a goat to the kul devta Naarsingh, which refused to shiver. Anyways, he said, “Deity you are not accepting the sacrifice, but I want to eat its meat, so I’m going to slaughter it.” He picked up his weapon with both the hands, but he couldn’t move his hands and they got stuck. In fact the weapon had to be removed from his hands by other people. His hands became stuck for lifetime and were immobile. The deity when invoked, said, “You cannot just take a life like that. This is your punishment.” But then does that not apply to the deities who take the life, while we humans just relish the meat and the left over?
Horo Veda: Answers may be above to understand. That’s why Mahaveer left his kingdom and went in to jungle to search for MOKSHA or where one may be free so that it does not have to come again and again.