“there was a round english garden outside of the railway station of junagadh in 1945 british india. it had very fragrant flowering champa trees, ashoka trees and a fragrant "borsalli" tree that had small fruits of large peanut size. when they turned rich yellow, we sneaked into the tree avoiding the mean gardener who hated children climbing his trees and playing in his flower garden. the garden had a wrought iron fence with three spears protruding above its an inch wide flat frame at an interval which was wide enough for praful and me to step onto, and balancing free handed walk all around the garden. one day as we were walking and talking, i did not hear reply from praful who was walking a few steps behind me. so i turned my face backwards to see him, and lost my balance and fell with my feet landing on the foundation wall and my side on the spears. i stood up straight, and while freeing my shirt from the spears, my fingers felt the wetness. so i told praful, "feels i have scratched myself on the side. i lifted up the shirt to see the scratch, and out poured two jets of blood, and stopped as they drained blood. as i sat down on the foundation wall, i began to feel going down deeper and deeper within myself. and drained of all energy. praful ran and brought my elder brother who came on bicycle. together they tried to put me on the bicycle bar in front of the seat, but like a boneless creature i would slip down. he wanted to take me to the railway clinic, and get me treated without father knowing and getting upset. but as they could not keep me on the bicycle bar, my father was informed, and both my parents came running. i was put in one of the horse carriage taxis parked nearby, half on my mother's lap, half on the carriage floor, and was rushed to the city hospital.
my father carried me to the emergency lobby, and a doctor and a nurse put me on the check up table to see the injury. i saw everything since the fall, but did not feel anything at all. the doctor saw the two holes on my side between the ribs, and told my parents that my lungs were spared from puncturing by only tiny distance. but that i had to be admitted to the hospital for the observation and treatment.
so accompanied by my parents, the nurse carted me to the private ward situated behind the main building. i was kept there for about ten days. my father stayed with me during the night, and mother during the day. my elder sister had been married and gone only three or four days before the accident, and my youngest sister was too young to be able to cook and mind the home. so while mother went home for cooking and such, one of my brothers would stay with me. as we would not touch the hospital food, mother would bring for me thepla and dry cooked potato with turmeric and salt. twice a day a doctor would make rounds of the patients in the private wards, and nurses came as many times. every morning a nurse would open the bandage, clean the wound with warm water, apply some mercurochrome and tie a clean bandage. of the three nurses that came, i liked one with a very calm and soothing gaze in her eyes and face with a tender smile. i awaited her arrival, and wished her to stay longer. i did not know her by name, but i feel, that i can recognize her even now if she came. gradually the holes were covered up and wound healed. i sill have the two slight bumps where the spears had pierced me between the ribs.”
(from ‘unamerican dreams and dissent’)
a conversation between a vegan and a had been cannibal, malaysia. 1967:
the vegan abstained from meat on biological grounds, that, the meat eating creatures’ jaws can only bite and swallow. all creatures that can move their jaws sideways, and chew their food are vegetarians. so must be humans. the reformed primitive bright young man was from borneo. he could read and write.
in that day’s newspaper he saw a news item from the u.s. that evoked his reasoning sense. the news was about the fatal accidents on the u.s. roads that yearly killed several thousand people.
“what a waste?” he said, adding, “most of them would have been healthy. why don’t people eat them?”
“because people do not eat people.”
he then asked the vegan, “suppose, you were a meat eater, and your mother died a natural death. would eat her flesh?”
“of course, not.”
“then you are discriminating. the woman, who was alive, was your mother. you had not killed her. and then, as dead body you would burn it, and christians bury it. in either case, you acknowledge the termination of her motherhood at death. so as a meat eater you would be eating the meat, and not the mother.”
he agreed with his friend, “except that for the very biological reason the humans would be better off with vegan diet, health wise as well as humans living amicably with all other things and beings.”
had that incident happened in the u.s or modern india, doctors would have fed the boy routinely with the human blood intravenously even without expecting to meet objection from the boy’s brahmin parents, much like dalai lama’s excuse for eating beef on “doctor’s advice to stay alive.”
it is not unlikely, that if not one, then someone one knows has had a human limb or organ transplant. of course, most of these transplanted body parts come from naturally dead persons. but there is also a growing demand for limbs and organs larger than the supply, especially for certain organs. the term: “harvesting the body parts” implies commercially obtained form, like farming the crops and other creatures raised for sale. animal farms raise animals for slaughter.
animals have no voice in their abuse and slaughter.
with the technological observations of the human anatomy the surgical, medical and pharmacological industries have interacted so much, that one cannot be applied without the other. and even liquid form of medicine may be obtained from some form of non plant matter other than the chemical compounds. so when it comes to transplants, the organs not being factory made have to be obtained from the human body before it begins to decompose. the naturally just dead and the road kills, who have no family connections, or who have donated their bodies for others are the normal suppliers of body parts. but for those patients with the “urgent” needs defined by doctors, and who have deep pockets also obtain body parts via the commercial means. and that is where some poor folks are lured to sell kidney and other organs while alive. and there are the third world prisons with inmates with no outside links.
either way, legally or obtained otherwise, increasing number of people have in them other human’s limbs and organs. so the question is, whether there is any difference between the cannibals of borneo and the modern urban humans who both sustain their living feeding on humans.
years ago in a study in chicago, an answer to a question: “where does the beef come from?’’ a school kid said: “from ‘safeway’ (a super market).” but it is not only the children who do not know sources of many essential things. the grownups, too, sometimes do not know due to the wrong information about the packaged foods. many vegetarians, who are comfortable with the dairy products, eat pizza not knowing that the cheese in pizza is made with rennet obtained from the innards of cows. and vegans who abstain from milk unawares drink their coffee with the non dairy creamer that has milk solids from cow’s milk. knowingly or otherwise, the food and drug administration officials allow such erroneous labeling, and also contribute to the communication gap due to the abuse of words of the language.
then, the meat eating populace, though would never let their taste buds be deprived of their favorite meat dishes would be repulsed to even hear of the utterly violent slaughter house dealings with the killings of the animals. it is a very carefully crafted division of the work related classes and work places. in the past as of now, planners of the town kept the unsavory sights, sound and smells out of the downtown residential areas. and the neatly wrapped packaging of the meat products simplified the distancing allowing the city dwellers to stop butchering the animals and faunas and fish within their premises. this absence of gruesome sight and cries of the butchering permeated over a time a make believe sense of the kindness towards animals and prevention of cruelty to animals. most famous make believe yearly event of mercy in the u.s. is that of the president releasing of the turkey donated to the whitehouse for the thanks giving feast. it is make believe, because presidents then do eat other turkeys in their grand feasts with not the slightest hesitation.
it is interesting to observe, that, the jain, buddhist and christian first
precept is to abstain from killing, or taking life of a living being. but in practice, the hindu caste system has assigned the lowest caste this cruel aspect of the meat eating, exempting them from having mercy on the animals to be killed. the hindu caste system also allows the second caste, that of warriors to eat animals except cows, and kill humans in war. even in modern indian army most of the enlisted persons are meat eaters as are all enlisted christian soldiers of other countries. among the buddhists, there is not just the different texts differing on the subject of the meat eating, but there is also the new meanings to accommodate killing, as in battles. then, there is the current 14th dalai lama argument, that in order to live he must eat meat on his “doctor’s advice”.
only jains have not succumbed to the interpretations of the words pleasing to their taste buds. and the jain ‘ahimsa’ still means non killing, no matter what. gandhi got the ahimsa, the non killing and non violence not from hindu faith, but from the jains. gandhi’s hero, the warrier king rama killed deer not just to eat, but for sport (sk. ‘mrigyaa’). had rama not gone after the golden deer, whose skin his wife sitaa had desired, there would not been the epic story of ramayana.
one of the basic ingredients of the commerce is to awaken a sense of lack, forming a fear that one would suffer without obtaining the thing advertized. it could be concerning the physical well being, mental health or even one’s social standing, the keeping up with the joneses thing, ultimately a way of life. for, without the standardized form there can be no industry of any kind churning out pills or soda pops; the shoe or shampoo; toilet seat or any of the many things that are made on the factory conveyer belts. and the meat, like most food items are now processed on conveyer belts. once succumbed to the advertized lack of thing or thought promoted by the constant barrage of tv ads, and even family doctors’ american medical association promoted diagnosis, one’s reasoning senses begin to muddle up. fears rise. people put too much faith in the idealized image of a physician and do not want to know the interconnectedness of the medical industry with the advertizing industry in which physicians are paid to prescribe, a pill or a surgical procedure.
in the standardized form of expertise acquired from schooling, a student learning to specialize in one subject, categorically remains as ignorant of other related subjects as is a lay person. thus many a family physician prescribes a pill or a dosage or a surgical implant simply because it is sent out as samples. and there is a little bit of accompanying promotion literature sent out with the sample that physician mouths when talking with the patients as possible remedy.
in a modern urban living people are made victims of the standardized form of existence. it negates anything personal, whether pain or pleasure. cheerleading in sports or the standing ovation in concert halls and politicians’ speeches is thus to promote a liking by the way of the peer pressure. the capacity to neglect pain becomes a normal requirement in most competitive sports. and past middle age sportsmen suffer from the injuries sustained in their prime time. the professional sportsmen are steady market for the medical and surgical industry.
there is no market value in promoting nothing. thus markets only deal in things. so even abstract ideas and impulses are clothed in standard uniform. look at monks and nuns of all religions. obviously, their gods do not care whether people are even clothed or not. upon becoming bagger, buddha had begged for one piece of cloth from each of the fifteen farming families and stitched them together to make a robe. then finding the market value in it, now the commerce sector makes monks’ robes and nuns’ habits. and to entice the meat eaters to vegetarian food concocts meat and fish looking items made of soy beans, such as soyburgers.
one is pressured to modify one’s personal thoughts and feelings to not be viewed as an odd ball in the group. it could be anything, whether food or fashion, or religion or political ideology or ecology. when not being afraid of rejection does one reach the root of the fear: one sees that the urge to frighten is itself a creation of fear. thus it is not one’s being vegan that frightens, but its implications makes non vegan person uncomfortable: one’s food, way of life, one’s thinking, beliefs all evoke questions; and being comfortably settled, one is not willing to step into the unknown.
but then, in being alive one barely notices the constance, the cosmic flow biologically, like growth and physical motions, etc., because the way of life is molded by the set codes of conducts and dos and don’ts. it is all the known. what one is taught to not see is that being alive is not static. the change itself is the constance. so just as ‘the rolling stone gathers no moss’, in an aware living there is no acquiring of things and thoughts that can be repeated as standards. then one experiences the element of being without the learnt fear of lack, isolation or self identity, and simply exists as do other creatures and even small children.