Yes, it was a question by vAli embarrassing to Rama. Rama used convoluted logic such as VAli was an animal so he could hide and hunt him. But when vAli asked why Rama thought he should kill VAli Rama replied he did injustice to his brother Sugreeva by stealing his wife. But when vAli said that transgression as it applies to humans does not apply to monkeys, Rama had no answer. In the end they justify it as everything was pre-determined (that it was ordained that Rama should seek the assistance of Sugreeva), a very fuzzy situation.
Originally Posted by sarang
Well, at one time brahmins ate meat, if you know. During Buddha's period the priests encouraged animal sacrifice and were eating meat and drinking alcohol too. When the priest was about to chant the mantra before sacrificing the animal, Siddharta Gautama walked in and carried the animal away. In ancient times the so-called "untouchables" ate beef and used cowhide to make various drums to be used in temple celebrations. The priests turned a blind eye to such practice at that time throwing some lame justification (such as-- in the service of the Lord everything is fair)
But vali's wife tara says that he usurped rumi (sugriva's wife) and drove away sugriva and tried to kill him. So for these adharmic deeds he had to pay.
The issue is not brrahmins eating meat; they ate meat as yagna sesha and not for boga. Sacrificing animals in roughly two out of twenty yagnas is referred to by ramanujacharya and kanchi periyavar (in deivathin kural). That is a separate issue.
Killing of cow is nowhere permitted; even for yagnas. Do you have scriptural or puranic or any other evidence to show that cows were eaten and their hides were used for drums.
Originally Posted by mahakavi
Until Buddha, rig vedic ideas reigned supreme...I think I read it from Amartya Sen's book :)
I have heard about these "supposed" arguments between VAli and RAmA, except with a reversed chronology.
Originally Posted by mahakavi
First VAli asks RAmA why he intended to kill VAli. RAmA explains about the injustice VAli did to his brother by stealing Sugreeva's wife. When VAli counters that such transgression is acceptable among VAnaRas and human laws do not apply to them, RAmA replies that hunting a VAnaRa hiding is also NOT unfair as human laws of fighting an open warfare does not apply to a VAnaRA!
I am not as well versed as you in scriptures. I read this book. I am very sorry you asked a question like this, I am even more sorry that I started to research this topic. For a vegetarian this thread has been very painful.
Originally Posted by sarang
A. Historian DN Jha has written a book entitled "Holy Cow: Beef in the Indian Dietary Traditions" Jha has argued that the Rg Veda refers to the cooking of ox's flesh as offering
to the gods,especially Indra.Agni's food was the ox and the barren cow.This practice, acc. to him,continues up to 8th century AD in some form or other.But at the same time,there was tendency among Brahmins to discourage the practice of killing cows in Kalyug. Jha has also spoken
of the Manusmriti,which while providing a list of animals that could be eaten,forbade the eating of the cow
Acc. to Yajnvalkya Smriti ,a learned Brahmin should be welcomed with a big ox or goat,delicious food and sweet words.
Charaka Samhita, Sushruta Samhita and Astangahritaya of Vagbhata acc. to Jha,referred to the use of beef in case of specific illnesses.The book refers to Charaka prescribing a gruel prepared
with beef gravy, soured with pomegranates, as a remedy for intermittent fever.
"Several points emerge from our limited survey of the textual evidence, mostly drawn from Brahmanical sources drawn from the Rgveda onwards. In the first place, it is clear that the early Aryans, who migrated to India from outside, brought along with them certain cultural elements. After their migration into the Indian subcontinent pastoralism, nomadism and animal sacrifice remained characteristic features of their lives for several centuries until sedentary field agriculture became the mainstay of their livelihood. Animal sacrifices were very common, the most important of them being the famous asvamedha and rajasuya. These and several other major sacrifices involved the killing of animals including cattle, which constituted the chief form of the wealth of the early Aryans. Not surprisingly, they prayed for cattle and sacrificed them to propitiate their gods. The Vedic gods had no marked dietary preferences. Milk, butter, barley, oxen, goats and sheep were their usual food, though some of them seem to have had their special preferences. Indra had a special liking for bulls. Agni was not a tippler like Indra, but was fond of the flesh of horses, bulls and cows. The toothless Pusan, the guardian of the roads, ate mush as a Hobson’s choice. Soma was the name of an intoxicant but, equally important, of a god, and killing animals (including cattle) for him was basic to most of the Rgvedic yajnas. The Maruts and the asvins were also offered cows. The Vedas mention about 250 animals out of which at least 50 were deemed fit for sacrifice, by implication for divine as well as human consumption. The Taittiriya Brahmana categorically tells us: Verily the cow is food (atho annam vai gauh) and Yajnavalkya‘s insistence on eating the tender (amsala) flesh of the cow is well known. Although there is reason to believe that a brahmana’s cow may not have been killed, that is no index of its inherent sanctity in the Vedic period or even later."
Tehelka - The People's Paper
The ‘holiness’ of the cow is a myth. Its flesh was very much a part of the early Indian non-vegetarian food regimen and dietary traditions
‘… gam alabhate; yajno vai gauh; yajnam eva labhate; atho annam vai gauh; annam evarundhe…’
Taittiriya Brahamana, III. 9.8.2-3 (Anandasramasanskritgranthavalih 37, Vol III, 3rd edition, Poona, 1979.
‘(At the horse sacrifice) he (the Adhvaryu) seizes (binds) the cow (i.e. cows). The cow is the sacrifice. (Consequently) it is the sacrifice he (the Sacrificer) thus obtains. And the cow certainly is food. (Consequently) it is food he thus obtains.’
English translation by Paul-Emile Dumont. Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society. 92.6 (December 1948), p485.
An interesting rite repeatedly mentioned in the texts of the later Vedic period is one relating to the reception of guests and is called arghya, or more popularly, madhuparka. The killing of the kine (cow) to honour guests seems to have been prevalent from earlier times. The Rgveda (X.68.3) mentions the word atithinir, which has been interpreted as “cows fit for guests”, and refers to at least one Vedic hero, Atithigva, meaning literally “slaying cows for guests”.
...The cow was also killed on festive occasions like marriage. A Rgvedic passage, for instance, refers to the slaughter of a cow on the occasion of marriage and later, in the Aitareya Brahmana, we are told, that “if the ruler of men comes as a guest or any one else deserving of honour comes, people kill a bull or a cow”.
Is it enough to say that Ancient Hindus ate Cow flesh. Subsequently with influence of Buddhism the cow slaughter was stopped. The Ahimsa was given much more importance very later.
One Man’s Beef
The Guardian, Saturday 13 July 2002
It is good to have all the relevant facts in one book. But, perhaps, Jha would have better engaged the general reader had he explained in greater detail why upper-caste Hindus have been more passionate about the cow in the last century and a half than at any other time in India's history. Or, as DD Kosambi put it in his Ancient India (1965), why "a modern orthodox Hindu would place beef-eating on the same level as cannibalism, whereas Vedic Brahmins had fattened upon a steady diet of sacrificed beef".
The answer lies in the 19th century, when many newly emergent middle-class Hindus began to see the cow as an important symbol of a glorious tradition defiled by Muslim rule over India. For these Hindus, the cause for banning cow-slaughter became a badge of identity, part of their quest for political power in post-colonial India. Educated Muslims felt excluded from, even scorned by, these Hindu notions of the Indian past; and they developed their own separatist fantasies.
Even accepting the reverse order of Q & A, Rama hid himself to shoot the arrow at vAli because vAli had the boon that if anybody fights with him face to face he (VAli) will get half the power of the other person giving him more power to defeat his opponent.
Originally Posted by கால பைரவன்
I don't think this half power gain is in valmiki ramayan. Needs checking.
Originally Posted by mahakavi
In the movie "The Graduate", Dustin Hoffman is grabbed by the neighbor and and told to go for "Plastics" in search of a job after graduation. Likewise for most of history, the answer is "Evolution" when it comes to deciding between right and wrong. In matters concerning religion and customs the evolution of thought is the guiding factor. In Victorian England the puritans gained foothold and consequently when the British ruled India they introduced those concepts into India too, such as the Anti-nautch act , child marriage prevention act, and others. So what was once permitted in ancient times came to be revised as a prohibited item or event later. "Old is gold" is not universally true. So in the name of tradition it is foolhardy to impose certain customs without consideration for the pulse of times.
As for making mridangam from cowhide, SEkkizhAr's periya purANam (12th century CE) details how the slum dwellers (including nandanAr) ate beef and used the cowhide to make drums and take them to be used in the temples. The brahmins in those days turned a blind eye to the source of the drums used in the temples. Similarly, the use of kastUri (from the gland of a deer), and kOrOjanai (from cow's liver) was widely prevalent in the name of offering them to the Lord. Later on kOrOjanai was used as a medicine even in brahminical households to be given to children to cure their gastric and intestinal illnesses.