– by Shenali D. Waduge –
We again visit the topic of animal sacrifice and probably will continue to do so until the moral and ethical dimension of killing animals born no different to man comes to a halt. Christians and Jews must receive plaudits for evaluating the practice of animal sacrifice in the light of modern day ethical thinking and deciding to end the act of ritual slaughter. It remains only for Muslims to decide though we know that despite being aware of the moral and ethical dimension to ritualistic animal slaughter a fraction of Muslims think that agreeing to do away with tribal and outdated culture would expose aspects of their religion that would eventually lead to Muslims walking away from acts that continue to bind them in blind faith. If there was an instance of sacrificing one’s son in any ancient book does that mean that everyone has to do the same every year? Life is precious to everyone including non – human sentient beings. It is reverence for life that is the supreme ethic and not its destruction through animal sacrifice. In pre- colonial Sri Lanka those who killed animals and ate beef lost their rank and status overnight and were banished to the margins of society as outcastes. Social ostracism of ‘beef eaters’ (Geri mas kanno) was so deep and widespread in ancient Sri Lanka that none dared to hurt or kill cattle or eat beef.
Buddhist values save lives
Sri Lanka a country ruled by over 180 Sinhala Buddhist Kings following the tenets of Buddhist philosophy in treating all sentient beings with compassion had that moral element dethroned no sooner the country became subject to foreign invasion and occupation. What is disheartening is that post-independent leaders have chosen to walk away from the Buddhist tenets practiced by their forefathers and to replicate and adapt cultures and values that are not only foreign to the ethos of Sri Lanka but administers a slap on the face to what we claim to preserve. The amount of arguments gone into why animal sacrifice should not be allowed any more in Sri Lanka has unfortunately fallen on deaf ears. The Animal Welfare Bill which intends to introduce modern standards in the protection and caring for animals reflecting well entrenched universal moral and ethical values garners no support from politicians who incidentally sit in parliament largely because of the Buddhist majority vote. Once in power they appear to care less what the majority think or their sensitivities on subjects that matter to them.
Up-front and outspoken leadership of Putin
When Sri Lanka with over thousands of years of animal friendly cultural heritage to back the argument against animal sacrifice remains silent and Russia’s President Putin declares without blinking an eyelid that Russia bans animal sacrifice and instructs the Russian Department of National and Religious Policy to inform Muslims that the sacrifice of animals on the forthcoming holiday of Kurban-Bairam should be done only at dedicated sites outside the city limits of Moscow speaks volumes for the up-front and outspoken leadership of Putin. Yet, animal slaughter and animal sacrifice is now taking place unabated even in the Buddhist citadels of Anuradhapura and Mihintale once considered the ‘abhayadana’ areas without an iota of protest from our political leaders. Politicians increasingly simply walk away from their moral obligation because of funding and other remunerations that are coming their way.
A few comments by people across the world wide web show the depth of thinking directed to animal sacrifice and continues to question why Muslims insist on doing what non-Muslims earnestly appeal to them not to in the interest of compassion and mercy towards innocent and defenseless animals:
- Every one fears death, every one fears punishment, everyone loves his or her own life, take you yourself as an example and do not kill, do not hurt (Dhammapada)
- ‘.Humans have made various stories and theories to justify killing of animals, because they want to please their taste buds. However both humans and animals are born in the same way they both live due to same reasons they both undergo getting sick getting old finally the unavoidable death. It is true that to be fully vegetarian is very difficult but animals are not born to satisfy human greed from their flesh. ‘
- What happens is human as the most advanced animal has found some answers in religions which are made by man for the benefit of man because he feels guilty in his conscience when afflicting terrible pain to innocent animals who cannot communicate in our languages to explain their suffering and plight. We as humans are actually devastating the poor animals’ lives and families using our superior power and unlimited cruelty.
- You should go to a slaughter house with your loved ones to see the horror the gentle animals go through in the name of religion and industry when they are murdered against their wishes. If you were one of them think what sort of emotions you will go through? I’m not against any religion I’m only against the cruel acts of humans in the name of religion. I hope one day there will be a law in this world banning the killing of animals for their corpses i.e. for animals’ dead bodies.
- ” I would rather have Muslims go into poor areas of India or Haiti or China or anywhere in the world and satisfy the hunger of the entire community.”
I would rather have Muslims outgrow their cocoon and think for the entire humanity instead of their own community”.
- When I read about the conditions the animals have to endure during transport I almost cried. How can this in any way be considered an honorable practice? I respect the fact that everyone has a right to their religious beliefs, but when it comes to the ill treatment and slaughter of animals, I have to disagree. There should be a law to protect innocent animals from these horrific “religious” ceremonies. If you want to harm another life because of your religious traditions that should be where we as a society draws the line.I really hope that this issue will come to the fore front and be dealt with.
- No amount of Political Correctness can ever condone such utter barbarism! The gutters and streets literally run with the blood of so many sentient beings being held down and having their throats slit. Watch the videos, there are so many, and see the shocking joy on the faces of those watching these killings. There are even children watching with joyous faces. This is simply naked barbarism though justified in the name of religion.
Buddhists must not be forced to sacrifice defending the first precept
What needs to be stressed is that to kill over 100 million animals for an annual religious festival in this modern day is unpardonable.
Buddhists should never be asked to sacrifice their first precept which is the fundamental premise of their philosophy – how can Buddhists who follow Metta and Karuna for all living beings expect to watch and tolerate animal sacrifice i.e. home slaughter, take place in their midst. How can Buddhists or even Hindus be expected to have social relations or genuine friendships with those who behave like savages in their treatment or killing of animals? These are important moral and ethical issues that must be resolved with no loss of life to any living being. Whatever arguments given are denied by videos that depict the horrendous nature of animal slaughter.
No such animal sacrifice took place during pre-colonial rule and Muslims lived in Sri Lanka under Sinhala Buddhist Kings. On what basis is this new argument made that equates to mean that tolerating minorities, tolerance of other communities means that Buddhists must sacrifice all that they are taught to believe in and value and simply allow everything that goes against the Buddhist way of life to prevail and when Buddhists remind the world and the minority groups that arrived much later in Sri Lanka, that it was because of the Sinhala Buddhists that the civilization of Sri Lanka grew, that it was the Buddhist kings that built the nation up to the time of foreign invasion the immediate response is to brand Buddhists as extremists and racists using the money and power in their possession across the electronic media arena that is now attempting to usurp the power that majorities hold in Third World nations and pass on to minorities who are willing to allow and work with destabilizing elements so long as their ritual cultures can be allowed to prevail.
‘One Sri Lanka’ nation – a pipe dream
The so called ‘One Sri Lanka’ nation will remain a pipe dream if later cultures dictate and suppress the fundamental values of the original indigenous culture and the indigenous culture has to bow down and accommodate the later cultures whose values and religious practices are repulsive to people born and bred within an environment of metta and karuna to all living beings. Peaceful co – existence between various communities can be achieved only when those who belong to cultures that arrived later in time to this country are prepared to respect and accommodate the religious ethos and sensitivities of the people of the original culture that built the unique Buddhist Civilization of Sri Lanka, that has won the honour and admiration of people the world over.
“The assumption that animals are without rights, and the illusion that our treatment of them has no moral significance, is a positively outrageous example of human crudity and barbarity. Universal compassion is the only guarantee of morality.”
― Arthur Schopenhauer, The Basis of Morality