– by Shenali D Waduge –
For 25 centuries Sri Lanka was a nation that had prohibited animal slaughter of any kind by royal decree. The royal proclamations by the Sinhala Buddhist kings forbidding every citizen including visitor and trader to slaughter animals has not been repealed and questions why what did not exist under traditional governance today takes place in the form of animal sacrifice, a ritual killing as part of some religions to appease a god or gods. How can taking the life of another bestow merit on a person? It is the ethical and moral dimension of animal sacrifice that is the core argument being raised to ask how Sri Lankan Governments can ignore the embodiment of Buddhist values and abandon the tradition of governance (sirith) that prevailed. If state protection was granted and legally enshrined to animals and slaughter of cattle was strictly prohibited for what reasons is it being allowed now?
Buddha’s compassion for animals
The Buddha was against animal sacrifice on the premise that all living beings including sentient beings should not be killed but treated with compassion. No one can argue against this noble declaration.
King Devanampiyatissa took upon the trusteeship to protect animals, birds and other living beings about 2300 years ago after a plea made by Arahant Mahinda, whose father Emperor Ashoka of India (3rdc BC) accepted responsibility for animals declaring edicts that were legal pronouncement based on ethical teachings. Every Sri Lankan king followed King Devanampiyatissa providing state protection for animals:
“Oh! Great King, the birds of the air and the beasts have an equal right to live and move about in any part of this land as thou. The land belongs to the peoples and all other beings and thou art only the guardian of it.”
Can any religion argue with the Buddha’s appeal to show compassion to all sentient beings? No religious animal sacrifice can absolve from the cruel and inhuman manner in which animals are sacrificed as this video from Indonesia will show. How can people watch animals being stabbed to death, slowly slitting shallow cuts to the throat, beheading them, being torn apart by “human” mobs, being burnt alive, suffocated, skinned alive and to have one’s heart removed while fully conscious? How inhuman is it for Governments to subsidize, fund and take children to view these sacrifice events? Are children not traumatized by viewing animals being treated so cruelly and would this not make them lose their inner compassion for fellow beings even humans? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_E3k8HN8WU
This site gives you a real time count of animals being slaughtered http://www.adaptt.org/killcounter.html
The West is realizing the moral evil of animal sacrifice
The rise in movements to reduce and eliminate crimes perpetrated on animals and to approach animal sacrifice on a social ethical dimension is now gathering momentum. It has resulted in a remarkable attitudinal shift for predominately Christian West nations. What is wonderful is that just as the Buddha had preached, the West had now realized that animals like us suffer pain and just as we do not wish to die the animal too does not wish to be deprived of his life. This sympathy and empathy for sentient beings is at the core of Buddhist compassion (Metta).
“All fear the rod of death,
All are scared.
(understanding others) from one’s own example,
one should neither kill nor cause to kill” (Dhammapada)
Animals are living beings too
The Constitution of India, the country that should be most proud of the Buddha declares it is a fundamental duty of every citizen to have compassion for living creatures. In India Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Pondicherry and Rajastan have banned the sacrifice of animals and birds. Yet, Maneka Gandhi, a crusader for animal rights says there are over 11,000 ILLEGAL slaughter houses in Delhi alone. She also says “Cows provide approx 100 million tonnes of dry dung a year costing Rs 5000 crores which saves 50 million tonnes of firewood which again means that many trees saved and more environmental damage prevented. It is calculated that if these 73 million animals were to be replaced, we would need 7.3 million tractors at the cost of 2.5 lac each which would amount to an investment of 180,000 crores. In addition 2 crore, 37 lakh and 50 thousand tonnes of diesel which would mean another 57,000 crore rupees. This is how much we owe these animals, and this is what we stand to lose by killing them.” …..: In Mumbai, the Muslims like eating only pregnant and milking cows. I have film footage of cows that are being milked ten minutes before their heads are cut off”
Predominate Hindu India too has been overrun by the multicultural secularists. Yet, there are some like the Shia cleric Maulana Syed Kalbe Sadiq of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board who issued a statement “It is my appeal to Muslims to completely restrain from sacrificing the cow on the Eid-ul-Azha. India is our country and we should respect the feeling of Hindu brethren who are the majority”. It would be nice if Hindu was replaced with Buddhism and the same message issued in Sri Lanka.
Why is Sri Lanka ignoring the royal decree of the Sinhala Buddhist kings?
For 25 centuries Sri Lanka was ruled by 180 Sinhala Buddhist kings and the rule of law was simple. The King himself followed the Dasa Raja Dharma and no one including himself could kill any animal. Even the South Indian King Elara followed the Buddhist royal decree and punished his own son for harming a cow.
The MAAGHAATA (do not kill) proclamations prevailed from 1st to 8th century. Proclamations were made to protect wild life and fishes in the forests and lakes by King Vijayabahu 1 in the 11th century and Parakramabahu the Great in the 12th century. Some kings like King Buddhadassa (341AD) became reputed medical and veterinary surgeons. It was believed that all Kings that followed the Dasa Raja Dharma and protected animals had divine healing capabilities.
The most astounding decree was issued by King Kirti Sri Nissankamalla who forbid killing of all living beings throughout the country in 6 famous inscriptions and every citizen and even non-citizen (including traders, visitors) to Sri Lanka had to follow the royal decree without any objection.
There was really nothing anyone could object to given that the moral and ethical aspect of killing was nothing other religions could argue against. How could other religions say it is the right of their religion to kill when Buddhists say to treat animals with compassion? Thus the royal decree of the Sinhala Buddhist kings highlights the social and legal history of Sri Lanka which changed ONLY after being invaded and taken over by colonial forces who not only legalized animal killing but introduced liquor and other vices.
What the colonials took away from Sri Lanka is left for the indigenous leaders of Sri Lanka to restore. No one opposed the prohibition of animal slaughter pre-colonial times but why is it being opposed now? Is it not because proper laws are not in place and Governments including the Maha Sangha have failed to uphold the indigenous culture of Sri Lanka that had been usurped and placed with cultures that have no roots in Sri Lanka?
Time for animal rights law in Sri Lanka
The number of requests made by animal rights activists to the authorities are too many, the number of petitions signed and handed over to the authorities are many too. The existing law on animal rights is that which prevailed during British rule.
When the fine for illegal transportation of cattle is just Rs.100 according to the law set out in 1893 it puts to shame the royal decrees that prevailed during the Sinhala Buddhist kings.
The mass slaughter taking place at Munneshwaran hindu kovil as well as the ritual slaughter that takes place during the festival of Bakr-Eid has led to many questioning the ethics of killing to bestow upon oneself merit.
In August 2010, 300 goats and 600 chickens were slaughtered despite the prevalence of the Cruelty to Animals Ordinance. By taking away the life of another can devotees of Munneshwaran expect to be blessed? Are these senseless killings not bringing ill-luck on the country with the tears and sadness of the animals that are being slaughtered? Even nations like US, US, Australia and EU nations will not tolerate such barbaric rituals which next asks why is the Sri Lankan Government allowing such? In terms of numbers who matters to them – the numbers who want to kill or those that do not want to kill?
What is the democratic right to kill an innocent animal? What is the Buddha Sasana Ministry doing? Those running behind hate speech acts have kept mum on the inhumanity to animals is it for votes or other reasons?
If the Government and Buddha Sasana inaction is attributed to fear of displeasing other countries and their religious beliefs why do these countries not respect Sri Lanka’s Buddhist religious beliefs in their countries? Where is the equality of status in these nations while demanding far more than they are prepared to accede to other faiths especially Buddhists?
In slaughtering an animal do their flesh and blood reach God? Is it not one’s piety that reaches Him?
For Muslims sacrifice is meant to demonstrate charity – how can that be done by taking a life of an animal that cannot talk to plead to be allowed to live?
If in olden times the sacrifice of meat was to provide protein when money was not in existence, in modern times is it not simpler to donate money as charity and find other means to help the poor?
By donating money to celebrate Muslim festivals, Muslims can surely demonstrate submission to God instead of taking lives of blameless animals.
For those taking part in the ritual of slaughter at Munneshwaran that same logic applies.
Under what logic can a person agree to kill an animal for the purpose of satisfying a God or deity? Does this mean that the God or deity want people to kill for him? Where does it say that animals have to be sacrificed for God? Given that in tribal times people were not educated to question the ethics and social aspects of what they were doing, the fact that Jews and Christians have stopped making animal sacrifices to Got shows they have learnt and adjusted with time. Why is this not so with Islam especially during the Bakr Eid festival and more importantly why do those going to the Munneshwaran temple not realize the cruelty that they are participating in being a Hindu temple?
Some shocking statistics
Every year for Bakr Eid 100million animals are slaughtered in 2 days of festivities globally by Muslims. Camel slaughter also takes place even in India. There are 19million camels the world over according to FAO statistics. http://tune.pk/video/359742/Camel-Slaughtering-Eid-Ul-Azha-Islamic-Festival.
Yet there are some who says that in the US more than 27,000,000 animals are killed every day for secular reasons such as food, leather and fur – many times the number who are killed in Mecca for Eid al-Adha. Yet, how long are we to argue on the basis of finger pointing – is it not time that we looked at the moral and ethical dimension of killing animals instead of arguing why killings need to take place? Whether it is humane animal slaughter or ritual slaughter – no one can deny the right of an animal to live. It was on this basis that the Polish parliament rejected ritual animal slaughter in July 2013
What the public say – some comments taken from various sites:
Sometimes I am so disgusted by cruelty to animals by “humans”
that I wish we did not exist! ( Risto Siljanoski)
THERE IS NO CELEBRATION WHEN DEATH IS INVOLVED. NO INNOCENT SENTIENT BEING MAY BE KILLED. INDIA WAS ONCE A LAND OF POWERFUL COMPASSION. STRONG SAGES AND WONDERFUL MEN WHO PROFESSED NOT KILLING ANIMALS FOR ANY FORM OF HUMAN NEED HAS BEEN ADVISED. LET US RESTORE THAT COMPASSION. FOR WHEN THERE IS NO BLOODSHED, ONLY THEN CAN PEACE AND PROSPERITY REIGN… SHOW NO COMPASSION AND YOU WILL BE SHOWN NONE. THE KILLING MUST STOP!!! IT IS BARBARIC AND ONLY LESS EVOLVED BEINGS PARTAKE OF SUCH MERCILESS ACTS. THEY ARE NOT WISE AND HENCE WILL LEAD TO THE RUIN OF THEMSELVES AND THOSE THAT FOLLOW THEM AND TO THE ANIMALS AND THE PLANET. THIS IS THE TRUTH. STOP THE KILLERS. LET PEACE PREVAIL! JAI HIND! (Mel)
No matter if you call god Allah, Jesus, Krishna or whatever, NO God wants people to be cruel and selfish. Every religion teaches humbleness, love and compassion for all beings on earth!
Stop THIS ABUSE OF ANIMALS! (Kirsten)
Nothing Holy comes from being cruel. Please put an end to this evil circle in the name of God. PLEASE!!!! ( Maxine Wilby-Bellett)
Rob and Jay B – 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 a Jewish story and prophet which Mohammed borrowed and adapted for his own book, but the Jews don’t practice this blood fest that would make the Roman pagan sacrifices look like a PETA gathering. There is no excuse for this horrible practice in this day and age.
And the Muslims and their apologists will come on and claim that having your throat slit is painless. How absurd! Just remember how painful that little cut in the kitchen was and then think how that would have felt having your own throat slit open and drowning in your pumping blood. Nothing can explain this disgusting practice away.
And, no we don’t eat animals. We are Vegans, so don’t try that argument. All people of conscience and good will should work to see the end of this horrible, cruel abomination. The Humane Society Int’l condemned a small Hindu sect for sacrificing some animals in a similar barbaric fashion, and they stopped. BUT the HSI remains silent and complicit in this, the biggest pagan bloodfest in human history. Why? Because it is OK to condemn anyone else’s uncivilized behavior, but it is politically incorrect to say anything negative against Islam, no matter now deserved the criticism may be.
Here’s the scientific argument against the silly notion that slitting a throat is painless:
I can’t even bear to think about this. This isn’t godly! What kind of deity would want such a blood bath? No good god, for certain. There is no place in the modern world for such barbarism. Just sickening. No religion is exempt for criticism when it practices such uncivilised behaviour as this. (Carola May) Friday October 26, 2012, 9:09 am
Theprecedence set up Parakramabahu the Great and other Sinhala Buddhist king not the cultural influences that was forcibly introduced by the colonial rulers should be followed by Sri Lanka’s leaders. Leaders of Sri Lanka are not voted to uphold the values of commonwealth values and advisers following pseudo-secularist norms cannot usurp the will of those voting leaders to office. What the Buddhists consider is as sacred must be upheld.
Animal slaughter must stop. Let us approach this issue on an ethical and compassionate dimension.