Article titled ‘In search of Yajnavalkya’s lunch’ by Samar Halarnkar in Livemint attempts to discover the meat eating tradition in Hindu religion. Shatapatha Brahmana is one of the chief sources of information about the Vedic age and the author of the article uses it as a prime source to prove his view that ancient Hindus ate meat including beef.
One of those dogmas deal with what is now a central tenet of Hindu society: the abjuring of meat, particularly beef. But meat-eating—and its rules and customs—is widely discussed in Hinduism’s sacred scriptures. In his seminal work, Indian Food: A Historical Companion, the late K.T. Achaya, a food historian and scientist, describes in great detail how the Harappans, the Vedic Aryans and ancient south Indians, “like their contemporaries elsewhere in the world”, enjoyed eating a variety of animals and drinking liquor.
Achaya notes that 50 animals were deemed fit for sacrifice, “and by inference for eating”. Markets had stalls according to the meats they sold, including gogataka (cattle), arabika (sheep), shukharika (swine), nagarika (deer) and gidhabuddaka (alligator and tortoise). Domestic Vedic rites, or grhya sutras, list how different meats influence a child’s nature. When a child was first given food other than milk—the annaprasana ceremony—the choices ranged from ram’s meat for strength to partridge flesh for saintliness to fish for gentleness.
Kautilya’s Arthashastra, a treatise of statecraft, now about 2,300 years old, refers to a superintendent of slaughterhouses, implying state supervision of animal slaughter, and the sale of cooked meat in markets. Around the same time, one of the great texts of Ayurveda, the Charaka Samhita, offers many edible meats, “the more unusual of which are those of the alligator, tortoise, jackal and porcupine”, writes Achaya.
Hindu Blog View
It is a widely known fact that a large section of ancient Hindu society ate meat – the hunting expeditions of the kings and the story of hunters explains this in a simple way. But then Hindus abandoned meat eating during the first century BC. But why did they abandon it? Answer to this is not provided in the article. Nor is it provided by many people who constantly dig out the non-vegetarian history of Hindus.
Hinduism is the only religion that evolves continuously, so did the Hindus abandon meat eating (red meat) on realizing the bad effects of it on health.