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Shri Narayana Guru: Jeevakarunya Panchakam

This poem, "Jeevakarunya Panchakam," by Shri Narayana Guru, addresses the concept of compassion and non-violence towards all living beings. 

All are of one Self-fraternity.
Such being the dictum to avow,
In such a light how can we take life,
And devoid of least pity go on to eat?

The non-killing vow is great indeed,
And, greater still, non-eating to observe;
All in all. Should we not say, Oh men of righteousness,
Even to this amounts the essence of all religions?

If killing were applied to oneself,
Who, as a favor, would treat such a dire destiny?
As touching all in equality, Oh ye wise ones,
Should that not be our declaration for a regulated life?

No killer would there be if no other to eat there was
Perforce, himself must eat!
In eating thus abides the cruder ill than in killing
In that it killing makes.

Not killing makes a human good -
Else an animal's equal he becomes.
No refuge has the taker of life,
Although to him all other goods accrue.

Shri Narayana Guru

Let's break it down stanza by stanza:

Fraternity of Self: The poem starts by asserting the belief that all beings are fundamentally connected as part of one Self or one universal consciousness. It questions how one can continue to live without any sense of pity or compassion towards other living beings.

Non-Killing and Non-Eating: The poem emphasizes the importance of refraining from both killing and eating animals. It suggests that the vow of non-killing is significant, but even greater is the observance of non-eating, as it encompasses a broader sense of compassion towards all life forms.

Universal Essence of Religion: Here, the poet suggests that the essence of all religions lies in the practice of compassion and nonviolence towards all beings. It urges people to recognize this fundamental aspect of righteousness.

Equality and Regulated Life: The poem advocates for a life lived in accordance with the principle of treating all beings equally. It suggests that this should be the foundation for leading a disciplined and regulated life.

Consequences of Eating Meat: This stanza reflects on the consequences of consuming meat. It argues that if one refuses to eat meat, then there would be no need for killing animals for food. It suggests that the act of eating meat is even worse than killing, as it perpetuates the cycle of violence.

Attaining Goodness through Non-Killing: The final stanza concludes by asserting that practicing non-killing leads to true goodness in humanity. It implies that one who takes life cannot find true refuge or inner peace, even if they gain other worldly goods.

Overall, the poem emphasizes the importance of compassion, non-violence, and the interconnectedness of all beings as fundamental principles for leading a righteous and regulated life.