Mahananda das, Jul 19 2009, USA: Vegan or not Vegan, which is correct? “The protection of cows maintains the most miraculous form of food, i.e., milk for maintaining the finer tissues of the brain for understanding higher aims of life.” Srila Prabhupada
In response to the article posted on Sampradaya Sun promoting veganism in ISKCON temples, I would like to present our view of milk drinking that we have accepted from our spiritual master.
Despite the evils of modern dairies and the cruel methods of obtaining milk from the mother cows, or despite the unwanted chemicals that store bought milk might introduce into your body and cause ill effects, still, we do not condemn drinking milk nor support veganism as part of our philosophy.
Quite the contrary. The glories of drinking cow’s milk are everywhere in Srila Prabhupada’s books. And though this may cause some doubts in the minds of those who have embraced vegan-ism, we as devotees faithfully follow the advice of our teacher, though it is sometimes contrary to fads or scientific theory.
To sometimes reject scientific evidence is basic to a devotee’s understanding of how to reach real knowledge of the actual condition of the living entities, both spiritually and materially. In a few years, vegans may become milk drinkers, or theorist may change their minds many times about the affects of milk, but a devotee remains steady and accepts the Vedic version as it is handed down through disciplic succession.
Among the few thousands references to milk in Srila Prabhupada’s books and lectures, I would like to point out a few here that will give a different perspective of drinking milk than that of the vegans. Srila Prabhupada says. ”Cow has got special importance because it supplies milk, and milk is very essential food that is… From the childhood, a child lives on milk, and there are many saintly persons, they also live by drinking milk. Milk is very important item in the human society, and it supplies all vitamins. ”
Also he says “But He’s (Krsna) speaking of go-raksya for our special material benefit, that if we protect the cows, we can have the facility of drinking milk, which will help us in keeping our health in order and developing very nice brain tissues to understand spiritual subject matter.”
Of course, like the vegans, we condemn the inhuman treatment of the cows at the dairies and slaughterhouses. Srila Prabhupada says “the cow’s calf not only is beautiful to look at, but also gives satisfaction to the cow, and so she delivers as much milk as possible. But in the Kali-yuga, the calves are separated from the cows as early as possible for purposes which may not be mentioned in these pages of Srimad-Bhagavatam. The cow stands with tears in her eyes, the sudra milkman draws milk from the cow artificially, and when there is no milk the cow is sent to be slaughtered. These greatly sinful acts are responsible for all the troubles in present society. People do not know what they are doing in the name of economic development.”
Srila Prabhupada also instructed us, “Milk is compared to nectar, which one can drink to become immortal. Of course, simply drinking milk will not make one immortal, but it can increase the duration of one’s life. In modern civilization, men do not think milk to be important, and therefore they do not live very long. Although in this age men can live up to one hundred years, their duration of life is reduced because they do not drink large quantities of milk. This is a sign of Kali-yuga. In Kali-yuga, instead of drinking milk, people prefer to slaughter an animal and eat its flesh. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, in His instructions of Bhagavad-Gita, advises go-raksya, which means cow protection. The cow should be protected, milk should be drawn from the cows, and this milk should be prepared in various ways. One should take ample milk, and thus one can prolong one’s life, develop his brain, execute devotional service, and ultimately attain the favor of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As it is essential to get food grains and water by digging the earth, it is also essential to give protection to the cows and take nectarean milk from their milk bags.”
Another reason for milk’s consumption is given here. “Animal fat is available in the form of milk, which is the most wonderful of all foods. Milk, butter, cheese and similar products give animal fat in a form which rules out any need for the killing of innocent creatures. It is only through brute mentality that this killing goes on. The civilized method of obtaining needed fat is by milk.”
Our position on milk drinking as taught in the Vedic literature is summed up in the following words spoken by a disciple of Srila Prabhupada (Madhudvisa dasa), who was with his spiritual master speaking to a Dr. Muncing…..
Madhudvisa: “One thing that we would like to mention, as our spiritual master says, there is a definite, according to the Vedic scripture, there is a definite link between consumption of milk and development of fine brain tissues. And if your department of knowledge has some research in that area, we think it would be a great service to mankind if they can be informed how they can develop fine brain tissues. Fine brain tissues which are needed for coping with the problems of this day and age. Not that simply if I disagree with you we’ll just fight. There has to be fine brain tissues in order to say, ‘Let us sit down and talk about this together. ‘ And we say, not we, but according to the scripture, there is a definite link between the consumption of milk products, not just milk, but cheese and all different milk products, the consumption of milk products and development of the necessary intellect. This is why, as our spiritual master said, the highly intelligent people of India have lived predominantly, not just drinking milk, but everything they ate was cooked in milk products. The vegetables, rice, even if rice was boiled, milk was put on, ghee was put on the rice. So that is like an unavoidable essential in their diet, not simply from the palatable standpoint, but actually from the relationship between the physical and the metaphysical progress.”
I have submitted this document in all humility to the Vaisnavas. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
“The cow delivers milk, the miracle of aggregate food values.” (Srila Prabhupada)