|International Vegetarian Union (IVU)|
15th World Vegetarian Congress 1957
When Lord Buddha was breathing his last breath, He asked
His followers to persist in Ahimsa. His last words were : "Now
then, O Monks, I address you. Teach humanity the doctrine of Ahimsa.
Subject to decay are compound things. Strive with earnestness."
No nobler message to humanity than this can be given on his 2500th Anniversary.
The killing of such victors as Alexander, Xerxes, Ghazni. Changhizkhan, Napoleon, and Hitler, has left behind a stench of evil. But the good resulting from the Principle of Non-killing, the First of Lord Buddha's Five Precepts, spreads the fervent odour of spiritual joy that is limitless like the ocean below and the sky above.
"What ye cannot give, how can ye take?" Non-Killing
is the central virtue of the creed of the Buddha." Not for our
life would we ever intentionally kill a living being." In this
highly dynamic age when the atom bomb is holding the breath of humanity
in its lustful hand, the world's civilization is sustained on this teaching
of Lord Buddha. Though every time on the brink of war, the world refuses
to descend the precipice of war, for the unfailing teachings of Buddha
have penetrated the mind of the thinking man. Christ, Lao Tze, Confucius,
master minds have battled against killing in any form.. ..But Buddha
holds the virtue of non-killing as a unique aspect of living itself.
Lord Buddha succinctly has stated that without the practice of the Precept
of Non-Killing, there was no Nirvana possible, no Moksha, no Deliverance.
The Buddha maintains : "Whoso killeth even a wild beast like the
antlered deer or a creeping snake, distrusteth God, who out of mercy
hath created this all and preserveth this all."
Buddha. immersed in the Ocean of Non-Violence said :
Humanitarianism leads to the lessening of the passions
of cruelty. Vegetarianism is the twin sister of Humanitarianism. ..
India, where Buddha meditated and formulated the holy creed of of Ahimsa,
has laid out a programme of non-killing, cow-protection, and animal
security through recognized institutions - India, the land just recovered
to spiritual proof of a State advancing to moral peace and economic
prosperity purely due to observance of Buddha's principle of Ahimsa.
ASOKA - THE WORLD FAMED EXEMPLAR OF BUDDHISM
Asoka who unified all India into one mighty Land incarnating the principle of Harmlessness is a Royal Exemplar of Lord Buddha's teaching of Compassion.
H. G. Wells says of him "Amidst the lines of thousand
of names of monarchs that crowd the columns of history - 'their majesties,
their graciousnesses, their serenities, and royal highnesses,' and the
like the name Asoka shines and shines alone as a star; from the Volga
to Japan, his name is still honoured. China, Tibet and even India, though
it has left his doctrine, preserve the tradition of his greatness. More
living men cherish his memory today than even have heard the name of
Constantine or Charlemagne."
The Rev. H. Heras, S.J., terms him a "philosopher
rather than a sovereign. He was a teacher of morals rather than an administrator."
Yet adds, "Asoka's Dharma is purely practical. 'What does morality
include?' questions Asoka. 'It includes few sins (no sins), many virtuous
deeds.' The ethics of Asoka contain egative and positive principles,
viz., prohibitions and exhortations. "This progress of morality
among men,' says he himself ' has been promoted by me only in two ways,
viz., by moral restrictions and conversions.' Moreover he distinguishes
between the efficiency of both. 'But among these two,' he continues
'those moral restrictions are of little consequence. By conversion the
progress of morality among men has been promoted more considerably,
because it leads to abstention from hunting living beings, and to abstention
from killing animals, and eating flesh-foods."
Asoka's prohibition, comments the Reverend Father, "includes
even the sacrificial animals", and he informs us that this abstention
is meritorious ... Asoka himself was the first in stopping the slaughter
of animals in the royal kitchen. ' Formerly in the kitchen of King Devanampriya
Priyadarsin, many hundred thousands of animals mere killed for the sake
of curry. But now this rescript of morality is written, only three animals
are being killed daily for the sake of curry, viz., two peacocks and
one deer. Even these three shall not be killed in future.'
"Asoka even published a catalogue of animals he declared as absolutely inviolable, with a strict regulation against hunting them even indirectly. 'Living animals must not be fed with other living animals. Fish are inviolable and must not be sold.' This was his last step in his policy of compassion towards animals.