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16th World Vegetarian Congress 1960

Hannover and Hamburg, Germany

From The Brtitish Vegetarian Nov/Dec 1960:


BEFORE a very large public audience in Hanover, Mrs. Rukinini Devi Arundale, M.P., gave a splendid talk in which she said :-

"I have to thank you all for a very warm welcome to myself and all my friends from India. It is a great happiness to see such a large number attending this Congress, and I have seen what tremen-dous progress vegetarianism has made in the West, and particularly in Germany. The fact that the German Government has given me its hospitality as an official guest of the country for this occasion, for which I am most grateful, and has recognized the vegetarian movement, is indicative of that progress. It is my hope that all Germans, and indeed the whole world, will take a much greater interest in our work.

My own interest in vegetarianism springs from humanitarianism. I suppose we cannot expect governments to consider this aspect or support vegetarianism unless we can show that it will give more food and better health to the people. I feel sure we shall succeed in this.

Unfortunately, even in India, with its ethical background, we have to work from this point of view, not stressing the moral side, for it is a great problem for the Government to think of anything but feeding its millions of people.

Modern medicine has taken a strong position in India and I am afraid it is advising people to eat more meat-otherwise, it states. they will not be healthy. Our vegetarianism is suffering because of this orthodox policy. But millions in India still have great belief in vegetarianism, and even those who eat meat feel that one day they must give it up in order to be truly spiritual.

For many thousands of years India has adhered to spirituality and the principle of non-killing, knowing that it is necessary to avoid killing for food to evolve in a purified body, and that only in this way, can humanity find ultimate happiness. It is because of this long-held ideal that India is still the largest vegetarian country in the world. I am very sorry to say that it is not entirely vegetarian. However there are millions of Indians who have not known meat and whose parents and grandparents for many generations have not eaten it. But they do not know why they are vegetarian. Therefore. they come into contact with the West, they are easily convinced that it is better to eat meat.

This is why it is now an urgent necessity to give good reasons to bring back the ideal, especially among the younger generation. This is what we are trying to do and, happily, many are still receptive. This is why we had the 15th World Vegetarian Congress in India and it gave new life to our movement. It is hoped that the West will help in this great Cause, for the West has glamour in the eyes of Indians, so they will be willing to accept ideas from it,

We were very glad to have so many Western delegates at the Indian Congress and we took the opportunity to show them off as Exhibits No. 1.'

It should be borne in mind that India is only a part of Asia which is copying the orthodox West, instead of copying its pioneers in vegetarianism and animal protection.

In my country there are many systems of medicine which definitely believe in vegetarianism. We consider that the Nature Cure move-ment, with its treatments as practised in the West, is a reincarnation of our ancient principles. I met the great Bircher-Benner and when I consulted him he said, 'You have these things in India - why come to us? The ancient sages lived on bread, fruit and nuts according to Nature and this is, in effect, all I am saving - it is for me to come to India - perhaps I am a reincarnation of an Indian.

Because of our great poverty. it will not be possible for Indians to promote Nature Cure to its fullest extent, butit can be promoted in other countries. In our third Five-Year Plan there is provision for starting Nature Cure Centres all over India, and we hope it will further the Cause of Vegetarianism,. and also the movement for kind-ness to animals.

I believe we must stop cruelty in every aspect of life - and in every nation there are specialized forms of cruelty - but if man is cruel to animals he is bound to be cruel to Men. The reaction on our characters of experiments on anima1s to give benefit to Man is that later he will be cruel to Men. So when we work for the sake of animals, we also work for the sake of humanity.

I consider this to be a necessary and fundamental philosophy of life - the only one which will bring peace in the world. Even con-sidering all the arguments said to be in favour of animal experimen-tation I still say it is better to die than live at such a cost.

What do we achieve by trying to live longer? We only postpone the inevitable. Science may have found a way to prevent birth, but it will not prevent death - if it did, in my mind there would be no greater tragedy.

I do not believe science can ever go as far as Divine life - science only affects the body and senses, not the Divine life within us. So, even though our movement appears to progress slowly, I think it is Divinely blessed.

One last word : when we think of animals we must not separate the East and the West with their different kinds of cruelty ; we must be truly international in this arena and maintain a unity inspired by compassionate ideals, so that a real brotherhood of Man and the creatures will come into the world."