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History of Punjab Vegetarian Society

The first Vegetarian Society that we know of in India was established in 1889 in the Punjab, but it was not immediately reported in England.

From The Vegetarian Messenger (Manchester, England), December 1891, p.375:

Vegetarianism in India. - Mr. Durga Prasad, of the Virajanand Press, Lahore, writes - "I think you will be glad to hear of the progress our Vegetarian Society is making in the Punjab. Our secretary and I lectured at Muradabad, Kashipur (North-west Provinces), Amritsar, Kasur, and Dasua (Punjab). People are much pleased with our arguments, which are taken from the literature published by your society in Manchester. On the 13th September, 1891, a Vegetarian procession walked throughout the city of Lahore, singing Vegetarian songs in the vernacular, and making short speeches at the principal squares. Hundreds of people followed us, and came to hear our lectures at the place of our ordinary meeting. About thirty new members joined us at the conclusion.

From The Vegetarian Messenger (Manchester, England), September 1892, p.259:

The Punjab Vegetarian Society. - We are gald to record the activity of the Punjab Vegetarian Society, which has its headquarters at Lahore. From the hon. librarian we have received several numbers of the Harbinger of Health, which is conducted in English and Urdu, and argues the question of Vegetarianism from the Hindoo standpoint. There are five mottoes on the cover - two from Pythagoras, one from Schopenhauer, and two from the Yajur Veda, which we m,ay quote:- "I shall look upon all the creatures with the eye of a friend," and "Protect animals." The contents of the magazine are interesting, and show that the conductors are well acquainted with the literature of the subject in its western as well as its oriental development. In addition to the Harbinger of Health, the Society issues a smaller magazine - Glad Tidings - in the Urdu vernacular. In addition to the periodicals, we have received "Our Food," "Wholesome Foodfor Students," "Can the people of Cold Climates Live without Flesh?" "A Mirror of Bravery." "Why is Flesh not the Natural Food of Man?" "Is Flesh Eating Consistent with True Religion?" and six small collections of Vegetarian songs. These tracts are all in Urdu, and are written by Atma Ram, the hon. sec. of the Lahore Vegetarian Society. We wish all success to the society and its propaganda.

From The Vegetarian Messenger (Manchester, England), February 1893, p.64:

India. - The second anniversary of the Punjab Vegetarian Society, Lahore, was kept up on the 5th and 6th November, 1892. About forty delegates from the Bhera and the Amritsar Vegetarian Society attended the meeting, which was held in the Baoli Sahib, a sacred place of the Sikhs. On the 5th a Vegetarian processions passed through the big bazaars, and greatly pleased the spectators. A lecture on "Bravery and Vegetarianism" was delivered at 7 p.m. On the 6th Professor Osman and some educated native gentlemen attended the meeting. In the discussion several gentlemen took a leading part. Dr. Salger's learned lecture was read after the discussion by the secretary, proving flesh-eating to be deleterious to our spiritual progress. Then Mr. Atma Ram made an impressive speech, and appealed for subscriptions towards a Vegetarian Hall. About Rs.210 was subcribed. More than fifty members were enrolled. The meeting was altogether very successful.

From The Vegetarian Messenger (Manchester, England), February 1895, p.51:

INDIA : PUNJAB VEGETARIAN SOCIETY. - The annual report of this society appears in the Harbinger for Nov. 30th, 1894. During the year covered by the report no new members joined the society, and there was no income and no expenditure. This somewhat remarkable state of things did not prevent meetings being held every Sunday evening at the Khatri Samachar Press. Although few members attended, outsiders always made a good audience, and the report specially thanks Lala Kripa Shanker Baltalvi and Lala Bishen Das Varma for their zeal in holding the weekly meeting regularly. The Society formerly owned the Harbinger, but was unable to continue it, and therefore made it over to the Editor, Mr. Darga Prasad, who has managed, by somewhat enlarging its scope, to carry it on.

The 4th anniversary meeting of the Society was held on the 1st and 2nd of December 1894. On the first day the members went in procession through the principal markets of Lahore, preceded by bands of music. At intervals addresses were delivered and hymns sung. After the procession the society returned to its headquarters, where Lala Prabhu Ram and Durga Prasad spoke on bravery and its causes. On the following day the proceedings began at noon. There was a discussion on flesh-eating in India, after which the annual report was read. Speeches from Durga Prasad, Lala Atma Ram, and Lala Jamma Das followed, and a paper by Mrs. Gostling was read. The meetings closed with exhibitions of games and magic, for which the Hindus are famous.

From The Vegetarian Messenger (Manchester, England), February 1896, p.131:

Punjab Vegetarian Society. - The fifth annual report of the Punjab Vegetarian Society, Lahore, records an improved financial position. The Society's former place of meeting being inconvenient, a hall was hired in the Gumti Bazar, where Sunday preachings have since been held regularly. Addresses have been given at the Dayanand High School and elsewhere, and the Society has been affiliated with the Vegetarian Federal Union.

From The Vegetarian Messenger (Manchester, England), September 1896, p.303:

From the Harbinger we learn that the Punjab Vegetarian Society has been inactive since its last anniversary meeting. In order to bring about a revival of the work Lala Jagat Ram Khannah, B.A., who is in the Maharajah's service at Jammoo, has been appointed secretary of the society, Lala Prabhu Ram, assistant secretary and Durga Prasad, editor of the Harbinger, chairman of the executive committee at Lahore. Each officer will, with the help he can best obtain, work by lectures, discussions, talks and the distribution of pamphlets. Lala Prabhu Ram writes from Karachi that as a vegetarian society is already in existence in Hyderabad he intends to start one at Karachi to be called the Railway Vegetarian Society. The Harbinger has great hopes of Lala Prahbu Ram, as he is a capital speaker and a lving example, which qualities are necessary requisites for the officers of a new society.

From The Vegetarian Messenger (Manchester, England), June 1897, p.203:

India. - The Harbinger, which has hitherto been issued fortnightly, will henceforth be published weekly. The Harbinger, which is edited by Durga Prasad, is published at Lahore, and advocates vegetarianism, temperance, philanthropy and the study of the Vedas.

From The Vegetarian Messenger and Review (Manchester, England), June 1898, p.238:

Punjab Vegetarian Society. - We learn from the Harbinger that the meetings of the Punjab Vegetarian Society which have been in abeyance for some time, have been resumed. The opening meeting was held on 19th Feb., when a speech in favour of Vegetarianism was delivered, and literature was distributed gratis.

From The Vegetarian Messenger and Review (Manchester, England), March 1900, p.102:

The "Harbinger." - of Lahore, which for many years has been a staunch advocate of vegetarianism, education, and other movements for the amelioration of the condition of the inhabitants of India, has been reduced in size. The editor, Mr. Durga Prasad, explains that having had to pay a large sum in law costs he is constrained to cut off even his necessary expenses to bare animal living. Under the circumstances it is almost impossible for him to continue the Harbinger. He has, however, decided to reduce it to 12 pages fortnightly. "The paper being published in the interest of the Punjab Vegetarian Society and the Vedic Mahavidyalaya, cannot be stopped as long as I can write, and have a pice in my purse."

From The Vegetarian Messenger and Review (Manchester, England), November 1900, p.355:

Punjab Vegetarian Society. - This Society, originally established in 1889, and which became dormant in 1895, was revived last year, and has issued its 10th annual report which is printed in the Harbinger of August 1st. Meetings and discussions have been held during the year, each enlivened by music. Mr. Durga Prasad continues his labors for the Society, publishing at his own risk its two organs, the Harbinger (in English), and the Rahnuma (in Urdu). The Harbinger is about 10 years old, the Rahnuma was started in July, 1889. In order to spread vegetarian principles to every nook and corner of the Punjab or other provinces of India where Urdu is the vernacular.


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