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The Vegetarian World Forum
No. 2 Vol. XI - SUMMER 1957 pp.16-17:

AND TO THE PEOPLE OF INDIA

gandhi

ALL my life I have longed to visit India, for I have always felt it to be my old homeland, with its ancient culture, noble ideals, and philosophies. It will be a great privilege for me to attend the Indian Congress as the representative of The Vegetarian Society, parent society of the vegetarian movement. My heart is already with you and will be full of joy at the reunion.

Pride is not a good thing, but in its best sense you must be proud of India and. always cherish your own culture, which has preserved aspects of truth so lacking in Western civilization.

We, in our growth as an industrial nation, have made every possible mistake, though we like to think there has been, and still is, some good in us. We are very imperfect and, as a nation, still kill for food, for sport, and for political and economical expediency. I mention these things, not to run down my own people, who are just emerging from a long dark age with you, but to emphasize that scientific knowledge and material possessions should only be a means to an end and not an end in themselves.

Never forget that Mahatma Gandhi's creed of non-violence and the implications of Ahimsa are as vital to the whole world, as they are to you and the creature kingdom. They are your supreme gift to the world. In Ahimsa you have something which will lift us all from the abyss in which we find ourselves.

Having a great heritage is an equally great individual responsibility. Every time an individual takes a downward step the whole nation goes down that much - so does mankind - for in a cosmic sense this earth is a living unit.

For many of you vegetarianism is natural, because your parents brought you up without fleshfoods for religious reasons, or because of economic pressure But for some time now religious bonds have been loosening, and this is a good thing which should not be resisted or feared It is desirable that we should do our own thinking and reasoning - a man is not spiritual just because he behaves outwardly like one who is. So in this period of change, increased prosperity, and re-assessment, we must be careful to recognize what is good and what is bad - and act accordingly.

Vegetarianism is one of the good things and is absolutely essential for spiritual evolution; your great religions and your yogis have taught this for ages. Flesheating and cannibalism, are different only in degree and,are downward steps back to the jungle.

 "A man winnows his neighbour's faults like chaff, but his own fault he hides." Nevertheless, though we greatly admire those who stand by their principles, we sometimes find Indian students and engineering apprentices, boys with generations of vegetarianism behind them, coming to England and thinking it is impossible to be vegetarian here and making but little effort to try.

Some think it is clever to copy Western habits. We admit that it is not always easy here, but it is never impossible and there are at least 80,000 vegetarians living good healthy lives, and about 45 local vegetarian societies, all of which will do their best to help.

Retrogression may come about because children brought up as- vegetarians do not necessarily know the real reasons why only that some bygone religious leader laid down a law. We find the same thing happening in England among life vegetarians - the parents remain steadfast because they did their own thinking, while the children may be drawn away by orthodox habits and the wish not to appear different from the herd. To young people brought up to use their own minds and powers of reasoning, custom, however hallowed, is not sufficient - it may have been in the past, but it is not to-day.

To stem any possible recession from a truly wholesome way of life vegetarian societies are essential and should be established in every town as centres from which a balanced propaganda can go out - with hard facts which show why fleshloods are bad for health, faulty sources of nutrition, bad for the nation's economy, bad morally, a hindrance to creature evolution and to true progress in every sphere of life.

It is our earnest prayer that the 15th World Vegetarian Congress will stimulate a greater interest in the neglected science of nutrition and be instrumental in establishing vegetarian societies throughout India.

Yours sincerely,
Geoffrey L. Rudd
Representative to the indian Congress from The Vegetarian Society

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