Eating Sacred Cows for Fun & Profit
Writer Fred Stella addresses the lawsuit against a restaurant by Hindus who were served meat.
Namaste. Before I make my 1st offering as a contributing writer I should mention a bit about the point of view I often take when writing on Religion & Spirituality. I aspire to be inclusive and expansive. I don’t always succeed but this is what I aim for. One of my favorite mantras is, “ Tradition gets a vote not a veto.” Hinduism has the built in ability to constantly readjust itself toward modern sensibilities. No, it doesn’t always take advantage of this perk but that doesn’t keep some of us from trying to nudge it along in that direction.
This brings me to my maiden subject. I’m quite disappointed in the case involving the Hindus in Edison, New Jersey, who are suing a restaurant because workers there accidentally sold them meat filled samosas and now may be liable to foot the bill for an all expense paid trip Mata Bharata for a soul cleansing dip in the Ganga. I find this excess spiritually childish and a bit of an embarrassment for fellow religionists. Now, I’ll grant you that I may be less sensitive to the plight of the diners since I spent the 1st 27 or so years of my life as an omnivore. While I don’t eat beef anymore I do know that I never considered myself “polluted.” I also know many meat eaters who are powerfully spiritual. They lead otherwise noble lives and have a great compassion for humanity. These are good folks I attempt to emulate. To be clear, I can imagine that if one led a beef-free life for their entire existence up to that point even the accidental ingestion of cow corpse might be somewhat of an issue. The case could be made that the restaurant is in fact, responsible for emotional damages. But I would hope that those in the Hindu (or any other pro-veg) community would keep this in perspective. Let us also avoid calling the accidental eating of any substance a “sin.” Western philosophers and theologians have it right when they say that to truly commit a sin one must have full knowledge and understanding of the action that one is taking.
I must give the diners the benefit of the doubt that until it is proved otherwise, we shouldn’t insinuate that they are using this case as opportunity to visit Dada and Dadi on someone else’s rupee. But I can’t help asking myself what would happen if it was not a restaurant (with I’m guessing a well funded insurance policy) that committed the transgression, but some close friends hosting a dinner party where foods might have been accidentally mislabeled. Would they so aggressively pursue this course of penance?