Tuesday, 10 May 2011

A Discussion About Meat With Akali Koar Singh

By Bhai Randhir Singh

(Which took place in Sri Nagar in September, 1944).

Akali ji arrived to meat me at the house of Sir Diaal Singh, where a few other Sikh friends were also gathered. He reached out with his arms, to give a welcoming hug, as he approached me. At which point I boldly stated –

Daas – I will never hug you; a greeting from afar is fine.

Akali Koar Singh – (with a cunning smile) Why, what have I done?

Daas – You have committed two murders. I don’t hug murderers.

Akali Koar Singh – (a little angered) Which murders have I committed? Please enlighten me and tell me to what you are referring?

Daas – Here is a letter from Narinder Singh, from Mahindipur, the one who you served the chicken to having killed it with your own hands. He has passed away. For eight or nine years he was ill from tuberculosis, but he was such a believer in his faith that he refused to eat meat and eggs, though many doctors had advised it strongly. Even many of his close friends attempted to convince him, but he remained true to his faith. Due to his faith, his condition began to get better and better, he even put on eighteen pounds in weight. All the doctors were amazed. Everyone admitted that it was his faith which brought on this improvement.
From the day that you fed him that chicken, his health has deteriorated. After a few days, the eating of the meat had taken his life. Firstly you are responsible for ‘murdering’ his faith, secondly you murdered him and thirdly you murdered the chicken. All this rests upon your head. I don’t know how many other sins you have committed, in addition to these three, and to hug you would be like ‘murdering’ the true spirit of act act of hugging someone. Poor soul. Dear Narinder Singh became a victim of your crooked thinking.

Akali Koar Singh – I never killed a chicken, never fed it to him and never even said a word which convinced him to eat meat.

Daas – The only thing that proves is that you do not have ethics enough to confess to what you have done. Present today are some people from Mahindipur who have heard exactly the same thing, as I have stated.
All the people who were gathered there supported what I had stated and said to

Akali Koar Singh, you say that you did not advise him at all. But, I know for a fact that that you scolded many Sikhs during heated discussions in Bijey Nagar, and stated that a any Sikh who does not eat meat, has fallen from the ideals of Sikhism.
Upon hearing this the Akali hung his head and in a low, weak voice denied ever saying such things. Perhaps to liven up the discussion, I may have said one or two things.

Daas – To completely insult the whole of wondrous teaching of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib is not an act to liven up the discussion. What was the point of bringing up the topic of meat? If one act of a person is worthless, does that mean every other act is worthless too? Is there no good at all! The way that I answer meat-eaters who want to discuss the matter is by referring to the truths which are found in the Guru Granth Sahib. For you to state that if a person does not eat meat then he is not a Sikh, is biased and bigoted. In making such a declaration, you have made every none meat-eating Sikh, out to be unworthy of Sikhism, and have caused pain to the hearts of those proud Sikhs who followed the true path of religion. The very text (Guru Granth Sahib) that you criticism so strongly, does not even contain a trace of support for eating meat. You said what you did in order to cause pain to those Sikhs who do not eat meat.
Those people who were listening to what you said were like saints. I have heard they did not display their disgust, and kept it raging inside them. The stage director tried on many occasions to prevent you from going too far, but you did not stop. Truthfully, if I had been there I would never have let you speak and would have argued against you and the lies you were telling. What right did you have to say anything at all. By not admitting to your saying such things, you show that you do not even have a grain of morality in you. Please tell me now, using which verse from the Gurbani did you kill that chicken? When it is clear in the Guru Granth Sahib that Gurbani page 225 end of first para.
How would you commentate on such a verse? How can you kill and eat a chicken, when it is clearly forbidden in this verse?

Akali Koar Singh – Sire, this verse has been written for customs of Muslims, not of Sikhs.

Daas –

Great men speak the teachings by relating them to individual situations, but the whole world shares in them.
states that God can comment on every custom, and this comment applies to all. The sacred ‘Bani has not only been written for Sikhs.

Akali Koar Singh – (becoming a little worried) This verse is solely for Muslims.

ਜਉਸਭਮਹਿਏਕੁਖੁਦਾਇਕਹਤਹਉਤਉਕਿਉਮੁਰਗੀਮਾਰੈ ॥੧॥
You say that the One Lord is in all, so why do you kill chickens? ||1||
This proves what I say.

Daas – How! Are us Sikhs not believers of the ‘ਜਉਸਭਮਹਿਏਕੁਖੁਦਾਇਕਹਤਹਉ’ verse? Even Hindus believe it, as do the Christians. It is a principle of religion that we all belong to one God. Do you disagree with this?

Akali Koar Singh – I cannot disagree with it, but this verse has been specifically addressed to Muslims.

Daas – This is your lack of faith and is also your stubbornness. What you want to establish is that it is forbidden for Muslims to kill chickens, but not for Sikhs.

Akali Koar Singh – You can understand it which ever way you like but, this verse is addressed solely to Muslims.
Daas – First of all then, I will dispel this myth of yours and then I will show you that this verse is not dedicated solely to Muslims. Read the first extract –

Do not say that the Vedas, the Bible and the Koran are false. Those who do not contemplate them are false.

ਜਉਸਭਮਹਿਏਕੁਖੁਦਾਇਕਹਤਹਉਤਉਕਿਉਮੁਰਗੀਮਾਰੈ ॥੧॥
You say that the One Lord is in all, so why do you kill chickens? ||1||

The first part of this two-line extract clearly states that is is addressed to Hindus and Muslims, and not only Muslims. ‘You say that the One Lord is in all’. Those who believe this will feel the impact of the verse. Those people who have been addressed in this verse, are bound by the same rules towards killing poultry. Hindus do not feel the impact any lesser than Sikhs, and Muslims do not feel the impact any more. In the same way, you cannot escape from the impact of this verse.

Akali Koar Singh – That means no one can escape from the verse’s impact.

Daas – At least you admit that the killing of poultry is wrong in principle. You should know that no one can get away with committing a crime. If there are others committing a crime, does that make your committing the crime, a lesser criminal act? First you would claim that Muslims were the criminal and, because you were a Sikh, you were not guilty of the same crime. But know that it has become apparent that everyone is effected by the impact of the verse, you have changed your stance, and now believe that no one can live a crime-free life.
The crime that is done by all, is that crime acceptable? But how can you state that everyone commits crimes? The crime that are mentioned here, only relate to those who kill poultry.
Everyone who kills poultry is a criminal, whether it be a Hindu, Muslim or Sikh.

Akali Koar Singh – What I mean to say is, in breathing, drinking and walking on the earth we kill animals. Can you say that this is not the killing of animals?

Daas – Is it true we do that? Do we kill animals for food and do we forcefully slaughter them? The killing of animals for our own taste is a crime, though if a act does not take us away from our natural diet, then we cannot be guilty of any crime. Breathing is merely an act of survival, not an act of consuming little animals. In the same way, our walking on the earth is not a deliberate act to kill small insects. By walking around, breathing, eating and drink, if we consume minute creatures, we will not be found guilty of a crime.

Akali Koar Singh – All of us cannot escape the evil from slaughtering animals if in everyday life we continue to kill them. So, by killing a chicken, it isn’t if I gained a great deal more guilt. In breathing we cannot escape killing animals.

Daas – (biting the inside of his cheek) Amazing! What a great point of view you have taken!
Using paan and tobacco, smoking the pipe and smoking cigarettes are all forbidden to Sikhs. But you tell me, having travelled throughout India, you must have boarded many trains and buses on your travels. If you board a train which is full of smokers who are filling the air with cigarette smoke. Should you, during your time on that train, inhale some of that smoke during the natural act of breathing, would that make you a sinner? The fact is that you cannot avoid inhaling the smoke of the cigarettes. If the smoke is wafting into your face, clothes and hair, it means that you cannot avoid being effected by it. What a weak argument you put forward.
At this point the Akali became very agitated, and was incapable of an answer. He hung his head and a silence followed. Then a short while later, the Akali responded:

Akali Koar Singh – Brother, I came here to ask you if you would come and meet with the rest of my group who will become baptised Sikhs (amrit shakna) , but you set the conversation in a completely different direction. I will ask you to accompany me. I came to ask you this in Narangwal also.

Daas – You can keep you invitation to yourself. It is possible to see Sikhs being baptised on many other occasions, and as I said to you in Narangwal, the state of being a baptised Sikh forbids one to eat meat. Those people who do not eat meat should be the ones who present themselves for baptism.

Akali Koar Singh – At least come along. Ask them to refrain from eating meat, and they will.

Daas – Akali ji, please talk sense; do not stray. You have vast experience in religious circles but you still hold the view that it is a Sikh’s religious right to consume meat. It is a shame that you haven’t been able to positively influence your followers in any way. If you did not lecture on eating meat, they would eat meat by following your actions. Actions speak louder than words.

Three hours of debate followed, during which the Akali was put-down from every angle. Even with these put-downs, he would not give up his stubbornness. He didn’t leave his stubbornness, but he did leave us.
All the objectives of this discussion have been met. Therefore, there is no need for extra narrative or dialogue. I will leave you with one final outcome.
Having heard first-hand that Akali Koar Singh had taken the first steps to changing his thinking about meat, made me happy. He began to lecture on the true religious stance concerning meat and didn’t touch it again from that day on.
I had hoped that this manuscript would be completed while Akali Koar Singh was still alive, but that wasn’t to be the case.

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