The roots of veganism can be traced back over 4000 years through the ancient religions of Hinduism and Jainism. Milk from the holy mother cow has been integral to these religions but times are changing. The question, “Is milk allowed in Jainism?” is one which many who follow this religion are now asking themselves … and rightly so.
Is Milk Allowed In Jainism?Yes, cow’s milk is allowed in Jainism and traditionally has been integral to a number of Jain rituals but times are changing. Many Jains are now rejecting cow’s milk due to the inherent cruelty embedded within the product. Modern automated dairy farming does not sit well within the Jain belief system and the concept of Ahimsa specifically.
Watch: Jain devotees pour milk over the statue of Bahubali in Karnataka.
(The Mahamastakabhisheka festival is held once every 12 years)
Related: “Why Do Jains Not Eat Meat?” (5 minute read, new window)
Jains: The Original Vegans?
The central tenet of Jainism is to be non-violent, as much as possible, in daily life. This way of life stems from a concept known as Ahimsa and applies not only to physical actions but thoughts as well.
We can instantly see how the beliefs surrounding Jainism sit very well with modern ideas of veganism. Jains were vegans 4000 years before the word was invented!
For a Jain, to think badly of someone is equivalent to being physically abusive. This belief has grown from the idea of Karma – a word which most people have heard of.
In the Western world you may have heard of Karmic principles referred to as “What goes around comes around”. It’s an overly simplistic description of Karma but an easy idea to grasp, whether you believe it or not.
If you behave badly towards others (including animals) then these actions will shape your future. Not only in this life but in future manifestations of your consciousness.
Jains, Hindus and Buddhists believe you must have this purity of thought and action to grow as a conscious being in this universe. Yet we all look on as the human race appears to be descending into moral bankruptcy … the words ‘Trump’ and ‘Donald’ come to mind!
In Jainism the times we are currently living through are known as ‘Dukham Kal’ which, similar to the Hindu ‘Kali Yuga’, is an era of chaos, unhappiness and a spiritual wasteland where humans are lost in greed and selfishness.
RInging any bells?
Jains Are Rejecting The Dairy Industry
You will always have the ‘die-hards’ in any religion or organisation. Those who are set in their ways and think they know best.
Don’t get me wrong. With age often comes wisdom but the wisest are those who recognise the truths of the times in which they live and modify their beliefs accordingly.
Cow’s milk is an important part of many religious ceremonies in India. It is a product of the sacred ‘mother cow’ – an animal which has traditionally been revered in many Jain, Hindu and Buddhist teachings.
But as demand for dairy products has increased per capita across the globe so we humans have to find ever more efficient ways of extracting that milk from the cow.
Further, the profit driven madness of our consumer society drives farmers to increase their bottom line by taking all the milk, leaving nothing for the calves.
If you apply the concept of ahimsa to the modern world it’s very clearly a logical conclusion that cow’s milk produced using mass automation, artificial insemination and removal of calf from mother cow is very bad karma.
Many Jains (and Hindus) are recognising this inherent cruelty in the industry and they are rejecting cow’s milk, just as vegans do.
It’s almost like we’ve come full circle. Jainism champions the ideas of non-violence through ahimsa and sowed a 4000 year old seed which veganism has embraced.
… and now veganism is informing modern Jains 🙂
Dairy Is Violence Towards The Entire Universe
A central belief of Jains and other ancient Indian religions is that when we commit violence to others we commit violence to ourselves and this, in turn, commits violence to the entire universe.
The level of violence currently engaged in by the human race is simply off the charts. We really are living through times of utter madness.
Yet 90% plus of the global population do not see it … or do not want to see it.
Every year we slaughter more than 80 billion land animals for meat and make no mistake, the dairy industry is intrinsically linked to the beef industry.
When a milking cow is no longer able to support her own weight through 5 or 6 years of intense milk production she is discarded. Often unceremoniously removed from the system using a crane to lift her out because she can’t walk any more.
She is plugged into the beef cycle and meets her untimely end along with a bunch of other tired and petrified animals who know exactly what is going on.
The beautiful, sacred mother cow.
This is what we have reduced her to.
Vegans reject this abhorrent cruelty and increasingly, Jainism is coming round to our way of thinking. But you don’t need to be religious to recognise the madness.
Ahimsa = non violence = veganism!
Evolution Of The Vegan Human Race
I truly believe, if our human species is to survive the next 4000+ years, we will need to embrace veganism and reject the violence of the meat and dairy industries.
It’s not sustainable.
Granted, there will be many solutions needed to lift us out of the quagmire we have become so bogged down in. The greed, selfishness, lack of respect and waste of our modern world cannot continue if we want to get through this and come out of the other side reasonably intact!
Veganism is a big part of the solution though and I urge you to at least consider our compassionate way of life as something you may be able to take on board.
You don’t need to do it overnight (many people do when their eyes are opened) but even if you reduce your consumption of meat and dairy the effect is positive.
The ideal is to quit all animal based products but I understand that’s difficult to do if you’ve spent your whole life consuming meat and dairy.
Little baby steps towards a more enlightened future.
Comment, Subscribe, Share Far & Wide
I hope this article has helped you answer your question today and given you more of an idea of what veganism is all about.
If you’re vegan already then good for you (and the animals). If you’re considering going vegan then I can wholeheartedly recommend it. There’s lots of resources online to help you with that.
One of the best and most supportive organisations out there is the Veganuary website. In our article, “How Many Animals Are Saved From Veganuary?” we look at this runaway successful campaign more closely.
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Sacred cow image: Cisca657, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons