By Periyava
Translation from Tamil: V. Krishnaraj
எல்லா உயிர்களின் திருப்திக்காக : தெய்வத்தின் குரல் (முதல் பகுதி)
For the satisfaction of all lives: Deivathin Kural (Part One) Chapter 8 Making all creatures happy
Yāgas for Devatas and Tarpaṇam for Pitrs should be done without fail. Our ancestors, in addition, did Pūja for deities, food offering to guests, vaiśvadēvas (all gods) and for all living things. Whether you do it or not, at least hearing about it is good. From your reading, you know the history of assorted countries. I am saying all these so you know the long-standing Dharmas and their names. ‘Vaiśvadēvam’ is one among them and I will explain it later.
தற்பணம்1 taṟpaṇam, n. < tarpaṇa. Ceremonial offering of water to gods, ṛṣis and manes.
வைச்சுவதேவம் vaiccuvatēvam, n. < vaiśvadēva. 1. A particular religious ceremony which consists in making offerings to the Viśvadēvas (All gods), performed daily before taking the principal meal of the day; All gods
Because we have this body and needs, we cause so many troubles or injuries to so many life forms. We are so proud of keeping our house clean. Think again. Every house is an abattoir. Dharma Śāstram says every house is like five abattoirs.
What are those five? Cutter-board-seat (Kaṇdiṉī) is the first abattoir. We cut the vegetables with that. They are living things. The second abattoir is the pan for pan-frying the vegetables. The next one is the Ammi (flat-bed rock, & roller pin) for crushing garlic, ginger… oil press, stone grinder… We grind the grains with no mercy.
I will answer to the objection raised by the meat eaters. They say, “The vegetables, the grains… that you eat have life in them as the goat, cow, chicken… that we eat.” It is true. There is no difference of kind between livings grains and living animals. There is a difference in degree with Himsa (violence). The vegetables do not have pain sensation, according to science. The greens, we pull out of the ground roots and all and eat. We don’t inflict violence when we pluck the vegetables from the plants. It is like cutting the hair or clipping the nails. Eating rotten or fallen fruits cause no injury. We harvest the grains when the paddy is ripe and bends over; we collect the grains. If we do not harvest, they just fall flat in a few days.
We can make the meat eater understand the superiority of being a vegan or vegetarian. The meat eaters agree on eating beef and not horse meat. The meat eaters consider themselves advanced, when they condemn the cannibals. Sattva (virtuous) Guṇa thrives where there is no meat eating. We have kitchen utensils which cut, crush, grind, mutilate, pulverize… the plant varieties. Life is impossible without eating them.
The third abattoir is the fireplace. Many insects fall into the fire and die. The ants crawl and die in the hearth. The pots crush the insects. The ants gather around and on the cool clay pots with water. We kill them. The water pot is an abattoir. The broom is the fifth abattoir. When we use it, many insects die.
We should not inflict harm to those animals which cause harm to us. We injure many harmless animals because we must fill our stomachs. That causes grief. All these are unavoidable things. We are not killing these animals wantonly. There is expiation for these sins beyond our control. It is called ‘Vaiśvadēvam’.
The animals which suffered violence from us must receive good afterlife. We do ‘Vaiśvadēvam’ because we want God to forgive us and for the welfare of all living beings including dogs, crows, cats, the social excommunicate… ‘Vaiśvadēvam’ expunges all our sins. Many animals get food.
These Pañcha Mahā Yajnas (five great Yajnas or sacrifices) over many Yugas, Brahma putrās (sons) and others continued to perform. From time immemorial down to the age of our grandfathers conducted these rites and rituals meticulously according to Sastras. These Yajnas should be performed without let or lapse until Great Deluge. These days we have the good fortune of ‘cutting the thread.’ (the good fortune of ‘cutting the thread’ = backhanded compliment.) By swallowing whole (wholesale dismissal of) these observances, we, besides ourselves, prevented our progeny to enjoy the goodness from observing these Yajnas.

Think about observances you can do, what you did not do, and what we do, considering my recommendations for observance. Though you may not observe all rites because of time taken by livelihood, try to do them without lapse to the extent possible. At least feel regret you could not perform others.
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