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Beef eating: India was "never defeated" when Hindus ate beef, says Mumbai-based scholar

By Our Representative
In a controversial statement, which may not go down well with those who are considered dominant sections of Hindus, a Mumbai-based scholar Amberish K Diwanji has triggered hornet's nest by saying, historically, “when Hindus ate beef, India was never conquered.” The scholar points towards “remarkable link between the eating of beef and India being a superpower”. The view comes amidst raging controversy surrounding the Maharashtra government’s recent ban on beef eating in the state.
Diwanji said, while the BJP “styles itself as a nationalist government committed to turning India into a superpower”, it forgets the “glorious Hindu past” of the likes of Chandragupta Maurya, Ashoka, Chandragupta and Samudragupta, and Harshvardhan”. During all this period beef eating was common.
“Today, by seeking to ban beef in every state that it rules and across India, the BJP may well be taking India on the route to becoming a weakling”, he remarks in a recent scholarly article.
“In ancient India, killing and consuming animals was part and parcel of life of all. Hindus then were overwhelmingly non-vegetarian. There are historians who have pointed out that back then Hindus ate beef. And back then, India was never conquered. Never!”, Diwanji insists.
“Even the mighty Alexander (hailed as 'the Great' by Western historians) merely conquered the Punjab; his troops, fearful of facing the might of Magadha, preferred to return home”, the scholar says, adding, “It was a Russian historian or military officer who pointed out that rather than mutiny, as claimed by Western historians, Alexander's troops might have simply refused to fight Magadha after the bruising victory over Porus.”
Diwanji further says, “The Magadha Empire was followed by the Gupta Empire, and later that of Harshvardhan, all before or during the first millennium of the Common Era (CE), a time when, historians tell us, Hindus ate not just meat but also beef. Meat eating then was common practice (and caste was based on profession, not birth).”
“The very fact that Buddhism, which was born and blossomed in north India circa 200-300 BCE (Before CE), places absolutely no restriction on eating beef shows that back then, there was no restriction on eating beef among the Hindus, which practice Buddhism followed”, Diwanji says.
According to Diwanji, “When consuming meat and beef was common practice, it was Hindu emperors who ruled over this huge subcontinent. Similarly, at the cusp of the first and second millennia CE, the Chola Empire, with meat-eating kings and soldiers, achieved unmatched glory in creating a maritime empire as far as Indonesia.”
He adds, “A later legatee of this empire, a Hindu based in Southeast Asia, would create the world's largest temple in faraway Angkor Wat of Kampuchea (Cambodia).”
Things changed towards the end of the first millennium CE, asserts Dewanji, when “some changes took place in India, Buddhism waned and Hinduism, with a system of caste based on birth, reasserted itself”, and this revival was led by Adi Sankaracharya.
“Somewhere around this time, some castes chose to distinguish themselves from the Hindu masses by resorting to vegetarianism”, he points out, adding, “Brahmins, who had overcome the challenge of Buddhism, increasingly became vegetarian, along with the Banias (who were strongly influenced by the Jains).”
“Simultaneously”, Diwanji says, “There was born the ridiculous myth of vegetarian diet being 'superior' to the non-vegetarian diet, if only to help the Brahmin assert his own superiority over the other castes.”
And, as vegetarianism spread among the influential sections of the Hindus, “they suffered repeated defeats. Through the second millennium CE, Hindus would never rule over the larger part of India (till 1947), and would be subjugated to empires that were created by Turks, Afghans, Mughals, Portuguese, and lastly the British”, the scholar insists.

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