SpiritualityA touching episode: When Rabindranath Tagore started his vegetarianism

A touching episode: When Rabindranath Tagore started his vegetarianism


KOLKATA (India) — After being a vegetarian for 14 years, I realized that it is not a matter to convince other people to become vegetarian as well.

I was born in a family whose culture totally relied on eating fish and egg daily and meat at least twice a month.

From my childhood anybody talking about vegetarian food, I used to laugh and looked down upon that diet.

The feud on vegetarian vs non-vegetarian has been for ages. Today, due to the upsurge in the degradation of human values, various communities are now advocating for people to stop killing animals.

Ancient India was known for its practice of vegetarianism and benevolence. Preaching on the doctrine of ahimsa (non-violence) had actually refrained people from eating meat.

However, with the advent of the foreign invaders, India gradually lost its long-cherished value of ahimsa and dharma and succumbed to the temptation to eat meat, posing to be more civilized. 

Least aware of how it could be detrimental to future living.

In the current era, India is often portrayed as a vegetarian country, whereas in reality, 71% of the population is non-vegetarian and 29% is vegetarian. 

To reverse the figure is not easy in such a vast country. Some communities are trying to promote vegetarianism based on religious emotion.  Some groups are putting their effort to bring people’s attention to the cruelty involved in animal slaughtering. 

A quote of Rumi:

“the soul has been given its own ears to hear things the mind does not understand.” 

The love for eating fish and meat is so intense that no matter how much people agree in their conscience on the brutality, but the mindset of taking non-veg food is so concrete, that it doesn’t touch the heart.

To become a vegetarian, it’s not only about reading the information, improving health, or listening to someone who may inspire you to become so. 

It is about cultivating the mind and that needs practice. The mind needs to undergo a catharsis. 

Instead of pointing to the non-vegetarians that they should stop eating meat and go for a plant-based diet, the reality is that those who really seek for what is the whole purpose of human existence, have eventually turned out to be self-inspired vegetarians. It is not a decision, it is a growth of the inner self.

Being vegetarian is not an end in itself.  It is an obvious outcome when we receive education on Truth, the purpose of our existence, learning and practicing the virtues which are lost and forgotten. 

When the inherent wisdom blooms, becoming vegetarian is not a pressure, it is a willingness. 

We have so much messed up the environment today that to make the world a beautiful place to inhabit, vegetarianism is a must. 

There are many informative articles, blogs, and promotions to go through for a better understanding.

I give below a very touching and rare article of Rabindranath Tagore’s vegetarianism, our most revered poet, writer, composer, philosopher, and painter of Bengal –

Rabindranath Tagore in 1894 writes in “Glimpses of Bengal Letters”:

As I was looking out on the river, I saw all of a sudden, an odd-looking bird making its way through the water to the opposite bank, followed by a great commotion.

I found it was a domestic fowl that had managed to escape impending doom in the galley by jumping overboard and was now trying frantically to swim across.

It had almost gained the bank when the clutches of its relentless pursuers closed on it, and it was brought back in triumph, gripped by the neck.

I told the cook I would not have any meat for dinner. I really must give up animal food. We manage to swallow flesh, only because we do not think of the cruel and sinful thing we do.

There are many crimes which are the creation of man himself, the wrongfulness of which is put down to their divergence from habit, custom, or tradition. But cruelty is not of these. It is a fundamental sin and admits arguments or nice distinctions.

If only we do not allow our heart to grow callous, its protests against cruelty are always clearly heard; and yet we go on perpetrating cruelties easily, merrily, all of us – in fact, anyone who does not join in is dubbed a crank … if, after our pity is aroused, we persist in throttling our feelings simply in order to join others in preying upon life, we insult all that is good in us. I have decided to try a vegetarian diet.”

After writing the memoir, the Nobel Laureate remained a vegetarian till the end of his life.

There are many great men, players, celebrities, and ordinary people about whom we don’t know, who have become vegetarian with a true understanding of the harmony of the body, mind, and soul.

Share this story: A touching episode: When Rabindranath Tagore started his vegetarianis

Debayan Paul
Debayan is a freelance digital reporter and Editor-in-chief of We The World Magazine. Contact: communications@wetheworldmagazine.com


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