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I was attending a conference when people were serving non-vegetarian food (beef) as part of main course. The conference was in Europe. There was general curiosity on how come I had no qualms in consuming beef, which led to question why is "Cow" holy.
As I have made clear previously, I am mostly a "Nirishwar-vaadi". I explained them the historicity of culture and evolution of certain traditions which sometimes are misconstrued as "roots". The ultra veneration of cow is one of them. There are many other instances. The fact that fanatic veneration of cow led to other 6 famous "restrictions" on an Indic mind was the first thing I explained to them.
The famous 7 restrictions (Sapta-Bandi) are
1. and 2. Sindhu bandi (one should not cross river Sindhu and cross ocean). Marathas stopped their pusruit of pathans in 1758 on the banks of river Sindhu on Attock, because they were scared of loosing their caste and religion if the crossed the river. Holkar then famously proclaimed that he is ready to convert to Islam and cross the river to punish Abdali.
Lokmanya Tilak, Gandhi and many others who returned from abroad by boat (either for studies, profession or punishment) had to do a Shuddhi-Sanskaara for readmittance in Dharma. Thus, restriction over crossing river Sindhu and ocean (also referred to as Sindhu in sanskrit literature) formed the is Deracination number 1 in India's Dharmaarthik (Socio-politico-economic) System.
3. Shuddhi Bandi - Once a non-hindu for more than 4 years, he is not allowed to return and reconvert. This is referred to in Deval Smriti. This is deracination number 2.
4 and 5. Jaati-Bandi - The Roti-Beti Vyavahaar is allowed only within the caste. Thus, restriction over indulging in food exchange and marital exchange formed deracination number 3 in India's dharmarthik system.
6. Cow veneration - killing of cow and consumption of beef are "Mahaapaatakas" without any prayaschitta. even if they are made to be consumed forcibly, one is lost forever. (deval smriti puts a limitation of 4 years, after which a convert cannot be taken back). The holy cow became chink in India's armour.
There is one incident described by Savarkar in his memoirs of Kalapani days. The muslims were converting Hindus by forcing them to consume beef. However they were afraid of Buddhists from myanmar because they had no qualms in consuming both beef and pork. Under Savarkar, Hindu prisoners started consuming beef and pork, whenever chance arose. The conversions stopped drastically.
The crystalline form of Islam makes it impossible to adapt, we have the luxury of adapting, then why not. This is deracination 4. Hindus are known to venerate everything, after all Sarvam Khalu Idam Brahma (everything that "is" is Brahman). But the fact that they allowed one veneration to become their weak spot led to their down-fall.
7. Sparsha bandi (Untouchability) - no need to say more about this, it is very clear - this is deracination number 5.
Just like everything else, the idea of "god" or any such tradition has a "Kaarya-Kaarana Bhaava" (Law of Causality).
In fact, it is only Indian system which encourages to actively seek power and money and material wealth. More than encouragement, Artha is one of the "mandatory Purushartha (achievement)" which has to be done in order to be called "successful". Others cannot manage the confluence of the Justice, power, desire and liberation in one life.
What is Deracination?
Hence, when we say "loosing roots", I say hold on. What are the roots we are referring to. Many "traditions" which we considered as "roots" are in fact remnants of Islamic and Victorian moralistic bondages. If young people are slowly getting rid of them (which they are), I say well done and keep it up. The idea of "Pre-Islamic" moral high-ground is the holy-grail which is being sought, especially in this thread. By pre-islamic, i mean from 400 AD to 1000 AD.
In this period (after defeat of Mihirakula by Yashodharma of malwa), there was no foreign invasion on India for 600 years (except for the brief invasion of arabs which was thoroughly routed by Rajputs). It was scientifically, technologically, ideologically, culturally very vibrant society with very wide range of ideas and memes supported by the emphasis on Justice (Dharma). The code of this Dharma was very simple - every opinion has right to exist as any other opinion. Opinions are allowed to collide and best one survived, others perished. When opinions perished, opinion-holders did not. This system of just opportunities for all ideas in all aspects is Dharma.
What is remedy?
When we say reverting to "pre-islamic system" it is not suggested that we loose everything we have earned in between and go back 1000 years. The trajectory of Indian system in 2012 would have been different if we were still following that pre-islamic Indian system in essence for past 1000 years. The islamic and Victorian influence has affected our trajectory, all I am asking for a course-correction so that we will be where we ought to be in modern times. I guess this process of course-correction started in 1947. We need to re-calibrate it and accelerate it, nothing else.