Does animal sacrifices contradict the tender hearted nature of God?
Those sentences which are colored in orange are from Maharishi Dayananda Saraswati book Satyarth Prakash (The Light of Truth) and those which are colored in black are Jerry Thomas’s response.
"And the Lord called unto Moses, and spake unto him out of the tabernacle of the congregation, saying. Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them. If any man of you bring an offering unto the Lord, ye shall bring your offering of the cattle, even of the herd and of the flock." (1:1,2.) C. Now does not the God of the Christians, who accepts the offerings of oxen and cows, etc., and enjoins upon His votaries to bring such offerings to Him, thirst for the blood and hunger after the flesh of such animals? Such a being can never be considered as God or even as a man of a tender-hearted nature, on the other hand, he looks more like a flesh-eating trickster.
Answer: Let us examine the vegetarianism and non vegetarianism closely and see if it makes any sense or have any impact on spirituality.
(a) Is there a Spiritual Criteria to Distinguish between Human beings, Plants and Animals?
For a Christian, there is a criterion by which he can make a distinction between human beings and the rest of the created world- including plants and animals.
Human beings are created in the image of God as opposed to the rest of the creation.
Genesis 1:26-27 “Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
Now, when God gave permission to human beings not only to eat the vegetarian food but also the non vegetarian food, He gave a clear reasoning based on the creation. God showed the difference between animals and human beings in the very same passage.
Genesis 9:3-6: “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs. But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. Surely for your lifeblood I will demand a reckoning; from the hand of every beast I will require it, and from the hand of man. From the hand of every man's brother I will require the life of man. Whoever sheds man's blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man.”
Does Maharishi have a criterion by which he can reason out why and how he can eat vegetables? Are they not living beings just like animals?
The artificial and arbitrary distinctions between plants and animals have no value except for the blind followers of Maharishi. Does Maharishi’s “tender-nature” argument extend up to all living beings or only animals? Why is the plant kingdom being excluded from these “acts of tender nature?”
If herbs are edible, then so should be animals. If animals are not prohibited as edible food, then so should be the herbs. There are no valid criterion to differentiae between animals and plants.
(b) Does Vegetarianism or Non Vegetarianism Make Any Difference to the Spiritual State of a Human Being?
Most of the Brahmins in India were and are vegetarians for centuries together now. Were they morally superior to the non-vegetarian Indians? The conclusion need not be even stated.
In fact, another Vedic Rishi Vivekananda expressed it succinctly and aptly:
“You speak of the meat-eating Kshatriya. Meat or no meat, it is they who are the fathers of all that is noble and beautiful in Hinduism. Who wrote the Upanishads? Who was Râma? Who was Krishna? Who was Buddha? Who were the Tirthankaras of the Jains? Whenever the Kshatriyas have preached religion, they have given it to everybody; and whenever the Brahmins wrote anything, they would deny all right to others. Read the Gitâ and the Sutras of Vyâsa, or get someone to read them to you. In the Gita the way is laid open to all men and women, to all caste and colour, but Vyasa tries to put meanings upon the Vedas to cheat the poor Shudras. Is God a nervous fool like you that the flow of His river of mercy would be dammed up by a piece of meat? If such be He, His value is not a pie!”
(Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Volume 4, WHAT WE BELIEVE IN (Written to "Kidi" on March 3, 1894, from Chicago.)
In fact, more than two thousand years ago, our Master and LORD Jesus Christ said it with irrefutable reasoning in the following passage:
Mark 7: 14-23 When He had called all the multitude to [Himself], He said to them, "Hear Me, everyone, and understand: There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!" When He had entered a house away from the crowd, His disciples asked Him concerning the parable. So He said to them, "Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, [thus] purifying ALL foods?"And He said, "What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man."
Conclusion: Vegetarianism or non vegetarianism does not affect the spiritual state of a person.
Therefore all the arguments of Maharishi in relation to vegetarianism or non vegetarianism are mere subjective opinions based on blatant biases and have no value in a discussion on spirituality.