Slaughterhouse Civilization
In June of 1974, at the Hare Kåñëa movement’s rural community near Valencey, France, Çréla Prabhupäda talks to a group of intimate disciples. He points out that modern civilization’s hunger for meat and its extensive system of vicious and barbaric slaughtering facilities bring karmic re-actions in the form of world wars, which Çréla Prabhupäda refers to as “slaughterhouses for humankind.”

Yogeçvara däsa: The other day, Çréla Prabhupäda, you were saying that in India, at least until recently, it was forbidden to eat cows—that those who ate meat would eat only lower animals like dogs and goats.
Çréla Prabhupäda: Yes. For meat-eaters, that is what the Vedic culture recommends: “Eat dogs.” As in Korea they are eating dogs, so you also can eat dogs. But don’t eat cows until after they have died a natural death. We don’t say, “Don’t eat.” You are so very fond of eating cows. All right, you can eat them, because after their death we have to give them to somebody, some living entity. Generally, cow carcasses are given to the vultures. But then, why only to the vultures? Why not to the modern “civilized” people, who are as good as vultures? [Laughter.]
These so-called civilized people—what is the difference between these rascals and vultures? The vultures also enjoy killing and then eating the dead body. “Make it dead and then enjoy”—people have become vultures. And their civilization is a vulture civilization. Animal-eaters—they’re like jackals, vultures, dogs. Flesh is not proper food for human beings. Here in the Vedic culture is civilized food, human food: milk, fruit, vegetables, nuts, grains. Let them learn it. Uncivilized rogues, vultures, räkñasas [demons]—and they’re leaders.
Therefore I say that today the leaders are all fourth-class men. And that is why the whole world is in a chaotic condition. We require learned spiritual teachers—first-class men—to lead. My disciples are training to become first-class men. If people will take our advice, then everything will be all right. What is the use of fourth-class men leading a confused and chaotic society?
If I speak so frankly, people will be very angry. But basically, their leaders are all fourth class. First-class men are great devotees of the Lord, who can guide the administrators and the citizens through their words and practical example. Second-class men are administrative, military men, who look after the smooth running of the government and the safety of the citizens. And third-class men are farmers, who grow crops and protect the cows. But today who is protecting the cows? That is the third-class men’s business. So therefore everyone is fourth class or lower. Çva-viò-varähoñöra-kharaiù saàstutaù puruñaù paçuù [Çrémad-Bhägavatam 2.3.19]: People are living just like animals—without regulative, spiritual principles—and from among themselves they are electing the biggest animals. Anyone can do whatever he likes, whatever he thinks—no regulative principles.
But human life is meant for regulative principles. We are insisting that our students follow regulative principles—no meat-eating, no illicit sex, no intoxication, no gambling—just to make them real human beings. Without regulative principles it is animal life. Animal life.
In the human form of life, after passing through millions of lives in the plant and animal species, the spirit soul gets the chance to take up the yoga system—and yoga means strict regulative principles. Indriya-saàyamaù—controlling the senses. That is the real yoga system. But today most people, though they may say they are practicing yoga, are misusing it. Just like the animals, they cannot control their senses. As human beings, they have higher intelligence; they should learn how to control the senses. This is human life. Na yat-karëa-pathopetaù: One who has not heard the message of Kåñëa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead—even for a moment—he’s an animal. The general mass of people, unless they are trained systematically for a higher standard of life in spiritual values, are no better than animals. They are on the level of dogs, hogs, camels, and asses.
Modern university education practically prepares one to acquire a doggish mentality for accepting the service of a greater master. Like the dogs, after finishing their so-called education the so-called educated persons move from door to door with applications for some service. We have this experience in India. There are so many educated men who are unemployed—because they have been educated as dogs. They must find a master; otherwise they have no power to work independently. Just like a dog—unless he finds a master, he is a street dog, loitering in the street.
Bhagavän däsa: So many Ph.D.’s are graduating from school now that there are not enough jobs for them. So they have to take jobs as truck drivers or taxi drivers.
Yogeçvara däsa: They’re supposed to be the educated class too—brähmaëas.
Çréla Prabhupäda: No, they are not brähmaëas. Those who give education in exchange for money—they are not brähmaëas. For instance, we are lecturing, educating people. We don’t say, “Give us a salary.” We simply ask them, “Please come.” That is why we are cooking food and holding so many free festivals. “We’ll give you food. We’ll give you a comfortable seat. Please come and hear about self-realization and God consciousness.” We are not asking money—“First of all pay the fee; then you can come and learn Bhagavad-gétä.” We never say that. But these so-called teachers who first of all bargain for a salary—“What salary will you give me?”—that is a dog’s concern. That is not a brähmaëa’s concern. A brähmaëa will never ask about a salary. A brähmaëa is eager to see that people are educated. “Take free education and be educated; be a human being”—this is a brähmaëa’s concern: You see? I came here not to ask for any money but to give instruction.
Bhagavän däsa: Today the priests are afraid to speak too strongly—or else they’ll be fired and get no salary. And the politicians—they’re also afraid to say what they really believe. They’re afraid that they’ll be voted out or get no more money to support themselves.
Çréla Prabhupäda: The priests are after money. They are not first class; they are low-class men. This is the reason that Christianity has fallen down. The priests cannot speak straightforwardly. There is a straightforward commandment—“Thou shalt not kill.” But because people are already killing, the priests are afraid to present the commandment straightforwardly. Now they are even granting man-to-man marriage, what to speak of other things. The priests are sermonizing on this idea of man-to-man marriage. Just see how degraded they have become! Previously was there any conception like this, at least outside America? Nobody thought that a man could be married to another man. What is this? And the priests are supporting it. Do you know that? So what is their standard?
Jyotirmayé-devé däsé: That priest who visited was telling you that he was asking all his parishioners to follow God’s law. So you asked him if he was going to get them to follow the fifth commandment, the law against killing—including animal-killing and especially cow-killing.
Çréla Prabhupäda: Yes, this is our proposal: “Why should you kill the cow? Let the cow be protected.” You can take the cow’s milk and use this milk for making so many nutritious, delicious preparations. Aside from that, as far as meat-eating is concerned, every cow will die—so you just wait a while, and there will be so many dead cows. Then you can take all the dead cows and eat. So how is this a bad proposal? If you say, “You are restraining us from meat-eating”—no, we don’t restrain you. We simply ask you, “Don’t kill. When the cow is dead, you can eat it.”
Yogeçvara däsa: You’ve pointed out that the cow is just like a mother.
Çréla Prabhupäda: Yes. She gives us her milk.
Yogeçvara däsa: But in the West now, when their parents grow old the people generally send them away to old age homes. So if people have no compassion even toward their own parents, how can we educate them to protect the cow?
Çréla Prabhupäda: They don’t have to protect the cow. We shall protect the cow. Simply we ask them, “Don’t purchase meat from the slaughterhouse. We shall supply you the cow after her death.” Where is the difficulty?
Satsvarüpa däsa Gosvämé: Not enough meat fast enough—they’re eating so much meat.
Çréla Prabhupäda: “Not enough”? By killing the cows, how will you get any more meat? The total number of cows will remain the same. Simply wait for their natural death. That is the only restriction. You have got a limited number of cows. Either you wait for their death or you kill them at once—the number of cows is the same. So we simply ask you, “Don’t kill them. Wait for their natural death and then take the meat.” What is the difficulty? And we simply ask you, “As long as they’re alive, let us take the cow’s milk and prepare delicious foods for the whole human society.”
Yogeçvara däsa: If people don’t kill the cows they will have even more meat, because that way the cows will have more time to reproduce more cows. If they don’t kill the cows right away, there will be even more cows.
Çréla Prabhupäda: More cows, yes. They’ll have more cows. We simply request, “Don’t kill. Don’t maintain slaughterhouses.” That is very sinful. It brings down very severe karmic reactions upon society. Stop these slaughterhouses. We don’t say, “Stop eating meat.” You can eat meat, but don’t take it from the slaughterhouse, by killing. Simply wait, and you’ll get the carcasses.
After all, how long will the cows live? Their maximum age is twenty years, and there are many cows who live only eighteen, sixteen, or ten years. So wait that much time; then regularly get dead cows and eat. What is the difficulty?
For the first few years you may not get quite as much as now. During that time you can eat some dogs and cats. [Laughter.] Yes. In Korea they eat dogs. What is the difference between here and Korea? You can also eat dogs for the time being. Or hogs. Eat hogs. We don’t prohibit the killing of these less important animals. We neither sanction nor prohibit. But especially we request cow protection, because it is ordered by Lord Kåñëa. Go-rakñya: “Protect the cows.” That is our duty.
And economically, also, it is very useful. Kåñëa has not recommended this for nothing; it is not like that. Kåñëa’s order has meaning. The cows on our Hare Kåñëa farms are giving more milk than other cows—because they are confident, “We will not be killed here.” It is not like these rascals, these so-called Christians, say: “They have no soul; they have no intelligence.” They have intelligence. In other places they do not give so much milk. But on our farms they are very jolly. As soon as the devotees call, they’ll come. Yes—just like friends. And they are confident, “We’ll not be killed.” So they are jubilant, and they are giving much milk. Yes.
In Europe and America the cows are very good, but the cow-killing system is also very good. So you stop this. You simply request them, “You’ll get the cow’s flesh. As soon as she is dead, we shall supply you free of charge. You haven’t got to pay so much money. You can get the flesh free and eat it then. Why are you killing? Stop these slaughterhouses.” What is wrong with this proposal?
We don’t want to stop trade or the production of grains and vegetables and fruit. But we want to stop these killing houses. It is very, very sinful. That is why all over the world they have so many wars. Every ten or fifteen years there is a big war—a wholesale slaughterhouse for humankind. But these rascals—they do not see it, that by the law of karma, every action must have its reaction.
You are killing innocent cows and other animals—nature will take revenge. Just wait. As soon as the time is right, nature will gather all these rascals and slaughter them. Finished. They’ll fight amongst themselves—Protestants and Catholics, Russia and America, this one and that one. It is going on. Why? That is nature’s law. Tit for tat. “You have killed. Now you kill yourselves.”
They are sending animals to the slaughterhouse, and now they’ll create their own slaughterhouse. [Imitating gunfire:] Tung! Tung! Kill! Kill! You see? Just take Belfast, for example. The Roman Catholics are killing the Protestants, and the Protestants are killing the Catholics. This is nature’s law. It’s not necessary that you be sent to the ordinary slaughterhouse. You’ll make a slaughterhouse at home. You’ll kill your own child—abortion. This is nature’s law. Who are these children being killed? They are these meat-eaters. They enjoyed themselves when so many animals were killed, and now they’re being killed by their mothers. People do not know how nature is working. If you kill, you must be killed. If you kill the cow, who is your mother, then in some future lifetime your mother will kill you. Yes. The mother becomes the child, and the child becomes the mother.
Mäà sa khädatéti mäàsaù. The Sanskrit word is mäàsa. Mäm means “me,” and sa means “he.” I am killing this animal; I am eating him. And in my next lifetime he’ll kill me and eat me. When the animal is sacrificed, this mantra is recited into the ear of the animal—“You are giving your life, so in your next life you will get the opportunity of becoming a human being. And I who am now killing you will become an animal, and you will kill me.” So after understanding this mantra, who will be ready to kill an animal?
Bhagavän däsa: Many people today are discussing this topic of reincarnation, but they don’t understand the significance of the effects—
Çréla Prabhupäda: How will they understand? All dull-headed fools and rascals, dressed like gentlemen. That’s all. Tävac ca çobhate mürkho yävat kiïcin na bhäñate. A rascal, a fool, is prestigious as long as he does not speak. As soon as he speaks, his nature will be revealed—what he really is. Therefore that priest who came did not stay long. He did not want to expose himself.
Bhagavän däsa: Less intelligent.
Çréla Prabhupäda: Now, we must take to agricultural work—produce food and give protection to the cows. And if we produce a surplus, we can trade. It is a simple thing that we must do. Our people should live peacefully in farming villages, produce grain and fruit and vegetables, protect the cows, and work hard. And if there is a surplus, we can start restaurants. Kåñëa conscious people will never be losers by following the instructions of Kåñëa. They will live comfortably, without any material want, and tyaktvä dehaà punar janma naiti [Bhagavad-gétä 4.90]: After leaving this body they will go directly to God. This is our way of life.
So open restaurants in any part of any city and make nice kacaurés, çrékhaëòa, purés, halavä, and so many other delicacies. And people will purchase them. They will come and sit down. I have given the format: “Every preparation is ready—you can sit down. This is our standard charge for a meal. Now, as much as you like you take. You can take one helping or two, three, four—as much as you like. But don’t waste. Don’t waste.” Suppose one man eats a single savory and another man eats four savories. That does not mean we shall charge more. Same charge. Same charge. “You can sit down, eat to your heart’s content, and be satisfied.” Let everyone be satisfied. “We will supply. Simply don’t waste.” This is our program. Not that each time—just as the hotel does—each time a plate is brought, immediately a bill. No. “You can sit down and eat to your satisfaction. The charge stays the same.”
Bhagavän däsa: I think people will leave the restaurant with their pockets full of savories. [Laughter.]
Çréla Prabhupäda: That we shall not allow.
Bhagavän däsa: You were telling us one time that in India, if a person has a mango orchard and you’re hungry you can come in and eat, but you cannot take any away with you.
Çréla Prabhupäda: Yes. If you have a garden and somebody says, “I want to eat some fruit,” you’ll say, “Yes, come on. Take as much fruit as you like.” But he should not gather up more than he can eat and take it away. Any number of men can come and eat to their satisfaction. The farmers do not even prohibit the monkeys—“All right, let them come in. After all, it is God’s property.” This is the Kåñëa conscious system: If an animal, say a monkey, comes to your garden to eat, don’t prohibit him. He is also part and parcel of Kåñëa. If you prohibit him, where will he eat?
I have another story; this one was told by my father. My father’s elder brother was running a cloth shop. Before closing the shop my uncle would put out a basin filled with rice. Of course, as in any village, there were rats. But the rats would take the rice and not cut even a single cloth. Cloth is very costly. If even one cloth had been cut by a rat, then it would have been a great loss. So with a few pennies’ worth of rice, he saved many dollars’ worth of cloth. This Kåñëa culture is practical. “They are also part and parcel of God. Give them food. They’ll not create any disturbance. Give them food.”
Everyone has an obligation to feed whoever is hungry—even if it is a tiger. Once a certain spiritual teacher was living in the jungle. His disciples knew, “The tigers will never come and disturb us, because our teacher keeps some milk a little distance from the äçrama, and the tigers come and drink and go away.”
The teacher would call, “You! Tiger! You can come and take your milk here!” [Laughter.] And they would come and take the milk and go away. And they would never attack any members of the äçrama. The teacher would say, “They are my men—don’t harm them.”
I remember seeing at the World’s Fair that a man had trained a lion. And the man was playing with that lion just like one plays with a dog. These animals can understand, “This man loves me. He gives me food; he is my friend.” They also appreciate.
When Haridäsa Öhäkura was living in a cave and chanting Hare Kåñëa, a big snake who also lived there decided to go away. The snake knew—“He’s a saintly person. He should not be disturbed. Let me go away.” And from Bhagavad-gétä we understand, éçvaraù sarva-bhütänäà håd-deçe—Kåñëa is in every-one’s heart, and He is dictating. So Kåñëa can dictate peace and harmony to the animals, to the serpent, to everyone. [Çréla Prabhupäda pauses reflectively.]
The Vedic culture offers so many nice, delicious foods, and mostly they are made with milk products. But these so-called civilized people—they do not know. They kill the cows and throw the milk away to the hogs, and they are proud of their civilization—like jackals and vultures. Actually, this Kåñëa consciousness movement will transform the uncivilized people and bring the whole world to real civilization.

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