International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
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15th World Vegetarian Congress 1957
Delhi/Bombay/Madras/Calcutta, India

Translation by Reverend Drew and John Lazarus to create better understanding and appreciation of the 'Tirokkural'
Printed in the Teachers' Publishing House. Madras-1.


How can he be possessed of kindness, who to increase his own flesh, eats the flesh of other (creatures)

As those possess no property who do not take care of it, so those possess no kindness who feed on flesh.

Like the (murderous) mind of him who carries a weapon (in his hand), the mind of him who feasts with pleasure on the body of another (creature), has no regard for goodness.

Is it asked what is kindness and its opposite? It is the preservation of life, and its destruction. (Therefore) it is not right to eat that flesh, (from which life has been taken away.)

Not to eat flesh contributes to the continuance of life ; therefore if a man eat flesh, hell will not open its mouth (to let him escape out, after he has fallen in).

If you say that the world does not destroy life for the purpose of eating, (then) no one would sell flesh for the sake of money.

Since the wise consider flesh as the (unclean) ulcer of a body, let it not be eaten.

The wise who have freed themselves from mental delusion, will not eat the flesh which has been severed from an animal.

Not to kill and eat (the flesh of) an animal, is better than the pouring forth of ghee in a thousand sacrifices.

All creatures will join their hands together, and worship him who has never taken away life, nor eaten flesh.


Is it asked, what is the sum of all virtuous conduct? It is, never to destroy life. On the contrary (the destruction of life) leads to every evil deed.

The chief of all (the virtues) which authors have summed up, is to eat of food that has been shared with others, and to preserve the manifold life of other creatures.

Not to destroy life, is the one (great) good; next in goodness to that is Freedom from falsehood.

Is it asked what is the good way? It is the path which considers how it may avoid killing any creature.

Of all those who, fearing the permanence (of earthly births), have abandoned desire, he is the chief who fearing (the guilt of) murder, considers how he may avoid the destruction of life.

Yama, the destroyer of life, will not attack the life-time of him, who acts under the determination never to destroy life.

Let no one do that which would destroy the life of another although he should lose his own life.

The advantage which might flow from destroying life is dishonourable to the wise even although it should be said to be great and good.

Men who destroy life are base men, in the estimation of those who know the nature of meanness.

(The wise) will say that men of diseased bodies who live in degradation and in poverty. are those who separated the life from the body of animals (in a former birth).