Society & Lifestyle
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The Modern We
|by Rishabh Kumar|
The ‘We’ of today are the jet setting civilizations that have everything on our finger tips. Be it Luxury or Technology (Convenience) or Information or any other thing you can think about. Very interestingly we have all come from backgrounds which are similar in a way; a background which backs Values, Religion - Spirituality, Outlook & a Perspective in Life. What we don’t have in common is our affluence & its implications!
‘The Modern We’ have to face the challenge of bringing parity among our affluence, our values, our morals, social standing, complacency & our spirituality.
For the moment let’s keep our spirituality aside.
Our Society has been very imposing on us. It has forced us to uplift our self-esteem & false egos by means of show casing our wealth. We need to be seen in the best of places, holidaying in the most exotic locations, adorning ourselves in the best of brands, using the best of gadgets, aspiring to possess more than others; even if it is at the cost of ill financial health & bringing out the best of your personality – even if it isn’t our true self! But many would state that it isn’t incorrect to indulge in the above if are riches allow us to! It is only incorrect if it results in Murder!
The last few months I have been enquiring about all the leather goods we wear. I went to most of the stores with the bought product, searched on the web & unfortunately they all depend on skin from animals. Surprisingly, they all predominantly depend on skin from Cows. This because it is soft, can match with other animal skins after tanning etc. The best brands like Louis Vuitton, Channel, Cartier, Gucci, Bally, Hermes, Salvatore Ferragamo, Jimmy Choo and Christian Dior etc; to the not so big but global brands like Bata, Citywalk, Metro; all depend on skin from Cows.
Being a Hindu & cows being sacred I thought of giving up only calf leather. But then I realized that I am supporting the torture & killing of other innocent animals for my selfish greed. Hence I have stopped using all kinds of leather.
Just to give you a glimpse of the slaughter: the calves, which have the softest skin, make the softest leather goods. If the skin is removed after their death then it is not as smooth/soft as we want it to be. So these sacred animals are hung from levers, immersed alive in boiling water & then commences the process of shaving their skin while they are still conscious. After that, they are sent to the chopping chambers. The carcass serves as bones for our beloved pets & the rest of their parts are packaged in tins or cans or cellophane to serve our taste buds.
In case the animal dies before it is shaved off its skin then they do have a process post their death to obtain their skins, maintain the softness, disallow decomposing, permanently alter the protein structure of skin so that it cannot ever return to rawhide. The Goat, Buffalo, Ox, Ostrich, Snake, Crocodile, Horse, Zebra etc are some of the other animals that also have become commercialized products! And for whom is all this for? For our 3-inch tongue, our waist & feet.
Money in Hinduism (Sanatana Dharma) is referred as Goddess Laxmi; its Scripture beholds the Cow as sacred & disapproves violence. In perspective; every religion disapproves violence. Even then accessories such as wallets / purses / bags / belts / shoes (made from such killings) embellish us! Some may dispute that the animal is already killed so if we are buying leather goods post its killing then what is the harm?
To which I state:
Most of us yet live in complacency that animal skins are derived from post deaths where skins were simply put to use by converting them into commercial leather products. But with the augment of demand for branded goods; animals are now being poached & killed for the very same skin. And it is the ‘We’ who coerce the demand!
Most of the expensive leather goods are made from skin of a Calf. ‘A Calf is a young one of a Cow’. We as a society inspire a few to continuously impregnate the cows (and other animals) with the modern sexual tools & resiliently manipulate/slaughter their young ones for our callous desires.
You’re very good friend has committed a murder & is absconding. He comes to you for aid & you give him refuge without the knowledge of his crime. When the law learns about his whereabouts; they will arrest you or the owner of the property as the accomplice along with your friend.
So the question glaring at our face is that is being ignorant an excuse?
Ignorance is never an excuse!
One will attract Vikarma (Bad Karma) according to the Holy Scriptures even if one is ignorant!
Lets keep the spiritual aspect aside again as spirituality is looked down upon these days; the notion going around is that it is very 'uncool' to be spiritual.
So speaking from the moral perspective; we need to balance our Material Desires with Moral Values! Wants once fulfilled give way endlessly to new ones. We should listen not only with our ears but also our hearts! Anything in Moderation is good some say; but bare in mind that Moderation is only halfway between disaster & discipline!
The Best Things in Life are not Things; please don’t let your Possessions Possess you! We should be content with what we have but never with what we are. We have multiplied our Possessions but divided our Values!
These commercial companies are so aggressive in their advertisement that they make us want more. They make us forget about what we have & they put us in a state of anxiety. They make us feel that whatever we have is worth less than what they have to offer! They make us want more! In turn we spend our hard earned money on things, which cannot be made without killing innocent selfless forever giving animals. We forget that there are two ways of being rich:
We are in a way encouraging these companies to bulldoze our forests, erode our top soil, force weather changes, reassure global warming as more & more land is used for livestock production than the conventional food production. Effects of livestock farming on our environment are detrimental.
We have friends from many religions; Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, Muslims & then the various off shoots as Marwaris, Jains, Baniyas etc. No Scripture has seconded or allowed killing for pleasure. One can kill for food only if survival is an issue & have rituals, which must be followed at the time of that kind of killing. Our Modern Gurus have conveniently speculated facts & have also fallen prey to the materialism around.
The Hindu community is very particular about the cow. Among them I wonder what the Marwaris have to say! They are generally spiritual, God fearing & perform many rituals. On a particular day in the calendar, the mothers perform a ritual (puja) for their children called ‘Bach-Baaras’. And then the same set of people will feel proud in dissipating money on leather wallets, belts and shoes made from the very sacred animals.
The Jain community encourages spiritual development through cultivation of one's own personal wisdom and reliance on self control. They believe that to attain enlightenment and ultimately liberation, one must practice the following ethical principles (major vows) in thought, speech and action: Non-violence (Ahimsa), Truthfulness (Satya) & Non-stealing (Asteya)
I wonder what the Jains have to say about being responsible in the killing of animals for sense gratification!
The Sikhs always keep a kirpan. The kirpan is a knife to be used to prevent violence from being done to a defenseless person when all other means to do so have failed. Originally they were worn on a cloth belt known as Gatra. But now we see them hanging around the shoulders in a leather belt. Hence it has lost its very essence to prevent violence & that too on defenseless souls.
This is blasphemy & hypocrisy at the highest levels! The list goes on …
Quote for my non-vegetarian friends:
Quote for my vegetarian friends:
A lot may say that we have been eating meat since ages. To which I reply by saying that we have been murdering since ages too! So is it justified? He who doesn’t respect life doesn’t deserve it! When a human kills an animal, it is called sport! And when a human kills another human, it is called aggression! And when an animal kills a human for his survival, it is called ferocity! Ironical!
Socially we need to have a certain lifestyle, be seen wearing a few brands, have the best of cars etc. And right fully if one can afford it then why not!
I am not asking you to give up luxuries! All I appeal is that we should be sensitive to life, be responsible towards the environment, be aware of the products we aspire for, and be insightful towards the next generation – be it Morals, Values, Health etc!
I have substituted leather with rexine now. Rexine is made of cloth surfaced with a mixture of cellulose nitrate, camphor oil, pigments and embossed to look like leather. At parties I do feel odd not sporting my favorite brands. For the people I know they are stumped at this change. But for the people I don’t know, they don’t bother to know me as my worth has reduced due to the absence of these ‘bloody accessories’. Branded footwear costs about $400 - $700 & branded belt about $ 550. And that becomes a benchmark for others to critic your worth. Amazing!
Unfortunately brands are now a gateway to know the affluent society & there is a constant race as to who adorns the latest collection. We are all live mannequins of branded companies advertising freely for them. So most people want to associate with or judge people by what they have on the body. Regrettably they can’t see the person in that body.
Enjoyment at the cost of cruelty, brutality, mercilessness, viciousness is unwarranted for! And it is our moral liability to protect nature because we are its keepers & not its owners.
It is very easy to get mangled by peer pressure, be the way they are but what really matters is what you are! Always choose Character over Reputation because Character is what you are & Reputation is what others think you are. Subtle difference but profound in meaning!
It may result in:
The only person who will last till your end is yourself; hence invest in yourself. We need to form good habits, inculcate intrinsic values, instill insightful morals, devote time in knowing the Scriptures or other books of knowledge & follow a healthy lifestyle for a healthy Body & Soul.
I too have been ignorant about reality. Have been worshipping from one hand & committing offences from the other. But now I have realized my mistake & will correct it. I cannot take away the bad karma for the same but at least I can now put a stop to it. I strongly believe that ‘Acquired Knowledge is not power but Applied Knowledge is Power’ hence the right must be done.
As children, we all begin life respecting animals; just picturise the crib – it’s full of them! By the time we grow up the same crib animals that were very much a part of our mental landscape now are a source of satisfying our superfluous redundant cravings! This is dichotomy at its best. Truly, man is the king of the beasts, for our cruelty exceeds theirs!
Life is a preparation and Death is the examination. We need to prepare ourselves for the day, which will decide our destiny beyond death. Some may not believe in reincarnation so I appeal to them only on a moral foundation. Think about it, introspect & let the good within lead you. Reflect your consciousness because it is imperative for you to have an intellectual & moral understanding of your decision. It will only facilitate you keeping up to your commitment.
You can continue to be ignorant about facts by continuing your excursion of sense gratification, engulfed by passion & bogged by materialism
You can be an individual who continues to enjoy life & its offerings by using this information age to be learned, aware & well informed! To be a man with a heart!
People refer to a lot of maps in life for direction. Strangely they fail to give directions to their very life!
One must exercise a conscious will of righteousness - the onus is on you!
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Meenal Maheshwari Jain
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