THE CAUSE OF VIOLENCE At present, despite impressive progress in science and technology, t

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THE CAUSE OF VIOLENCE ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ At present, despite impressive progress in science and technology, the world is faced with a crisis of unremitting violence in the shape of wars, terrorism, murder, vandalism, child abuse, and abortion. More than 140 wars have been fought since the United Nations was formed in 1945, and in America alone, 20,000 people are murdered each year. With social and political solutions conspicuously failing, perhaps it's time to analyze the problem from a different perspective - the law of karma. The callous and brutal slaughter of countless helpless animals must be considered as a powerful causative factor in this wave of uncheckable violence. In his purports to the Srimad-Bhagavatam, the ancient 5000 year old text from India (which is available from Dial-A- Guru BBS (718) 624-8614 [data]), Srila Prabhupada, the guru of the Hare Krishna movement, has pointed out how the widespread violence among humans is a karmic reaction to animal slaughter. "In this age the propensity for mercy is almost nil. Consequently there is always fighting and wars between men and nations. Men do not understand that because they unrestrictedly kill so many animals, they must also be slaughtered like animals in big wars. This is very much evident in the Western countries. In the West, slaughterhouses are maintained without restriction, and therefore every fifth or tenth year there is a big war in which countless people are slaughtered even more cruelly than the animals. Sometimes during war, soldiers keep their enemies in concentration camps and kill them in very cruel ways. These are reactions brought about by unrestricted animal-killing in the slaughterhouse and by hunters in the forest." The question is sometimes raised that if the atma (soul) is completely transcendental to the material body, why should killing, if great pain is avoided, be considered wrongful violence? Even the Bhagavad-gita states, "For the soul there is neither birth nor death. He is not slain when the body is slain." In his Srimad-Bhagavatam purports, Srila Prabhupada addresses this question. "All living entities have to fulfill a certain duration for being encaged in a particular type of material body. They have to finish the duration allotted in a particular body before being promoted or evolved to another body. Killing an animal or any other living being simply places an impediment in the way of his completing his term of impreisonment in a certain body. One should therefore not kill bodies for one's sense gratification, for this will implicate one in sinful activity." In short, killing an animal interrupts its progressive evolution through the species. We can also appreciate the unjustness of animal-killing by seeing that the body is a dwelling place for the atma residing within. An individual unexpectedly driven out of his comfortable home suffers great inconvenience and distress. Such merciless and unjustified action is undoubtedly criminal. Furthermore, in order to receive his next material body, the living being must suffer extended prebirth tribulations. For the human being this involves months of being tightly packed in the darkness of the womb, where one is constantly distrubed by infections, acid fluids burning the skin, jarring motions, and discomforts resulting from the eating and drinking habits of the mother.

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