Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Butcher's Day Off

While the early Buddhists considered killing for any reason to be wrong they also recognized that many people did not agree with them, that some people might want to kill a chicken to have for lunch and that other people enjoyed hunting. Not wanting to impose their values on others while at the same time hoping to create a more humane society, the custom developed in India to have what were called non-killing days (maghata, Vin.I,217) when no criminals were executed, no animals were slaughtered and no hunting was allowed. Such days were usually announced by the beat of a drum (Ja.IV,115). In 243 BCE King Asoka issued an edict banning the killing, castrating or branding of animals on certain days of every month. The custom of observing non-killing days survived even up to the Muslim period. In his Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri the emperor Jahangir (reigned 1605-27) wrote; ‘I ordered that each year from the 18th of Rabiu-l-awal which is my birthday, for the number of days corresponding to the years of my life, that people should not slaughter animals for food.’

If you hang round just a bit longer you will be able to read, from the 1st of July onwards, a detailed examination of the question of vegetarianism and Buddhism.

1 comment:

Anandajoti said...

In Sri Lanka for a long time Full-Moon Poya days have been non-killing days and the slaughterhouses have been closed.

This has recently been extended to include the day before Poya day.

Every year around the 10 days spent for the procession of the Tooth relic in August also the slaughterhouses are closed.

I don't know if such a custom previals in any other Buddhist country