Maharaji's Teachings about Vegetarianism - In His Own Words
In his early days in the West, Maharaji, then calling himself Guru Maharaj Ji, promoted a vegetarian diet as being essential to practise his "Knowledge". It was obligatory for all ashram residents. Rawat did not often discuss the vegetaran diet, possibly because he did not adhere to it once he escaped parental supervision and his meat-eating was one of the factors that caused his mother and the administrators of Divine Light Mission, India to disown, disinherit and depose him though it was the drug-taking, drinking of alcohol and "playboy lifestyle" that were the main reasons.
Questions in Phoenix, Arizona, January 21, 1974
Maharaj Ji, does it make a difference if a person eats meat or not? Does it affect their meditation?
I know one thing. What you eat, so you become. I'm not telling you a lie. I speak from experience. I'll tell you one thing, since it's not meant for human beings to eat … and there is a very logical explanation. Maybe you even know it, you know? The beings that are supposed to eat meat, like cats, lions, animals like that, they always lick water. They don't suck the water. They always lick it. They take their tongue out like a cat -- you have seen how a cat drinks water, and how a dog drinks it. But beings that suck water don't eat meat. And that's the way it's supposed to be and man sucks water, he does not lick water, since he is not supposed to eat meat. And God has provided him, and made him the king of all nature not to kill other things, but to … He has given him all the fruit in the world, anything he wants, a big head up here … So, don't you think he should try to utilize it and try to understand the beauty, and to grasp the beauty of the fruits God has given us? Because I'll tell you, it's really healthy too. Body can just really accept it. And that's the way it is. Yes?
Why wouldn't you say that when you pick a plant you're killing the plant too? I mean …
Well, because that's the thing. That little killing is meant to be for you. And that's okay.
A plant still has a consciousness.
A plant has a consciousness. But where is the consciousness?
I don't know.
See, this is the thing. Where is the consciousness?
The root has a consciousness, but where does the consciousness actually lie? Because if you take a root itself, it's in a seed. You see, there is a little explanation to that. If you are eating meat, you are eating out of a being. Right? Not from a dead.
Not from a what?
Like, supposedly some people eat cows, right?
Cow comes from a life. Mother, right? And that also came from a life, and it's a life to a life to a life circle. But a plant does not come from a life. it comes from death; a seed which is dead. It doesn't need any nutrition. it's a dead seed. When you plant it, that's when it grows and gives you fruits.
What if you eat an animal that comes from a seed? I mean, an animal …
Well, I wouldn't object to that.
You could call an egg … a chicken comes from an egg. An egg is a seed, isn't it? Is an egg alive? The one you buy in a store?
See, it's like, it's not like a seed. Still it's not like a seed. Because seed itself is dead. If you leave a seed around, it will never rot. If you leave an egg around, it'll rot. Because it has a life and it has a period of life. You see, everything has come from man's own conception. If I put a man into a cell the day he is born, he will never know. He will never know, "Does a plant have a consciousness or not?" It's a man's own conception. But a man would not be able to live on meat alone. He'll have to still come to nature and ask for its fruit. But a man can live on fruits. So that's the way it is. The very royal food people eat in India is made out of meat dishes. We also eat royal food, but it's not made out of meat dishes. It's purely vegetarian. And that's the way it is. And it's darn tasty. You might come to Dehra Dun some day. You might eat it. It's really good. Yes?
Élan Vital, Autumn 1977, Volume 1, Issue 1
Guru Maharaj Ji Answers Questions, San Francisco, California, February 10, 1979 (sic) probably 1974
Q: Guru Maharaj Ji, why are you a vegetarian?
A: Because I want to be. It's like the question, "Why are you living? Why don't you just take your car and drive it off the hill?" Because I don't want to do it. And I am a vegetarian because I want to be a vegetarian.
Q: Why do you want to be a vegetarian?
A: Because I like to be a vegetarian. And it kind of works out beautifully with me.
Élan Vital, Autumn 1977, Volume 1, Issue 1
If you eat meat you will find you get more angry and impatient, and that is harmful to you. I have heard there was a time when saints told people to eat meat, but at that time there was no other food. Today we have got plenty of food so there is no need to kill animals. How many animals are being killed because we eat them? Very many.
Life With Knowledge: A Premie Guidebook
Guru Maharaj Ji (1975) The Sayings of Guru Maharaj Ji - Part IV
Guru Maharaj Ji: People will watch television and they see those cowboy movies, and cowboys used to take raw meat and eat that, and they get like that. They got like animals and they used to kill anyone around. How you eat, so you become. See, the way you eat, the way you become. And that's why I want there should be much less food, because that makes you more active. If you just think about eating, eating, eating, you will get lazy like an animal. Eat less, it will make you more active.
Guru Maharaj Ji (1975) The Sayings of Guru Maharaj Ji - Part IV Divine United Organization, Shri Sant Yogashram, Hans Marg, Mehrauli, New Delhi - 110030
Because when the Creator created this whole world, He gave us lands without fences. And ample and ample fruits and vegetables. And no restriction, no restriction. And He just made it in such a cycle that it could just go on and on and on. And it's just that man's mind, man's own collective ideas, man's own ego, meanness, completely took over.
Guru Maharaj Ji (1979) Questions and Answers pamphlet
Is it necessary to be a vegetarian?
That's up to you. I tell you about Knowledge not about food. It's not my subject. I can't tell you anything about that.
Questions and Answers - Divine Light Mission Inc. pamphlet 1979
"Knowledge is very different, not a path to follow, I don't tell people. You know people used to always come to me: 'Should we be vegetarians?' 'If you wanna be.' 'Should we be non-vegetarians?' 'If you wanna be.'"
There is no record of any such statement. In fact, as we can see from the above statements he specified a vegetarian diet. After being deposed by his mother, he was questioned by journalists about whether he had started eating meat, Associated Press he refused to answer. He did not state that he had never had or recommended a vegetarian diet.
The rules and regulations for living in an ashram as set out by Maharaji included:
The Code of the Renunciate Order of Divine Light Mission
A. Personal Conduct
7. Members should observe a silent atmosphere while eating and maintain a vegetarian diet, abstaining from meat, fish, and eggs.
5. Meals must be vegetarian.
6. No meat, fish, eggs, drugs (except prescribed medication), alcohol, or cigarettes should be permitted to be kept in the Ashram.
Part Five: The Ashram Supervisor
The Ashram Supervisor is responsible for overseeing the personal conduct and service activities of all Renunciate members in his Ashram. It is his duty to insure that the Renunciate Code is being followed. He reports directly to the DUO Director. Members must endeavor to cooperate fully with the Ashram Supervisor in order to insure maximum harmony within the Ashram.
Professor Ron Geaves, one of Rawat's first and most devoted Western followers wrote "Many of the characteristics of the Indian movement founded by Maharaji's father, who had died only in 1966, were imported wholesale into the western environment. Members were expected to forswear drugs and alcohol … and adopt a strict vegetarian diet."