Question: What is the factual punishment for meat eaters in Kaliyuga? The reason for our question is that in some cases it appears to us that a meat-eating materialist has got a much better character than a vegetarian materialist, e.g. in terms of helping others, being charitably disposed, loving to all human beings, being tolerant etc.
Answer: Punishment is not the same for all. Sinning in knowledge is heavier than in ignorance. In the West people will get very minimum punishment. Not what you have read or heard in the Vedic scriptures. These people are ignorant. They are not under the jurisdiction of The Vedic smrtis. They are born in meat eating families, and children have no choice. But those who understand the cruelty behind meat eating and still continue are heading for animal life, whether born in the East or West.
The main punishment is right here. Meat eaters become too dull to understand spirituality. Thus they are deprived of the ultimate goal of human life. They can be nice people but that is still only materially nice. The purpose of life is tattva-jijnasa – to know the Supreme Truth.
But in general, meat eating makes one more rajasic. Those who are meat eaters and gentle will be even more gentle if they become vegetarian. Similarly, those vegetarians who are cruel will be more so if they take to meat eating. Food has an impact on the mind of its consumer. This is a scientific fact.
Question: Is it really appropriate in Kaliyuga to worship cows, especially in the West? I am asking, because in the West most cows are destined to be cruelly slaughtered, which in turn – according to my understanding is a result of their karma of having been butchers or the like themselves in their previous lifetime. So why worship a former butcher in a cow’s body?
Tulasi at Jiva
Answer: We should respect all life. It is not our right to punish someone because he or she was a sinner in the past life. The law of karma will take care of that. If a cow is destined to be butchered, that does not make her less worshipable. It is the cow’s body which is worshipable, no matter what she was in the past. A Tulasi plant may also have been something else in the past. That does not mean we do not worship Tulasi. A Tulasi plant may die in extreme cold, so we cannot say that this plant must have committed some sin in the past life to die like this in the cold, so why shall I worship a sinner in a Tulasi body?
We perform our duty, i.e. honoring a cow or Tulasi. It is not our business what a particular person was in the past. We see what the person is now and act accordingly.