Since 1970 I've been a vegetarian who eats some dairy products. But over the years I've eaten less and less. Currently I use soy milk and basically only consume dairy in the form of a daily serving of yogurt and half-and-half creamer, plus some occasional cheese.
But I admire people who stick to a vegan diet (vegetarian, with no dairy products). So my admiration extends to the person who calls themselves "ex-satsangi" in the message below that I got via email, and was allowed to share on this blog.
They rightfully point out that dairy animals almost always are treated cruelly. Feeling that eating dairy products isn't compatible with a truly spiritual life, they wrote a letter to the guru of Radha Soami Satsang Beas, Gurinder Singh Dhillon.
The answer they got wasn't acceptable, so they became an ex-satsangi. Here's their message. It's well-written and moving. I corrected a few typos and added descriptions of some abbreviations, in brackets
Hi Brian, I was initiated on the path back in 2000. Since then I’ve done my meditation off and on and have enjoyed it and don’t regret it.
I’ve always scrutinized RSSB [Radha Soami Satsang Beas] and GSD [Gurinder Singh Dhillon, the RSSB guru] along the way to test the teachings and the man they referred to as Master. I would ask a lot of questions to other satsangis and visit your website for a balanced view of things.
I’ve been to Dera [headquarters of RSSB in India] twice and seen him multiple times at other places around the world. After collecting all the data, I would usually come to the conclusion that I didn’t know if he was a PLM [Perfect Living Master] but that there was enough there to continue on the Radha Soami path.
Even the financial scandal was something that made me raise my eyebrow of course but I didn’t have direct experience with the accusations and didn’t want to be swayed by the nay sayers so I kept an open mind that GSD could be innocent.
Usually, it seemed that sexual scandals were the downfall of other gurus in other paths and were the defining moments exemplifying that gurus are just men with faults like everyone else, so it caught me by surprise when I came across a video from the dairy industry in India. This video was the deal breaker and proved (at least to myself) GSD is not a saint or PLM.
Here is the video on YouTube that I came across entitled "Infiltrating India’s Dairy Industry."
I recommend watching it to the end so you know where I’m coming from. This video shows the exploitation and abuse of sentient beings that not only happens in India but all around the world.
After watching the video, the first thing that came to mind is “does GSD consume dairy and if so how can he justify it and be considered a PLM”. I immediately contacted someone who has traveled with him around the world and asked, “does Baba Ji take dairy?” and the answer was yes but that he gets it from his approved dairies that he inspects himself.
They came up with all kinds of excuses as to why he would partake in this, excuses such as “Well if satsangis in India noticed he wasn’t taking dairy then they would stop taking dairy and those people are so poor that they would become malnourished and the karma from supporting the dairy industry can just be meditated away anyway as nobody is killed in the milking of a cow."
But as you can see in the video and the many more like it from around the world, lives ARE being taken.
Baby male calves are waste products and killed routinely for veal. The dairy cows themselves all end up as beef long before their normal lives would have ended. Breast feeding from another species is not natural and not something we need to do for health and sustenance.
Therefore, if one partakes in it, it is due to ignorance or pleasure. For God in human form to take pleasure in the suffering of other souls is immoral and breaking the 4th vow of a satsangi: to live a moral life. GSD must not know about this abuse therefore he is not a PLM. He’s just another human caught up in tradition and sensory pleasure.
I decided to write him a letter as I’ve always been told, the guru is there for you if you ever have questions. I had to send him a snail mail letter as they don’t take emails. WTF! It’s 2019, come on. Anyway, here is my letter to GSD. I wanted to give him the chance to make this right and defend himself.
Dear Baba Ji,
I am an initiate of yours since 2000. I suspect you already know this as any perfect living master would know who his disciples are.
I’ve also come across some information that any perfect living master should know but apparently you don’t by your participation in it.
That information is the violence, rape and murder in the dairy industry around the world. I have been a vegan for around 12 years with a 3 month revisit of dairy when I went to the Dera and other parts of India 4 and a half years ago.
You see, I figured since the cow is seen as holy and sacred in India, surely it would be fine to take dairy, particularly at the Dera. If Master says it’s fine than who am I to argue. Well I watched this video
Searching YouTube with the words “Infiltrating India's Dairy Industry” will get the same video as well.
It’s a YouTube video on the dairy industry in India. Anyone who watches this video will be scarred. It is not something that my master would condone let alone participate in.
I immediately reached out to some other satsangis that have spent some time in close quarters with you and they confirmed that you do take dairy but that it’s from your approved Dera farms that only supply to Dera.
Regardless of whether the Dera dairy is the cleanest dairy farm, where none of the cows are forcibly impregnated, where the baby calves are allowed to drink the milk that’s meant for them, where the babies are not ripped away from their mothers and are allowed to bond, where the boy calves are not sent away to become veal, where all the cattle graze in green pastures until the end of their natural lives after they can no longer produce milk, where the cows are not living in their own feces and they don’t suffer from mastitis from over milking...regardless of any of this, people outside the Dera don’t have this luxury and go home supporting an industry of violence, rape and murder around the world.
It only takes a little math and common sense to figure out that the Dera cows have to give birth to produce milk and that 50% of the babies will be male. In a herd of 100 cows, 50 male calves will be born per year.
In 5 years there will be 250 more bulls to feed in addition to 250 new cows. 500 offspring to the original 100 herd that are now too spent to produce any more milk. So now there are 600 head of cattle on this dairy farm and only 250 of those cows are producing milk.
That’s a lot of cattle to feed and shelter for no economic return. Baba Ji, what happens to those non-dairy producing cattle? Are they living the good retired life on some green Dera pastures or are they part of the statistics that make India the largest exporter of beef in the world!! Holy Cow!!!
Baba Ji, why not just exclude dairy from the satsangi diet? Why would a perfect living master partake in this? I can’t believe meditation can burn this kind of unnecessary karma.
We don’t need dairy to survive and it actually isn’t even healthy for us. We weaned off our mother’s breast milk at 2 years old. Why are we drinking the breast milk of another species? We would be grossed out at the thought of drinking our mother’s breast milk or the milk of our wives, daughters. Why do we think it’s natural to drink the milk of a cow or sheep. Perhaps dog milk is fine? Why not dog’s milk? (I’m being facetious obviously).
Anyway, I guess I’m writing to you because this is a deal breaker for me in regards to finding a perfect living master. This might be a break up letter depending on your reply.
As satsangis there are 4 vows:
- Vegetarian diet, no eggs
- No alcohol
- Live a moral life
Baba Ji, how are we supposed to get the last one if you can’t even do it? If you watch the video in this letter you surely agree that there is nothing “moral” about partaking and condoning and paying someone to do this to animals, our fellow souls.
Most people don’t know about this and so it’s understandable that they don’t have a problem taking dairy but a perfect living master should just know this stuff!! He has a different vantage point than the rest of us.
It is because of our dollar that this goes on. It’s also a human rights issue for the poor people who have to do this to animals because they can’t get a different job. What kind of ptsd [post-traumatic stress disorder] must these executioners have after bludgeoning an animal with a sledgehammer???!!
How do they get the cries of a mother cow, pining for her baby that they’ve taken away from her, out of their heads? How do they get the visuals of the blood and gore out of their heads? How do they recover from this in their lives?
What can you say about this Baba Ji? Maybe it’s time to transition your dairies into farm animal sanctuaries. Now that’s seva worth doing!
Thanks for your time
You’re probably interested in the reply I got from him. Well as I suspected he never replied directly. One of his sevadars replied to me on his behalf with a generic “what do we say about dairy” response. Here it is:
Dear Brother Radha Soami. Your letter of _____ has been received. Baba Ji has gone through your letter. Regarding your concern about the dairy industry, please know that Saints give us general guidelines to live our life within the framework of Sant Mat principles to help us on the path but ultimately leave it to us to decide the most practical way out to implement them.
The four vows form the foundation on which the Sant Mat philosophy stands. One should avoid hair splitting and maintain a balanced approach to all things in life. Every action that we do is karma. We can't take a step without karma in this world. Even when we breathe, we are committing karmas by inhaling so many germs that are present in the air.
Too much hair splitting becomes counter-productive and often distracts us from our real concern. We must take a practical approach while at the same time find our own comfort level in such matters. Basically we are allowed to take dairy products as in general terms there is no taking of life in obtaining milk from the animal and hence there are limited karmas involved and those can be taken care of by our daily meditation.
It is good to be compassionate to the plight of others. However, you can share with others only what you have. Baba Ji says that if I have $100 in my pocket, I can definitely give $99 to someone. But if I do not have anything in my own pocket what can I give to others?
If we truly want to help others we should first help ourselves. Unless we have happiness within ourselves, how can we share it with others? Most of the time, instead of sharing our happiness with others, we start sharing their sorrows and make ourselves miserable.
It is therefore essential for us to get access to the real happiness which is within our own body through our regular meditation. We should always maintain our balance while being compassionate to others. We need to be practical because ultimately everybody is paying for their karmas.
The purpose of Saints is very different from that of the social reformers. They come here to take us back to the Father. Baba Ji generally gives an example of a toddler who slips into the dirty drain. One fellow comes and cleanses the drain but leaves the child in the drain itself. Another fellow doesn't care much about the drain but picks up the child and cleanses him and ultimately restores him to his parents.
The purpose of the Mystic is to attach us with the Holy Ghost and to free us from the cage of this body, the prison of this world. In Saint Matthew, Christ said, I have not come to create peace. Don't think that by following my teaching you will find this place a paradise for you to live in. This place will remain as wretched and miseable as it is. My purpose is to detach you from this world and take you back to the Father.
Never forget your daily meditation that the Master has assigned to all of us because that alone will help us in experiencing as to who the Master is. Our meditation alone will help us in attaining the tranquillity and happiness in life.
When, after initiation, living in the will of the Master, we perform our devotional exercises regularly as advised at the time of initiation we become receptive to the grace of the Master which is constantly flowing from him to all his disciples. Meditation alone will give us the grace and understanding to go through our life in a happy and grateful attitude. Keep mind in simran during the day and try to transform your restless worldly thoughts into loving Holy Names.
With kind regards,
Sevadar in-charge Correspondence
If we have all this karma to burn off, what kind of master would condone an unnecessary and unhealthy industry that exploits, enslaves, rapes and ultimately kills animals and their male offspring? That seems like karma that can just be avoided the same way satsangis are told not to eat meat and eggs.
Oh but hang on a second, Indians would hate giving up dairy. Chai tho, paneer tho, lassies tho, raita tho!. So delicious! So the master appeals to culture and tradition instead of truth. Well not my master... anymore!
Thanks for your time Brian…just thought I’d share this with you.