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Vegetarian Movement in Pune

A report by Karma D Namgyal (President, Tibetan Students Association Pune)

Pune October 18, 2005: The members of TSAP (Tibetan students Association Pune) were assembled at Pandav Nagar, Pune (130KM from Mumbai). At first, we all thought it would be just an ordinary talk show by some volunteer. The room was filled with usual murmurs, giggles and hush hushes before the talk began.

As Rapsel (President, Tibetan Volunteers for Animals - TVA) started his talk, silence touched the room with a bit of haziness and a bit of curiosity. It began with a soft introduction about his organization and slowly it transformed into a very energetic, lively and a touching talk. On one side of the room, there stood a TV screen displaying Animal Cruelty Video - "Love and Mercy" (You can download a clip from this video here) and on the other side stood Rapsel putting life and emotions in all the animals being shown in the video.

It is really painful and disheartening to know how we humans treat animals. Animals who did no wrong to us except that they served all their life for us, are sold to the slaughter houses when they become old and useless. According to TVA "Some Tibetans in Tibetan settlements sell their own domestic animals when they get old, to the butchers and then offer the money they get, to the monasteries. This is a smart way of getting rid of the animals (people think) but the one up there is no fool." TVA feels such act is inhumane. Lobsang Monlam (coordinator - TVA) says " No Killing of an innocent can be justified and selling an animal to a butcher is the same. You cannot kill your parents when they grow old! You cannot kill and then pray!"

Rapsel advised people who quit meat to eat more pulses, wheat bread, oatmeal, beans, corn, peas and mushrooms if they feel they need more protein. These are rich in natural plant proteins instead of animal proteins (which is the cause of many diseases). Use of animal skin is another major problem. Rapsel says "the trade of animal skin is degrading the name of Tibetans to a great extend. It is a stigma on our society." Rapsel also talked on Love, Compassion and Mercy which are the three words almost every Tibetan Buddhist speaks of but merely practices it. We believe animals have once been our parents and also recite 'OM MANI PADME HOON' whenever some one talks about animal sufferings but when the dinner is served, nobody has a problem.

TVA strongly feels that eating meat is as bad as killing an animal. It is simple logic and economics that demand creates supply. Tibetans consider butchers to be sinners, low caste and most inhumane beings on this earth but Rapsel says "butchers are a subject of compassion because they commit so much of sin only for us to eat. They do not kill for themselves, they do not kill for hobby or they love doing it, they kill for us and it is us who are inhumane, causing them to commit this sin."

Students were really moved and touched by Rapsel's talk and requested TVA to visit Pune again soon so that students could call their friends especially Bhutanese and Nepalese to listen to his talk.

At 8:30 PM the same day another such gathering was organized at a place called Pimpri (16KM from Pune) where about 7 Tibetan Families do sweater selling business.

Everyone was touched and consequently over 11 people signed a lifetime commitment never to eat meat. Surprisingly, hardcore Non Vegetarians like Mr. Yeshi Phuntsok (age 63) & his spouse Mrs. Tsering Dekyi (51) and Mr. Sonam Woser (36) turned vegetarians and signed a lifetime commitment not to eat meat.

At both the places, the conclusion was made with an appeal to people not to eat meat during the coming Kalachakra. Vegetarian Kalachakra Project is the forth coming campaign of TVA. For more information, log on to their website -- www.semchen.org). The website also contains a Guide to Amaravati with maps and many other details.

Tibetan Volunteers for Animals, despite being busy with their preparations for the Vegetarian Kalachakra Project, takes out time to go to the places where they haven't gone. TVA has covered each and every Tibetan Settlements in India and Nepal and now aims to cover the Indian cities where Tibetans live.

We have been struggling for human rights for about 45 years now. And it is really encouraging and heartening to see TVA to come up for animal rights. I'm sure one day will come when we see all human beings in this world to be vegetarians. On behalf of TSAP, I really wish TVA a very good luck.

"Kill not the Animals, but kill the animal inside you."

For information and support, please visit www.semchen.org

or contact Rapsel Tsariwa at rapsel@gmail.com
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