‘As I was dozing off on a bed of twine under the starlit winter sky, the mother and baby cow appeared in my dream. Their gentle, tearful eyeds looked helplessly into mine while the blade of a butcher ruthlessly slaughtered them for meat. From my heart burst the biblical commandment: “Thou shalt not kill.” I awoke from the nightmare in a state of unbearable nausea and rushed to the toilet for relief.

The toilet consisted of a cement hole on the roof, surrounded by crumbling brick walls and a sheet of aluminum for the ceiling. It was pitch dark in their with no plumbing except for the bhangisor street sweepers who emptied the toilet by shovel. Digging out the waste into a bucket, they would carry it away on their heads. But this toilet was overdue for a cleaning. Stool soaked with urine had piled up above the floor level. With no control over my vomiting, I was trapped inside that latrine. Insects buzzed and bit and I felt something moving over my feet. All I could do was heave with nausea and shiver in a cold sweat. All the while, in my mind’s eye, I could see only those two cows gazing at me with their innocent eyes. In that dark, rooftop latrine in Old Delhi, I offered another vow before my Lord. I will never again eat meat.
This concluded my first day in India.’

(From: ‘The Journey Home: Autobiography of an American Swami’)

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