The Forum dedicated to Arunachala and Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi

Ramana Maharshi => The teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi => Topic started by: Hari on January 14, 2012, 12:21:46 PM

Title: Do plants feel pain?
Post by: Hari on January 14, 2012, 12:21:46 PM
I want to know what is Bhagavan's opinion on this subject. If plants feel pain how can cutting, cooking and eating them be sattvic (pure)? Isn't that intentional murder as murder of animals?
Title: Re: Do plants feel pain?
Post by: Subramanian.R on January 14, 2012, 12:52:30 PM
Dear ramana,

If you pluck off the plants right from the earth, or pull out trees right from the earth, even removing the roots, then they do
feel immense pain. But flowers and fruits if carefully removed, with fingers, there is no pain for the plants and trees.  Because
even otherwise these fruits and flowers fall off to the ground when withered. But at the same time, Sri Bhagavan said: Do not
pluck all the flowers from a single plant or even all the fruits (including coconuts) from the trees.  He also did not advise anyone
to remove vilva and tulsi leaves in large numbers.

The plants and trees  have got lives and only they are totally uprooted, they feel immense pain. Plucking one or two flowers or
fruits or coconuts do not cause much pain, though pain is there. It is like cutting your nails or hair or mustache.  Some of these
aspects are covered in Sri Bhagavan's Tamizh verse translation of Devi Kalottaram, an agama scripture.
Arunachala Siva. 
Title: Re: Do plants feel pain?
Post by: Hari on January 14, 2012, 01:06:11 PM
Yes, but the lettuce, broccoli, onion, carrots cannot be taken without killing the plant. Sugar is extracted from the sugarcane which is harvested destoying the all plant. Yes, these plants are very nutritious but at what price!
Title: Re: Do plants feel pain?
Post by: Subramanian.R on January 14, 2012, 02:06:16 PM
Dear ramana,

Yes. I agree.  But somehow human beings have to live and draw a line between animal food and plant food. Is it not?

Once Sri Bhagavan was asked a similar question by a devotee. Sri  Bhagavan said: Even the slab you are sitting on, is having
a million bacteria. By sitting over it, are you not killing most of them?

Arunachala Siva.   
Title: Re: Do plants feel pain?
Post by: ramana_maharshi on January 14, 2012, 04:19:43 PM
Dear ramana,

I suggest to read bhagavan's views regarding this in my blog. (
Title: Re: Do plants feel pain?
Post by: Hari on January 14, 2012, 05:42:41 PM
Thank you, prasanth. But what Bhagavan Ramana has in mind by saying:

...plants and cow's milk are from 'nivritti' of plants and cows, that is 'their relief(The feeling that comes when something burdensome is removed or reduced)' and so it did not matter.

Does that mean that plants don't suffer when we destroy them?
Title: Re: Do plants feel pain?
Post by: ramana_maharshi on January 14, 2012, 07:15:24 PM
Dear ramana,

Can you also if possible read below article and then probably we can discuss further. ( (
Title: Re: Do plants feel pain?
Post by: Hari on January 14, 2012, 08:08:06 PM
Thank you very much, prasanth. But my question is about the plants. Because suddenly I contemplate on the life of plants and I realized that I unintentionly kill them. So my question was "Do plants feel pain when they are killed?". And I was interested in what Bhagavan says about that in particular. And hindus as whole, of course. And why eating a root plant or grains for example is considered sattvic (pure) when this food was taken by himsa (violence) and killing?
Title: Re: Do plants feel pain?
Post by: ramana_maharshi on January 15, 2012, 10:30:39 AM

Food at a subtle level, it too is made up of the sattva, raja and tama components.
The proportions of these subtle components vary depending on the type of food.
Sattva stands for purity and knowledge while tama denotes ignorance and inertia.
Anything that has a higher sattva component assists our spiritual journey and anything that is tama
predominant has a tendency to diminish or obstruct our spiritual practice.

Vegetarian food has more sattvic qualities than Non-vegetarian food while Non-vegetarian food
has more Tamasic qualities than Vegetarian food.

The reason for the increased tama in non-vegetarian food is because of the extent of suffering of the animal,
when it is being killed. Also the thoughts of anger and revenge and pain in the animal when being killed are
far more pronounced as compared to a plant which has a rudimentary mind and intellect.
This is the main reason in the increased tama component.
While due to the higher sattvikta in fruits they are offered to God is ritualistic worship.

When tama predominant food is ingested on a regular basis the body is burdened with an excess of the tama component.
A rise in tama component in a person has many negative side-effects.
This tama component can only disintegrate if one is regularly doing spiritual practice.
However since most people do not do spiritual practice this tama component accumulates in a person’s body, mind and intellect.

Question : Botanical science tells us that plants also-have life.
Then where lays the difference between vegetarian and non-vegetarian food?

There are two kinds of life on earth, animate and inanimate.
Men, beasts, birds, fish etc. are animate life while trees and other plants are inanimate life.
Fruits ripen on the trees and then fall of by themselves, branches and leaves may be chopped off a tree
and new one arises in their place.
Many plants are propagated by their cuttings. Others can be transplanted. But all this is not possible with birds and animals.
No limb of an animal can grow by itself after cutting. Man cannot produce animals like plants from earth.

All the living beings are made up of five elements - the earth, water, fire, air and sky.
All these five are present in man clearly and predominantly.
Only four elements - earth, water, fire and air are predominant in animals.
While in birds only three air, water and fire are predominant.
Two elements - earth and fire - make up the insects.
And only one element of water is predominant in fruits, leaves and vegetables etc.
The rest four elements are in sleeping state in vegetables and plants.
Therefore, eating vegetable foods consumes the minimum of factors.
Saints and Sages do not pluck fruits from the trees, but they eat only those fruits which have fallen by themselves on ripening.
Minimum damage to life is the basic criterion. There is no harm in obtaining fruits from trees but harm lies in their cutting.

Question : Even when man treads the earth, many ants and insects are trodden under foot. 
So, what is different if other animals are killed?

A man's character is judged by his intentions and deliberate actions.
If a man deliberately and knowingly crushes under his feet any harmless animal, then it is violence.
But if involuntarily or in unavoidable circumstances, some insects are killed, then it is an exceptional situation.
But to kill others without any specific reason or to abet killing for food is plain murder.

Question : Plants are also having life, so killing plants should also be a sin.

Why is veg food better than non-veg in terms of killing or committing "sin"?
It is true that plants also have "life" and killing plants is also sin.
So the best way to observe total non-violence is to take only those fruits which have naturally fallen from the trees or plants.
In this way we are doing harm to no one. But everyone can not follow that vow. 
We have to take food in order to survive and sustain this body.
It is a necessity of survival. But we need to take that path which is less sinful and does less harm to other jivas (living entities).

Now there are two reasons to say that vegetarian food is having insignificant sin. Many of the plants like rice, wheat, etc
are having life only for one crop time. Once their yield is over, they die naturally, even if we don't cut them.
So by cutting those plants (which have already died) we are doing less sin or no sin at all. 
In many other plants, like mango, coconut, etc., by plucking the fruit, we are not killing the plants,
& are doing very minimal sin or no sin at all.
So vegetarian food is less sinful. More over, it is inevitable for our survival, but non-vegetarian food is a luxury to us
and we can survive even if we avoid that. 

Next we need to know why certain acts are sinful.  Each and every life (whether plant, animal, or human)
has come to this world because of their past Karma’s and they have to live to the maximum doing "sadhana" (spiritual practices),
so that they can clear their karmic debts & may get a better birth next life or finally get "moksha" (liberation).
By killing them, we are cutting short their opportunities to do "sadhana" towards their liberation (moksha). Thus it is much more sinful.

Question : Don’t plants also experience pain when killed?

Yes, plants too experience pain when killed or parts of it are severed. The comprehension of pain however is less than animals.
This is because the mind and intellect of a plant is rudimentary as compared to animals.
However if a fruit or vegetable is plucked when it is fully ripe or has fallen from a tree there is relatively no pain to the plant.

Title: Re: Do plants feel pain?
Post by: Sreeswaroop on January 16, 2012, 08:25:05 PM
Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya

Dear ramana1359,

Why such doubts? It is told that plants have life and pain. So if you wish to avoid Himsa perfectly, you should not eat, drink or

 inhale too! Is it possible?

So the best course advised is to minimise it. After that you have to do the manana -who is eating?

Ultimately you will be relieved from the fruit of this minimum HIMSA too.
Title: Re: Do plants feel pain?
Post by: ramana_maharshi on January 18, 2012, 12:12:48 AM
well said udai garu.
Title: Re: Do plants feel pain?
Post by: Subramanian.R on January 19, 2012, 07:40:25 PM

Dear srkudai,

Yes. I had been to Tiruvannamalai for 3 days and returned only today late evening.  There in the crowd one child was missing. The parents were a little worried but no unduly.  One Asramam inmate went all over the places, as if the child is his own and brought it safe after
some minutes, from the far end of the Asramam, near the toilets. He must have felt the pain of losing the baby temporarily at least,
more than the parents themselves. This is what really means feeling for others, be humans or trees or plants and insects.

Arunachala Siva.       
Title: Re: Do plants feel pain?
Post by: ramana_maharshi on January 19, 2012, 08:07:26 PM
Dear Subramanian garu,

Glad that you made yet another trip to tiru(arunachalam).

You are blessed to have a understanding wife.
Title: Re: Do plants feel pain?
Post by: ramanaduli on January 21, 2012, 08:17:19 AM
In siddha vaidhya's prose tell that while cutting, or plucking the plants, we must pray to the plant and take the permission then do it.

In the same way, some days are not good to cut the trees. They say, if you have to cut one you have to plant other tree somewhere.

While plucking flowers, and fruits etc. we should have a thought "I am doing it for offering to God. Sarvam Krishnarpitham. When you do for others, plants will understand your feelings. They will accept our plucking.

Title: Re: Do plants feel pain?
Post by: Subramanian.R on January 21, 2012, 10:28:51 AM
Dear ramanaduli,

Yes. I totally agree with you.  In Siddha and Ayurveda medicines, the physician chooses the day and also prays to God that he
is plucking those leaves, roots and flowers only for the sake of saving human lives. 

Arunachala Siva.