Jnanpith recipient U.R. Ananthamurthy is in the midst of yet another controversy for stating that Brahmins consumed beef during Vedic times. Undeterred by criticism from Brahmin organisations and Vishwesha Thirtha Swami of Pejawar Math, Mr. Ananthamurthy stands firm by his statement, during his conversation with Muralidhara Khajane.
What do you think of the latest controversy over beef eating?
We must not waste time on the question of whether Brahmins ate beef or not, as we can cite many passages supporting both the arguments. With the change in the nature of peasantry, the economy surrounding the cow has also changed. If you are really serious about saving the cow, you should save agriculture, which is on its way to corporatisation.
But your critics are demanding corroborative proof...
Alasingacharya’s Mahabharata has enough material to support my argument and there have been several other scholarly works that support it. But my critics do not consider that we have more than one version of Ramayana and the Mahabharata, which is why they attacked the scholarship of A.K. Ramanujan also. Madhwa, Shankara and Ramanuja moved away from Yajna and Yaga and opted for Pooja. We must be honest to say that Hinduism slowly accepted Ahimsa propagated by Buddha and Jain saints.
What do you want to say to those who are hurt by your statement?
There are people who interpret my words in a hurtful way. I am not advocating beef-eating for Brahmins now. It is the conspiracy of the Sangh parivar, which wants to make Narendra Modi the Prime Minister. The Sangh parivar experimented with Vajpayee when he was in power and was disappointed. Now it wants a different kind of man, who will be “pure” Hindutwavadi. The tragedy is that a secular party benefits from terrified Muslims, while a communal party benefits from a terrified Hindu.
Some are planning to take legal recourse on your comments on beef
The issue cannot be resolved through legal means. The only solution is to sort out through historical research. It should be resolved without inciting passions.