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Can Eggs Be Eaten on a Vegetarian Diet?

broken eggsQ: I am a student preparing for my civil service examinations next year. Eating meat has greatly decreased my concentration level. Every year for at least a month I eat only vegetarian food before I make a pilgrimage to the Sabarimala Temple. I can feel the difference in my intellectual level during that time. Now I would like become a vegetarian. But I am confused as to whether I can eat eggs or not.

I know there are those who say that eating non-fertile eggs is acceptable because it does not violate the principle of ahimsa. That is so, but it does violate the principle of shaucha–purity. Eggs are animal flesh, a dead embryo, and as such are unclean, often being contaminated by elements such as salmonella which are detrimental–even dangerous–to health. As you have seen for yourself, the food you eat affects your mental abilities. Here is what the Chandogya Upanishad tells us about food and the mind:

“Food when eaten becomes threefold. What is coarsest in it becomes faeces, what is medium becomes flesh and what is subtlest becomes mind. Water when drunk becomes threefold. What is coarsest in it becomes urine, what is medium becomes blood and what is subtlest becomes prana.…The mind consists of food, [and] the prana of water…” (Chandogya Upanishad 6.5.1, 2, 4).

“That which is the subtlest part of curds rises, when they are churned and becomes butter. In the same manner that which is the subtlest part of the food that is eaten rises and becomes mind. Thus the mind consists of food” (Chandogya Upanishad 6.6.1, 2,5; the same is confirmed in 6.7.1-6).

“Now is described the discipline for inner purification by which self-knowledge is attained: When the food is pure, the mind becomes pure. When the mind is pure the memory [smriti–memory of our eternal spirit-Self] becomes firm. When the memory is firm all ties are loosened” (Chandogya Upanishad 7.26.2).

No intelligent person wants to absorb the mental energies of a chicken into his mind!

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