Hinduism, with it’s many schools of thought (Sankhya, Yoga, Vedanta, etc.) provide a variety of opinions on violence. I will not get into them as there scope is well beyond the subject I intend to get to in a roundabout way.
Just like with any religion really, what tends to happen with anyone first beginning to read the works of the great masters, is you see a variety of takes on different subject. For some things, there just is not an official stance by any sect.
I myself went from trying strict pacifism (a path that really forms the back bone of Vaishnava Hinduism in the form of renunciation of action) to a recent dalliance with support for the NRA until I realized they were in the back pocket of Libertarianism (a philosophy which I see as a kind of Pandora’s box in that I am enticed by many of it’s rational assertions but repulsed by the catch – they seem to want everyone to have guns except those who are “in charge.”)
But I digress.
The one possibly very oversimplified reason I was recently quietly supporting the NRA related to vegetarianism. I felt like if everybody who wanted to eat meat did their own shooting that a lot less would go to waste. People who hunt for their food just tend to be of a very non-wasteful makeup, if I may generalize. I learned this from my dad who grew up eating whatever his father brought home out of the woods. That was about as far as my thinking really went, so my support for the NRA may need some re-thinking, given the recent rash of mass-shootings in the U.S.A.
And then, at my temple’s Bhagavad-gita discussion group this weekend, the subject of a hunter caste which existed in Vedic times in India came up. I was fascinated by this thought. For those of us who believe that eating the flesh of an animal, and certainly killing an animal enmeshes one in karmic reflux, here was another way.
What if an entire class of people were to live in a state of renunciation in order to hunt and bring food to the masses? This would be different from the system we have in Western culture, which is a system of huge meat processing INDUSTRIES filled with employees who are just doing what they have to do to get by. I also know this from my dad, and my mom who both worked at their local turkey plant in their young adulthood.
The way I understand it, in the Vedic period in India, each village had its hunter class, and your “average man” outside this caste did not hunt, unlike today’s Western world where hunting is a “hobby.” It seems to me that the “hunter caste” would allow the people doing the hunting not only to avoid the karmic reflux mentioned above, but also to be more in tuned with the amount of meat needed for the town. Less wasted, needless killing. I doubt the concept would take off real quick in the States, given the cultural implications of the system as well as the urbanization that was not present in Vedic India, but really, what if?
DISCLAIMER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! – I am not going to suggest the members of this completely hypothetical American caste be the only civilians allowed to have guns, and I am not going to address the negative image that comes up whenever the caste system is mentioned. It is beside the point. I am simply addressing a social need at this time in my world. Temperance of wastefulness, with a side order of renunciation.