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Summary of Question:Use Of Silk By Sikhs/Vegetarians
Category:General Sikhism
Date Posted:Monday, 1/04/2010 12:07 PM MST

Hello there,


I was wondering what is your view on the use of silk material by Sikhs and also would just like to increase awareness of this issue among fellow Sikhs. I think that most people do not know exactly how silk is made. We need to think twice before we use a silk rumala for Sri Guru Granth Sahib.

For those who do not know, silk is a material prepared by silk moths who are killed in the process. Silkworms are fed fresh mulberry leaves and lay eggs. When the caterpillars hatch, they are 10,000 times heavier and begin spinning a cocoon. When the caterpillars spin a cocoon, their 2 glands produce liquid silk and force it through openings in the head. In 3 days, the caterpillar spins about 1 mile of filament and is completely encased in a cocoon. The silk farmers then kill most caterpillars by heat, leaving some to metamorphose into moths to breed the next generation of caterpillars. They say in order to produce 1 kg of silk, 104 kg of mulberry leaves need to be eaten by 3000 silkworms. It takes about 5000 silkworms to make a pure silk kimono.

Because the process of harvesting the silk kills the larvae, silk production has been criticized by animal rights activists. Mahatma Gandhi was also critical of silk production based on the Ahimsa philosophy "not to hurt any living thing." He promoted Ahimsa silk, wild silk made from the cocoons of wild and semi-wild silk moths. Ahimsa silk is promoted in parts of Southern India for those who prefer not to wear silk produced by killing silkworms.

It is difficult to know if something is real silk versus artificial but, it makes me sad to think that silk rumalas are prepared in this manner.

-RA

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REPLY
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Sat Nam,
There are many philosophies regarding use of animals for spiritual practice. For example many people use Sheep Skins to meditate on. When someone asked Yogi Bhajan if he thought it was wrong to meditate on the Sheep Skin the answer was no. If you use things like that for a spiritual practice then you help that sheep to fulfill it's destiny and help its soul to move faster along on the reincarnation latter.
I would imagine the same thing would apply to silk. Through out ages silk is used by spiritual people for clothing and is highly recommended to help keep the vibration of your aura pure and to help your meditation. I would imagine that for the same reasons as using Sheep Skins it would be OK to wear Silk.

However, all we do is entirely up to our individual consciousness. If your consciousness tells you that you should not wear silk then that is exactly what you should do.
It is also quite OK to educate people and share the knowledge you have on the issue but they will still have to decide for themselves if they would want to do it or not.

DWK




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