Spiritual guru Sadhguru on India Today TV explains why he supports Jallikattu
'The animals are seen as partners. It's a longstanding relationship.'
The battle over Jallikattu has exploded as supporters and detractors of this ancient sport lay out their points and plead either culture or ending animal cruelty in Tamil Nadu. With superstars such as Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan staunchly in favour of the bull-fighting sport, while those such as Maneka Gandhi as well people on boards of various animal welfare organisation oppose it crying barbarity.
Tamil Nadu is split wide open and literally being dragged by its horns. While the Supreme Court has imposed a ban on the sport, hardly anyone is paying heed, and Jallikattu is being organised with great fanfare in different parts of the state. Today, a massive congregation of Jallikattu agitators got together in Chennai's Marina Beach to drive home their points, even as the newly annointed AIADMK chief Sasikala has come out in defence of the bull-wrangling sport.
India Today spoke to the well known spiritual leader, Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, and he had a number of interesting points to make in defence of this traditional Tamil sport. A result of the age-old cohabitation of human and animal, Jallikattu has emerged as a sport that is often seen as a sport to test not just the virility of the bull, but also the men, usually from poorer backgrounds, fight it out for money and fame.
But there are issues of selecting the bulls, finding stronger and more muscular breeds, and also the issue of not sending the Jallikattu bulls to slaughterhouses because of the sport. It's a complex and tangled web of points and counterpoints that Sadhguru unspooled patiently.
We reproduce some of the issues he raised and quotes he left us with.Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev speaks to India Today's Padmaja Joshi. [Photo: Screengrab]
Jallikattu is a 'celebration'
"This is not a bull-fight. This is a celebratory atmosphere, a festival, the only one dedicated to the animals. This is Makarsankranti in rest of the country, Pongal in Tamil Nadu."
"In the agricultural community, animals are seen as partners. It's a longstanding relationship. This court order has come suddenly and taken away a fundamental part of the agricultural community, what used to be the taming of the bulls in ancient times, and an enactment of the past in the modern times. There is no bull fight. There is no slaughter."
On youth participation
"The rural youth, what are they supposed to do? Till you provide them with football stadiums, boxing rings, gymnastics, etc, they need a distraction to stay away from bad influenes. Jallikattu is the only sport they have.
If you are going to take away all the adventure from the youth, are you going to preserve them in a cold storage then?"
"The activists are expert in doing court battles. Farmers are not."
"It's the funding that is problematic. PETA isn't funded by local farmers, they don't understand the issues at hand."
On what can be done
"The best thing to do is to put across clear-cut norms, get the local administration, district officials involved, and ensure that kind of torture does not happen to the animal."
On animal and human injury in Jallikattu
"We had over 120 breeds of cattle in this country. Today, only 37 are left. Cruelty doesn't happen in most villages, only in some where they get overcompetetive. If they have done bad things, they must be contained for sure. An animal is not supposed to be treated like this, especially an animal who is a partner in the making of our lives, our crps and food, community."
"We cannot preserve something unless it has some economic or social value. That's the unfortunate reality of the country. Otherwise, you will make these breeds go extinct. Even the 37 breeds we are left with, out of the 120 about a century ago, even these will vanish."
On torturing the bulls
"There's abuse in every aspect of life. Actually, there are norms and laws on how Jallikattu should be played and how bulls should be treated. But based on the abuse, you cannot take away something that has been part of the Tamil culture and dates back to almost 5,000 years. There are jallikattu paintings, carvings, thousands of years old."
On preserving the gene pool
"This is a way of preserving the genetic pool, because via jallikattu, only the winning bulls were used to mate and produce offsprings, and even today, this is the practice. You ban jallikattu, and the bulls are queued up for slaughter, and how is slaughter more humane than wrangling the bull or playing with them?"