Jhatka, the Forgotten Meat. What is it?

A Jhatka Meat Shop in Uttarakhand, India

A Jhatka Meat Shop in Uttarakhand, India

By Jai Rustgi


(CHAKRA) Jhatka meat is unheard of by majority of the Hindu/Sikh population in the western world. When an individual is heard asking, “Is your meat jhatka?” at a restaurant, house gathering or any other public setting, he/she is met with a blank stare followed by a question, “What is that?”

Jhatka meat is in essence the direct opposite of halal or kosher meat. The defining element of jhatka meat is the mere fact that the animal to be consumed is killed by a single strike or blow to the head in order to fulfill a principle of minimal pain. In other words the method by which an animal is killed to be prescribed as ‘jhatka’ is the exact opposite of kosher or halal meat, which involves a ritual slicing of the throat causing a slow and painful death whilst a prayer is recited. In theory, most western methods of  animal killings for the purpose of meat are done with an instant blow to the head which can be interpreted as ‘jhatka’ meat. This could make it acceptable for some practicing Hindus & Sikhs to classify bolt-gun killed animals as ‘jhatka’ meat.

In the Hindu and Sikh philosophies, any type of ritualism is seldom associated with the slaughtering of an animal because it is not believed that the animal is “spiritualized” through such a process. Instead, an instantaneous severing of the head takes away the life of an animal in a second allowing it no time to realize or feel any pain.

Although jhatka meat is sold widely across predominantly Hindu areas where the demand exists for such meat, it is not very familiar to most individuals who indulge in meat. Not only is a prayer or God disassociated with the killing of any animal, but the source of meat known as jhatka can be consumed knowing that the animal meat being eaten died devoid of physical pain.

Jhatka meat has not become a mainstream concept like halal and kosher meat only because Hindu’s and Sikh’s themselves are unaware of what it is or its existence. The more it is acknowledged and requested any and every time meat is on the menu, the more renowned it will become. It is not just a matter of upholding a belief or practice of Sikhism/Hinduism but the practice is righteous in itself.

A vegetarian, vegan, or animal rights activist may argue that killing animals to make available as meat for consumption is immoral, period. There is no denying that this is true. The butchery of any animal is a transgression of ethical behaviour. However, in a society like ours where meat is a staple food, a form of transition is necessary to evolve overtime into a society, which abstains from the consumption of meat. Participating in the consumption of jhatka meat can be a part of this transition that is required towards a society that is more conscious for the well being of animals. We can start by demanding meat that is jhatka, hence meat that was created with little or no pain to the animal. The key is to start somewhere.

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Comments

  1. Amit says

    //In the Hindu and Sikh philosophies, any type of ritualism is seldom associated with the slaughtering of an animal because it is not believed that the animal is “spiritualized” through such a process.//

    This is not correct. There are mantras supposed to be recited at the time Bali/ slaughter of the animal, without which the meat was deemed unfit for consumption, at least in the case of Hindus. The method of slaughter that you described is used by vanvasis Hindus and not the Hindus belonging to any of traditional schools.

  2. Abhaya S. Dube says

    I appreciate the author’s intent to inform the public regarding the existence of Jhatka meat. However, I am not sure whether Jhatka and/or bolt-gun killed animal slaughter can play any significant role in the author’s “transition” to abstention from meat consumption. The ethics and health benefits arguments in conjunction with each other can perhaps play a positive role. At the end of the day, an animal is being killed (Jhatka, Halal, Kosher, Bolt-gun) for its meat, leather, fur, etc. The animal still loses its life for human needs/wants.

  3. Kamaljeet S. Dogra says

    Like Amit says, “Bali” or sacrifice of an animal is not Jhatka. In fact, most meat eating Hindus either do not know or do not fret about how the animal was killed. It is primarily a Sikh concept and Sikhs know about it everywhere in the world contrary to what the author, said in this article. Yes, Sikhs generally consider the animal killed by one blow like ‘bolt-gun’ equal to Jhatka because it also meets the other basic requirement, “no ritual…”.

  4. Agamnoor Singh says

    In Vedic Religions, Animal is killed for religious use, slaughter for some deities. In Yagya, they use to give aahuti of animals too. There are many yagyas like Gaumedh, Ashavmedh, Baajmedh etc. It is ritualism.

    Sikhs do take animal food, but they do not consider killing animal as ritual or religious benifit. It is dietry habit varies from Sikhs to Sikhs. Some places like Hazur Sahib, where Jhatka is done to goat and is taken but it’s blood is touched with sword is ritualism.

  5. emjaycee says

    It is simplistic to believe that there is any sort of merit in Jhatka meat. For one thing, I don’t know if sudden killing involves no pain, only the animal would know that. But anyway any kind of killing involves depriving someone of life, which of course the animal wishes to retain. Any animal will avoid injury or threat to it’s life. It is painful to be deprived of life. For another many food animals (at least in the west) are raised in environments that are brutal with overcrowding, uncleanliness, removing beaks from chickens, etc. They live a life of pain every day. No, the best thing to do, if you are a meat eater and are concerned about this issue is to eat the least possible amount of meat of any kind and to be respectful and grateful for this gift of life from the beast to the human, with the goal of one day particpating in the slaughter of animals no more.

  6. Amit says

    Agnoor, what do you mean by “vedic religions”? There was only one Vedic religion which later evolved into saivism from which came the shaktas. Yes its correct that the Vedic ancestors of the present day Hindus used to sacrifice to deities, and still do to this day in so many places because we considered meat that is not slaughtered ritually as unfit for consumption.
    The method of khatka/chatka was not unknown to our noble ancestors, however it was used only by the mlechas and dasyus and not hy aryas.
    Moreoever your assertion that sikhs don’t consume meat is false. The biggest dealers of swine in Northern India are sikhs, and a large numbers also run thr jhatka shops.

  7. Ranvir says

    Agamnoor, what do you mean by “vedic religions”? There was only one Vedic religion which later evolved into saivism from which came the shaktas. Yes its correct that the Vedic ancestors of the present day Hindus used to sacrifice to deities, and still do to this day in so many places because we considered meat that is not slaughtered ritually as unfit for consumption.
    The method of khatka/chatka was not unknown to our noble ancestors, however it was used only by the mlechas and dasyus and not hy aryas.
    Moreoever your assertion that sikhs don’t consume meat is false. The biggest dealers of swine in Northern India are sikhs, and a large numbers also run thr jhatka shops.

  8. Abdul says

    No one can go against the natural balance of allah, if a flesh eating animal stops eating ,there will be more poupulation of grass eating animal, in turn ovrr grazing and than jungles will turn to desert, think over, matter of killing a soul dont u kill rats,mosquitoes,cockroaches around u ?

    And about halal ,the impure blood comes out of th body for a hea’thy and tasty consumption for humans ,with jhatka the impure is within the fledh of an animals,adk many hindus who make a bee line for a halal meat at shops

  9. panth says

    Join Hands, Heads and Hearts with anti-Halal Campaigner Ravi Ranjan Singh, who has filed Petition in Parliament of India. Support it,He supports all such petition worldwide and runs door to door campaign/ education dissemination in India.
    Send Support letter to him get in touch at panthbharti@gmail.com
    and simultaneously
    Write to:

    Mr. Bhagat Singh Koshyari, (M.P.)
    Chairman, Committee on Petitions of Rajya Sabha
    Parliament of India.
    E-mail

    Mr. Bhagat Singh Koshyari, (M.P.)
    Chairman, Committee on Petitions of Rajya Sabha
    Parliament of India,
    Parliament Street, New Delhi 110011.
    (INDIA)
    and call at
    Telephone No.: 23073483, 23073487, Mobile: 9868181004
    write at
    Mr. Bhagat Singh Koshyari, (M.P.)
    Chairman, Committee on Petitions of Rajya Sabha
    Hotel Uttranchal Deep, Naya Bazaar, Pithoragarh, Uttrakhand
    call at
    Telephone No.: {05964} 224854, 225654, Mobile: 09412057800
    Country code for India is 00-91.

    Copy of Petition:

    ———————————Filed on Monday, 14th Day of December 2009.———-

    To

    The Secretary General

    Rajya Sabha

    Parliament of India

    New Delhi.

    Petition: To The Committee on Petitions on ‘Food Without Discrimination’.

    From Ravi Ranjan Singh.

    Respectfully Showeth:

    Bharat is a secular country. Every citizen has Fundamental Rights.

    The Right to Live, Right to speak and Right to profess any Religion etc., is guaranteed by the constitution of India. Freedom of Speech and professing any Religion also means freedom of not Speaking, or not professing any Religion i.e. being neutral or refusal to follow ritual of any or every religion.

    In our Constitution every citizen has right to eat or drink as per her or his own wish as long as it is permissible under law or is not objected by others for valid reason. One also has right not to eat or drink any thing that is not permissible by one’s religion/sect, what is social taboo, or is not justified or is righteous according to one’s conscientious or belief or on medical ground, personal reasons.

    Most of the Hindus and the Sikhs don’t eat beef. Jains are vegetarians. Muslims are prohibited to take pork as it is religiously proscribed; it is HARAM for them but it is not proscribed for followers of many other faiths. Similarly, eating meat* (Slaughtered and served in Islamic way) is HALAL for Muslims but not permissible in many other religions. Kutha Meat or Halal is forbidden for Sikhs** and most Hindu Sects traditionally.

    Hence what is Halal (permissible) for Muslim may not be Halal (Permissible) for others. It would be right to call that meat, ISLAMIC/MUSLIM HALAL. Muslims have right to MUSLIM HALAL. Others have right to not have Muslim Halal. They cannot be compelled to or driven to a situation to have Halal Meat or have no Meat at all.

    Hindus who take meat consider Jhatka slaughtered meat, as righteous according to Hindu Traditions and Rituals. Hindus/Sikhs have right to have JHATKA. Muslims have right not to have Jhatka, they can’t be pushed to Jhatka or no meat choice.

    Often both Muslims and Hindus are not sure what meat they are eating, especially if is not self- cooked or by the one whom they know. When it is cooked, dressed, prepared, packed, or is at most eating joints, there is no surety. One is only sure when it is bought in raw form by themselves, from a Marked Halal or Jhatka shop.

    So Both Muslims and Non-Muslims are either compelled to forego taking meat, even one wants or need it, this is Infringement of their Fundamental Rights guaranteed by the Constitution, Or have to make a guilty conscientious, unwilling, in a way forced compromise to have forbidden meat, this is both contempt of faith and Infringement of Fundamental Rights.

    Hence there should be separate Logos for both Kind of meat. This will end the confusion. From now on, Meat slaughtered/made in accordance with Muslim rituals should be named and labeled with exclusive demarcations by LOGO and other means*** as Muslim Halal. So that Muslims be able to have MUSLIM HALAL, with surety. Others may not take it. Hindus who take meat in Jhatka meat have right to have it and can have it with confidence, of it being Jhatka only when there is Jhatka Logo. Furthermore, when the meat is supplied as Halal it should be proper Halal in accordance with Koran Shariff, no shortcuts or corrupt/compromise methods to be used. Same way when it’s Jhatka it should be proper Jhatka.

    There is no There is no Accountability Mechanism at present. An Independent Body with no influence of Slaughterhouse management or people involved in this business should monitor it.

    Every citizen has right to know what he is eating, buying or even serving or selling, especially when it’s the matter of faith and religious liberty. By not informing and providing food that may according to her/his religious adherence be forbidden or that particular food may defile or desecrate his religion or hurt his sentiments, this is unethical and infringement of her/his Fundamental Rights. The chances of mixing up and messing up, even after following safeguards are high, in absence of apparent indication. The Logos should be in pictorial form and text may also be there. There is a logo for Vegetarian and Non-Vegetarian food in India and HALAL/MUSLIM labeling and logo or NOT-HALAL is mandatory in many other countries.
    Reasons for Petition

    1.Either Muslims or Non-Muslims are forced to forego non-vegetarian food despite their wish and medical need eating meat or are compelled to compromise when they want because of non-availability of the desired meat or surety about meat.

    2.Most Non-Muslims especially animal lovers (even some Muslims and vegetarians) feel MUSLIM HALAL is: -

    a. Torturous way of slaughtering animal. Though killing an animal for food is a part of food chain. Killing is not always barbaric, like killing for food, self-defence and mercy killing. In modern times even laws permit Capital Punishment, Courts when even when order Execution, ensure that (judicial) that method adopted is humane. Animals have right to be killed with least possible pain. Where as conventional Muslims believe it’s a religious duty to slaughter only in Halal way.

    b. It is unscientific, as slow killing increases chances of contamination and germination. Moreover while animal is killed slowly and torturously, animal is conscious, angry, emotionally charged, and helpless. In such condition certain chemical changes and secretion take place that are harmful and even poisonous. Whereas, Muslims feel it’s holy to slaughter in Koranic/Muslim way and this is not subject to any scrutiny social, emotional, legal, scientific, medical or otherwise.

    c. Koranic verses recitation is mandatory while killing, so it’s religious for Muslims. For others it is merely eating part of food chain and there is nothing religious about it. Those verses reaffirm one’s faith in Koran and Islam, may be good for good Muslims. But from non-Muslim point of view it is not only futile, whimsical, crude& imprudent exercise, but also an indirect attempt of imposition of an alien religion. Hence it’s an infringement of fundamental right to profess own religion. Serving such food or driving in to an indirect submission to particular process and faith is attempted effort to implant religion with trick. No citizen should be forced for that passive submission to a faith one does not believe in.

    3. As Halal can be done by practicing Male Muslims only, thus employment is denied to all others; when government institutions patronize one religious system, by buying or selling only one kind of meat this is discriminatory and unconstitutional and infringing religious as well as employment rights of others. Muslim Halal must be done by practicing Muslims otherwise is HARAM for Muslims; Many castes and tribes like KHATICS, Hindu Butchers and meat sellers, and ancillary trades involved as skin stuffing and weaving who have been in this trade since ages are victims of discrimination, facing unemployment. Non-Muslims feel this is Employment Discrimination and infringement of their fundamental rights. They also feel patronage to Halal will exterminate their ancestral skill and this is against principle of Natural Justice. Whereas Muslims consider its incidental and by default and not their fault or problem, they eat meat for their own reasons and not to run employment exchange or rehabilitation organization. Rightly, this is duty of government to promote equal opportunities policy and to fix uneven playing field. It’s not Muslims or Hindus who are inconsiderately endorsing, one meat policy; it is the Government. Disappointingly, many Government Organizations provide only one kind of meat, and they don’t provide information that what kind of meat they are supplying. Furthermore, they are not even bothered to know what kind of meat supplier is buying. Though Slaughter Houses follow two meat system from beginning to end, while slaughtering or hand over meat to taker. Slaughtering the approach of Government Organizations is so insensitive to this issue that is matter of faith and fundamental right, the very system adopted for procurement is least considerate, illogical and indifferent to emotion faith and aspirations of people of this country. The process of procuring meat adopted is to buy from lowest bidder, from single tender system for all meats. The supplier has freedom to supply anything that is profitable and that suits his personnel conviction & convenience. Ministries like Tourism Ministry, Ministry of Civil Aviation are massive consumer and wrongdoer on this issue. It is commonly believed Armed forces and Central Police Forces have evolved a better mechanism, but these days they are also not following procedures regularly. The faith of citizens of this country by Government Organizations is left to the whims & fancies and mercy of the contractor and Meat Mafia may be in connivance with certain elements Government Organizations.

    4. The slaughtering and packing should be allowed only at licensed, scientific, mechanized, sanitized abattoir. At present unorganized sector is carrying out lot of illegal and of course unhygienic cheap and health hazardous butchery for commercial gains. This is done countrywide and running a parallel industry and economy. This must be stopped.

    It is, therefore, prayed that:

    Both Muslim and Non-Muslims be allowed to practice their faith without confusion, consideration, discrimination, favor, fear, ill will or goodwill.

    Therefore:

    1. There should be clear indication by logo and other ways on all packed meat items;

    2. Individuals, households, private eateries, hotels, factories, packers can make, pack, sell, serve any type of meat according to their choice keeping in mind their own preferences, policy, social reasons and marketing demand; but it should be mandatory to inform consumer, buyer or taker/end user through logos and other means, what kind of Meat they are serving or selling.

    But, All Government**** Organizations, and private educational Institutions, hospitals, airports and private, should serve both kind of meat, keeping in view the sentiments of all citizens and deal without discrimination/preference to any religion;

    3. Where it’s not feasible for Government/Public organization to serve both kind of meat; neutral meat should be served i.e. no rituals of any religion to be observed. These Organizations should deal with supplier with no discrimination background;

    4. Separate tenders may be floated by the Government for two kinds of meat. As abattoirs carry out two different kind of butchery. A certificate from abattoir should be attached with every Purchase/delivery ;

    5. There should be a Parliamentary Committee or an Independent Body including Parliamentarians to monitor Meat and Related Industry.

    Reasons for placing Petition before this Committee:

    Parliament is Supreme Legislative body that can make law for entire country. People are suffering emotionally because of lethargy/apathy of Government Organizations and absence of a Central Act. Getting it passed from all State Governments & Local Bodies is not feasible. Beside it would be wasting National Resources if countless meat eaters or vegetarians, who feel this is a Just Cause, file several Petitions at different platforms. Petitioner understands a Central Act can include States, anyhow if its not obligatory for states accepting such Act, still this committee can okay for Central Government, but no Sate Government has Jurisdiction over Central Organizations. Railway is catering only one kind of Meat to the Parliament of India & M.P. canteens. That is a matter of direct concern for MPs and

    others who use Parliament canteens, or users its supply outside parliament and to Nation as a whole. The Railways are not sure what kind of meat supplier is supplying. Whereas when its raw meat is hand over at abettor, it is clearly categorized as Jhatka or Halal.

    So Honorable Parliament is the appropriate platform that can take up this issue.

    If Committee desires it can demand more documents and/or call petitioner in person.

    Name of Petitioner: Ravi Ranjan Singh

    Address of Petitioner: 28 A, Pocket B, Mayur Vihar Phase II Delhi 110091.

    Mob: 7838880446

    Footnotes:

    * Meat here means any kind of livestock including chicken and other poultry, which is slaughtered for purpose of human consumption.

    **Various Historical Sikh scriptures, citation and documents are there and above all Akal Takht Sahib has issued Hukumnama on this issue and that is binding for all Sikhs.

    *** Other means of informing about kind of meat can be verbal information or demarked sitting arrangement as it’s for smokers and non-smokers in hotels airports etc. or any technique that works.

    **** Government/Public Institution include any institute that is fully/fractionally owned or aided/subsidy provided, or is run/located in premises of Central Government or State Government, Public Sector Undertakings, Autonomous body, semi-governments bodies, any institution or where tax-payers money is involved or where general public can be consumer i.e. hospitals, hostels, prisons in India or abroad.

    24 Co-Petitioners

  10. panth says

    Jhatka is a procedure to slaughter an animal for meat to be consumed by Hindus and Sikhs

    During Vedic period (from the middle of the second millennium BCE to the middle of the first), ritual animal-sacrifice and eating meat was a predominant custom. Only Brahmins (priestly cast) were to perform the rites.

    Upanishads, Mahabharata, Bhagvata Purana bar violence against animals except for ritual killing. Ritual killing is considered as a benevolent act, because the slaughtered animal will attain a higher rebirth in the cycle of reincarnation.

    The ‘Manu Smiriti’ (200 BCE), a Hindu-law book gives the diet rules. It describes ritual sacrifice of specific animals and eating their meat for given purposes.

    All animal-slaughter except for ritual killing was strongly condemned, with equal blame on the slaughterer, butcher, cook, and the eater.

    According to ancient Vedic Hindu customs, the animal was slaughtered by a single strike of a sword or an axe to severe the head (decapitation). This resulted in instantaneous death because the spinal chord was cut off minimizing any pain to the animal.

    Centuries would pass and Hindus would quit eating beef. Upper castes Indians (specially Brahmins) had become vegetarians, the lower caste Indians (Shudras) ate any thing that was available.

    Muslims invaded and started to rule India. Muslims ate Halal slaughter based on Quran where the throat of animal was sliced while reciting verses from Quran while the animal faced Mecca. The spinal chord was left in tact till the flowing blood had drained out. Ruling Muslims did not permit any slaughter other than Halal.

    Guru Gobind Singh took an issue with the practice of Halal on following grounds.

    1. Slicing throat was not instantaneous death causing pain to the animal

    2. Reciting Quran verses seemed like a sacrifice to God to expiate the sins of slaughter.

    3. Facing of the animal to Mecca seemed for the salvation of the animal.

    4. Muslims had no right to impose their religious belief on non-Muslims.

    Guru Gobind Singh argued that religious ritual did no good to either the animal or the slaughterer. Let a man satisfy his hunger for flesh if he so chooses. Guru Gobind Singh made Jhatka meat obligatory for Sikhs who wished to eat meat. Eating meat became a personal choice for Sikhs.

    Today, Jhatka is only acceptable meat to be consumed by Sikhs and then Hindus. The Jhatka slaughter is more well defined

    Jhatka means an operation with a jerk. The head of the animal is tied to a pole, the hind legs are stretched out and tied to another pole on the opposite side. The head is chopped off with a single stroke of a heavy sharp blade. The animal experiences no pain as the death is instantaneous. There is no religious ritual involved with Jhatka.

    Akali Takht issued their last Hukamnama (ruling) in 1980 permitting Sikhs to eat meat as long as the animal was slaughtered according to Jhatka.

  11. Indian says

    Hey Friends,

    Please leave this debate on Jhatka and Halal, in India or elsewhere it is more of a politically motivated issues.

    Animal lovers, are creating just a ruckus for sake of publicity or God knows why in todays times of limelight seeking and media frenzy activities. As one brother rightly said, why don’t people make a hue and cry on killing of coackroaches, rats, and other insects. If the food chain is disturbed then at some time, these same people will issue mass orders of killing animals.

    Like for example it happened in case of NeelGai, the hunting and killing was forbidden for years, their numbers increased so fast and so soon, that DM now issues licenses to kill these animals as the loss they incur is widespread.

    So we actually live in a land of hypocrisy and ego.

    Do you know that India’s one of biggest exporter of Beef (Cow or Buffalo meat) is Al-Kabeer, and it is owned by a Jaini Hindu and he takes pride (atleast as depicted on website) in serving with Shariah complaint, Halal meat (mutton meat) products to Gulf and many other countries.

    http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2007-10-03/news/27666755_1_al-kabeer-exports-brands-meat

    So, live and let live, humans are the most intelligent of species, but just in our ego and defending our beliefs we attack on others. You decide what you want, Veg, Non-Veg, Jhatka, Halal, Kosher that too in a informed manner.

    Jai Hind
    tc All

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