Thanks to Sri. Sarathy Thothathri Swami for this eye opener article.

Yesterday, adiyen heard from a respected personality in our sampradayam that his leather chappals were reasonably comfortable for him and he has a few pairs of them. That kind of kick started adiyen's thought process - adiyen has consciously tried to avoid leather products for the last 12 years or so (since the time adiyen started listening upanyasams/kalakshepams).

Many times we hear how much Kannan emperumaan loves the cows. There are so many pasurams in periyalwar thirumozhi, thiruppaavai, nachiar thirumozhi, etc where the deep affection between krishnan and the cattle is explained. Then again, there are the vyaakyaanams - our purvacharyas have taken this message and explained it in 1000s of lines. In thiruppaavai alone, there are several pasurams in the vyaakyaanam which talks about this relationship. The most important message we get is from Thiruvaimozhi - vEi maru thOzhinai padhigam - towards the end azhwar says "thivatthilum pasu nirai mEippu uvathi" for emperumaan - which is explained in 2 different ways:

  • even in paramapadham, emperumaan is enjoying the time with cows and the cattle
  • emperumaan prefers enjoying the time with cows more than being in paramapadham

Now, coming to how leather products are manufactured - there are ample evidences of the cruelty involved in growing cattle for leather, killing them and taking the skin out, applying so many chemicals, converting them into human usable material, the poor facilities for the labourers and finally the tannery wastage of toxic chemicals mixing into drinking water resources. When it comes out on the shelf at the store, it may look great to the admirers of leather costumes, but for srivaishnavas - it is literally krishna's love slaughtered and packed nicely.

We use so many products - shoes, chappals, wallets, sofas, jackets, pouches, bags, purses, folders, etc - we have to really start questioning. Do we need to use leather? Can I wear a synthetic chappal instead of leather chappal and still look decent? Yes. Can I sit on foam/wooden sofa instead of a leather sofa and be comfortable? Yes. Civilization means maturity and discrimination between good and bad. If we claim to be part of the highest civilization (Srivaishnavam) - we should also try to start at some point in our life living up to that standards.

Now, some one will ask - is there not cruelty in producing/processing other raw materials? Yes - there is, there is probably more cruelty in some of the other products. So, why focus on Leather alone? Its because cows are Krishna's life and love. If we enjoy slaughtered cow's skin - that can never be pleasing to Krishnan. In the olden days, people used leather a little bit - but they would wait for a cow to die naturally and then take the skin - but nowadays cows are grown (like vegetables) to be killed.

So, Think twice - before buying/using a leather product - do we really need it? and if yes, do we really need it in leather and can I find some alternatives?

Small sacrifices may lead to big benefits - since these products have so much tamO gunam in it - by removing this tamO gunam from our body we are making way for some sattva gunam to enter in our heart/mind - infact sudha sattvam (kannan empeumaan) himself will be pleased with our sacrifice.