Due to Multiple benefits from cattle, there are varying beliefs about cattle in societies, and religions. In some regions, especially and most of the states of Hindustan, the slaughter of cattle is prohibited and their meat may be taboo. Cattle are considered sacred in world religions such as Hinduism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism, and others. Religions in ancient Egypt, ancient Greece, ancient Israel, ancient Rome, and ancient Germany, held similar beliefs.
Let me before going into the details of Cows Importance in Hinduism, let me give you the origins –
The cow has been a symbol of wealth since ancient days. However, they were neither inviolable, nor revered in the same way they are today. The Cow was possibly revered because Hindus relied heavily on it for dairy products and for tilling the fields, and on cow dung as a source of fuel and fertilizer. Thus, the cow’s status as a ‘caretaker’, led to identifying it as an almost maternal figure, so we have the term Gau Mata.
Hinduism is based on the concept of omnipresence of the divine and the presence of soul in all; creatures, including bovines. Thus, by that definition, killing any animal would be a sin. One would be obstructing the natural cycle of birth and death of that creature, would have to be reborn in that same form because of its unnatural death. Krishna, one of the Avataars, of god himself, tended cows. As we all know cow and bull known for Symbolism of Dharma. As we all know Reverence for cows and bulls in the major texts of the Vedic religion. In southern parts of India, and in some parts of Sri Lanka, a cattle festival called Mattu Pongal is celebrated.
The Sanskrit word for Cattle is Pasu, from PIE * peku, other terms are dhenu cow and ox. Milk cows are called aghnya “that which may not be slaughtered”, in Rigveda. Yaksa, the early commentator of the Rigveda gives nine names for Cow. And the name “aghnya” was the first name he gave for cow. As we see the interpretation of terminology used for a cow, the cow may have been protected.
Friends, Now let me give you a brief description according to Vedas—
Rigveda- In the Rigveda, the cows figure frequently as symbols of wealth and in comparison, with river goddesses.
Atharva Veda—Here we find that the Cow’s body is represented by devas and other subjects.
Brahma- Samhita- In the Brahma-Samhita it is said that Lord Sri Krishna, in his transcendental abode Goloka Vrindavan, is accustomed to herding the Surabhi cows.
Harivamsha—This depicts Krishna as a cowherd. Krishna is often described as Bala Gopala, “the Child who protects the cows”. Other scriptures identify the cows as the “mother” of all civilization, its milk nurturing the population. The gift of a cow is applauded as the highest kind of gift. The cow’s milk is considered to be Sattvic (ghee from milk of cow is used in ceremonies and in preparing religious food. Cow dung is used as a fertilizer, as a fuel and also disinfectant in our homes. The Supreme purification material Panchagavya, was a mixture of five products of the cow: Milk, curd, ghee, urine, and dung.
Puranas – The earth—goddess Prithvi, was in the form of a cow successively milked beneficent substances for the benefit of humans.
Kamdhenu, the miraculous “Cow of plenty” and the mother of cows”, in Hindu Mythology, is believed to represent the generic sacred cow, regarded as the source of all prosperity. All the gods are believed to reside in her body, a form of Kamdhenu often depicted
Now let me give you a brief description of Cattle slaughter in India, and When the Cow Protection movement started?
The reverence for the cow played a role in the Indian Rebellion of 1857, against the British East India Company. Hindu and Muslim sepoys in the army of the east India company came to believe that their paper cartridges which held a measured amount of gunpowder, were greased with cow and pig. The consumption of swine is banned in Islam. It was British who forced them to break edicts of their religion.
Let me give you a brief History of India’s war on cow slaughter and how people reacted to it.
As we all know that entire Nation is debating and protesting over Cow Slaughter. Though according to Hinduism, the sacred animals revered by a section of the majority community, there are many groups in the country who have consumed cow as a cheap and easily available source of protein for many years.
Article 48 of the Constitution of India, mandates the state to Prohibit the slaughter of cows and other milch and drought cattle. On October 26, 2005, the supreme court of India, in a landmark judgement upheld the constitutional validity of anti- cow slaughter laws enacted by different state Governments in India. Kerala, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura, and Sikkim are the states where there are no restrictions on cow slaughter.
As we all know, on 26th May 2017, the Ministry of Environment of Indian Central Government led by Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) imposed a ban on the sale of cows and buffaloes for slaughter at animal markets across India. The laws governing cattle slaughter vary greatly from state to state. The Seventh Schedule of the Constitution, have exclusive powers to legislate the prevention of slaughter and preservation of cattle. Prohibition of Cow slaughter is a Directive Principles of State policy contained in Article 48 of the Constitution. It reads – The state shall endeavor to organise agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines, and shall, in particular, take steps for preserving and improving the breeds, and prohibiting the slaughter of cows and calves and other milch and drought cattle. As per existing meat export policy in India, the export of beef (Meat of cow, oxen, and calf) is prohibited. Bone in meat, carcass, half carcass of buffaloes also prohibited and should not be exported too. There are many illegal slaughter houses in India.
India produced 3.643million metric tonnes of beef in 2012, of which 1.963 million metric tons was consumed domestically and 1,680 million metric tons was exported. India ranks 5th in the world in Beef production, 7th in domestic requirements and 1st in exporting.
Cow slaughter in particular is very cruel industry and the animals are put under conditions that could be described as tortuous right from the time they are tied up, transported to the ultimate conditions of the slaughterhouses.In India, with the time the slaughter of camel, was replaced with cow. Later, there was natural animosity between Indian People and Islamic conquerors, the latter at time times to humiliate sentiments, began to kill the cow to show Conquerors power. Political necessity induced many Muslim kings at various times to forbid cow slaughter. The Muslims continued to offer cow on festive occasions like Bakri Id, and they were made to feel that the job of a butcher was honourable was also a basic political requirement of the British rule in India.
Currently, we find it has become a Pan-India issue with some of the states clearly divided over the issue. The matter is not limited to cow now, it has been extended to all sorts of cattle, including buffalo, bull, and camel. While it seems that all the cow slaughter—beef hoopla began with the advent of Narendra Modi Our PM, led Bharatiya Janata Party Government in 2014, The truth is that it actually began way back in 1955. Since Modi became the Prime Minister, however focus on cow slaughter has undoubtedly increased, along with the number of, lynching cases related to the holy cow. In fact, BJP won National Elections, in 2014, w2ith a clear majority, pledging in part to ban cow slaughter. The Problems, since then, has been that several groups calling themselves cow vigilantes are turning violent on the issue and have killed several people in the name of saving cows.
What’s the latest situation on cow slaughter?
We find on Friday 25thMay 2017, the environment Ministry issued a notification effectively banning cow slaughter across the country, which of course led to a lot of controversy. The notification, says, only those who produce a written declaration that the cattle will not be sold for slaughter, will be allowed to sell them. If there is sale of Cattle, the animal market committee will take an “Undertaking” that animals are for agricultural purposes and not for slaughter. The States where there is effective ban includes Rajasthan, Telangana, Assam, Bihar, Delhi, and Gujarat, among others.
Kerala’s CM Pinarayi Vijayan, on May 27th, 2017 wrote to the PM saying the country wide ban is an intrusion of State rights and the “new rule is against principles of secularism and federalism in our country”. He has also been reported as saying that Kerala doesn’t need a lesson on food habits from “Delhi and Nagpur”.
Other states who opposed this move include West Bengal, Karnataka, Puducherry. PTI quoted Puducherry CM V. Narayansamy, as saying that the ban as “autocratic and a clear case of infringement on the rights of people relating to food habits. Kerala HC has sent a notice to the Central Government. People in Chennai, Bengaluru, and Kerala have taken to the streets to protests against the central Government’s ban on cow slaughter, and in turn Beef.
To my dismay I found students in IIT Madras held a “beef fest”, against the centre’s order. So, My Brief analysis friends would have nailed one fact that leftist’s liberals don’t want beef ban, and many many politicians don’t want to ban due to Appeasement of Politics. As far as the situation in India is concerned, today we find that Indian soil is filled with artificial fertilizers and pesticides, while the holy cows cries in the Slaughter houses. While there were over 70 breeds of cows in the country, today we have only 33 breeds and even among them many breeds are facing extinction.It’s time to self-introspect for those pseudo secular liberals who need to Ponder upon these Heinous crime, which is against the Nature.
Gau Seva is Manav Seva
Dr. Sukanya Iyer