Why is the Cow considered to be a holy animal in Hinduism?

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” Some relations are formed on the basis of the respected sentiment. We refer to the Holy Cow as ‘Go Matha’ because it holds great value in our lives. India has always respected the sacred being & revered its significance. Cows are respected in other countries like Nepal & Burma too.

People in the Vedic period used land for grazing cattle. They were dependent on cows for their milk and dung. Cow dung is one of the main fuels used in rural India and also serves as a fuel in rural India. Cow dung & urine are used to clean houses. Cow dung can also be used as a fertiliser. Hence, cow provided food, fuel, disinfectant and fertiliser for the Vedic people.

Cow’s milk is considered in the Hindu scriptures as satvik food. The milk is also said to provide a calming effect and improves concentration & meditation. A product of cow’s milk, ghee (clarified Butter) is used for performing Yajnas. Fire worship is said to be the highest form of prayer in Hindus adding more value to Cow’s milk & its products.

Cow is an herbivorous animal & doesn’t believe in hurting other beings. It does not take undue advantage of its size and maintains its composure. It stand for patience, tolerance & calmness. Cows highlight the importance of Dharma in the Hindu religion. The affection that a cow has for its calves is exemplary & the Vedas have appreciated the great attachment.

India was not a predominant meat eating country until people wandered to the grasslands. But, after people settled near the river Ganga, they saw meat related problems cropping up. Water pollution occurred mainly due to the slaughterhouses. The slaughter houses & leather industry were responsible for the pollution & thus the taboos soon followed.

Cows are worshipped in Hindu culture. Ancient Hindu saints said that Go Puja can cure all problems. Even researchers are coming to the conclusion that a lacto-vegetarian diet is the most sustainable option for the denser populations.  The uses can be basically classified into food (milk & milk products), product for worship (ghee), kitchen fuel (cow dung), antiseptic cleaning agent (cow dung & urine) clearing up extra growth (in the farm before sowing).

Our worship is based on a pragmatic approach. We worship the Holy Cow as it has medicinal as well as religious significance.

Alok Shetty