Cows have been a part of Indian families for several centuries now. It’s been a tradition to raise cows and bulls as family members. Cattle have always been treated with respect and cow has been accorded the status of a mother in our Shastras. In modern times its fashionable to keep dogs, cats, fishes, tortoises etc as pets but those keeping cows or working for its protection are ‘looked down’ upon.
Every living being has sentiments and feelings. Research has shown that cows are no exception. Each cow has its own nature and characteristics much like any other pet. In fact they are similar to humans in several aspects as well. Just like we can feel the loss of a loved one so can these gentle bovines. Animal behaviourists opine that cows show socially complex behaviours and interact in complex ways. Just like humans they also develop friendships over time and may at times even hold grudges. It has been seen that they suffer from anxiety and pangs of separation and are known to mourn deaths just like we humans do. Often we can see a mother cow calling out frantically to her separated calf.
It’s also proved beyond doubt that cows are intellectual beings that not only understand cause and effect relationships but are also known to have cognitive abilities. They display intellectual abilities like humans and are known to become elated on solving problems. They respond to music and tend to display a wide range of emotions. Stress affects them as well and living under stressful conditions can cause them to display stressful emotions. Those who rear cows get attached to them much like they do with a family member. The bond between the owners and cows is similar to that with other pets. Cows can also recognize death and hence they know when they are being sent to slaughterhouses and try to resist as much as possible. Cows have been known to make escape attempts and resist being lured back into slaughterhouses. More often than not they would defend their young ones from any harm to the best of their abilities. Their happiness knows no bounds when they are set free (See video).
The reason why our ancestors revered the cow as Kamadhenu was not only for the products they gave us but also because they shared a special bond with those rearing them. Often they are considered a representative of Hindu dharma. Sending them to abattoirs after they became a spent force was unknown of in earlier times. Those who rear cows bring up them like their own children and hence share a deep bond with the bovines. The love is reciprocal and cows too display a similar love for their owners. Even today there are many villagers who would never send their cows to slaughterhouses once they age. Such is the veneration for cattle. However, we are seeing a new trend, in the name of modernism, where Gaurakshaks are seen as ‘communal’.
Isn’t it hypocritical to consider some animals as pets and others as food and/or fashion products?
Video: When cows were set free from slaughterhouses