“If someone were to ask me what the most important outward manifestation of Hinduism was, I would suggest that it was the idea of cow protection,” said Mahatma Gandhi, India’s legendary nonviolent leader.
In India, the cow is a holy, protected animal that cannot be harmed. Offerings and prayers are made to the cow in hopes to acquire one of the many god’s favor. In the middle or along the sides of the chaotic streets you will see the cows. Each morning as we drive out of our hotel, the people who practice the Hindu religion take handfuls of green grass or grains to the cows as one of their many daily offerings. Throughout the day we see these same cows eat trash that is left in the streets. Entirely different than the cows we see in Texas.
There are reportedly 900 million adherents of Hinduism in the world. Hinduism first evolved more than 3,000 years ago. Respect for animal life is a central theme in Hindu life. Some historians trace the cow’s sacred status back to one of the gods of Hinduism, Lord Krishna. He is said to have
appeared 5,000 years ago as a cowherd, and is often described as “the child who protects the cows.” Other Hindu holy writings identify the cow as the “mother” of all civilization with its milk nurturing the people.1
The officials in India repeatedly call for the protection of cows. Extremists have created vigilante groups as the self-appoint cow protectors. They conduct raids and attacks. Each time we are in India we read in the paper about assaults and harassment of those suspected of harming a cow or slaughtering it for meat. Muslims and those who are called the “untouchables” are vulnerable since they dispose of cattle carcasses.
Recently, new policies for the cow’s welfare were announced. In March 2017 the newspapers reported that in the Gujarat state the officials made harming a cow punishable by life in prison. In the state of Chhattisgarh, the chief minister said, “We will hang those who kill cows.”
In a June 29,2016, New York Times article prime minister Modi was quoted:
“Killing people in the name of ‘gau bhakti’ [cow love] is not acceptable,” he told a crowd at a Hindu ashram, or place of meditation, referring to cow worship…Modi said protecting cows was right, but it should be done legally….The slaughter of cows is banned, and the consumption of beef restricted, in most Indian states. Modi’s party has consistently said it does not make any distinction between citizens on the basis of religion.2
It’s true. The cow in India is a sacred animal. The killing of cows and eating their meat is strictly prohibited in Hinduism. This is considered a mortal sin that has severe karmic consequences. The cow’s milk is used for ritual worship as an offering and cleansing and bathing the ritual object and deities. Cow urine and cow dung are used in ceremonies to cleanse past sins and prepare traditional medicines. Yes, some Hindus drink cow urine thinking it has some medicinal powers.
I still have to think that our cows in Texas fair better than those in India. They look peaceful and plump as they graze in the fields instead of in the middle of the streets eating trash. If the cow embodies the soul of their ancestors, it feels more like a punishment to stand in the middle of a crowded street inhaling carbon dioxide & monoxide fumes from the cars and eating trash, more than it feels like its an honor. I’m just saying…