The Myth of the Holy Cow by D. N. JhaHugely controversial upon its publication in India, this book has already been banned by the Hyderabad Civil Court and the author’s life has been threatened. Jha argues against the historical sanctity of the cow in India, in an illuminating response to the prevailing attitudes about beef that have been fiercely supported by the current Hindu right-wing government and the fundamentalist groups backing it.
Cattle in religion and mythology
The cow is considered sacred in the Hindu religionand not just the cow itself but everything that come out of it is sacred as well. Milk, urine, curds, dung and butter from cows, Hindus believe, will cleanse the body and purify the soul. Even the dust of footprints of cows has religious meaning. Hindus believe that each cow contains million gods and goddesses. Krishna, the god of mercy and childhood, was a cowherd and a divine charioteer. At festivals honoring Krishna priests shape cow dung into images of the god.
BBC News Navigation
Sanctity of the cow , in Hinduism , the belief that the cow is representative of divine and natural beneficence and should therefore be protected and venerated. The cow has also been associated with various deities, notably Shiva whose steed is Nandi , a bull , Indra closely associated with Kamadhenu, the wish-granting cow , Krishna a cowherd in his youth , and goddesses in general because of the maternal attributes of many of them. The origin of the veneration of the cow can be traced to the Vedic period 2nd millennium—7th century bce. The Indo-European peoples who entered India in the 2nd millennium bce were pastoralists; cattle had major economic significance that was reflected in their religion. Though cattle were sacrificed and their flesh eaten in ancient India, the slaughter of milk-producing cows was increasingly prohibited. In addition, because her products supplied nourishment, the cow was associated with motherhood and Mother Earth. The cow was also identified early on with the Brahman or priestly class, and killing the cow was sometimes equated by Brahmans with the heinous crime of killing a Brahman.
Due to the multiple benefits from cattle , there are varying beliefs about cattle in societies and religions. In some regions, especially Nepal and most states of India , the slaughter of cattle is prohibited and their meat may be taboo. Cattle are considered sacred in world religions such as Hinduism , Jainism , Buddhism , Zoroastrianism , and others. Cattle played other major roles in many religions, including those of ancient Egypt , ancient Greece , ancient Israel , ancient Rome , and ancient Germany. Legislation against cattle slaughter is in place throughout most states of India except Kerala, West Bengal, and parts of the North-East. The majority of scholars explain the veneration for cows among Hindus in economic terms, including the importance of dairy in the diet, the use of cow dung as fuel and fertilizer, and the importance that cattle have historically played in agriculture.
Wendy Doniger does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment. Just this past June, at a national meeting of various Hindu organizations in India, a popular preacher, Sadhvi Saraswati, suggested that those who consumed beef should be publicly hanged. Later, at the same conclave, an animal rights activist, Chetan Sharma, said ,. When she is slaughtered, something called EPW is released, which is directly responsible for global warming. These provocative remarks come at a time when vigilante Hindu groups in India are lynching people for eating beef. Such killings have increased since Narendra Modi and his right-wing Bharatiya Janata party came to power in September In September , a year-old Muslim man, Mohammad Akhlaq, was lynched by a mob in a village near New Delhi on suspicion that he had consumed beef.