The sacred cows in India

Let’s talk about the sacred cows in India. For most of the Indian population, the cow is considered a sacred animal. In Hindu mythology, the animal was depicted as the accompaniment of different gods; just think for example Shiva, who rides his bull Nandi, or Krishna, the shepherd God

In the ancient texts the cow appears as “Kamdhenu” or divine cow, the one who fulfills all desires.

Its horns symbolize the Gods, its four legs, the ancient Hindu scriptures or the Vedas, and its breasts the four goals of life, including material wealth, desire, justice and salvation.

In the cow, Hindus see a sacred symbol of life that must be protected and revered. In fact, sacred cows refer to fertility, abundance and symbolize the generosity of the earth.

A generous animal

An animal capable of producing five basic elements including milk, cheese, butter, urine and dung.

The first three foods are used in the worship of the Hindu gods, while the last two elements can be used in religious ceremonies or burned for fuel.

Indeed, the first Hindu cow protection organization dates back to a Sikh sect in Punjab around 1870. With the advent of Buddhism and Jainism, Hindus stopped eating meat.

In the first century a. C., the cows were associated with the brahmins, that is, those who belonged to the highest caste, considered almost supermen. Killing a cow began to be compared to killing a Brahmin.

Although not everyone agrees with this version.

Let’s say that even today, we are witnessing numerous diatribes related to the cult of these animals.

Just as in the past the defense of the sacredness of cows in India was the cause of real conflicts.

Over 100 people died in 1893 after religious riots born of this pretext and in 1966.

At least eight other people lost their lives in clashes outside the Delhi parliament while demanding a national ban on the slaughter of cows.

Religious convictions, today, have convinced politicians to pass increasingly stringent laws on the consumption and treatment of cows. Thus, multiple livestock protection groups have emerged.

The law on sacred cows

Thus, after the application of legislation on the prevention of cruelty to animals in 2017, the sale of cattle to slaughterhouses for use as meat or leather has become very difficult.

The law also had serious repercussions on those communities that lived on the consumption of beef, including the Hindu lower castes, for whom meat is an important source of food and economy.

To overcome all these problems, some nationalist parties have thought of introducing a “cow welfare tax” to be donated to the construction of ad hoc shelters.

The idea is to finance these cowsheds through a series of taxes imposed on goods such as alcohol, government tolls, and rural and agricultural organizations.

How Indians Protect Cows

In addition, it was decided to label stray cows with RFID tags, in order to be able to recognize them easily.

Interesting and curious how this animal is represented in India.

That is, with big eyes, calm, with dull skin dyed in a palette ranging from off-white to gray through beige and brown, with a painterly silhouette. All aspects that make it the most advanced of animals.

Although the cows in India are, in reality, zebus with the characteristic hump that they carry on their backs just behind the neck.

Despite this, in recent decades European cows have been brought in because they guaranteed a higher milk production, but most of them are zebu with the characteristic hump, dewlap, large ears and often with horns.

That of the sacred cows, personally, is one of the most evident and characteristic aspects of India that made me reflect the most in the first days of my stay in this incredible country (and already the definition of a country talking about India is too limiting, it would be better to talk about the Indian Continent).

It was an aspect that, like everyone else, I already knew before getting there and that, I won’t hide from you, always made me smile a little.

Man cows cohabitation

But when I saw closely how, incredibly, these large animals manage to survive in the indescribable urban confusion of any Indian city, I was able to go beyond my preconceptions and thus perceived, beyond the profound religiosity, what is the figure of respect that, through the “sacred cow”, modern Indians nourish more generally towards Nature.

That Nature which, on the other hand, on Indian soil gives deadly manifestations of itself as flora and fauna.

A respect from which, I believe, we have a lot to learn. Here there is that famous saying that “you shouldn’t cut the branch you are sitting on”; I therefore think that even we “Westerners”, who love to define ourselves as “the evolved side of the Planet” so much, should learn to find in our habitats “our sacred cow”, which perhaps will not be a real animal but rather a wood, a lake a river.

It will be that, not even too virtually, the branch on which we are sitting and that, with all our strength, we should try to keep attached to that tree, the Earth, which from every sunrise to every sunset, to every turn, gives us. the life.