Cows although considered factory farmed food in most countries are vital, sacred part of Buddhism and Hinduism in India because they have always been an important resource to the people of India and has an approximately 30% of the worlds cattle. In India, cows are everywhere. Because of the sacredness and importance attached to cows, they are allowed to ramble around unharmed, and they are used to the traffic and the ways of the city. There exist about 26 different distinct breeds of cows that are bred by Indians. For a long time now cows have been predominantly proclaimed sacred to Hindus and worshipped as a mother figure associated with the god Krishna of ancient times. Cows have increasingly become a political partys tool, a rallying cry and an electioneering code word for both Indian nationalists and their core political opponents. Unlike in the west, where cows are seen as walking hamburgers in Indian states cows are treated with sincere respect and uttermost reverence (Scott 86).
In Hinduism, cows are respected and held in high esteem. One of the reason is linked to the usefulness and the calm nature of cows. Hindus rely on cows as a source dairy products, for tiling their lands and even source fuel and fertilizer and disinfectants for their homes from their dung. Cows are a source of milk, butter, yogurt, ghee, cream, and cheese. According to Indians, milk from cows refines people. Hindu scriptures have always considered milk as the highest form of sattvic food among Indians. For these reasons, cows are viewed as a caretaker or a parental figure. The Indian goddess is a symbolic representation of a cow (Capper 427-441).
Secondly, Hindus attach a lot of sacredness to cows due to their gentle nature. Although their big size cows are not threatening, they roam around harmlessly. Cows are universal, harmless and this reinforces the Hindu teachings of how people should not harm any animals as they are sacred and calm. Honoring cows instigates in people the virtues of gentleness, receptivity, tolerance and calmness and further connectedness to nature. To the Indians, cows represent butter and (ghee) which indicates strength, and it is used for preparing religious foods in Indian ceremonies. Cows are considered very strong animals. In most Indian states consumption of beef is illegal this is done to celebrate cows as important objects in the society. More so, cows are sacred to Indians since they are a source of several benefits without asking for anything in return.
Refined butter (ghee) a product of a cows milk is used for the highest prayers in Hindu religion. It is used in fire worship (Yajna). The docility and submissive nature of a cow represents a fundamental virtue of Hinduism ahimsa that symbolizes non-injury. To the Hindus, cows represent motherliness, self-sacrifice, fortitude, strength, and self-worth. These positive attributes attached to the nature of cows inspires inalienable virtues among Indians (Sarma 59).
Indians attach importance to all living things. In Hindu religion, a cow symbolizes all other creatures. It is a representative and a sustainer of life. They are sacred to Hindus as they represent a nourisher and an endless giver who is ever non-demanding. A cow is more of a representation of grace and abundance to the Hindu religion. To the Hindu, cows represent a happy earthly life.
Capper, Daniel. "The Maternal Personhood of Cattle and Plants at a Hindu Center in the United States." Pastoral Psychology 65.4 (2016): 427-441.
Sarma, D.S. Hinduism Through the Ages. 2016.
Scott, J. Barton. Spiritual Despots: Modern Hinduism and Genealogies of Self-Rule. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016.
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