Cows In Grave Danger

Cows In Grave Danger

Cows are sacred no more in India. I was shocked to learn yesterday from a god-sister, Jahnavi devi dasi, that India has become the world’s 3rd biggest beef exporter. As recently as 2002, India banned export of beef. By the year 2004, India ranked 6th in world beef exports. Now, in 2009, India ranks 3rd! And the Hindus are keeping quiet. So much for the guardians of Hindu Dharma. If there is an upset during a cricket match, there will be riot, but cows, the emblem of Hindu religion and integral component of economic prosperity and brahminical culture, can be butchered, and nobody minds. Cow slaughter does not stir the Hindus to action or even to speak up in protest.

India is the land of Dharma and spirituality, the repository of the ancient Sanskrit scriptures (Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas, Vedanta Sutra, Bhagavad-gita, Mahabharata, Ramayana) and the seat of the world’s most ancient civilizations. Vedic civilization, intricately wrought from the principles of varnashrama dharma (also known as daivi-varnashrama), honored and preserved brahminical culture throughout millennia under the rule of great, saintly monarchs up until some 5,000 years ago, which marked the onset of the age of quarrel and dissension, Kali-yuga. At that time, shortly after the terrible Mahabharata war, the emperor Parikshit Maharaja was ruling Bharata Varsha, and while touring the kingdom, he came across someone tormenting a bull and cow. This incident is narrated in the Srimad-Bhagavatam Canto 1, Chapter 16, Text 4 (translation and purports by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, ISKCON Founder-Acharya):


Once, when Maharaja Parikshit was on his way to conquer the world, he saw the master of Kali-yuga, who was lower than a shudra, disguised as a king and hurting the legs of a cow and bull. The King at once caught hold of him to deal sufficient punishment.


The purpose of a king’s going out to conquer the world is not for self-aggrandizement. Maharaja Parikshit went out to conquer the world after his ascendance to the throne, but this was not for the purpose of aggression on other states. He was the Emperor of the world, and all small states were already under his regime. His purpose in going out was to see how things were going on in terms of the godly state. The king, being the representative of the Lord, has to execute the will of the Lord duly. There is no question of self-aggrandizement. Thus as soon as Maharaja Parikshit saw that a lower-class man in the dress of a king was hurting the legs of a cow and a bull, at once he arrested and punished him. The king cannot tolerate insults to the most important animal, the cow, nor can he tolerate disrespect for the most important man, the brahmana. Human civilization means to advance the cause of brahminical culture, and to maintain it, cow protection is essential. There is a miracle in milk, for it contains all the necessary vitamins to sustain human physiological conditions for higher achievements. Brahminical culture can advance only when man is educated to develop the quality of goodness, and for this there is a prime necessity of food prepared with milk, fruits and grains. Maharaja Parikshit was astonished to see that a black shudra, dressed like a ruler, was mistreating a cow, the most important animal in human society. The age of Kali means mismanagement and quarrel. And the root cause of all mismanagement and quarrel is that worthless men with the modes of lower-class men, who have no higher ambition in life, come to the helm of the state management. Such men at the post of a king are sure to first hurt the cow and the brahminical culture, thereby pushing all society towards hell. Maharaja Parikshit, trained as he was, got the scent of this root cause of all quarrel in the world. Thus he wanted to stop it in the very beginning.

Present-day government encourages slaughter for commerce in domestic and international markets, without regard for the karmic results and not caring for any spiritual principles. India’s leaders are no different from other world leaders in this respect. They are not concerned with God or religion except as a tool to manipulate the citizens for their own purposes. Thus brahminical culture is practically no more; the corrupted caste system is the last vestige of varnashram-dharma, and it too is dying out.

Srimad Bhagavatam Canto 01

SB Canto 1, Chapter 16, TEXT 18

The personality of religious principles, Dharma, was wandering about in the form of a bull. And he met the personality of earth in the form of a cow who appeared to grieve like a mother who had lost her child. She had tears in her eyes, and the beauty of her body was lost. Thus Dharma questioned the earth as follows.


The bull is the emblem of the moral principle, and the cow is the representative of the earth. When the bull and the cow are in a joyful mood, it is to be understood that the people of the world are also in a joyful mood. The reason is that the bull helps production of grains in the agricultural field, and the cow delivers milk, the miracle of aggregate food values. The human society, therefore, maintains these two important animals very carefully so that they can wander everywhere in cheerfulness. But at the present moment in this age of Kali both the bull and the cow are now being slaughtered and eaten up as foodstuff by a class of men who do not know the brahminical culture. The bull and the cow can be protected for the good of all human society simply by the spreading of brahminical culture as the topmost perfection of all cultural affairs. By advancement of such culture, the morale of society is properly maintained, and so peace and prosperity are also attained without extraneous effort. When brahminical culture deteriorates, the cow and bull are mistreated, and the resultant actions are prominent by the following symptoms.

India is fast gaining a foothold on the international scene, becoming an economic force on the back of its population, but at the sacrifice of its soul. And what then? When India separates from its spiritual legacy, what will keep it from plunging into free fall?

SB Canto 1, Chapter 17, TEXT 7

Then he [Maharaja Parikshit] asked the bull: Oh, who are you? Are you a bull as white as a white lotus, or are you a demigod? You have lost three of your legs and are moving on only one. Are you some demigod causing us grief in the form of a bull?


At least up to the time of Maharaja Parikshit, no one could imagine the wretched conditions of the cow and the bull. Maharaja Parikshit, therefore, was astonished to see such a horrible scene. He inquired whether the bull was not a demigod assuming such a wretched condition to indicate the future of the cow and the bull.


Now for the first time in a kingdom well protected by the arms of the kings of the Kuru dynasty, I see you grieving with tears in your eyes. Up till now no one on earth has ever shed tears because of royal negligence.



The protection of the lives of both the human beings and the animals is the first and foremost duty of a government. A government must not discriminate in such principles. It is simply horrible for a pure-hearted soul to see organized animal-killing by the state in this age of Kali. Maharaja Parikshit was lamenting for the tears in the eyes of the bull, and he was astonished to see such an unprecedented thing in his good kingdom. Men and animals were equally protected as far as life was concerned. That is the way in God’s kingdom.


O son of Surabhi, you need lament no longer now. There is no need to fear this low-class shudra. And, O mother cow, as long as I am living as the ruler and subduer of all envious men, there is no cause for you to cry. Everything will be good for you.


Protection of bulls and cows and all other animals can be possible only when there is a state ruled by an executive head like Maharaja Parikshit. Maharaja Parikshit addresses the cow as mother, for he is a cultured, twice-born, kshatriya king. Surabhi is the name of the cows which exist in the spiritual planets and are especially reared by Lord Sri Krishna Himself. As men are made after the form and features of the Supreme Lord, so also the cows are made after the form and features of the Surabhi cows in the spiritual kingdom. In the material world the human society gives all protection to the human being, but there is no law to protect the descendants of Surabhi, who can give all protection to men by supplying the miracle food, milk. But Maharaja Parikshit and the Pandavas were fully conscious of the importance of the cow and bull, and they were prepared to punish the cow-killer with all chastisement, including death. There has sometimes been agitation for the protection of the cow, but for want of pious executive heads and suitable laws, the cow and the bull are not given protection. The human society should recognize the importance of the cow and the bull and thus give all protection to these important animals, following in the footsteps of Maharaja Parikshit. For protecting the cows and brahminical culture, the Lord, who is very kind to the cow and the brahmanas (go-brahmana-hitaya), will be pleased with us and will bestow upon us real peace.

Nowadays, government is voted by the people, so it is up to the people to agitate for what they want from government. If government is toothless and does not give adequate protection to the citizens or give support to religiosity, then the people can blame only themselves.

There are some persons and groups who are taking things into their own hands by looking after cows in go-shalas, but this is on a very small scale, and it is not the best solution. Their operation is costly and depends mainly on donations from well-wishers, and they do not bring in any revenue from sales of milk. A more successful program would be to set aside a quota from temple proceeds and government coffers to establish viable dairy projects that can serve as economic models in rural communities all over India. These will serve to raise the cow’s status in society, demonstrating practically the importance of cow protection not only for religion but for economic prosperity as well. Some years back I happened to see a television documentary about a highly profitable dairy project in Hawaii. Not only did they sell milk, but they utilized the cow’s manure to grow spirulina and for a subsidiary horticulture business. Methane from the cow’s dung generated enough electricity to power the farm operations. Let some of India’s intelligent businessmen (vaishyas) invest in similar projects with the support of the government and temples. Surely out of India’s 2 billion people there are some brains with the required ingenuity to come up with schemes that will work for India’s varied climates.

SrilaPrabhupada said that by combining western technical know-how with the spiritual knowledge and culture of the East, the world can make material and spiritual advancement simultaneously. The West is spiritually blind, and the East is technologically lame, but if the blind man agrees to carry the lame man, he can get direction how to go from the lame man’s eyes, and together they can reach their destination.

Currently there is a shortage of cow’s milk in India; people are instead raising buffalo. Buffalo milk is ubiquitous, but it is inferior to cow’s milk in nutritional value. Cow’s milk promotes excellent health and development of finer brain tissues, and there is no substitute for it in religious ceremonies and deity worship which call for cow’s milk and other products made from pure cow’s milk, such as yoghurt, butter, ghee and fresh cheese (paneer). India alone is a huge market. Surely domestic demand would be sufficient to drive profits from increased milk production.

Of course milk production depends on a breeding cycle also, and the birth of calves means some will be bulls. So what to do with the bulls, if they are not sent for slaughter? First of all, if cows are nicely looked after, they will continue to give milk long after the birth of a calf; they do not need to be repeatedly impregnated every year or two years. As for the bulls, they can be engaged in work on farms, as was traditionally done before the introduction of the tractor, and they can be used for transport in rural areas. If dairy projects are implemented intelligently , a part of the profits can be set aside for the maintenance and protection of the bulls and cows who are no longer productive. It should be considered a necessary part of the cost.

So these are some suggested alternatives to the current do-nothing response of the Hindu communities in India. All it takes is to raise the voice and crack the brain. The politicians are scared of the people’s roar, so let them hear about it. There is no excuse for the slaughter of cows, not in India, not anywhere, but in India least of all.

According to Mahabharata, 650 million people died in the war at Kurukshetra. When Krishna was asked why, He explained because Draupadi, when forcibly brought to the assembly hall in Hastinapura, where Dushasan attempted to disrobe her publicly, pleaded to the elders to speak up the truth against the injustice, yet they all kept quiet. Therefore, all these kings and their subordinates had to share the burden of the sinful reaction to their silence, and all were killed on the battlefield. So when the spiritual leaders and political leaders simply stand by and allow the slaughter of cows, they and all their subordinates likewise will have to bear the karmic reactions.

This beef export business poses greater danger to the future of India and its Vedic tradition than terrorists. After all, terrorists strike infrequently and in not more than a few locations at a time, and maybe a hundred persons might be killed, but nature can wipe out whole towns, cities and villages by natural disasters like drought, famine, pestilence, earthquake, typhoon, flood, fire, disease in response to sinful killing of cows and not only nature, but wars, where thousands of the nation’s young men are sent out to combat and are killed. How much the real patriots, the real nationalists, the real Hindus do love their Motherland will be seen in just how loudly they protest the killing of cows and export of their flesh.

Protect Cows

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