The Sacred Cow
Why are cows sacred and revered?
In India cows are considered sacred and as such are revered amongst all people. For thousands of years cows have been acknowledged for their enormous compassion and willingness to give all of themselves, body, heart and even their babies – and they are just one example of the animal kingdom.
So for example, with cows, they have a very specific purpose here on earth. They are here not only for their own personal growth, they are also here to channel in and ground the energy of the Moon into the Earth. That’s why they have horns, not only as part of their digestive system but also as antennae to connect them with the planets and stars.
Cows are receiving energy and information from the moon and the planets in order to fulfil their mission here on Earth. Simply put it is the energy of Unconditional Love, they are one of the species holding and grounding that here on Earth for the sake of all beings.
Put your judgement aside
If you were to put aside all your judgements and labels for one minute and think of us all as spiritual beings – not the labels of man, woman, cow, monkey or tree – all are spiritual beings. In terms of what we give to life, a cow is willing to give its own body for the sake of the bigger picture, which is Life. To me that’s the most supreme form of offering.
It’s giving its own body, knowing its going to suffer, reincarnating over and over again in order to give us humans milk, meat, skins, gelatin and so on. At some level, the cow knows what going to happen and it is willing to offer its life to show how big love actually is, the opposite of selfishness.
To me, cows are teachers for us humans because if we could be a tenth of the loving beings that cows are, the world would be a much happier, peaceful and better place. In India cows are revered as sacred. For thousands of years cows have been acknowledged for their enormous compassion and willingness to give all of themselves – and they are just one example in the animal kingdom.
One of the reasons I’m so passionate about this, is because it feels that we are at such a critical time in our evolution as a whole, and we have been been stuck in an old out dated mindset, that we are these supreme beings here on planet Earth and that everything in nature is here to feed and serve us.
Life, animals and balance
Before the written word, humans and animals lived in total harmony and communicated with one another perfectly all the time, there was balance in nature. There was give and take; there was no need to take advantage. Now the world is out of balance and we blame everything outside of ourselves for this disharmony. But, if we looked inside ourselves and see how we live, what we do on a minute-to-minute and hour-to-hour basis, we can ask ourselves how much do I take advantage of nature and animals.
Hindus don’t worship cows. We respect, honour and adore the cow. By honouring this gentle animal, who gives more than she takes, we honour all creatures.
Hindus regard all living creatures as sacred – mammals, fishes, birds and more. We acknowledge this reverence for life in our special affection for the cow. At festivals we decorate and honour her, but we do not worship her in the sense that we worship the Deity.
To the Hindu, the sacred cow symbolizes all other creatures. The cow is a symbol of the Earth, the nourisher, the ever-giving, undemanding provider. The cow represents life and the sustenance of life. The cow is so generous, taking nothing but water, grass and grain. It gives and gives and gives of its milk, as does the liberated soul give of his spiritual knowledge.
Cows are vital to life
The cow is so vital to life, the virtual sustainer of life, for many humans. The cow is a symbol of grace and abundance. Veneration of the cow instils in Hindus the virtues of gentleness, receptivity and connectedness with nature.
…The generous cow gives milk and cream, yogurt and cheese, butter and ice cream, ghee and buttermilk… The only cow-question for Hindus is, “Why don’t more people respect and protect this remarkable creature?”
Mahatma Gandhi once said, “One can measure the greatness of a nation and its moral progress by the way it treats its animals. Cow protection to me is not mere protection of the cow. It means protection of all that lives and is helpless and weak in the world. The cow means the entire subhuman world.”In the Hindu tradition, the sacred cow is honoured, garlanded and given special feedings at festivals all over India, most importantly the annual Gopashtama festival.
Cows are symbolic
Demonstrating how dearly Hindus love their cows, colourful cow jewellery and clothing is sold at fairs all over the Indian countryside. From a young age, Hindu children are taught to decorate the cow with garlands, paint and ornaments. Her nature is epitomized in Kamadhenu, the divine, wish-fulfilling cow.
The cow and her sacred gifts –milk and ghee in particular –are essential elements in Hindu worship, penance and rites of passage. In India, more than 3,000 institutions called Gaushalas, maintained by charitable trusts, care for old and infirm cows. And while many Hindus are not vegetarians, most respect the still widely held code of abstaining from eating beef.By her docile, tolerant nature, the cow exemplifies the cardinal virtue of Hinduism, noninjury, known as ahimsa.
The cow also symbolizes dignity, strength, endurance, maternity and selfless service.In the Vedas, cows represent wealth and joyous Earthly life. From the Rig Veda (4.28.1;6) we read. “The cows have come and have brought us good fortune. In our stalls, contented, may they stay! May they bring forth calves for us, many-coloured, giving milk for Indra each day.
You make, O cows, the thin man sleek; to the unlovely you bring beauty. Rejoice our homestead with pleasant lowing. In our assemblies we laud your vigour.”