Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Myth of The Holy Cow

A couple of weeks ago in the Facebook post of a gentleman where he expressed satisfaction that the new BJP dispensation in New Delhi will enact law banning cow slaughter and cow meat. I opined in my comment asking him why it is so, is it because the life of a cow is more sacred and important than that of a fowl, a goat or a swine? However though the gentleman choose to reserve his reply a young fellow and a FB friend of his from Haryana- Mohit Dutta took umbrage at me and were vile in personal comment. He seemed to be seriously rabid in state of mind. He referred to my Sur name which incidentally happens to be the eponym for the mythical hero Krishna, who is also revered by Hindus as the avatar of Vishnu of the trinity. He asserted that I have no right to retain that name and should feel abased. He accused me of being morally lost and stated that I must be like most Keralites a converted Christian who has no reverence to Hindu Gods or things Hindus consider sacred and the cow is holy and sacred to Hindus. His diatribes was fascinating and of an imbecile mind. I guess standing up to a rabid beast when it is after you is a stupid exercise and futile. I restrained from commenting further.

Mr. Mohit Dutta and his ilk must know – being a Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Jew, or a Buddhist is not firstly of one’s volition. Mohit Dutta is a proclaimed Hindu because he was born to Hindu parents. I suppose. If my parents biological or by fatalism adopted were to be Zoroastrians, for instance I might have been a Zoroastrian. I am Hindu by birth because I was born to father and mother who were Hindus. And I chose to be so because I was never forced to believe in a doctrine nor was I indoctrinated to rubbish what others believed. Hence I metamorphosed into a person who is not touched by fanatic philosophy and bigotry like Mohit Dutta and his kin who claim to be Hindus but who certainly have not read the Vedas, the Gita or even the Ramayana the Hindu texts of philosophical wealth, to name a few. His infantile or screwball knowledge of what he claims to be Hindu beliefs is nothing but scraps licked up or stuck upon him from history lessons in middle school. If you’re a Hindu and you don’t eat meat, particularly beef because of a religious sentiment, I respect that completely. But to those like Mohit Dutta who say they are doing it because Hindu scriptures censure it, I urge you to read the ancient Hindu texts and decide for yourself. 
His comments about Keralites being a bunch of infested christian converts is puerile and nonsensical. His knowledge and erudition , even basic commonsense is alarming.
To arrogate that Hindu texts and scriptures forbid you to eat beef is rubbish and malarkey. For such an argument is on quick sand. I suggest you again, read the scriptures, if not the scholars who wrote thesis after learning them. Foremost do not try to force feed your morsel as I did not demand that of you.

Dwijendra Narayana Jha, was a distinguished professor who read history at the University of Delhi. He authored the book, “The Myth of the Holy Cow”. He received death threats when he tried to publish the book in India. One of the Indian publishers backed off after menacing warnings from the Hindu contemporaries of the ISIS and the Al Qaeda. His second publisher had to back out like the publisher of Wendy Doniger after the fanatic group got a restrain order from the courts. The rabid Hindu group declared the book blasphemous, a strange word that is seldom seen in any context in Hindu religious literature and mythical treatise What Jha has done was to bare and document in great detail the fact that in medieval times Hindus and Buddhists ate beef. The most ancient text of the Hindu faith -- the Vedas dating from 2500 BC to 600 BC, clearly mentions that the eating of flesh, including beef, was common in India. Rightwing Hindus have argued that cows were first slaughtered in India only after the Muslim foray into the subcontinent. However there is ample documentary proof that the extreme opposition to beef eating came about among a section of Hindus only in the 18 th century and the cow became a sacred animal.  The thesis is backed by plentiful footnotes and a bibliography in many languages. But unfortunately extremists and bigots in all religion are moved to rabidity in the face of such scholarships and evidence.

The nomads and pastoral dwellers who migrated from Eurasia and settled in the North of India in the 2nd millennium BC, who created the Brahminic religion Hinduism, were herdsmen and agriculturists living upon land, bovines and fowls. For them cow was not a sacred creature. The Vedas that was compiled then did not ban cow meat or proscribe meat eating. There are ample instances in them that categorically state the fascination of Gods for cow meat. “The Vedic gods had no pronounced dietary preferences. Milk, butter, barley, oxen, goats and sheep were their usual food, though some of them seem to have had their special preferences. Indra had a special liking for bulls. Agni was not a tippler like Indra, but was fond of the flesh of horses, bulls and cows.”
“Although the ancient law giver Manu extols the virtue of ahimsa, he provides a list of creatures whose flesh was edible. He exempts the camel from being killed for food, but does not grant this privilege to the cow. On the contrary, he opines that animal slaughter in accordance with Vedic practice does not amount to killing, thus giving sanction to the ritual slaughter of cattle. He further recommends meat eating on certain religious occasions.”

Pandavas during their exile sustained on liberal diet of meat and cow meat was not an anathema in the times of Mahabratha. In fact cow meat was served to guest in ancient India as a token of respect and display of wealth. In ancient India the culmination of the“Ashvamdhayagna” was with the ritual killing (albeit sacrifice) of more than 600 animals of which the final ritual is the killing of 21 cows.Ashoka the emperor who embraced Buddhism did not ban cow slaughter. Nor was it banned during the reign of Guptas’- the golden age of Hinduism.

Hinduism and Indian philosophy after the Vedas have rejected the ritual slaughter of animals. This may have inadvertently saved the cow, though beef eating was not a sin. The influence of Jainism might also have contributed to the disagreement for the meat. The multifaceted historian Damodhar Dharmananda Kosambi states in his work, ‘Ancient India’, "a modern orthodox Hindu would place beef-eating on the same level as cannibalism, whereas Vedic Brahmins had fattened upon a steady diet of sacrificed beef".
It was Ambedkar who rightly said that “for the Vedic Brahmins everyday was a beef steak day”. For the ancient Vedic people cow was a prized possession not sacred as it is made out by Hindu zealots now. It was a sign of wealth and their sustenance. Hence the prized possession was offered to their Gods as sacrifice and the priests and the laity consumed the left over.

It has been revealed and also not refuted by Swami Vivekanda that he used to eat beef and he did not have any need to express remorse.

Titus Lucretius Carus, the Roman Philosopher, poet who lived in the2 nd century BC stated, “What is one man’s food is another’s bitter poison”. I do not disagree with this because I see no reason why I should. It is common for people to disavow certain types of meat, food on the grounds of religious sentiments. I respect that. But for them to dictate and demand that I follow their chosen food is unacceptable. Their religious beliefs cannot in any way hinder my personal life- what I eat. And I have no intend to thrust upon them what I believe and stand for. If they can accept my reason it is fine if not it is not my problem.
Intolerance, bigotry and obscurantism are great threats that are rabid in all faith. It has manifested menacingly in Islam and unfortunately the change of government in New Delhi seemed to have emboldened the rabid who claim to be Hindus.


Insignia said...


I was following that conversation on FB and I thought it was waste of your effort and time in arguing with that person. For one; it was extremely immature to comment on your religion and conclude based on what he thought he knew. I bet that guy wouldnt have even traveled south; forget being in Kerala.

Secondly; his views were senseless. He didnt mutter a word after you started quoting from the Gita? That said it all.

Third, I expected the gentleman to intervene and warn that immature guy not to use profanity; alas! he didnt.

Anyway, there is no creature that is supreme or lowly. A snail is as precious as a cow. Period. If you dont want believe in cow slaughter, give up on meat! And let others be in peace. Of course dont thrust your religious beliefs on others. Your religion is like your inner wear; wash it, wear it dont flaunt it. Nobody wants to see it

Locomente said...

Life is a life. Cow or fish. Stick to vegetarianism must be the mantra not ban cow slaughter!

BK Chowla, said...

Anil Kumar Kurup,
Bindu was only following that conversation,but,you must ytell the world that I am the one who started it by posting an innocent post on FB which wasnt meant to disrespect anyone or any religion.In fact it was only an expression of my desire.
That is when this person jumped in and I decided to walkout because of his unparliamentary language.
But,in all fairness,you must ensure this post is read by Datta otherwise how will he ever know as to what not to do or say?

Anilkumar Kurup said...

@ Insignia,

B, I guessed you were following the furore that guy created on the fb to Mr Chowla's opinion and my question on that.

I presumed that Mr. Chowla did the right thing to stay silent, because I was initially reacting and did it in the best possible civilized way when there are conflicting opinions.
But you know this young fellow and the likes of him are almost incorrigible. A few post back I wrote about a guy called Aziz who similarly started picking on me upon my reply in Justice Khatju's post . Finally when I replied with details, quotes and proof from scholarly works he vanished. I subsequently even wrote a post but he was invisible.
Indeed Mr. Chowla is a BJP fan and has staunch Hindu roots and feelings. His opinion I understand was made out of his conviction and sentiments.However I do not see any sensible philosophy in treating a rabbit's life greater than the sum to a mouse's life or a squirrels life greater than that of a mouse.
For my part I disagree someone dictating what I should eat and what I ought not. My post I hope told enough. Since being offended is a national past time fellows like Mohit Datta would explode in this fashion in the most uncivilized way. I do not see him any different than a bigoted Muslim like the invisible Aziz.

Thanks for your honest opinion.

@ Lacomente

Yes you said it.Thanks

@ BK Chowla,

Ha ha you started this . I love it. Honestly I love argumentation and discussions. Leave that boy , he is absolutely immature and naive. I have sent the link of the blog post to his fb message box. Hope he sees it and come after me cannons booming.

rudraprayaga said...

I am confused to comment on this. But life styles,beliefs,customs etc. are purely personal and none should impose it on others.Until unless one gets hindered, one has no right to interfere in others' matters.

Regarding meat consumption,the way the butchers use in slaughter houses is oh! horrible.Poor creatures for no fault of theirs they suffer painful deaths.

For religious or irreligious matter whatever it may be this barbaric method should be done away with.

And we don't know which is which and if history or myth is correct because no eye-witness of that era is alive.History can also be truth or whims of the writers.

Anyway as usual you have come up with enough justifications, examples and documentary support to prove your points. A lively-interesting read.Thank you for this elaborate piece.

Ramakrishnan Ramanathan said...

Deeply researched and well articulated.A wealth of information on the meat eating habits of Vedic Indians. Can I have your FB page id so that I can send you a friend request ?

Anilkumar Kurup said...

@ rudraprayag,

The consumption of meat perse is not the contention. It is the killing of cows and consumption of the meat that is offensive because for the so called chaste Hindus the cow is holy and slaughter for food is unpardonable sin , a sacrilege.
It is true that history is often written by the victor. But in this case it is not mere history, the revelations , the proof in itself are from the Vedas and scriptures that Hindus swear by. So if some one says that the matter of cow meat is erroneously noted in the scriptures then they are alleging that the Vedas and other books are false .
You see these fellows are on a sticky wicket trying get a legal , divine sanction for their sentiments and religious beliefs

@ Ramakrishnan Ramnathan,

Thanks, I appreciate the comment. I sent you the fb address by return mail.

Happy Kitten said...

If I were born in China, I would have been eating snakes with glee.

The above sums up my idea of food. Each to his/her taste.

But if one is really bothered about animals, there are many ways to take care of them, even those that are being taken for slaughter. But I read that India exports a good amount of beef and it definitely does not originate from Kerala alone and not because Kerala is eating all the cows born in Kerala.

Happy Kitten said...

How do I follow you all in FB??

Anilkumar Kurup said...

@ Happy Kitten,

Yes you are right.
These guys are trying to infer and spread matters that are contrary to what was practised in ancient India. They seem to be vying with the Islamic religious bigots to be horribly didactic as they can.That fanaticism is not practised in Hinduism. If it did these guys would not have built mosques in ancient Kerala where the Zamorins and Princes whole heartedly allowed the Muslim traders to put up places of worship . .
These nonsense about cow meat is not religion it is display of strength.

You can get me on fb-{ Anilkumar Kesava Kurup.}

Ashwini C N said...

I do remember reading about the Pandavas eating meat and Brahmins eating meat some eons back.

We impose rules which are convenient for us at a certain point of time, and that is how this no-beef policy must have come up, we never know the real reason. Fighting and getting into a nasty argument only showed how intolerant the other person whom you had mentioned, is.

rudraprayaga said...

Yes,I understood,but I was just thinking of the suffering of those creatures that have to appear in plates.
In 'Ramayana' 'palalam' is being processed by Sitadevi.The meaning is given meat or dried veg:(vattal).o if it is meat it shows they were also meat-eaters.That comes in the food chain.
Anyway a well-studied article.

SG said...

Mr. Mohit Dutta wrote some stupid stuff and you are responding. I appreciate that. But In my opinion, you have gone overboard. I don’t want you to stoop to that guy’s level. I take umbrage when you said some Indian zealots are contemporaries of the ISIS and the Al Qaeda.

Please tell me how many newspaper reporters these Hindu zealots beheaded and video taped it? How many September 11 types of attacks they have conducted? How many Mumbai Taj Hotel type of attacks they have carried out?

Musings said...

Thanks SG for coming in on this post.

Your issue is that I made the statement equating some Indian zealots with the ISIS and the Qaeda wagons. You also asked the question ,who among the Indians I accused committed atrocities that the ISIS or the Qaeda are doing.

My answer is a few questions- What was the ideology that drove the mysterious prepatrators to burn the Ghodra express? What was the ideology and religious philosophy(as they claim) that let Gujrat burn for two days until the Army was called in and under the guardianship of a democratically elected Govt? What was the ideology that cajoled the mob at the BEST Bakery to burn,murder in cold blood people? What philosophy prompted the lynching and gorging of pregnant women and foetuses furing the gory rioting then?

What was the religious philosophy and faith that drove those Muslim youth in Kerala to chop off the hands of Prof. Joseph?

What is the ideology and philosophy of the Indians,be it Hindus,Muslims, or even Buddhists to burn books,banish writers and men of art?Issue death threats? Ancient India have no report of literary works or art being banned and their creators hounded.

Bigotry,fanaticism and intolerance have no boundaries,colour,race or religious beliefs that are exclusive.They transcend race,country and beliefs.
This is what I meant.We are not insulated.
There is no great difference between the blasting if the Bamiyan Buddha and the demolition of a mosque .

Rama Ananth said...

I feel the vegans are the best people they don't even have any milk or milk products leave alone eating beef or any such things,they would not eat honey too. They are way ahead of the vegetarians(the Hindu religion also has no role in influencing them). In fact some vegans are so strict they won't even eat certain plants.
We all know many animals were sacrificed for the various Yagnas, in the olden times by the so called Gods, and even now animals are sacrificed brutally by all religions.
It is really disgusting, whether it was done by Gods of Hindus or the Gods of other religion.
Some things are beyond our comprehension, we know we should not be doing it yet we do it all the time, whether it is God or human,it is not right.
I have seen documents of how the animals especially the cows are tortured not only in India but all over the world, just so we can continue to gorge on their milk, have cream, and other delicacies, made out of their milk, which in the first place was not meant for us. Whether it is Krishna or some other God it does not matter, I really feel strongly about this, and I don't really believe in any religion.
It is also our upbringing where, we were blindly led to believe that certain things are good for our health by our parents, who in turn were tutored by their parents, and we continue blindly, without stopping for a minute to think whether we really feel in our heart that what we are doing is the right thing.
However, there must be some logic behind such things, otherwise it would not be still in vogue, but what is the logic is still a puzzle. We can argue and argue and come up with no solution.
My husband loves beef, he is a wonderful person, whereas, I am a pure vegetarian, and I feel, I am really not as good a person as him.

Tracy Terry said...

The down side of social net working sites? There are those who do not wish to enter into debate but only wish to push their own agenda.

Anilkumar Kurup said...

"My husband loves beef, he is a wonderful person,...."

I guess you have the answer. The food you eat is not what makes you a person a man , a gentleman or for that matter a lady. There is something else to it and these folks who swear by the cow or swear after a swine seldom know that.

@ Tracy Terry,

Indeed the down side of social networking. That guy has not come on to the blog to comment or abuse me yet.

ajay kumar said...

hey love the post ! and great articles and congrates on reaching the top sites,.............i will be back visit to often.


Haddock said...

Like Insignia said, it is a waste of one's effort and time in arguing with people who are fanatics with no basic knowledge of their religion. What is happening the world over (with any religion) boils down to the same problem - Scant knowledge of their religion.