My first trip to India in February 2009 was utterly amazing, I completely fell in love with the country. I felt a sense of connection with India and her beautiful cows. India and her beloved cows combined to fill me with an incredible sense of awe and wonder that is difficult to put into words.
The great love India has for her sacred cows seem to be intricately woven into the very fabric of the country’s culture and religion. The Vedas describe the cow as ‘mother’ because of the nourishment she provides in the form of milk, butter, curd, etc.,from her infancy through her old age.
During various festivals, it is fascinating to me to see how cows are adorned with paint. Ambulances and cow rescue farms are set up and made available to help save India’s cows. This further demonstrates to me the great love and respect shown to this highly revered gift from God.
As a Westerner, India‘s care and protection of the cow strikes me as not only a beautiful tradition but logical as well. To preserve an animal who provides valuable nutrients so essential for health, it seems obvious that a living cow is far more valuable than a dead one. Therefore, the cow should be protected, as, like our mother, she gives love in abundance.
It is from these impressions and thinking about how cows are viewed so differently in the west, spurs my interest to write this article. In the west, the cow is viewed as a commodity to be slaughtered and eaten. I have been a vegetarian since December 25, 2006, and I can honestly say this is one of the best decisions I have made in my life. One reason being the avoidance of certain illnesses that are associated with the consumption of meat. One such illness is known as ‘mad cow disease’.
Across the United States and around the world, animals exploited for food are subjected to painful cruelty. They are routinely packed inside factory farm warehouses unable to move or engage in basic natural behaviors. Millions of cows and calves die before even reaching the slaughterhouse. I believe ancient Indian traditions should still be prevalent today. The Hindus are so protective of their cows, unlike their Western counterparts. I say protect the cow according to ancient texts.
After reading stories about Hinduism, Lord Krishna and cows, I was taken in. In the Vedas, Lord Krishna exclaims, “I speak to those who are aware; do not harm the cow, for in so doing you are harming the earth and all humanity.” Cow protection is not a relic from the ancient past, but it’s the heart of Dharma. He showed a pure example of how we should be following in his footsteps. We should serve the cow with the same attitude that Lord Krishna served the cows in Vrindavana.
When Krishna tended cows in Vrindavan, He knew each of them by name and treated them as individuals. Every morning He takes the cows and calves to graze on the pastures of Govardhana Hill. There are hundreds of cows and each cow has her own name, and when He played His flute the cows tenderly came running towards Him. The love Lord Krishna displayed toward the cows is one we should be following by example.
In respect and honor, we should hold the same utmost respect for the cows. Krishna loved the cows and the cows loved him, they were inseparable from Lord Krishna. Hinduism has always involved respect for animals, and the cow is the most revered animal according to Hindu beliefs.
Animals have feelings and emotions, and they should not be exploited. I like to look at it in this manner, if they have eyes, mouth, nose, and brain then they should not be slaughtered. If they feel pain and pleasure like us, feel the same fears and emotions, then they should not be slaughtered. We should all act with kindness and compassion for all animals.
I believe these ancient traditions should still be prevalent today and cows should be protected. Ironically, in India, every day hundreds of cows are killed. More pressure on the central government to put a ban on all slaughterhouses is needed. Yet, this should not discourage us from our goal of cow protection. Seems like a lot, but if just one person did something that would really add up.
In Vedic times, it was the duty of everyone to protect the cows at all cost. It should be our duty today. Become a vegetarian, donate to one of the many “save the cow” programs, and “speak up”! There is something you can do, big or small, to make a difference on your part. I would love to see the entire world vegetarians, or the least, a KRISHNAtarian.