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Why do Hindus worship cows?

Why do Hindus worship cows - Mother

In this post I will try to answer this often asked question: "Why do Hindus worship cows?"

For 7000 years or more (some say 11,000 years), since the days of Rig Veda, Hindus have been respecting and protecting cows.

Go-hatya or the killing of cows was and continues to be a great offense for Hindus, as we consider Cows our mother, and therefore killing a cow is like killing our mother.

Mahatma Gandhi 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.” (1)

In historical period, the wealth of a person was measured by how many cows he had. (2) Cows used to be considered as a gift appropriate to be given to Brahmins and it was said that killing a cow was the same as killing a Brahmin. (3)

Today however Godless communists, Saudi Islamist terrorists and Joshua Project Christian Missionaries who have joined hands, practically control media and politicians world-wide. I will write an Expose on this hideous conspiracy in my other website on History and Current Affairs.

These primitive and barbaric beef-eaters are brain-washing Indians especially Hindus through Saudi funded Khan Bollywood movies and English newspaper and new channels, and as a result many Hindus today have no respect for either the Vedas, or Brahmins or cows.

Why do Hindus Worship Cows - Saudi Terrorists Communists Joshua Project

They must stop cows killing in India. Those who want to have beef should go to Saudi Arabia or America.

In India they must respect Indian Hindu-Jain-Sikh-Buddhist culture.

Importance of Cows

Cows are a scared animal for the Hindus. There is SCIENCE and LOGIC behind why cows are held in high esteem by Hindus all over the world. In Hinduism, the cow is a symbol of wealth, strength, abundance, selfless giving and a full Earthly life.

Hindus do not worship cows in the sense of a Puja or Yagya. Rather they "respect, honor and adore" the cow (1). She is the mother of all Hindus. She is the mother of all mankind. The foundation of Hindu Dharma is go-mata or Mother Cow. A cow is the source of dietary products and of cow-dung which is used as fuel and fertilizer. Cows are not only the source of almost inexhaustible riches; they also symbolize dignity, strength, and endurance as well as work, maternity and service. (4)

#1 Importance of Cows in Rig Veda

Why do Hindus Worship Cows - Rig Veda 6.28

Cow was a very important symbol in The Rig Veda written 7000+ years ago, in 5000 BC or earlier. At that time, Saudis and Europe, the beef eaters of today were all barbaric hunter gatherers!

But we Hindus were advanced. We had philosophy. We had science. And we respected our animals.

In the Rig Veda,
  • the Cow draws the car of Dawn, and are also called its beam;
  • rain clouds are called cows, as they give life-giving water the same way that cow gives us life-giving milk
  • even the Gods are said to be born of cows
A reading of Rig Veda 6.28 (28th hymn of 6th Mandala or ऋग्वेद: सूक्तं ६.२८ ) will show the importance attached to cows in India 7000 years again during Vedic Golden age.

आ गावो अग्मन्नुत भद्रमक्रन्सीदन्तु गोष्ठे रणयन्त्वस्मे ।
प्रजावतीः पुरुरूपा इह स्युरिन्द्राय पूर्वीरुषसो दुहानाः ॥१॥
इन्द्रो यज्वने पृणते च शिक्षत्युपेद्ददाति न स्वं मुषायति ।
भूयोभूयो रयिमिदस्य वर्धयन्नभिन्ने खिल्ये नि दधाति देवयुम् ॥२॥
न ता नशन्ति न दभाति तस्करो नासामामित्रो व्यथिरा दधर्षति ।
देवाँश्च याभिर्यजते ददाति च ज्योगित्ताभिः सचते गोपतिः सह ॥३॥
न ता अर्वा रेणुककाटो अश्नुते न संस्कृतत्रमुप यन्ति ता अभि ।
उरुगायमभयं तस्य ता अनु गावो मर्तस्य वि चरन्ति यज्वनः ॥४॥
गावो भगो गाव इन्द्रो मे अच्छान्गावः सोमस्य प्रथमस्य भक्षः ।
इमा या गावः स जनास इन्द्र इच्छामीद्धृदा मनसा चिदिन्द्रम् ॥५॥
यूयं गावो मेदयथा कृशं चिदश्रीरं चित्कृणुथा सुप्रतीकम् ।
भद्रं गृहं कृणुथ भद्रवाचो बृहद्वो वय उच्यते सभासु ॥६॥

The cows have come and brought us good fortune. In our stall, contended, may they stay!
May they bring forth calves for us, many-colored, giving milk for India each day.
Indra seeks to help him who offers and gives, augmenting not diminishing, his possessions.
Evermore increasing his treasure, he places the pious in a realm inviolate.
These cows shall not be lost, no robber shall harm them, no enemy dare to mislead them.
With the man who does worship and offers libations to the Gods the lords of the Cows will long tarry.
The swift horse, raising the dust, does not catch them. Never do they go to the shambles.
The Cows of the man who worships roam on wide-extending pastures  of fearlessness.
The Cows are Bhaga, the Cows are Indra, or a first-poured draught of Soma.
Truly these cows are Indra, my brothers,Indra for whom my soul yearns.
You may, O Cows, the think man sleek, to the unlovely young you bring beauty
Rejoice our homestead with pleasant lowing, in our assemblies we laud your vigor! (4)

The same hymn is also found in Atharva Veda IV 21.

In another verse, Rig Veda 10.87.16 (ऋग्वेद: सूक्तं १०.८७) we find

यः पौरुषेयेण क्रविषा समङ्क्ते यो अश्व्येन पशुना यातुधानः ।
यो अघ्न्याया भरति क्षीरमग्ने तेषां शीर्षाणि हरसापि वृश्च ॥१६॥

One who partakes of human flesh, the flesh of a horse or of another animal and deprives others from milk by slaughtering cows ; if such a fiend does not desist then even cut off their heads by your powers Oh king.

#2 Lord Krishna and Cows

Why do Hindus Worship Cows - Lord Krishna Gopala

Cows and Krishna have always been together. In His original form in the spiritual world, Krishna is a cowherd boy in the agricultural community of Goloka ("cow planet") Vrindavan, where He keeps unlimited, transcendental surabhi cows. (9)

Lord Krishna was inseparable from his cows. He was a cowherd (gwala) who was known as Gopala (protector of the cows). Lord Krishna loved his cows from the bottom of his heart and treated them like mother.

Lord Shri Krishna, by His personal example, taught us the importance of cow protection, which is meant not only for the Indian climate but for all human beings all over the universe. (2)

In the Bhagavad Gita (18.44) there is a clear injunction from Lord Krishna that cows should be protected: 
कृषिगौरक्ष्यवाणिज्यं वैश्यकर्म स्वभावजम् |
“The duty of vaiśyas (mercantile men) is to produce agricultural products, trade and give protection to cows.” (7)

Lord Sri Krishna actually knew the names of all of his cows. They were his pets, friends and playmates. They were loved and cared for daily. (11)

#3 Chaitanya Mahaprabhu

Here is a Dialogue between Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Chand Kazi on Cow Killing (7)
Lord Caitanya said, “My dear uncle, I have come to your home just to ask you some questions.”

“Yes,” the Kazi replied, “You are welcome. Just tell me what is in Your mind.”

The Lord said, “You drink cows’ milk; therefore the cow is your mother. And the bull produces grains for your maintenance; therefore he is your father. Since the bull and cow are your father and mother, how can you kill and eat them? What kind of religious principle is this? On what strength are you so daring that you commit such sinful activities?”

Why do Hindus Worship Cows - Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Muslim Chand Kazi

The Lord immediately replied, “The Vedas clearly enjoin that cows should not be killed. Therefore every Hindu, whoever he may be, avoids indulging in cow-killing.

In the Vedic scriptures there are concessions for meat-eaters. It is said that if one wants to eat meat, he should kill a goat before the goddess Kālī and then eat its meat. Meat-eaters are not allowed to purchase meat or flesh from a market or slaughterhouse. There are no sanctions for maintaining regular slaughterhouses to satisfy the tongues of meat-eaters. As far as cow-killing is concerned, it is completely forbidden. Since the cow is considered a mother, how could the Vedas allow cow-killing?

In Sri Caitanya Caritamrita adi lila, chapter 17 verse 166 Caitanya Mahaprabhu confirms (8)

गो अङ्गे यत लोम तत सहस्र वत्सर
गोवधी रौरवमध्ये पचे निरन्तर |

Cow killers and cow eaters are condemned to rot in hell for as many thousands of years as there are for each hair on the body of every cow they eat from.

#4 Cow is the symbol of Earth, Motherhood and Love

Why do Hindus Worship Cows - Sumbol of selflessness
To the Hindu, the 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. 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 instills in Hindus the virtues of gentleness, receptivity and connectedness with nature. (1)

Hinduism is based on the concept of omnipresence of the Divine and the presence of a soul in all creatures, including bovines. Thus, by that definition, killing any animal would be a sin. One would be obstructing the natural cycle of birth and death of that creature, and the creature would have to be reborn in that same form because of its unnatural death. (5)

Below I am presenting an extract from the book, Aghora: At the Left Hand of God as quoted in (10)

The cow is a perfect mother. She has four teats: one for her calf, one for guests including birds and animals, one for use in rituals and one for her master. The milk is automatically divided into four equal portions; everyone is provided for. And the cow is passionately devoted to her calf, just as a real mother must be to her child. Sometimes the mere sight of the calf makes milk flow from cow's udder; not drip -- flow...

and if the calf dies the cow refuses to give milk -- not like our water buffaloes who can be tricked with the head of a calf on stick. The buffalo is the symbol of Tamas, stupidity, dullness; the cow is pure Sattva, mental brightness...

Not just buffaloes, even your western cows will give milk whether or not the calf is still alive... What is so great about giving milk? All animals do it. The greatness of out Indian cows is that they give milk only out of an outpouring of love.That is the value of cow's milk. Won't a little of that love come through into the milk? It must.That emotion separates cows from other animals...

We are not worshipping the hide, hooves or the tail; we worship the essence...

Lord Krishna was called Gopala when he was a baby. Gopala literally means "protector of cows". There are many esoteric meaning to this word, but even the obvious meaning is beautiful. Gopala was such a lovable little baby that all the cows in the vicinity loved him more than they loved their own calves. (9)

#5 Cow as Kamdhenu

Why do Hindus Worship Cows - Kamdhenu

In the Hindu tradition, the cow is honoured, garlanded and given special feedings at festivals all over India, most importantly the annual Gopashtama festival. 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. (1)

Lord Krishna states in Srimad Bhagavad-Gita: chapter 10, verse 28 (8)

धेनूनामस्मि कामधुक्

Among cows I am the wish fulfilling cow.

Why do Hindus Worship Cows - Kamdhenu Kali

#6 Cow in Puja and Daily Life

The five products (pancagavya) of the cow — milk, curds, ghee butter, urine and dung — are all used in puja (worship) as well as in rites of extreme penance. The milk of the family cow nourishes children as they grow up, and cow dung (gobar) is a major source of energy for households throughout India. Cow dung is sometimes among the materials used for a tilak - a ritual mark on the forehead. Most Indians do not share the western revulsion at cow excrement, but instead consider it an earthy and useful natural product. (3)

Why do Hindus Worship Cows - Panchagavya

Less intelligent people underestimate the value of cow’s milk. Cow’s milk is also called gorasa, or the juice from the body of the cow. Milk is the most valuable form of gorasa, and from milk we can prepare many important and valuable foodstuffs for the upkeep of the human body. (2)

Milk is an unavoidable part of human diet. Different types of milk that we consume include different kinds of nutrients. Milk provides us with minerals, protein, fat, carbohydrate, and vitamins. So it is also called as a complete diet. (2)

When a cow(or ox) became old, they would donate it to the tanners. The tanners would wait for its natural death. (6)

#7 Cow is important according to Vastu Shastra
According to Vastu Shastra, all Vastu Dosha is corrected in a house where a cow resides. (2)

#8 Importance of cows in Nepal

In Nepal, a Hindu country, the cow is the national animal. Cows give milk from which the people produce dahi (yogurt), ghee, butter, etc. In Nepal, a Hindu-majority country, slaughtering of cows and bulls is completely banned. (5)

Why do Hindus Worship Cows - Hindu Devotee Crawls under Cow in Kathmandu
Devotee Crawls under Cow in Kathmandu

#9 Importance of Cows among Parsis

Parsis are ancient Iranians who left their homeland and took shelter in India when barbaric Islamists destroyed their culture and forcefully converted them to Muslims.

Avesta is the religious book of the Parsis and was the text of ancient Iran and western Pakistan. It has close ties to Rig Veda and Hinduism.
  • The term geush urva means "the spirit of the cow" and is interpreted as the soul of the earth.
  • In the Ahunavaiti Gatha, Zarathustra (or Zoroaster) accuses some of his co-religionists of abusing the cow. Ahura Mazda tells Zarathustra to protect the cow.
  • The lands of Zarathustra and the Vedic priests were those of cattle breeders.
  • The 9th chapter of the Vendidad of the Avesta expounds the purificatory power of cow urine. It is declared to be a medicine for all bodily and moral evils.
Why do Hindus Worship Cows - Parsi Community Respect Cow
 Representative Image

As per (12), "It is less known that even with the Indian Zoroastrians, the Parsis,  cow urine plays an exceptional role. It is precisely the members of this small religious community, which is considered particularly progressive and open to modernity, who are for example still essentially bound to washing hand's, feet and face with cow's urine as the first thing after getting up every morning."

So we can see how cows are held in high esteem even by Parsis.

(4) Mantramanjar, Raimundo Pannikar
(12) The History of Vegetarianism and Cow-Veneration in India By Ludwig Alsdorf

Image Sources 

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That's it. Thank you for reading about Why Hindus worship cows. You may also like the following.

Interesting Facts about Rig Veda
Interesting Facts about Atharva Veda
Purpose of Hindu Philosophy 
Books on Vedas 
Vedic Sacrifices

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  1. Very well researched and informative post Subhodeep but yet I do not any reason why people should be killed for alleged cow killing. Everybody may not adhere to these sentiments. Also one cannot snatch away the means of livelihood for some people without creating alternate options. Btw I myself am a complete non meat eater,

    1. Thank you for the comment Somali! Glad you shared your views.

      What you have said is certainly something to be pondered upon and thought through systematically. Thanks!

  2. It is a worthy pursuit at worthy moment. Let long live your worthy pursuits.

  3. Thank you for the effort for delving and sharing a lot of research on the subject.

  4. A very informative and well researched article. BTW, why do such incidents happen in non BJP ruled states.

    1. Thanks for the comment! Glad you liked it.

      As to why it (by it I assume you are referring to beef protests) happens in non-BJP states, I personally think it is being INTENTIONALLY orchestrated by anti-Indian forces who have joined hands to destroy India and discredit Hindus.

      There are 3 players who were earlier working independently
      - Saudi Islamists/ Jihadis/ Wahabis for whom al-Hind is the last challenge, the last Jihad
      - Church/ Christian Missionary typified by Joshua Projects, who plan to convert India to a Christain nation by 2050
      - Leftists typified by NDTV, India Today, Times of India supported by Congress

      After BJP came to power, they have joined hands. They want to show Hindus in a very bad light. These forces have no power in BJP states. But in non-BJP states they are rampant.

      - As an example, in TMC dominated West Bengal of Mamta Khatum, Durga Visarjana/ Nimmaja was postponed by 2 days so that Muslims could do Muharram!
      - In UP, statues of Gandhi and Vivekanada are covered with white cloth before Friday afternoon namaaz as kaafirs are not to be tolerated.
      - In Hyderabad, Owaisi openly makes rabid anti-Hindu comments like "Tamam Musalmaan ikkathey ho gaye to Hindu log kuch nahi kar pate" and so on.

      No wonder these states are the breeding ground of anti-Hindu fervor!

  5. Informative Post.Thanks for sharing.

    Sriram & Krithiga


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