Our West-influenced intellectuals sneer at the mention of the cow. The same intellectuals first sneered at yoga. Now it is a fashion to do pranayama at cocktail parties. The arguments in the West for cow slaughter are no more uncontested. They also sneered at our sanyasis as `godmen’. Now they flock to ashrams with their white friends ever since the Beatles. Who knows, they may soon have a cow in their backyards.
India has 150 million cows, each of them giving an average of less than 200 litres of milk per year. If they could be fed and looked after, they can give 11,000 litres, as Israeli cows do. That would provide milk for the whole world. The milk we produce today is the cheapest in the world. With enhanced production we could become the world’s largest exporter of milk and it could be India’s biggest foreign exchange earner.
For those of us who are desi by pedigree a
nd conviction, I place some facts about the cow in the perspective of modern Hindutva.
The cow was elevated to divinity in the Rig Veda. In Book VI, Hymn XXVIII attributed to Rishi Bhardwaja extols the virtue of the cow. In Atharva Veda (Book X, Hymn X), the cow is formally designated as Vishnu, and `all that the Sun surveys’.
Indian society has addressed the cow as gomata. The Churning of the Sea episode brings to light the story of the creation of the cow. Five divine Kamadhenus (wish cows), viz. Nanda, Subhadra, Surabhi, Sushila, Bahula emerged in the churning.
Thousands of names in our country are cow-related: Gauhati, Gorakhpur, Goa, Godhra, Gondiya, Godavari, Goverdhan, Gautam, Gomukh, Gokarna, Goyal, Gochar etc.
They signify reverence for the cow, and our abiding faith that the cow is Annapurna.