Monday, April 29, 2013

Holy cow in India -Myth and reality

Mr Kavaneet reviewed the book of Professor Jha on `Holy cow`. Previously Mr Mukundlal has written about the truth of cow cult in India. The present one deserves attention due to myths sorrounded with the blind belief and vegetarianism. 

The Myth of the Holy Cow by D.N.Jha (2002) [183P] ISBN: 1-85984-676-9
Book Review: Kavneet Singh
Dwijendra Narayan Jha is a retired Professor of History from the University of Delhi. Also was 
Chair of the Indian Historical Society 2004-2005. He has several well-known books to his credit. 
A genuine scholar who has a passion for researching the truth based on historical evidence and 
not myth based pseudo religious history.
Chapter 1 – ‘Animals are verily food’ but Yajnavalkya Favors Beef:
Cattle hide was used in a variety of ways. The bowstring (jya) was made of a thong of cowhide –
a practice that may have continued in later times. The different parts of the chariot were tied 
together with leather straps, also needed for binding arrow to the shaft…..Leather tongs were 
used for not only making snares but also for a musical instrument called godha….[Pages 37 & 
The utilitarian value of the entire hide of the cow is so unique that it was used in the medieval 
times and continues to this day. It is a mockery of common sense, when nearly a billion Hindus 
wear leather sandals/shoes, carry leather wallets, sling leather handbags, travel in automobiles 
made of leather seats, tie leather belts around their waists and yet claim the cow as holy. Dead 
cows alone would barely satisfy the pent-up demand of a billion Hindu consumers. Furthermore 
the life sustaining liquid of the cow is a direct biological process within the cow to produce milk. 
So if the cow is so holy, no milk products should be used at all, as there is no difference between
drinking its milk or eating its flesh!
The killing of cattle and eating of meat were fairly common among the Vedic Indians. But the 
Vedic texts were not always unanimous in recommending the killing of animals for sacrifice and 
other purposes……the undermining of the world of Brahmanic sacrifice did not lead to the 
disappearance of beef or any other meat from the Indian diet. [Pages 41-42]In most ritual sacrifices especially those most profitable to the presiding Brahmin, the killing of 
cows was not uncommon. Prof. Jha is right in his assessment that pastoral nomadic communities 
of the foreign Aryans finally started to settle into a more agricultural economic lifestyle which 
led to less need for meat and more vegetarian diet thereby slowly making the cow a dairy 
producer rather than a meat producer also. All readers need to be reminded that the top three 
castes who follow Brahminism and consider the cow holy are barely 15% of the entire so-called 
Hindu population as the rest have been coopted and the illiterate, brainwashed into putting the 
cow on a pedestal.
Chapter 2 – The Rejection of Animal Sacrifice: An Assertion of the Sacredness of the Cow?
The prohibition of the killing of birds and fish, she-goats, sheep, and swine (pig) is indicative of 
the fact that their flesh was generally eaten; so was the case with the flesh of the bull (sandaka) 
and other cattle – and Asoka’s silence about the cow certainly indicates that it had not achieved 
the sanctity that it came to acquire in later times…..[Page 66]
During the time of the Buddhist King a lot of the commonly eaten animals were banned but not 
the cow, which clearly indicates that the cow was eaten by many, otherwise there would be a ban 
on it too.
Sri Lankan Buddhists continue o eat meat, including beef and fish…..[Page 71]
Buddhists are considered part of Dharmic Hinduism yet they continue to relish and eat beef.
Moharajaparajaya, in which a character argues that just as one drinks cow’s milk one may eat 
cow meat without incurring sin…….Pandita Dhanapala, who figures prominently in one of his 
stories, even questions the sacredness of the cow…..[Page 76]
The Jains who have today been completely subsumed by the Hindus seem to clearly question and 
disagree, with the issue of the sanctity of the cow.
Both made major departures from Vedic beliefs and practices, but, curiously, neither held the 
cow sacred……[Page 78]
With all the time to debate and consider these mundane issues it is strange that both the 
Buddhists and the Jains did not consider the cow sacred or important enough to be made a ‘holy’.
Chapter 3 – The Later Dharmasastric Tradition and Beyond:
Kautilya’s general dictum of non-injury (ahimsa) being the duty of all classes and Asoka’s pious 
wishes to disallow flesh in the royal kitchen did not stand in the way of cow slaughter..[Page 90]
There is no question that cow killing continued except it was a mixed bags of goods due to the 
myriad of groups all across the ‘greater pre-Indian’ sub-continent.The Puranas, whose compilation ranges in date from the early Christian centuries to about the 
eighteenth century, have much in common with the law books mentioned above. They do not 
impose a ban on flesh food, and even the later ones among them, continue to refer to the use of 
meat in rituals……..In any case, the very fact that the Puranas prescribed butchery of buffaloes 
indicates that that they did not show any special veneration for the bovids. Notwithstanding 
their unprecedented glorification from the second half of the first millennia AD 
onwards….[Pages 94 & 95]
Pretty much all the religious writings of the Sanatan Dharmis have been written by hundreds of 
authors over centuries, not to mention the various renditions. As the culture changed over the 
centuries so did socio-cultural practices which were deeply intertwined with the religious 
practices, and this was part of the change in attitude towards the sanctity of the cow. But this still 
does not change the fact that there is absolutely no clarity anywhere about the holiness of the 
Similarly Sita’s fascination for meat can be inferred from several passages of the text. While 
crossing the Ganga she promises to offer her rice cooked with meat and thousands of jars of 
wine when her husband accomplishes his vow. Sita’s love for deer meat makes her husband 
chase and kill Marcia disguised as the fabulous golden deer………Guha offers fish, meat and 
honey to Bharata, and fresh and dried meat along with other things to his army. Bharadvaja also 
extends generous hospitality to Bharata’s troops, regaling them with meat and wine, and 
welcomes Rama by slaughtering the “fatted calf”……[Page 97]
A close reading of the Mahabharata and then the Ramayana by Valmiki clearly shows numerous 
instances of beef eating, meat eating in general but also drinking liquor by the fairy gods. These 
happen to be the most revered scriptures by the Sanatan Dharmis who today, claim the cow as 
Be that as it may, there is substantial evidence against the inherent sanctity of the bovine 
including the cow……[Page 100]
Prof. Jha has copious references in his book which prove beyond a doubt that the holiness of the 
cow is a very recent fabrication of the Hindu right for a sinister agenda.
In other words, non-killing of cows and abstention from eating flesh could not have been a mark 
of community identity for brahmanas or the brahmanical social order……the Dharmasastra 
texts continue to uphold the tradition of flesh eating. As late as seventh century Visvanatha 
Nyaya-Pancanana, a great logician who also wrote on the Simirits, vehemently advocates the 
eating of flesh by brahmanas on occasions like sacrifices, sraddhas and madshuparka and when 
life is in danger; he also ridicules the south Indian brahmanas, who deprecate meat…...[Pages 
102 & 109]On one hand the religious edicts of the Brahminical Santana Dharmis are made to micro manage 
their lives. On the other hand the dichotomy is that there are so many contradictions within 
individual books that clarity in general is foggy at best. Compounding the problem even further 
is that there were and are hundreds of divergent denominations in and outside the pale of Sanatan
Chapter 4 – The Cow in the Kali Age and Memories of Beef Consumption:
The Vyasasmrti thus categorically states that a cow killer is untouchable (antyaja) and even by 
talking to him one incurs sin………[Page 114]
Based on the above fact all Brahmins who used to sacrifice cows at the prayer alter and then eat 
them would automatically become untouchables. Indeed a paradox!
The Dharamsastras are generally silent about whether the carcass was to be eaten or not, but 
the Sankhasmriti prescribes a fifteen-day penance for one who eats a dead calf though curiously 
a Jana Sangha (now BJP) ideologue permits, without equivocation, the eating of the flesh of 
cows dying a natural death……[Page 115]
Most of the religious books of the Hindus are written in a manner that they always leave a door 
open to slip out of a tight situation. Interpretations change and on many occasions there are 
arguments to both sides, yet no side, leaving the reader flummoxed. The above is just a snippet 
of the literature on cow eating which exists, but since the overwhelming followers rarely read, 
instead argue endlessly and violently proclaim the holiness of the cow.
In any case Alberuni’s informants evidently retained the memory of the old custom of 
slaughtering the cow and eating its flesh. Thus while non-vegetarian diet continued in 
Brahminical circles…..[Page 118]
Even among Brahmins there were Brahmins of various hues from the Kashmiri, to the Bengali, 
to the Nambudri in the south. Each sub-group defined their own list of dietary customs; then 
further compounding the problem by adding and editing the prevailing religious texts. No 
wonder there are hundreds of renditions all dissimilar in nature to create more confusion with no 
Sacrificial killing of cows and buffaloes, for example, was practiced at Todgarh in Merwara 
(Rajasthan) until 1874 when the local Rawats entered into an agreement to abstain from beef 
eating……..For example, the Saoras (Sabaras) of Orissa, who are known to have formerly 
sacrificed cows and bullocks and to have eaten their flesh, under Brahminical influence almost 
gave up the practice by the 1950s. This may indicate he general pattern of acculturations in 
India…..[Pages 120 & 121]
In case after case the Brahmins have used overt or covert methods of coercion to get others to 
stop killing and eating beef. A very small minority, namely the Brahmins first design a socio-economic structure, then put the garb of religion on it, which they keep editing on whim and 
expect the rest to follow. Those who do not fall in step are brought to heel through various 
methods, in order to ‘mainstream’ them, into Brahminism (Hinduism/Sanatan Dharma). 
Chapter 5 – A Paradoxical Sin and the Paradox of the Cow:
Lawgivers from Manu onwards are generally unanimous in describing cow killing as a minor 
sin, but do not lay down a uniform penalty for the cow killer….[Page 128]
According to the ‘Manu’ the lawgiver (the same man, who designed the diabolical ‘caste 
system’), the killing of a cow is a very minor offence.
Thus even within brahmana circles there is divergence of attitudes towards cow 
slaughter….[Page 129]
Prof. Jha shows the discrepancies among the Brahmins themselves on the issue of the cow.
According to Baudhayana, the land becomes pure when a cow walks on it and drinking gruel of 
barley that has passed through a cow is a meritorious act….A mere touch of cow dung, he tells 
us, cleanses a man and metal objects can be cleaned by smearing with cow dung or immersing in 
cow urine……[Page 130]
Cow dung and cow urine being used for a religious purpose eons ago may make sense, but today 
the use of excreta and waste of an animal being widely used, boggles the mind. What has either 
got to do with becoming a better human being? Secondly the diseases which can be passed from 
animal to human are revolting and very scary! Little wonder, cow urine is sold as a drink for 
humans in the state of Gujarat. The cows in India eat practically all the garbage lying on the 
wayside and I pray no one starts making vegetarian cow dung patties since beef patties are 
banned at McDonalds.
According to Yajnavalkya the mouths of goats and horses are pure but that of a cow is not; nor 
is human excrement…..[Pages 132 & 133]
I am not sure whether it is the height of amusement or stupidity, that, the mouth of a cow is not 
pure but its waste is holy and pure! These very convoluted ideologies are the paradoxes which 
Prof. Jha has sharply pointed out.
Although a Brahminical concoction, this myth was intended to rationalize the Dharamsastric 
view for which there appears no logical basis. A late nineteenth century account, in fact, refers 
to a brahmana priest waving a wild cow’s tail over his clients to scare away demons while they
were bathing in a sacred pool at Hardwar, and it is difficult to imagine how one could get a tail 
of the animal without killing it…..[Page 133]
The above historical incident shows the consistent contradictions about the sanctity of the cow. Chapter 6 – Resume: The Elusive ‘Holy Cow’:
The Taittiriya Brahmana categorically tells us: ‘Verily the cow is food’ (althoannam vai gauh) 
and Yajnavalkya’s insistence on eating the tender (amsala) flesh of the cow is well 
known…..[Page 139]
The most important ‘rishis’ ate and relished beef especially of young fattened calves.
The sacred thread ceremony for its part was not all that sacred; for it was necessary for a 
snataka to wear an upper garment of cowhide….[Page 139]
Here is a clear dichotomy of the ‘janeau’ ceremony. One could not wear cow hide unless it came 
from a dead cow which was killed. Scriptural hypocrisy at its best!
Archaeological evidence, in fact, suggests non-ritual killing of cattle. This is indicative of the 
fact that beef and other animal flesh formed part of the dietary culture of people and that edible 
flesh was not always ritually consecrated……[Page 140]
Beef and meat in general was eaten and not necessarily killed only for sacrificial purposes but 
simply for daily sustenance by the Brahminical Hindus.
In the Gupta period, Kalidasa alludes to the story of Rantideva who killed numerous cows every 
day in his kitchen…..Later Sriharsa mentions a variety on non-vegetarian delicacies served at a 
dazzling marriage feast and refers to two interesting instances of cow killing…..[Page 143]
Prof. Jha has shown plenty of evidence which disapproves the Hindu right’s insistence of the fact 
that the cow is holy and that beef eating is banned in their faith.
Also, Mahatma Gandhi spoke of the hypocrisy of the orthodox Hindus who ‘do not so much as 
hesitate or inquire when during illness the doctor….prescribes them beef tea’. Even today 72 
communities in Kerala – not all of them untouchable perhaps – prefer beef to the expensive 
mutton and the Hinduvata forces are persuading them to go easy on it…..[Page 145]
Curiously all the modern day quirks of beef eating exist among not only Hindus in Kerala but all 
across – from central India to the far north-east, tribals, dalits and many others still eat beef.
According to Manu, the food smelt by a cow has to be purified…….Among the later juridical 
texts, those of Angirasa, Parasara, Vyasa and so on, support the idea of the cow’s mouth being 
impure. The lawgiver Sankha categorically states that all limbs of the cow are pure except the 
mouth……[Page 146]
It is through the unholy mouth, all the grass/fodder is eaten to produce the milk, etc, so how can 
the rest of the cow be holy. Either the entire cow is holy or it is not. Actually the buffalo’s meat 
and its milk is, even better than the cow’s. I wonder if that makes the buffalo holier than the 
cow? One cannot have it both ways.It was killed but the killing was not killing. When it was not slain, mere remembering the old 
practice of butchery satisfied the brahmanas. Its five products including feces and urine has been 
considered pure but not its mouth……[Page 146]
It is perplexing that the waste of an animal is holy, but the mouth is unholy. Some issues are best 
left on the wayside otherwise all the believers become a laugh stock. Even common sense has 
taken a leave of absence in this case. Like Prof. Jha states there has never been a cow-goddess or 
any temple in her honor anywhere in India. The right wing (Brahmins) Sanatan Dharmis better 
rethink their cow strategy because at the moment it is a serious joke. 
Between the ‘(un)holy cow’, the virulent anti-Muslim hatemongering and the propaganda of 
trying to co-opting of other Faiths there seems to be not much for the modern day Brahmins to 
come up with in order to fabricate and coalesce all the myriad sects under one ‘monolithic’
Hinduism. Instead of wasting time on the cow, these sanctimonious self-proclaimed upholders of 
religion should spend time feeding, educating and genuinely taking care of the downtrodden 
millions who are dirt poor in Hindu India partly due to the digressively rigid caste system in 
This book had to be printed in the UK eventually, as the first printer changed his mind out of fear 
and the second one was threatened. Prof. Jha had a ‘fatwa’ on his head issued by the Hindu right 
and was under protection for quite a long time. Honest, scholarship on Hinduism is becoming the 
domain of only the brave, because the extremist Hindu fringe, threaten anyone writing critically, 
with dire consequences. Unfortunately, empathy and unpretentious brotherhood will be a mirage 
since the religious texts themselves need to be seriously edited to a bare minimum in order to 
start genuine change in Hindu India. Once again Prof. Jha has written a memorable classic.

Soul , the non existent major premises!

Human beings are the greatest creaters. They created ~ SOUL` which is non existent. Yet they believe it. Around soul humans concocted several make belief stories, myths, epics, and religious superstitions. Reincarnation, rebirth, heaven, hell, ultimately god -all these are created in chain for the sake of soul. None of them stand for proof. Yet all the religious business is thriving on the basis of soul. 
Soul as a major premises is unreal. Hence the conclusions based on soul are all false. 
Innaiah Narisetti

Tuesday, April 16, 2013