In Hinduism, the cow is a symbol of wealth, strength, abundance, selfless giving and a full Earthly life
Due to the multiple benefits from cattle, there are varying beliefs about cattle in societies and religions.
In some regions, especially Nepal and some states in India, the slaughter of cattle is prohibited and their meat may be taboo. Cattle are considered sacred in world religions such as Hinduism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism and others. Religions in Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Ancient Israel and Ancient Rome hold similar beliefs.
The cow has been a symbol of wealth since ancient days. However, they were neither inviolable nor revered in the same way they are today.
The cow was possibly revered because Hindus relied heavily on it for dairy products and for tilling the fields, and on cow dung as a source of fuel and fertilizer. Thus, the cow’s status as a ‘caretaker’ led to identifying it as an almost maternal figure (hence the term gau mata).
The cow was venerated by Mahatma Gandhi. He said: “I worship it and I shall defend its worship against the whole world,” and that, “The central fact of Hinduism is cow protection.” He regarded the cow as better than the earthly mother and called her “the mother to millions of Indian mankind.”
Our mother, when she dies, means expenses of burial or cremation. Mother cow is as useful dead as when she is alive. We can make use of every part of her body — her flesh, her bones, her intestines, her horns and her skin.
For Gandhi, the cow is a “poem of mercy”, and protection of the cow is the gift of Hinduism to the world, because to protect Mother Cow means protecting all weak lives in this world.
The cow’s milk is believed to promote Sattvic (purifying) qualities. The ghee (clarified butter) from the milk of a cow is used in ceremonies and in preparing religious food. Cow dung is used as fertilizer, as a fuel and as a disinfectant in homes. Its urine is used for religious rituals as well as medicinal purposes.
The supreme purificatory material, panchagavya, was a mixture of five products of the cow: milk, curds, ghee, urine and dung. The interdiction of the meat of the bounteous cow as food was regarded as the first step to total vegetarianism
a man was murdered by a mob in India because they thought he had been eating beef but his brother has appealed for calm as tensions continue to mount in the aftermath of the incident.
Inside the Indian village where a mob killed a man for eating beef
The Indian Hindus revered cattle that they would everything to protect them. However in Bishara, near Delhi, fear and tension are both on the rise as India’s nationalist right and their Muslim minorities live uneasily together
The tension is founded on the fact that Mohammed Akhlaq, 50, was beaten to death by a mob at his home in Bishara village, 24 miles (40km) from the centre of Delhi, the Indian capital, due to the belief that; Akhlaq and his family, who are Muslims, had eaten meat from a cow, an animal considered sacred by many Hindus, who make up 80% of the Indian population. Akhlaq and his son were dragged from their beds and beaten with bricks. The father died; the son is fighting for his life in hospital.
Although some of the youth who carried out the atrocities were arrested and some ministers condemned the attacks it is still dangerous to kill cattle in India. Even those who deal in meat would have to go for special licenses to be able to kill cows in India