After the bloodbath during Indian Independence, religion was used again to spark tension and polarize society on a large scale when the ‘Ram Janmabhoomi‘ fire was stoked. But the intensity of that fire has waned with time. So, a new issue has been fired up, and the wind has been blowing steadily to fan and spread this fire. Cow worship and ban on cow meat, because of which gruesome lynching is fast becoming a common practice now.
I have been closely watching over these incidents, but I have never once noticed anyone talk about the background of cow worship. Cow worship has its roots in the mythical stories of Kamadhenu in the ancient Indian texts. So, why is the cow worshipped? Because every aspect of a cow is useful to us. Cow’s milk and products made from cow’s milk have sustained and nourished the population of India for thousands of years. Cow’s urine and dung are supposed to have medicinal properties. Burning dried cow dung is supposed to keep mosquitoes away.
In Kerala, coconut trees are treated in a similar vein. They come under the category of what is called ‘Kalpa Vriksha’. Every part of such trees is useful to us. So, it seems to me that the cow goddess was created and divinity was associated with cows to make people respect them. Because of the Kamadhenu association, Hindus have largely refrained from eating cow’s meat for a long time. But times have changed and now a large section of Hindus, including a sizable portion of the Brahmin community are indulging in beef and pork meat.
The argument that increasing Christian and Muslim population have increased the demand for cow’s meat is baseless. Here is my contention about all the fracas that has been going on in the name of the cow. How does the demand increase when there is an adequate supply? This means enough cow meat is being supplied to the market to meet people’s demands. People are asking for more cow’s meat. So where does all this cow meat come from? Cows are not being hunted in forests. They are livestock we have been rearing for thousands of years. They are made to procreate and reproduce so that the supply can be kept in line with the demand.
Hindu fanatics masquerading as cow vigilantes want cow slaughter for meat to be stopped. Fine. But then, what is to be done with all the cows? And what about the hapless state of cow shelters? Cows are supposed to be worshipped as the ‘divine mother’ (coming from the legend of Kamadhenu), but all over the country cows can be seen roaming around the streets. I have stayed abroad, and I have observed that one of the favourite pastimes of foreigners is watching videos on YouTube of traffic on Indian roads littered with garbage, groups of cows lying and standing and hawkers lined up on footpaths. They are mesmerized by how people navigate their vehicles through what is a maze of insanity for them with people driving in all the directions at the same time.
Forget worship; I would be happy if people were to show minimum respect to the cows for what they get from them and not let them wander on streets all day long. I don’t see the cow vigilantes showing any distress at the pathetic state of their ‘mothers’. So, here is the crux of all of this mess. If we look at nature, the population of every being is meticulously controlled. At no point in time does the population of any being goes out of control. The problem here is we are not a part of nature’s food chain. So, anything we cultivate and the animals we domesticate and nurture does not come under the control of nature.
If nature has created buffaloes and deer to keep vegetation under control, it has also created lions and tigers to keep their population under control. We raise livestock for our use. So, we have to figure out how to use them and control their population. If cow vigilantes want cow meat’s consumption to be banned, they should ban the procreation of cows first and not let cows reproduce.
Cows are worshipped in Hinduism but not in any other religion. They have no reason to bow down to the diktat of the cow vigilantes. Here is when the fundamentalist inside the vigilantes will rise, with the agenda of making India a ‘Hindu Rashtra’. But the mindless, ignorant ones do not stop to think that all the people of other religions in India are also the descendants of people who converted from Hinduism to those religions. So what is this all about? One simple reason: Politics of stoking a fire in the name of religion to polarize the population and create vote banks.
I was a reluctant meat eater from my childhood and stopped eating meat when I realized that the flesh of all beings including ourselves are made of muscle fibres. So eating any animal’s meat felt like eating my own flesh. Moreover, the flesh of any being has no taste because muscle fibres are tasteless. Carnivores have no taste buds, and they are created that way because their purpose is to control the population of herbivores. We cannot eat raw meat, and we take so much effort to cook meat before it can be eaten. What we ultimately enjoy is the combination of the taste of all the ingredients that go into the cooking of the meat. I prefer adding all those ingredients to vegetables rather than to the meat coming from another being whose life was excruciatingly taken away. So, it feels idiotic when people ask me if I don’t eat meat because of my religion.
This is my message to the cow vigilantes. Have you seen how cows are bundled into vehicles when they are transported? They do not even have enough place to stand in those vehicles! Cows wander around on the streets all day long. So, when you talk about protecting cows, talk about the agonised lives of bullocks as well. They are made to plough fields, pull carts and do everything else we make them do and when they are not fit to work anymore they are sold to slaughterhouses.
Before you start worshipping learn to respect whatever you are going to worship. Moreover, when you say beef should be banned, my understanding is that beef constitutes both cow’s and buffalo’s meat. So are you asking only for a ban on cow-beef and not buffalo-beef? Why? Is it because there is no buffalo version of Kamadhenu in Indian texts?
If you believe you deserve at least minimum respect for yourself, then you also need to understand that all other living beings feel the same way. Why ban only cow meat? Would you take up the cause of all other hapless animals who are slaughtered for their meat every day? I don’t see you doing it because your objective is not to protect cows, but you have other sinister agenda lurking in the shadows. This is precisely why the people of Kerala, from all religions, have rejected your attempt to impose the ban of eating cow meat on them. Regardless of whether they see through your agenda, the ban makes no sense to them.