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The Cow in Hinduism - by Vyasar Ganesan

Posted Jun 16 2012 1:19pm
Vyasar Ganesan was born in Derry, New Hampshire, and raised in Austin.
His mother is from near Delhi, and his father comes from southern
India. He currently is an arts graduate of Allegheny College, having
just finished a senior project in creative nonfiction. Vyasar is a
blogger for Radha Madhav Dham, the main US ashram of Jagadguru Shree
Kripaluji Maharaj.

6/3/12 Austin, TX 3:43 PM

Living in Texas, it's hard to ignore the prevalence of cows. Cattle
farms, dairy farms, along the highway and in the supermarket, the cow
is virtually the symbol of the state. If there were traffic jams
caused by livestock here, people might think they'd somehow ended up
in India. The primacy of the bovine is acknowledged, but not
understood. This week's misconception, therefore, is the nature of
cows in Sanatan Dharm.

"Why do you worship cows?" This question echoes from California to New
England, one of the universal puzzlements Americans suffer from.
Really though, they should be asking themselves that question. More
than just Texas, the whole country is fanatically addicted to the
animal. Specialty cheeses, milk of all kinds and colors; we live in an
age where milk is an industrial commodity, rather than an agricultural

Milk is just as important, if not more so, to Indians as it is to
Americans. We use it so much, for so many things, that the respect for
the product carries over to affection for the source. Cows are the
lifeblood of many small communities, and the size of a herd can
indicate a great deal about the status or health of villages in India.
We use ghee (clarified butter) and milk in ceremonies, and we revere
the cow for providing it. We drink the cow's milk, as though it were
our mother's. So indeed, we respect the cow as if it were our mother.

However, the question about 'worshipping cows' is based on
misinformation. Hindus do not 'worship,' cows, in the implied sense of
the word. There is a religious relationship between us, but it is not
one of worship. In its place, there is a deep reverence for life in
all forms.

When someone dies, their soul is reincarnated throughout the 8.4
million species, based on their karm. So, at any given time, the
animals, insects and bacteria you see around you are all souls,
waiting for their chance to be reborn as humans. Sanatan Dharm's
perspective on all of the life that teems around us, waiting for its
chance at God realization, certainly breeds a loving amount of respect
for all creation.

Finally, during Krishn's avatar on Earth, he cultivated an incredibly
strong bond with cows. There are many leelas of Krishn in Braj,
playing with the cows, tending to them every day. Revering and
respecting cows is important from a devotional perspective, too. When
we look at cows today, with their gentleness and calm manner, it is
the beginning of a connection to the past, when Krishn played his
flute and all of nature fell under its irresistibly soothing spell. We
can feel our own lives slow down to match the simple pace of the cow,
sitting on a grassy hill to watch the sunset, some clover between our
teeth and a little more love in our hearts.

Jagadguru Kripalu Parishat (JKP) was founded by Jagadguru Shree
Kripaluji Maharaj, our beloved Shree Maharajji, the fifth prime
Jagadguru in the last 5000 years.

Founded in 1990, Radha Madhav Dham Temple and ashram serves as the
national center of Jagadguru Kripalu Parishat in the United States and
is one of the largest Hindu Temples in North America.

JKP Radha Madhav Dham Official Website:
Jagadguru Kripalu Parishat Worldwide Mission:
Swami Nikhilanandji's Facebook Page:
Official Youtube Channel:

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