When India fought the First War of Independence in 1857, and Bahadur Shah ‘Zafar’ was installed as emperor by the Hindus in Delhi for a brief period, his Hindu Prime Minister, on the emperor’s proclamation, made the killing of cow a capital offence. Earlier in Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s kingdom, the only crime that had capital punishment was cow slaughter.

One global patent has been granted for cow urine, neem and garlic as a pest repellent, fungicidal and growth promontory properties for all different crops.

Our West influenced intellectuals and mentally dominated by foreign idiom, sneer at the mention of the cow, leave alone speaking about the cow as an asset to the nation. But we know that these intellectuals first sneered at yoga, now it is a fashion for them doing pranayama at cocktail parties. They also sneered at our sanyasis, calling them disparagingly as “Godmen”. Now they flock to ashrams with their white friends ever since the Beatles did. Who knows, they may soon boast of a cow in their backyards. For those of us who are desi by pedigree and conviction, I place some facts about the cow in the new perspective of modern Hindutva.

India has 150 million cows today, giving an average of less than 200 litres of milk per year. If they could be fed and looked after, then these divine animals can give an average of 11,000 litres of milk as the Israeli cows do. That could provide milk for the whole world. The milk we produce today is the cheapest in the world. With enhanced production by raising the productivity of milch cows we can become the world’s largest exporter of milk and India’s biggest foreign exchange earner.

The cow was elevated to the status of divinity in the Rg.Veda iself. In Book VI, the Hymn XXVIII attributed to Rishi Bhardwaja, extols the virtue of the cow. In Atharva Veda (Book X, Hymn 10), the cow is formally designated as Vishnu, and “all that the Sun surveys.” This divine quality of the cow has been affirmed by Kautilya in his Arthsastra (Chapter XXIX) as well.

The Indian society has addressed the cow as gow mata. 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.

Cow is there in the company of Bhagwan Dattatreya and Gopal Krishna. Cow is the vehicle of Shaillputri and Gowri – two of the nine manifestations of Goddess Durga. Ancient coins with image of bull Nandi on them have been found in excavations.

Thousands of names of places, persons and things in our country have name of the cow: e.g. Gauhati, Gorakhpur, Goa, Godhra, Gondiya, Godavari, Goverdhan, Gautam, Gomukh, Gokarna, Goyal, Gochar etc. , that signify the deep reverence and high ground reserved for the cow and her progeny in our culture. Why? Because of the deep abiding faith that the cow is verily the Annapurna.

In 2003, the National Commission on Cattle presided over by Justice G.M. Lodha, submitted its recommendations to the NDA Government. The Report (in 4 volumes) called for stringent laws to protect the cow and its progeny in the interest of India’s rural economy. This is anyway a Constitutional requirement under Directive Principles of State Policy. Article 48 of the Constitution says: “The State shall endeavour to organise agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines and shall, in particular, take steps for preserving and improving the breeds, and prohibiting the slaughter of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle”. In 1958, a 5-member Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court { (1959) SCR 629} upheld Article 48 and the consequently held total ban on cow slaughter as a reasonable restriction on Fundamental Rights of all Indians.

For a Hindu, the very appearance of a cow evokes a sense of piety. See however the most reckless bus driver avoids the cow that squats in the middle of the road. The cow is serene by temperament and herbivorous by diet. It is multi-product animal. Apart from milk, cow dung known for its anti-septic value, is still used as fuel in its dried caked form in most Indian villages. It is also used in compost manure and in the production of electricity through eco-friendly gobar-gas. Thus, Mahatma Gandhi had declared: “Cow protection is more important than even Swaraj”.

The cow, according to Vedas provides the following four products for human society :

1. Godugdha (Cow milk): As per Ayurveda, cow milk’s composition has fat, carbohydrate, minerals, calcium, Iron and Vitamin B, an even a capacity for resistance of the body against radiation and regenerate brain cells.

2. Goghruta (Cow Ghee): Best among all kinds of ghee. As per Ayurveda classics it is useful in various kind of systematic, physical and mental disorders as well as it sustain the age for long time. When it is used in Yajna, it improves the oxygen level in the air around.

3. Gomutra (Cow Urine): A total of 8 types of urine are used for medicinal purpose now a days. Among those, Cow urine is held to be the best. Hence the Americans are busy patenting while we are busy sneering about it. Anti-cancer, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal property is found in it. It is also having anti-oxidant and immuno modulator property, which is very much useful for immune deficiency diseases which are increasing now a day. In classics there are so many references available where cow urine is mentioned as a drug of choice. Even Parsis of Zoroastrian religion follow this practice.

Besides milk and dung, the ancient Hindu wisdom that cow’s urine has medicinal properties and hence accessible at low cost to the rural poor, is borne out by Patents granted in United States.

Two US patents have been granted for cow urine distillate (US Pat. No. 6410059 & 6896907) for anti-micro-bial, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-cancer properties, also it is having a lot of anti-exidants. Since it has got immumomodulatory compounds in it, it is a very good bio-enhancer to facilitate drug availability to high extent in our body. Patent from China is also granted to cow urine distillate as a DNA protector.

One global patent has been granted for cow urine, neem and garlic as a pest repellent, fungicidal and growth promontory properties for all different crops (WHO 2004/087618A1).

Another US patent has been granted for strains obtained from Sahiwal cow milk for plant growth promoter phytopathogenic fungi controlling activity, abiotic stress tolerating capability, phosphatic solubilisation capability, etc. (US patent No. 7097830 dated 29/8/06).

Also CSIR has filed US patent for Amrit Pani (mixture of cow dung + cow urine + jaggery) from NBRI Lucknow for soil health improvement properties.

All the above claims had been made in Charaka Samhita, Sushrut, Vaghbhati and Nighantu, Ratnakar, etc.

The above examples very well prove the utility of cow dung and urine for sustainable agriculture as well as for almost curing or giving relief in many serious diseases like psoriasis, eczema, asthma, diabetes, blood pressure, renal failures and cancer, etc.

This confirms Vedic message: Gomay Vasate Laxmi i.e. cow dung is a source of wealth, whereas in western culture dung and urine are considered to be waste, even if their modern medical research has begun changing its view.

4. Gomaya (Cow dung): Gomaya is considered equally valuable as Gau mutra and it is used to purify the environment. Cow dung has radium and it checks the radiation effects.

Furthermore, the common argument in the west for slaughtering cows is no more uncontested. Beef is not of high protein content as believed. Any dietician’s chart shows that beef, with 22 per cent protein, ranks far below vegetable products like soyabeen (43), groundnut (31), pulses (24). Moreover, excess intake of protein is not good as it only contributes to obesity, a bane of modern civilization. Moreover, to procure 1 kg of beef (or for that matter any flesh) it takes 7 kg of crops and 7,000 kg. of water.

Thus protection of the cow thus makes good economic and ecological sense. Swami Dayananda Saraswati, the scholar-sanyasi and convenor of the Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha, a body of all prominent Hindu religious heads, has argued that non-vegetarianism indirectly contributes heavily to green house gases and other pollution.

He quotes a report from the United Nations of the year 2006 that reveals the surprising fact that “raising animals for meat as food generates more green house gases than all the cars and trucks in the world combined.” Ten of billions of animals farmed for food, release gases such as methane, nitrous oxide and carbon-di-oxide through their massive amounts of manure. Animals such as cows and sheep, being ruminant, emit huge amount of methane due to flatulence and burping. “The released methane”, the report says, “has 23 times the global warming potential of CO2″. It is alarming to note that the livestock industry alone is responsible for 37 per cent of human induced methane emissions. To make room for these animals to graze, the virgin forests are cleared. The livestock industry also needs a vast stretches of land to raise mono-crops to feed the animals. The CO2 that the trees and plants store escapes back into the air when they are destroyed.

Growing fodder for farmed animals implies heavy use of synthetic fertilizers produced with fossil fuels. While this process emits a huge amount of CO2 fertilizer itself releases nitrous oxide (3) – a green house gas that is 296 times more potent than CO2. Alarming though these facts are, Swamiji sees in them a reason for hope. All that the people ever have to do is to avoid red-meat eating. In the absence of demand for meat there is no more need for breeding millions of animals for daily slaughter. And then animals population would cease to be medicated or inseminated for continuous breeding, thereby the population would be regulated

A single individual by simply not consuming meat prevents the equivalent of 1.5 tons CO2 emissions in a year. This is more than the one ton of CO2 emissions prevented by switching from a large sedan to a small car. One needs to have an honest commitment to save the mother earth who has been relentlessly patient and magnanimous since she began bearing life. There are a number of reasons for one to be a vegetarian. People given to meat eating think that a pure vegetarian diet is optional. But now they have no choice if they are alive to what is happening to this life-bearing planet. There is no justification whatsoever for one to continue to be a non-vegetarian knowing the devastating consequences of meat eating.

As Swami Dayananda Saraswati has noted:

“Promotion of vegetarianism does not require any legislation from the State. It does require a change of heart on the part of meat eating individuals anywhere on this planet. I cannot appeal to the tigers and wolves. They are programmed to be what they are. Being endowed with freewill only a human being can make a difference by exercising responsibly his or her choice.”

If it is too much for one to switch to be a total vegetarian, then one needs to give up at least red-meat eating.

Cattle can be conveniently reared today only in villages because villages have open grazing lands and natural atmosphere and ponds, etc., which urban dwellings do not have.

But as the erstwhile Sar Sanghchalak of RSS Sri Sudarshan has observed at a meeting of ‘Gobhakta’ industrialists in New Delhi recently, for rural economic development cow-based industries should be set up. An example of this is of Dr. Shrikrishna Mittal who successfully made tiles out of cow dung that could be used in rural housing for a long period. Of course Cow dung gas has already come to stay.

Hence, a new fervour is necessary to create a cow-renaissance in the nation. As Bahadur Shah and Maharaja Ranjit Singh did, we should amend the IPC to make cow slaughter as a capital offence as well as a ground for arrest under the National Security Act, to give meaning and urgency to the total ban on cow slaughter. It is constitutional and is Hindutva.

The cow is thus a part of Hindutva, and we should defend it with all our might.

About the author: Subramanian Swamy is a former Union minister.

[ First published on 28 Nov 2009 at http://bit.ly/2rH1Jfo and thereafter slightly abridged/revised article republished on 16 May 2012 at  http://bit.ly/2sc2gK0 ]