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A scriptural edict

Hinduism Today explains the significance of the sacred cow as an embodiment of the Divine Mother: “A scriptural edict.”

Rig Veda: She is like the mother of the cosmic Forces, the daughter of the cosmic Matter, the sister of cosmic Energy, the centre of the ambrosia. I address to men of wisdom –kill not her, the sinless inviolate cow.

The divine cow, herself is skilled in eloquence, gives speech to others, who comes surrounded by every kind of utterance, who helps me for my worship of the divine forces, it is only the fool that abandons her.

May cows come and bring us good fortune; let them stay in our cowsheds and be content in our company. May many colored cows bring here prolific milk for offerings to the resplendent Lord at many dawns.

The resplendent Lord bestows affluence on the devotee who offers worship and oblations. He takes not what belongs to the worshiper and gives him more; thereby increasing his wealth more and ever-more, he places the devotee in fortified positions, free from danger.

Let not the cows run away from us, let no thief carry them away; let no hostile weapon fall upon them. May the master of the cattle be long possessed of them, with the milk products of which he makes offerings and with which he serves the godly men.

Let not the cows fall a victim to the arrogant, dustspurning war-horse. Let them not fall into the hands of a butcher or his shop. Let the cattle of the man, the householder, move about freely and graze without fear.

May the cows be our affluence; may the resplendent Lord grant us cattle; may the cows yield food (milk and butter) of the first libation. These cows, O men, are sacred as the Lord resplendent Himself –the Lord whose blessings we crave for, with head and heart.

O cows, you strengthen even the worn-out and fatigued and make the unlovely beautiful to look on. Your lowing is auspicious, and makes my dwelling prosperous. Great is the abundance that is attributed to you in our religious ceremony.

May you, O cows, have many calves grazing upon good pastures and drinking pure water at accessible ponds. May no thief be your master. May no beast of prey assail you and may the dart of vital Lord never fall on you.

O resplendent Lord, a showerer of virility as you are, may we have by your blessings the sturdy bulls for insemination and let us have plenty of nourishment for the cows.

Rig veda viii , 102, 15-16; vi , 28, 1-8 Translation by Swami Satya Prakash sarasvati and Satyakam Vidyalanka

Mahatma Gandhi: “The central fact of Hinduism is cow protection. Cow protection to me is one of the most wonderful phenomena in human evolution….

“Cow protection is the gift of Hinduism to the world….

“I would not kill a human being to protect a cow, as I will not kill a cow to save a human life, be it ever so precious. My religion teaches me that I should by personal conduct instill into the minds of those who might hold different views the conviction that cow-killing is a sin and that, therefore, it ought to be abandoned. My ambition is no less than to see the principle of cow protection established throughout the world….

“Mother cow is in many ways better than the mother who gave us birth. Our mother gives us milk for a couple of years and then expects us to serve her when we grow up….

“The reader will observe that behind the foregoing requirements lies one thing, and that is ahimsa (noninjury), otherwise known as universal compassion. If that supreme thing is realized, everything else becomes easy. Where there is ahimsa, there is infinite patience, inner calm, discrimination, self-sacrifice and true knowledge.”

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