Cow- Political Chessboard 2.docx by b2oGBV


									E Digest

Cow on Indian Political Chessboard

                     Compiled by Ram Puniyani

                     Published by CSSS & IPSCR

                           (For Private Circulation)

           Center for Study of Society and Secularism &
      Institute for Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution
                602 & 603, New Silver Star, Behind BEST Bus Depot,
                         Santacruz (E), Mumbai: - 400 055.           1

Cow slaughter, beef eating have been being brought up on
regular basis by communal forces. This issue is used to
browbeat the Muslim minorities in particular. Time and over
again this issue in the form of inciting communal violence,
inciting anti dalit killings, inciting the killing of someone in the
trade of cow selling is targeted. The issue is now being used
more often as a divisive communal agenda and the aim of this
is very clear. It is a political tool in the hands of communal

There are very rigorously researched papers proving that cow
was consumed extensively in ancient Vedic period. In India,
the consumption of beef is more than that of goat mutton or
chicken. Many an Indian communities are eating beef. The
latest law in M.P. is the worst in the line of the impositions by
state. This law empowers the police to arrest any body
suspected to be carrying, storing or eating beef.

This E Digest is a compilation of major essays, articles and
interviews on the theme. The aim of this E Digest is to bring
together all the amiable material on the topic.

                                                    Ram Puniyani

                                                            Page No

1.    Cow and the Elusive Hindu Identity                        04
      - D.N. Jha
2.    Commissar Sadhvi’s Cow Agenda                             14
      - Ram Puniyani
3.    The Dilemma of Cow Slaughter in India                     17
      - Anshul Kumar Pandey
4.    Hindutva Politics and the holy Cow                        21
      - Manoj Joshi
5.    ‘Holy’ Cow and ‘Unholy’ Dalit                             24
      - S. Anand
6.    Holy Cow! Who Moved My Meat                               35
      - Divya Rajagopal
7.    Cow in Contemporary Political Chessboard                  37
      - Ram Puniyani
8.    Cow’s Urine as Medicine: Faith’s leap into blind alleys   39
      - Ram Puniyani
9.    Using the Cow                                             41
      - Javed Anand
10.   Tribute to the holy cow                                   43
      - Jawed Naqvi
11.   What a hypocrisy, Gau Mata!                               46
      - A.J. Philip
12.   M.P.: Path way to Hindu Rashtra                           50
      - Ram Puniyani
13.   Interview                                                 52
      ‘A Political tool’ Interview with D.N. Jha

              Cow and the Elusive Hindu Identity
                                         D. .N. Jha

A    n average Indian of today rooted in
     what appears to him as his traditional
     Hindu religious heritage carries the
                                                 organised      Hindu     cow      protection
                                                 movement, beginning with the Sikh Kuka
                                                 (or Namdhari) sect in the Punjab around
load of the misconception that his               1870 and later strengthened by the
ancestors, especially the Vedic âryans,          foundation of the first Gorakshini Sabha in
attached great importance to the cow on          1882 by Dayanananda Saraswati, made
account of its inherent `sacredness'. The        this animal a symbol to unite a wide
`sacred' cow has come to be considered a         ranging people, challenged the Muslim
symbol of community identity of the              practice of its slaughter and provoked a
Hindus whose cultural tradition is often         series of serious communal riots in the
imagined as threatened by the Muslims            1880s and 1890s. Although attitudes to
who are thought of as beefeaters. The            cow killing had been hardening even
sanctity of the cow has, therefore, been         earlier, there was undoubtedly a ßdramatic
announced with the flourish of trumpets          intensificationû of the cow protection
and has been wrongly traced back to the          movement when in 1888 the North-
Vedas, which are supposedly of divine            Western Provinces High Court decreed
origin and fountainhead of all knowledge         that a cow was not a sacred object. Not
and wisdom. In other words, some sections        surprisingly cow slaughter very often
of Indian society have traced back the           became the pretext of many Hindu-Muslim
concept of `holy' cow to the very period         riots, especially towards the end of the
when it was sacrificed and its flesh was         nineteenth century. The killing of the kine
eaten.                                           emerged again and again as a troublesome
                                                 issue on the Indian political scene
 Since the Bràhmaõical injunctions against       throughout the twentieth century and has
beef eating led to the veneration of cow in      become a rallying point for communalists
the medieval period, it tended to become a       in India. The veneration of this animal has
political instrument at the hand of rulers.      been converted into a symbol of communal
The Mughal emperors (e.g. Babar, Akbar,          identity of the Hindus and the obscurantist
Jahagir and Aurangzeb etc), thus imposed         and fundamentalist forces obdurately
a restricted ban on cow slaughter to             refuse to appreciate that the ßsacredû cow
accommodate the Jaina or Bràhmaõical             was not always all that sacred in the Vedic
feeling of respect for the cow. Similarly        and subsequent Bràhmaõical and non-
Shivaji, sometimes viewed as an                  Bràhmaõical traditions and that its flesh,
incarnation of God who descended on              along with other varieties of meat, was
earth for the deliverance of the cow and         quite often a part of the haute cuisine in
brahman, is described as proclaiming: ßWe        early India. Although the Shin, Muslims of
are Hindus and the rightful lords of the         Dardistan in Pakistan, look on the cow as
realm. It is not proper for us to witness        other Muslims do the pig, avoid direct
cow slaughter and the oppression of              contact with cows, refuse to drink cow's
brahmanasû. But the cow became a tool of         milk or use cow dung as fuel and reject
mass political mobilisation when the             beef as food, the self-styled custodians of

non-existent `monolithic' Hinduism assert       sanctity of cow in India. But he also drew
that the practice of beef eating was first      attention to the old practice of eating beef
introduced in India by the followers of         and its survival in his own times. In 1927,
Islam who came from outside and are             L.L. Sunadara Ram made a strong case for
foreigners in this country, little realising    cow protection for which he sought
that their Vedic ancestors were also            justification from the scriptures of
foreigners who ate the flesh of the cow and     different religions including Hinduism.
various other animals. Fanaticism getting       However he did not deny that the Vedic
precedence over fact, it is not surprising      people ate beef, though he blamed the
that the Rashtriya Svayamsevak Samgha,          Muslims for cow slaughter. Later in the
the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and their             early forties P. V. Kane in his five-volume
numerous outfits have a national ban on         monumental         work      History      of
cow slaughter on their agenda. So high-         Dharmaֈstra referred to Vedic and early
geared has been the propaganda about            Dharmaֈstric passages which speak of
abstention from beef eating as a                cow killing and beef eating. Similarly,
characteristic trait of modern day              Laxman Shastri Joshi, a Sanskritist of
`Hinduism' that when the RSS tried to           unquestionable scholarship, drew attention
claim Sikhs as Hindus, it led to a vehement     to the Dharmaֈstra works, which
opposition from them and one of the Sikh        unequivocally support the prevalence of
youth leaders proposed, ßWhy not                the practice of flesh eating including beef
slaughter a cow and serve beef in a             eating in early India and H.D. Sankalia
gurudwara langar?                               reinforced the scholarly view on the basis
                                                of both literary and archaeological
The response of historical scholarship to       evidence. While the contribution of the
the communal perception of Indian food          scholars mentioned above cannot be
culture, however, has been sober and            minimized, the limitation of their work lies
scholars have drawn attention to the            in the fact that they have referred to
textual evidence of beef eating which, in       isolated bits of information on beef,
fact, begins to be available from the oldest    concentrating mainly on the Vedic texts
Indian religious text Rgveda, supposedly        without treating those as part of a flesh-
of divine origin. H.H. Wilson, writing in       eating tradition prevalent in India. But as
the first half of the nineteenth century, had   will be shown in the sequel there is
asserted that ßthe sacrifice of the horse or    sufficient Indian textual evidence of cattle
of the cow, the gomedha or ashvamedha,          killing and beef eating widely dispersed
appears to have been common in the              over time so as to indicate its continuity
earliest periods of the Hindu ritualû---a       for a long time in the Bràhmaõical society
view convincingly put forth by Rajendra         and to suggest that the idea of cow's
Lal Mitra whose article on the subject          supposed sanctity/holiness does not tie up
formed a chapter of his book The Indo-          with practices prevalent in Indian society.
Aryans published in 1891. In 1894
William Crooke, a British civil servant,
collected an impressive amount of                                  II
ethnographic data on popular Indian             The early Aryans came to India as a semi-
religious beliefs and practices in his two-     nomadic people with a dominantly pastoral
volume work and devoted one whole               economy, in which cattle rearing played an
chapter to the respect shown to animals         important role and agriculture occupied a
including the cow. Later in 1912, he            secondary place. They inherited their
published an informative piece on the           pastoral economy from their Indo-

European past, which showed up                   dead, clear reference is made ßto the
prominently in different aspects of their        burning of a goat which is the share of
life including their religious beliefs and       Agni, and to the use of the flesh of the cow
practices. Like pastoralism, they brought        to protect the body against the flameû.
from outside the practice of animal or           Third in order of importance was the god
cattle sacrifice, widely prevalent among         Soma whose name is derived from a plant
the early Aryans. It has been suggested on       which was the source of a heady drink. It
the basis of linguistic and archaeological       has been suggested that ßthe fundamental
evidence that the practice of cattle sacrifice   and typical Vedic sacrifices are those of
of the Vedic period, called pa÷ubandha,          Somaû in which the killing of animals
can be traced in the chronologically earlier     including cattle played a crucial role.
steppe cultures of Eastern Europe. Nearer        There was not much variation in the menu
home in ancient Iran through which the           of the »gvedic gods. Milk, butter, barley,
eastern branch of Indo-Europeans migrated        oxen, goats and sheep were their usual
to India, the Avesta bears ample testimony       food, though some of them had apparently
of animal sacrifice and the Vedic term           their preferences. Indra, for example, had a
yaj¤a (= sacrifice) occurs as yasna in this      special liking for bulls and the guardian of
text. It speaks of the sacrifice of 100 oxen     the roads, Pusan, being devoid of teeth, ate
and 1000 small cattle, in addition to that of    mush as a Hobson's choice
100 horses, 10,000 sheep or goats and
1000 camels just as the Vedic texts              The later Vedic texts provide detailed
frequently refer to the sacrifice of cattle,     descriptions of sacrifices and frequently
horses, sheep, goats and pigs, etc.              refer to ritual cattle slaughter and the
                                                 Gopatha Bràhmaõa alone mentions
The »gveda frequently refers to the              twenty-one yaj¤as, though all of them may
cooking of the flesh of the ox for offering      not have involved animal killing. A bull
to gods, especially Indra, the greatest of       (vçùabha) was sacrificed to Indra, a
the Vedic gods. At one place he is stated to     dappled cow to the Maruts and a copper
have said: ßthey cook for me 15 plus             coloured cow to the A÷vins. A cow was
twenty oxenû. At other places he is said to      also sacrificed to Mitra and Varuõa. In
have eaten the flesh of bulls, of one or of a    most of the public sacrifices (e.g.
hundred buffaloes or 300 buffaloes roasted       a÷vamedha, ràjasåya and the vàjapeya)
by Agni or a thousand buffaloes. Second          flesh of various types of animals,
in importance to Indra is Agni who has           especially that of the cow/ox/bull was
some 200 hymns to himself in the »gveda.         required. The agnyàdheya, which was a
Born of the mythic parents, Dyaus and            preparatory rite preceding all public
Pçthivã, the god Agni, unlike the                sacrifices, required a cow to be killed. In
licentious Indra, drank Soma moderately,         the a÷vamedha (horse sacrifice), the most
his main food being ghee. Protector of all       important of the Vedic public sacrifices
men, he is, nevertheless, described in the       first referred to in the »gveda and
»gveda as `one whose food is the ox and          discussed in the Bràhmaõas, more than
the barren cow'. There is indeed nothing in      600 animals (including the wild ones like
the text to indicate his aversion to the flesh   boars) and birds were killed and its finale
of the cattle and other animals. On the          was marked by the sacrifice of 21 sterile
contrary, horses (a÷va), bulls (çùabha),         cows. The gosava (cow sacrifice) was an
oxen (ukùan), barren (?) cows (va÷à) and         important component of the ràjasåya and
rams (meùa) were sacrificed for him. In a        vàjapeya sacrifices and in the latter, the
passage dealing with the disposal of the         øatapatha Bràhmaõa tells us, a sterile

spotted cow was offered to Maruts.              of guests and is called arghya, or more
Similarly a sterile cow was sacrificed in       popularly, madhuparka. The killing of the
the agniùñoma just as the ßimmolationû of       kine to honour guests seems to have been
seventeen ßdwarf heifers under threeû was       prevalent from earlier times. The »gveda
an     important       element      in    the   mentions the word atithinãr, which has
pa¤ca÷àradãyasava (dar÷apårõamàsa). The         been interpreted as `cows fit for guests',
killing of animals including cattle (pa÷u)      and refers to a Vedic hero, Atithigva,
figures in several other yaj¤as including       whose name literally means ßslaying cows
càturmàsya, sautràmaõi, and independent         for guestsû. The cow was also killed on
animal sacrifice called pa÷ubandha or           festive occasions like marriage. A Rgvedic
niruóhapa÷ubandha, which was also an            passage, for instance, refers to the
important component of many sacrifices.         slaughter of a cow on the occasion of
The      Taittirãya      Bràhmaõa,      thus,   marriage and, later, in the Aitareya
unambiguously refers to the sacrificial         Bràhmaõa, we are told, that ßif the ruler of
killing of the cow which ßis verily foodû       men comes as a guest or any one else
(atho annaü vai gauþ), and praises Agastya      deserving of honour comes, people kill a
for his sacrifice of a hundred bulls. That      bull or a cow.û It was performed in honour
the flesh of the sacrificial victim was         of special guests, namely the teacher, the
meant for human consumption is clear            priest, a snàtaka, father-in-law, paternal
from passages, which discuss the mode of        and maternal uncles, a friend and a king.
cutting up the immolated animal and the         Their reception not only included the
distribution of its flesh by the samitàça       offering of a mixture of curds and honey
who kills the victim by strangulation.          (whence the term madhuparka was
There is thus evidence to show that the         derived) but, more importantly, of a cow
flesh of the sacrificed cattle was consumed     which was either immolated or let loose
by various categories of people.                according to their wishes, though in no
                                                case the rite was performed without beef
Cattle and other animals were killed not        or flesh-meat. Several Gçhyasåtras
only in public sacrifices but also in           describe madhuparka both independently
ordinary and domestic rites of daily life.      as well as part of the marriage ceremonies
The later Vedic and post- Vedic texts           in which cow was slain more than once in
mention many rites and rituals associated       honour of guests. In subsequent times
with agricultural and other activities and,     Pàõini, therefore, uses the term goghna for
in at least some of them, the killing of        a guest.
animals including cattle was de rigueur.
Among the rites relating to agriculture,        The Gçhyasåtras also attest to the use of
which tended to become stable from the          the hide of the bull or the cow in domestic
later Vedic period onwards, mention may         rituals like the simantonnayana (lit. parting
be made of the ÷ålagava (sacrifice of “the      of the hair of the woman upwards)
ox on the spit”). In this sacrifice a spit-ox   ceremony performed in the fourth month
was killed for Rudra; its tail and skin etc     of pregnancy and the upanayana
were thrown into the fire and its blood was     (investiture ceremony preceding the
poured out on the ku÷a or darbha grass for      beginning of one's studenthood) implying
the snakes.                                     cattle killing. Cattle, in fact, seem to have
                                                been killed even on what would appear to
An interesting rite repeatedly mentioned in     be a flimsy ground to many of us. Thus if
the texts from the later Vedic period           one were eager to have a learned son with
onwards is the one relating to the reception    a long life he could find solution in the

Upaniùadic precept which permitted such         was the gavàmayana, a sessional sacrifice,
a person to eat a mess of veal or beef or of    performed by the bràhmaõs, culminating in
other flesh with rice and ghee, though six      an extravagant bacchanal frolicsome
months after the birth the child itself could   festival,  mahàvrata.      Similarly   the
be fed on the flesh of birds (e.g.,             gçhamedha was some kind of a lavish
bhàradvàjã, tittira, kçkasà etc) and fish.      communal feast in which an unspecified
                                                number of cows were slain not in the strict
The practice of cattle killing was also         ritual manner but in the crude and profane
intimately connected with the cult of the       manner.
dead, which occupies considerable space
in the Vedic as well as post-Vedic texts.       Evidently then, judging by the copious
One of the several »gvedic passages             textual references—not to mention the
relating to cremation, for example, refers      massive archaeological evidence, there is
to the use of the skin and the thick fat of     little doubt that the early Aryans in the
the cow to cover the dead body and the          northwestern part of the Indian
Atharvaveda at one place speaks of a bull       subcontinent and their successors in the
ßpresumably being burnt along with the          middle Gangetic valley slaughtered
dead to ride with in the next worldû. The       animals and cattle including the cow
Gçhyasåtras, elaborately describing the         whose flesh they ate with great relish.
funerary procedure, provide ample               Although flesh eating was forbidden for a
evidence of cattle killing at the time of       Vedic teacher during the months between
cremation and of the practice of                upàkarma and utsarjana, according to a
distributing different limbs of the animal      Dharmasåtra text the flesh of cows and
on those of the corpse. The cremation was       bulls was pure and may be eaten. Not
followed by several rites performed in          surprisingly, beef was the favourite food of
honour of the Manes, variously mentioned        the much respected sage from Mithila,
as pitçryaj¤a, mahàpitçryaj¤a and aùñakà        Yàj¤avalkya, who is said to have made the
in the Vedic passages and as some other         well-known statement that he would
types of ÷ràddha discussed in the post-         continue to eat the flesh of cows and oxen
Vedic texts, especially the Gçhyasåtras.        so long as it was tender (aüsala), though
The central point of these rites was that the   his obdurate position may also imply that
Manes were to be well fed and this could        already in his time an opinion against beef
be possible only if beef was offered to         eating was gaining ground.
them. Therefore apart from other animals,
cows and / or bulls were slain in ÷ràddhas,     Despite all this, it has been argued that the
though the degree of satisfaction they          cow was described as aghnya (unslayable)
derived from the ÷ràddhas seems to have         in the Vedic texts The term aghnya/aghnyà
varied sometimes according to the animal        (lit. not to be slain) has been used at four
offered. However not everything depended        places in the ègveda and the Atharvaveda
on their choice and preference for beef was     ßas a masculine noun equivalent to bull or
generally unquestioned. After all, the          ox and 42 times with a feminine ending to
÷ràddha, apart from being a ritual to please    mean a cowû. Attention has also been
the ancestors, was also a feast for the         drawn to the use of words for cow as
community members, especially the               epithet or in simile and metaphor with
bràhmaõs, whose preference for beef is          reference to entities of highest religious
clearly indicated in the texts. There were      significance, though these occurrences do
several other occasions when cattle were        not indicate their primary sense with
slaughtered for community. One of them          reference to the actual animal. Neither of

the two types of evidence adduced in            many references to the Vedic bràhmaõ's
favour of the ßsacrednessû of the Vedic         interest in his dakùiõà (the good milch
cow, indicates the basically unslayable         cow), and to ßthe dire consequences that
character of cows. On the contrary the          will befall one who withholds it or injures
references seem to emphasize their              or     misappropriates       it    and     the
economic value. When slaughtered they           corresponding benefit accruing to him who
provided food to the people and their           bestows it.û The special importance
priests and the øatapatha Bràhmaõa states       attached to the bràhmaõ's cow, however,
unambiguously that ßmeat is the best kind       cannot be stretched to argue that the Vedic
of food.û When milked the cows gave             cow was inherently sacrosanct and
additional nourishment not only through         unslayable, though in the later Vedic
milk but also through a variety of dairy        period we see the Upaniùads questioning
products, which formed part of human diet       the efficacy of animal sacrifice as a means
as well as of the Vedic sacrificial oblation    of achieving self realization, , reading new
(havis). They produced oxen, which were         meanings       in    the    sacrifices,    and
used as draught animals. The cattle hide        propounding the notion of ahiüsà, even if
was used in a variety of ways. The              some of them continued to betray a
bowstring (jya) was made of a thong of          friendly attitude to the sacrificial cult.
cowhide - a practice that may have
continued in later times. The different         Although the Vedic and subsequent texts
parts of the chariot were tied together with    present divergent perceptions of ritual
leather straps, which were also needed for      butchery of animals including the cattle,
binding the arrow to the shaft. The goad        the general Upaniùadic idea of its futility
for driving the animals was made of cow's       gained in strength and may have
skin or tail. Leather strings were used not     culminated in the doctrine of ahiüsà, which
only for making snares but also a kind of       is the defining trait of Buddhism and
musical instrument called godhà. The            Jainism. These two religions, as is well
utility and importance of the cattle            known, forcefully challenged the Vedic
therefore inspired warriors to fight wars       sacrificial slaughter of animals including
(gaviùñi) for them and it is likely that part   the cattle and paved way for the
of the cattle stock of the vanquished tribes    emergence of stable agrarian settlements,
was killed in course of the raids. All this     state     society    and    other    related
goes against the popular notion of the          developments, though the undermining of
inviolability of the cow throughout the         Bràhmaõical world of sacrifice did not
Vedic period and proves that it was             lead to the total disappearance of the cattle
certainly killed for sacrifice (yaj¤a) and      flesh or other meat types from the Indian
food as well as for other requirements,         dietary menu. Gautama Buddha, despite
notwithstanding      some      Atharvavedic     his vehement opposition of the Vedic
passages, which have been interpreted as        animal sacrifice, was not averse to eating
ßa strong voice of protest against the          of meat. He is known to have eaten beef
slaughter of the cow.û                          and pork and the texts amply indicate that
                                                flesh meat very well suited the Buddhist
It seems likely, however, that the cow          palate. A÷oka, whose compassion for
belonging to the bràhmaõ came to acquire        animals is undeniable, allowed certain
a certain degree of inviolability. It is        specified animals to be killed for his
known that the cow was an ideally               kitchen. In fact, neither Asoka's list of
preferred form of dakùiõà (sacrificial fee)     animals exempted from slaughter nor the
given to the bràhmaõ priest. There are          Artha÷àstra of Kauñilya specifically

mentions cow as unslayable. The cattle         differ radically from him. Yàj¤avalkya
were killed for food throughout the            mentions the specific animals (deer, sheep,
Mauryan period. Like Buddhism, Jainism         goat, boar, rhinoceros etc) and birds (e.g.
also enthusiastically took up cudgels for      partridge) whose flesh could satisfy the
non-violence but it did not develop the        Manes According to him a student,
sacred cow concept.                            teacher, king, close friend and son-in-law
                                               should be offered arghya every year and a
                     III                       priest should be offered madhuparka on all
Despite the Upaniùadic, Buddhist and           ritual occasions. He further enjoins that a
Jaina advocacy of ahiüsà, the practice of      learned bràhmaõ (÷rotriya) should be
ritual and random killing of animals           welcomed with a big ox or goat
including the cattle continued in the post-    (mahokùaü         và       mahàjaü         và
Mauryan centuries. The law book of             ÷rotriyàyopakalpayet) delicious food and
Manu (200 BC-AD 200), which is the             sweet words. The lawgivers generally
most representative of the legal texts and     accept as lawful all those sacrifices, which,
has much to say on the lawful and              according to them, have Vedic sanction.
forbidden food, and, like the earlier law      The sacrificial slaughter of animals and
books, mentions the animals whose flesh        domesticated bovines, as we have seen,
could be eaten. Manu'slist includes the        was a Vedic practice and therefore may
porcupine, hedgehog, iguana, rhinoceros,       have been fairly common among the
tortoise and the hare and all those domestic   Bràhmaõical circles during the early
animals having teeth in one jaw only, the      Christian centuries and even well into the
only exception being the camel, and, it is     later half of the first millennium AD. It
significant that the cow is not excluded       would be, however, unrealistic to assume
from the list of edible animals. Manu          that the dharmic precept of restricting
asserts that animals were created for the      animal slaughter to ritual occasions was
sake of sacrifice, that killing on ritual      always taken seriously either by bràhmaõs
occasions is non-killing and injury (hiüsà)    for whom the legal injunctions were meant
as enjoined by the Veda (vedavihitahiüsà)      or by other sections of society. It is not
is known to be non-injury. In the section      surprising, therefore, that Bçhaspati (AD
dealing with rules for times of distress,      300-500), while discussing the importance
Manu recalls the legendary examples of         of local customs, says that in Madhyade÷a
the most virtuous bràhmaõs of the days of      the artisans eat cows (madhyade÷e
yore who ate ox-meat and dog-meat to           karmakaràþ ÷ilpina÷ca gavàsinaþ).
escape death from starvation (X.105-9).        The evidence from the epics is
Since Manu does not mention beef eating        unambiguous. Most of the characters in the
as taboo one can infer that he did not treat   Mahàbhàrata are meat eaters, but what is
cow as sacrosanct---in fact the killing of     more, it makes a laudatory reference to the
cow and other cattle on ritual occasions       king Rantideva in whose kitchen two
(madhuparka, ÷ràddha etc), according to        thousand cows were butchered everyday,
his commentator Medhàtithi (9th century),      their flesh, along with grains, being
was in keeping with the Vedic and post-        distributed among the bràhmaõs (III.208.8-
Vedic practice.                                9). Similarly the Ràmàyaõa of Vàlmãki
                                               makes frequent reference to the killing of
Yàj¤avalkya (AD 100-300), like Manu,           animals including the cow for sacrifice as
discusses the rules regarding lawful and       well as food. Ràma was born after his
forbidden food. Although his treatment of      father Da÷aratha performed a big sacrifice
the subject is less detailed, he does not      involving the slaughter of a large number

of animals declared edible by the               The above references, albeit limited in
Dharmaֈstras, which sanction ritual            number, indicate that the ancient practice
killing of the kine. Sãtà, while crossing the   of killing the kine for food continued till
Yamunà, assures her that she would              about at least the 12th --13th century, there
worship her with thousand cows and a            is considerable literary evidence to show
hundred jars of wine when Ràma                  that even when the practice of eating beef
accomplishes his vow. Her fondness for          was strongly discouraged by Brahmans
deer meat drives her husband crazy enough       and fast falling into desuetude, its memory
to kill Màrãca, a deer in disguise.             was preserved in later texts. For example,
Bharadvàja        welcomes      Ràma       by   Jayaratha, a Kashmirian commentator
slaughtering a fatted calf in his honour.       (twelfth century) of the Tantràloka of
The evidence of the Sanskrit epics finds        Abhinavagupta cites the Vãràvalã Tantra
support from the earliest Buddhist Tamil        to say that ßthe ancient çsis ate both beef
epic, Maõimekalai (6th century AD?)             and human fleshû. Evidence of this kind is
which relates the story of one âpputiran        also available from the commentaries on
(lit. the son of a cow) who tried to rescue a   the kàvya literature and the earlier
cow from the bràhmaõs eager to kill it for      Dharma÷àstra         texts.   Among        the
sacrifice and food.                             commentators on the secular literature,
                                                Càõóupaõóita (late 13th century) from
Even if we leave aside the references to the    Gujarat, Narahari (14th century) from
therapeutic use of beef in early Indian         Telengana in Andhra Pradesh, and
medical literature, the continuity of the       Mallinàtha (14th-15th century), who is
tradition of eating flesh including that of     associated with the king Devaràya II of
the cattle is also echoed in early Indian       Vidyànagara        (Vijayanagara),     clearly
secular literature till late times. In the      indicate that, in earlier times, the cow was
Gupta period, Kalidasa alludes to the story     done to death for rituals and hence for
of Rantideva who killed numerous cows           food. As late as the 18th century
every day in his kitchen. More than two         Ghana÷yàma, a minister of a Tanjore ruler,
centuries later, Bhavabhåti (AD 700) refers     states that the killing of cow in honour of a
to two instances of guest reception, which      guest was the ancient rule.
included the killing of a heifer.
Ràja÷ekhara (10th century) mentions the          Similarly the authors of Dharma÷àstra
practice of killing an ox or a goat in          commentaries and religious digests from
honour of a guest and Somadeva (11th            the 9th century onwards keep alive the
century) narrates the story of seven            memory of the archaic practice of beef
bràhmaõ boys who ate a cow. In the 12th         eating and some of them even go so far as
century ørãharùa mentions a variety of          to permit eating beef in specific
non-vegetarian delicacies served at a           circumstances. For example, Medhàtithi
dazzling marriage feast and refers to two       (9th century), probably a Kashmirian
interesting instances of cow killing, though    bràhmaõ, says that a bull or ox was killed
in the same century the Càlukya king            in honour of a ruler or any one deserving
Some÷vara indicates his preference for          to be honoured and unambiguously allows
pork, which, despite the lawgivers'             eating the flesh of cow (govyajamàüsam)
abhorrence for it, continued to be              on ritual occasions. Several other writers
sacrificed and eaten by non-Muslims in          of exegetical works seem to lend support
India.                                          to this view, though some times indirectly.
                     IV                         Vi÷varåpa (9th century), a bràhmaõ from
                                                Malwa and probably a pupil of øaïkara,

Vij¤àne÷vara (11th century), who may             with the proliferating number of
have lived not far from Kalyana in modern        untouchable castes. It is, however,
Karnataka, Haradatta (12th century), also a      interesting that they consider the killing of
southerner (dakùiõàtya), Lakùmãdhara             cow as no more than minor behavioural
(12th century), a minister of the Gahaówala      aberrations like cleaning one's teeth with
king, Hemàdri (late 13th century), a             one's fingers and eating only salt or soil.
minister of the Yàdavas of Devagiri,             None of the prescriptive texts enumerate
Narasiüha/ Nçsiüha (14th century),               cow killing as a major offence
possibly from southern India, and Mitra          (mahàpàtaka) and they provide easy
Mi÷ra (17th century) from Gopàcala               escape routes by laying down expiatory
(Gwalior) support the practice of killing a      procedures for intentional as well as
cow on occasions like guest-reception and        inadvertent killing of the cow. This may
÷ràddha in ancient times. As recently as         imply that cattle killing may not have been
the early 20th century, Madana Upàdhyàya         uncommon in society and the atonements
from Mithila refers to the ritual slaughter      were prescribed merely to discourage
of milch cattle in the days of yore. Thus        eating of cattle flesh. To what extent the
even      when        the      Dharmaֈstra      Dharmaֈstric injunctions were effective,
commentators view cow killing with               however, remains a matter of speculation;
disfavour, they generally admit that it was      for the possibility of at least some
an ancient practice and that it was to be        members eating beef on the sly cannot be
avoided in the kali age, though there is         ruled out.
reason to believe that beef eating                                     VI
continued among the Tantric circles.             Although cow killing and beef eating
                                                 gradually came to be viewed as a sin and a
                       V                         source of pollution from the early
While there is massive evidence of beef          medieval period, the cow and its products
eating until very late, there is much in the     (milk, curds, clarified butter, dung and
normative texts to indicate that the             urine) or their mixture called pa¤cagavya
bràhmaõs began to discourage it from             had been assuming a purificatory role from
about the middle of the first millennium         much earlier times. The Vedic texts attest
AD when the Indian society began to be           to the ritual use of cow's milk and milk
gradually feudalized leading to major            products, but the term pa¤cagavya occurs
socio-cultural transformation. This phase        for the first time in the Baudhàyana
of transition, first described in the epic and   Dharmasåtra. The law books of Manu,
Puràõic passages as kaliyuga, saw many           Viùõu, Vasiùñha, Yàj¤avalkya and those
changes and modification in social norms         of several later lawgivers like Atri, Devala
and customs. The Bràhmaõical religious           and Parà÷ara mention the use of the
texts now begin to speak of many earlier         mixture of the five products of the cow for
practices as forbidden in the kaliyuga ---       both purification and expiation. The
practices which came to be known as              commentaries and religious digests, most
kalivarjyas. While the number of                 of which belong to the medieval period,
kalivarjyas swelled up over time, most of        abound in references to the purificatory
the relevant texts mention cow killing as        role of the pa¤cagavya. The underlying
forbidden in the kali. According to some         assumption in all these cases is that the
early medieval lawgivers a cow killer was        pa¤cagavya         is pure. But several
an untouchable and one incurred sin even         Dharmaֈstra texts forbid its use by
by talking to him. They increasingly             women and the lower castes. If a sådra
associated cow slaughter and beef eating

drinks pa¤cagavya, we are told, he goes to      pollution. This is largely true of the
hell.                                           southernmost state of Kerala where nearly
                                                80% of the people including 72 Hindu
It is curious that the prescriptive texts,      communities (except the bràhmaõs) eat
which repeatedly refer to the purificatory      beef in preference to the expensive mutton
role of the cow, also provide much              and lamb, despite the fact that the
evidence of the notion of pollution and         Hindutva forces have been persuading
impurity associated with this animal.           them to go easy on it. Recent statistics of
According to Manu (V.125) the food smelt        2000 show that the meat India produces
by the cow has to be purified. Other early      most is beef (1.44 million tones) and
lawgivers like Viùõu (XXIII.38) and             buffalo meat (1.42 million tones) and the
Yàj¤avalkya (I.189) also express similar        per capita consumption of beef/buffalo in
views and the latter says unambiguously         India is 2.8 kg, about half that of fish, but
that while the mouth of the goat and horse      more than twice the average intake of
is pure that of the cow is not. The notion of   mutton, pork and poultry. This indicates
the impurity of the cow's mouth,                that beef eating must be quite common
reinforced by most of the later legal texts,    among meat-eaters of all religions,
runs counter to the ideas about the             including the Hindus---- a fact also
purificatory role of the cow.                   supported by the surveys of butchers in
                                                different parts of the country.
It is evident from the above that the
Bràhmaõical texts abound in ambiguous           Needless to say, then, that the image of the
and contradictory statements about the          cow projected by Indian textual traditions,
cow. But despite this the Hindutva forces       especially          the        Bràhmaõical-
have been trumpeting the idea of its            Dharmaֈstric works, over the centuries is
sacredness and unslayability as a               polymorphic. Its story through the
characteristic trait of ßHinduismû. While       millennia is full of inconsistencies and has
the effectiveness of the Dharmaֈstric          not always been in conformity with dietary
injunctions remains largely a matter of         practices prevalent in society. It was killed
speculation, the possibility of at least some   and yet the killing was not killing. When it
members of society eating beef cannot be        was not slain, mere remembering the old
ruled out. As recently as the late 19th         practice of butchery satisfied the
century Swami Vivekananda was alleged           bràhmaõs. Its five products including
to have eaten beef during his stay in           faeces and urine have been pure but its
America, though he strongly defended his        mouth has been considered impure. Yet
action. Similarly in early twentieth century    through these incongruous attitudes and
Mahatma Gandhi spoke of the hypocrisy           puzzling paradoxes the Indian cow has
of the orthodox Hindus who ßdo not so           struggled its way to sanctity and its
much as hesitate or inquire when during         veneration is being bandied about as a
illness the doctor … prescribes them beef       characteristic trait of ßHinduismû though
tea.û Even today the practice of eating beef    she has failed to achieve the status of a
is quite common among the Dalits                goddess and earn a temple in her honour.
throughout the country which is why the         On the contrary it is often found bumbling
members of upper castes in many parts of        between the luxurious limos of the
the country view it as impure and               privileged and the pushcarts carts of the
polluting. But beef is a common dietary         poor, causing traffic snarls in Indian
item in most parts of the north-eastern         metros and, browsing on heaps of garbage,
India where it is not considered a source of    ranging from inedible throw-outs to the

stinking carrion. Not surprisingly, the              as Hindu identity itself!
holiness of the cow is elusive--as elusive

                         Commissar Sadhvi's Cow Agenda
                                       Ram Puniyani

I  t is generally believed that BJP victory
   in the three assembly elections was on
the plank of Bijali, Sadak, Pani (BSP).
                                                     long story. Overall cow is the major
                                                     emotional symbol of the upper caste
                                                     Hindutva politics, next only to Lord Ram.
Whatever be the truth of that, the so-called         Lord Ram has been milked heavily for
Hindutva agenda is starkly visible in these          electoral purposes, Ram Janmbhumi-
states with the BJP Governments firmly in            campaign was acknowledged even by
power. MP has a unique distinction of                Advani as having given a fillip in the
having a 'World Renouncer', Sadhvi as                politics, and now its cow's turn to swell the
the chief commissar of the state. And true           quantum of the electoral milk for this
to the Sadhvi spirit, she has been bringing          politics.
in the clerical presence in the matters of
state. Right from the word go, i.e. her              One recalls, just a couple of years
swearing in ceremony, she has brought in             ago Prof. D.N. Jha a historian from
Hindutva into her style of functioning and           Delhi university had been experiencing
polices. Not only that her Sadhu brethren            the nightmares of 'threats to life' from
were the guests of honor at the swearing             anonymous callers who were trying to
ceremony, she also lost no time in banning           prevail upon him not to go ahead with the
liquor and non vegetarian food in the                publication of his well researched work,
three 'holy' cities and to back it up she is         'Holy Cow: Beef in Indian Dietary
now giving a 'cow tilt' to MPs economy by            traditions'. It is a work of serious
giving primacy to establishing Goshala               scholarship based on authentic sources in
(Cow sheds)(Feb 2004) Many a previous                tune with methods of scientific research in
RSS-VHP campaigns around giving the                  History. The book demonstrates that
status of mother to cow went un responded            contrary to the popular beliefs even today
so far. With Sadhvi Uma finally the 'Cow             large number of Indians, the indigenous
mother' is getting a new place in Indian             people in particular and many other
society. In a society where the young                communities in general consume beef
mothers are facing increasing deprivations           unmindful of the dictates of the Hindutva
'Cow mother' will be given the place of              forces who confer the status of mother to
honor in the second Laboratory of Hindu              her. Currently 72 communities in Kerala-
Rashtra, Madhya Pradesh.                             not all of them untouchable perhaps-prefer
                                                     beef to the expensive mutton and the
Why is cow a holy animal, why has she to             Hindutva forces are trying to prevail upon
be given a place above other animals                 them also to stop eating the same.
which are equally if not more useful is a

Jha breaks the myth that Muslim rulers           changed the perceptions of people at large.
introduced beef eating in India. Much            At the time there were ritualistic practices,
before the advent of Islam in India beef         with which Brahmins were identified.
had been associated with Indian dietary          Even Manusmriti did not prohibit the
practices. Also that it is not tenable to hold   consumption of beef. Buddha attacked
that dietary habits are a mark of                these practices, which involved the
community identity.                              sacrifices. There were sacrifices, which
                                                 involved 500 Oxen, 500 male calves, 500
A survey of ancient Indian scriptures,           female calves and 500 sheep to be tied to
especially Vedas shows that amongst the          the sacrificial pole for slaughter. Buddha
nomadic, pastoral Aryans, who settled            pointed out that aswamedh, purusmedha,
here, animal sacrifice was a dominant            vajapeya sacrifices did not produce good
feature of theirs' till the emergence of         results. According to a story in Digha
settled agriculture. Cattle were the major       Nikaya, when Buddha was touring
property during this phase and they offered      Magadha, a Brahmin called Kutadanta
the same to propitiate the gods. Wealth          was preparing for a sacrifice with 700
was equated with ownership of the cattle.        bulls and 700 goats. Buddha intervened
Many a gods like Indra and Agni are              and stopped him. His rejection of animal
described to be having especial                  sacrifice and emphasis on non-injury to
preferences for different types of flesh-        animals assumed a new significance in the
Indra had weakness for bull's meat and           context of new agriculture, which required
Agni for bulls' and cows'. It is recorded        cattle.
that the Maruts and the Asvins were also
offered cows. In Vedas there is a mention        The emphasis on non-violence by Buddha
of around 250 animals out of which at least      was not blind or rigid. He did taste beef
50 were supposed to be fit for sacrifice. In     and it is well known that he died due to
Mahabharata there is a mention of a king         eating pork. Emperor Ashok after
named Rantideva who achieved great fame          converting to Buddhism did not turn to
by distributing food grains and beef to          vegetarianism. He restricted the number of
Brahmins.         Taittiriya      Brahman        animals to be killed for the royal kitchen.
categorically tells us: 'Verily the cow is
food' (atho annam via gauh) and                  So where do matters change and how did
Yajnavalkya's insistence on eating the           cow become a symbol of faith, reverence
tender (amsala) flesh of the cow is well         and assumed the status of 'mother hood'.
known. Even later Brahminical texts              Over a period of time mainly after the
provide the evidence for eating beef.            emergence of Buddhism or rather as an
                                                 accompaniment of the Brahminical attack
In therapeutic section of Charak Samhita         on the Buddhism, the practices started
(pages 86-87) flesh of cow is prescribed         changing. The threat posed by Buddhism
as a medicine for various diseases. It is        to Brahminical value system was too
also prescribed for making soup. It is           severe. In response to low caste slipping
emphatically advised as a cure for irregular     away from the grip of Brahminism, the
fever, consumption, and emaciation. The          battle was taken at all the levels. At
fat of the cow is recommended for debility       philosophical level Shankar reasserted the
and rheumatism.                                  supremacy of Brahminical values, at
                                                 political level King Pushyamitra Shung
With the rise of agricultural economy the        ensured the physical attack on Buddhist
massive changes occurring in the society         monks, at the level of symbols King

Shashank got the Bodhi tree destroyed.               emperor in his will to his son Humayun, in
One of the arsenals of rise of Buddhism              deference to these notions, advised his son
was the protection of cattle wealth, which           Humayun to respect the Cow and avoid
was ideally, needed for the agricultural             cow slaughter. The issue came back with
economy. In a way while Brahminism                   the construction of Hindutva ideology and
'succeeded' in banishing Buddhism from               politics in response to the rising Indian
India but it had to also to transform itself         national movement, and asserted the
from the 'animal sacrifice' state to the one         demand for ban on cow slaughter. In post
which could be in tune with the times                independence India RSS repeatedly raised
while preserving their own interests. It is          this issue as a mass campaign but without
here that this ideology took up cow as a             any response to its call till 1980s.
symbol of their ideological march. But
unlike Buddha whose pronouncements                   While one must respect the sentiments of
were based on reason, the counteraction of           those who worship cow and regard her as
Brahminical ideology took the form of a              their mother, but to initiate the state
blind    faith    based     assertion.    So         sponsored step to promote these emotional
while Buddha's Non-Violence was for                  symbolisms is travesty of democracy.
the preservation of animal wealth for                Madhya Pradesh correctly needs Bijali,
the social and compassionate reasons                 Sadak Pani. Cow, bullocks and buffalos do
the counter was based purely on                      need a tender caring; the ecology has to be
symbolism.The followers of Brahmincal                respected. But can it take precedence over
ideology accuse Buddha for 'weakening'               human problems? As such there is no
India due to his doctrine of non-violence.           tussle between communities as for as
But he was not a cow worshipper or                   dietary habits and respect for other's
vegetarian in the current Brahmincal sense.          tradition and faiths are concerned. While
                                                     adhering to one's own faith, one should
Despite the gradual rigidification of                be tolerant to others faiths and beliefs.
Brahminical 'cow as mother' stance, large            The measures as being initiated by the
sections of low castes continued the                 Sadhvi do smack of imposition of her
practice of beef eating. The followers of            own belief systems on the state as a
Buddhism continued to eat flesh including            whole and that too at the expense of
beef. Since Brahmanism is the dominant               state exchequer.
religious tradition, Babur the first Mughal


         The Dilemma of Cow Slaughter in India

                               By Anshul Kumar Pandey

21 January, 2012

“Hindus commit no sin, if they cannot           search any premises “where he has a
prevent cow slaughter at the hands of           reason to believe that an offence has
Muslims, and they do sin grievously when        been, is being or is likely to be
in order to save the cow, they quarrel          committed and take necessary action.”
with the Muslims.” -Mahatma Gandhi
                                                “In a state where as often as not the

T    he Madhya Pradesh government's
     recently      passed     ‘GauVadh
Pratishedh (Sanshodhan) Act 2012' is a
                                                police functions as the private militia of
                                                the Saffron Brotherhood, who is to
                                                determine, and on what basis, whether a
ridiculous piece of legislation and             chunk of meat stored in the fridge or
should be thoroughly criticized and             simmering on the burner comes from a
debunked for its innate communal                Buffalo (not prohibited) or from a cow
overtones. As a piece of legislation, it        or its progeny?” (1)
has set up new standards of intellectual
and legislative bankruptcy of the               It is clear from the ambiguous and vague
political class of Madhya Pradesh and           wording of this new act that this piece of
has exposed its obsession with injecting        legislation is not specifically designed
communal poison into the society.               and enacted to curb cow slaughter, but
                                                is a tool to harass the minority
It is not for the first time that such an act   community, particularly the Muslims,
has been passed in any state in India .         and establish Hindu supremacy in the
Such poorly conceived but equally               state. It is ironic that for the devotees of
ridiculous rules and regulations                a religion that has long held the
prohibiting cow slaughter exist in other        tradition of ‘bali' (sacrifice of any
states too, such as Maharashtra , Orissa,       animal, even a cow) at the altar of a
Jharkhand etc. However, it is in the BJP        deity to please it, cow slaughter by
ruled states that an attempt, to give           members of a different religious
communal policies a legislative facade,         community should whip up such public
is being made. This exposes the larger          outcry. This not only shows the double
conspiracy to turn these states into            standards of those advocating a ban
hotspots of communalism inside and              against cow slaughter, but also shows
under a secular country. Meanwhile, the         the sheer illogical will in a failure to
so called secular parties of the country        recognize that beef forms an important
have chosen to act like mute spectators         part in the food chain of the nature and
to this entire drama and have turned a          that constitutionally too, slaughter of a
blind eye to this whole issue.                  cow cannot be prohibited even under
Commenting                 upon           the   section 256 of the IPC.
preposterousness of such an act,
JavedAnand, co-editor of the online             HISTORICAL   ROOTS            OF      COW
magazine        ‘Communalism        Combat',    PROTECTIONSIM
                                                For such a ridiculous piece of legislation
“Under its new law, a humble head               could have entered the hallowed halls of
constable upwards, “any person                  a state legislature and come out
authorized by a competent authority”            unscathed in the form of a law, points to
has the power to enter, inspect and             a strong historical precedent on the

whole issue. Indeed, historically, the       therefore appears that even before the
cow has been upheld as a holy animal         Christian era they were normally
and has been worshipped by eminent           allowed to die a natural death at least in
national     leaders     from   Swami        some parts of the country. The same
DayanandSaraswati to Mahatma Gandhi.         work suggests that those who kill cattle
Apparently, the firebrand Maharatta          should be put to death but from the
nationalist          and        orator,      context it is clear that this prescription
BalGangadharTilak, got so perturbed by       applies only to killers of beasts stolen
the issue that he bellowed in                from the royal herds.” (3)
exasperation to a bewildered crowd
“Kill me but spare the cow!”                 In modern India , cow slaughter as a
                                             political issue first propped up in the
In his magnum opus on ancient India ,        early 1880s in the Punjab , where the
“The Wonder That Was India ” , the           members of the Kuki tribe tried to
celebrated Indologist, Mr. A.L.Basham,       extract political dividends by flaring up
while commenting upon the Political life     communal tension in the area. However,
and thought of the state writes:             violence soon broke out and the British
                                             authorities intervened to restore law
“In later times, the lives of many animals   and order and peace was again
were protected by law, especially, that      established. But cow slaughter as a
of the cow. The story of the Chola king      strong political issue had marked its
who ordered the execution of his own         debut.
son for the accidental killing of the calf
is certainly a legend, and we need not       Swami Dayanand Saraswati, who,
believe that Kumarapala (c. 1143-1172),      through his Arya Samaj, sought to
the Jaina king of the Caulukya dynasty of    eradicate the ills of Hinduism by
Gujarat, so strictly enforced non            abolishing child marriage, idol worship,
violence that heavy fines were inflicted     polytheism etc., threw his weight behind
on people who killed fleas, but these        the cow protection movement by
stories show the climate of opinion in       establishing various cow protection
medieval India. In the later period, the     committees in various parts of the
wanton killing of a cow was among the        country which whipped up communal
most serious of crimes.” (2)                 tension between the rival communities
However, raising some ambiguity over         and finally culminated in the communal
the contention that it was strictly          riots of 1893 which started from Mau in
forbidden to slaughter cows in ancient       Azamgarh, but soon spread over various
India , Mr. Basham writes:                   parts of the country.

“The inviobility of the cow was of slow      Delving further into the politics of Cow
growth. Though, there seems to have          Protectionism,    Sekharbandopadhyay,
been some feeling against the killing of     professor at Victoria University of
cows even in Vedic times. Ashoka did         Wellington, New Zealand, in his book
not forbid the slaughter of cattle, and      “From Plassey to Partition: A History of
oxen, at any rate, was killed for food       Modern India” writes:
even later. But the ARTHASHASTRA
refers to the existence of herds of aged,    “Extremist politics and Hindu revivalism
diseased and sterile cattle and it           – the impact of cow killing riots in North

India , for example – by reinforcing the     1893 added further to such misgivings.
social fault lines further facilitated       Congress was not directly involved in
Muslim mobilization. The Hindu               the Cow protection movement, nor did it
bhadralok in Bengal often looked down        sympathize with this cause; but by
upon the Muslims with contempt. The          speaking against it, they felt, they might
Hindu ‘jatras' or rural theatrical           lose the support of the Hindu
performances      often     indulged    in   constituency.     Its     silence     was
vilification of Muslim historical persona,   misinterpreted – for legitimate reasons
which was not very lightly taken by the      – as concurrence; and as John McLane
anjumans or the mullahs. The                 has shown, Muslim participation in
cumulative effect of all these factors was   Congress sessions began to decline
the accumulation of social tension which     rather dramatically after 1893. Yet there
ultimately culminated in Communal            was no major congress endeavor to
Violence.” (4)                               bring the Muslims back into its fold.” (5)

For a Muslim, beef presented a cheap         These words would have still rung true
source of nutrition and diet, cheaper        had Mr. Bandopadhyay would have been
than say, goat meat. However, with the       writing about the present policies of
growing objections of the Hindu              secular parties like the Congress in the
majority, beef not only became a             context of cow slaughter even today.
symbolic      gesture    of     asserting    One may even go as far as to add, that
independence, but it also took the form      the secular parties of the country bear
of an icon of Muslim cultural identity. It   as much responsibility for the
was a tool of rebellion against the          communalization of Indian polity as
oppression perpetrated by the Hindu          much as the communal forces, because
majority and in it the Muslim                of    their    inability  to   properly
community began to see their method of       demonstrate to the Indian public, the
asserting their rights and religious         dangers of Communalization, right from
practices.                                   their very origin.

Throughout the playing out of this           COMBATING         THE        COMMUNAL
communal propaganda, the reaction of         SCOURGE
the so called secular parties, most
importantly The Congress provided an         One can then conclusively argue that the
insight into the religious sentimentality    recently passed Madhya Pradesh bill
associated with the issue of cow             banning cow slaughter is not an isolated
slaughter.     According       to    Mr.     act of communal bias, but is a small part
Bandopadhyay:                                in the larger scheme of things to divide
                                             the polity of this country on the basis of
“…in its 1888 session, Congress passed a     religion.
rule that no resolution would be             The propensity of the hyper religious
accepted if an overwhelming majority of      audience is such that the reason and
Hindu or Muslim delegates objected to        rationality of a particular argument
it….But these symbolic gestures did not      finds itself in a cul-de-sac surrounded by
remove the apprehension of the               angry chants of tradition and culture. No
Muslims, while the crucial silence of the    debate should take place. Dissent should
Congress during the cow killing riots of     be quelled. Every logic should be

scuttled in the name of faith and belief.            as a terrible nightmare which would
Anyone who tries to differ and argue is              serve as a precursor to doom for secular
branded as a heretic and his/her actions             bhadralok scattered throughout the
are labeled as sacrilegious. An attempt,             country. The need of the moment is to
then, is made to steer the whole                     rise up to the occasion and make the
discourse into a majority vs. minority               people of the country aware about such
issue and to exclude the many in the                 perfidious legislation being passed by
name of the most. Such reasoning is                  the ultra-religious forces and to combat
already expected as this logically                   the scourge of communalism. The time
crippled and adrenaline pumped                       is over when we could have chucked
audience proceeds to prepare a lethal                such laws out of the window labeling
cocktail of the nationalistic, the religious         them as acts of insanity. Aggressive
and the majoritarian. Even nationalism               secularism is the way forward.
comes to be defined to mean
majoritarianism and the domain of ‘we'               NOTES
is then split into ‘us' and ‘they'. Religion         (1) Javed Anand, “Using the Cow”,
is then used more as an instrument of                Indian Express, January 5, 2012
hatred and propaganda, rather than a                 (2) A.L.Basham, The State: Political Life
positive force of tolerance and                      and Thought in “The Wonder that was
compassion. Faith vanishes and the only              India”, Picador India, pp. 120
purpose of religion remains to act like a            (3) A.L.Basham, Op.Cit. pp.196
torchbearer of majoritarian identity in              (4) SekharBandopadhyay, Early
order to gain a share in the spoils                  Nationalism in “From Plassey to
collected through vitiating the political            Partition: A History of Modern India ”,
spectrum. This is the religious right's              Orient Blackswan, pp.269
ideal nation. This is their dream come               (5) SekharBandopadhyay, Op.Cit. pp.234
true.                                                Anshul Kumar Pandey is a student of
                                                     Zakir Husain Delhi College pursuing his
But while this may be a dream for a                  bachelors in Political Science from
considerably large proportion of the                 University of Delhi. He can be contacted
country, it can only be humbly described    .


                Hindutva Politics and The Holy Cow
                    The politics of the holy cow
                                     By Manoj Joshi

4th February 2012

It should be no surprise that in India,   subsidy of Rs 750 per month for a cow
the cow and politics go hand in hand.     and Rs 500 for a buffalo to small and
                                          medium farmers which would add
The Sangh Parivar's first move to         another Rs 17,000 crore to the bill.
mobilise the 'masses' came through
the anti-cow slaughter movement of        According to the National Sample
1966.                                     Survey Organisation, 43 per cent of
                                          the rural households in the state are
The vehicle was the then newly            landless.
created Vishwa Hindu Parishad. But,
the movement did not yield any            No doubt most of them belong to the
political  dividend,  despite    the      BPL category who are barely able to
unexpected, or really unanticipated,      feed and shelter themselves; now they
attack on Parliament in 1967 by           will also get a cow to shelter and to
thousands of sadhus demanding a ban       feed. Not to be outdone, the party's
on cow slaughter.                         Uttarakhand unit's manifesto came up
                                          with     even      more     far-reaching
Holy cow                                  proposals.
                                          If re-elected, the BJP would encourage
In recent times we have been once         the production of filtered Gau Mootra
again witnessing an effort to use the     (cow's urine) in the state.
gentle bovine as a political vehicle by
the Bharatiya Janata Party.               Besides the usual development issues,
                                          the manifesto flagged the promotion of
Last month, the party's manifestos for    cow products and cow reverence in the
the state assembly elections in Uttar     state.
Pradesh and Uttarakhand featured
issues relating to the cow.               As the State unit in-charge and
                                          national       general       secretary
Last week the UP election manifesto of    Thawarchand Gehlot explained, cow's
the BJP promised a free cow for every     urine would be filtered and cleaned to
below poverty line (BPL) family.          produce a drink called 'ark' which
                                          would have various benefits including
As Mail Today correspondent Piyush        curing cancer and injuries.
Srivastava pointed out, this would
involve, at a minimum, a cost of Rs       The Sangh Parivar has long promoted
56,000 crore to the state exchequer,      the use of cow's urine and dung as
since there are 5.60 crore BPL families   medicine
in the state, and the going rate for
cows ranges from Rs 10,000-Rs             Cow's urine would also form the basis
20,000.                                   of medicines for treating eye and ear
                                          diseases, as well as toothpaste, deter-
That will be approximately 33 per cent    gents and aftershave.
of the total state budget (Rs 1,69,416
crore in 2011-12).                        Of course, the urine would also be
                                          used for conventional requirements
And the BJP is offering an additional

such as fertilisers. There is nothing       the anti-cow slaughter movement of
new in all this.                            1966

The Sangh Parivar has long promoted         Prior to the use of the Babri Masjid for
the use of cow's urine and dung as          the Ram Temple agitation, the Parivar
medicine.                                   had hoped to use an agitation calling
                                            for the ban of cow slaughter as its
In 2010, two leading newspapers             political vehicle.
reported that an institution which was
affiliated to the Rashtriya Swyamsevak      This issue is still doing the rounds. In
Sangh had got a US patent for an anti-      December, Madhya Pradesh's new
cancer drug extracted from cow's            anti-cow    slaughter     bill  received
urine.                                      presidential assent. Under the new bill,
                                            the existing anti-cow slaughter law
Apparently the institution, Go Vigyan       was reinforced by enhancing the
Anusandhan      Kendra,      had earlier    punishment for killing cows and
received patents for other 'bio'            transporting beef to up to seven years'
enhancers and anti-cancer drugs. The        imprisonment.
item also noted that the 'drug' had
been tested on three patients, hardly       The Act also gave officials draconian
the norm for clinical trials.               powers of search and arrest and,
                                            worse, put the burden of proof on the
A hilarious sidelight to this is that the   accused. Immediately after the bill
Parivar kooks claim that the virtues of     became law, there were a spate of
the cow are limited to Indian breeds.       attacks on the Muslim community by
                                            Bajrang Dal activists.
Some claim that the milk of foreign
hybrids may even be toxic.                  This was not unexpected, since the
                                            purpose of the law was, indeed, as
In a 'learned' article written in the       much to harass them as to promote
Sangh Parivar journal Organiser in          'cow reverence' as a means of
August     2009,    Vaidya     Kulamarva    consolidating the Hindu community
Jayakrishna laid out the various            behind the BJP.
advantages of cow's milk-it was
nutritive, good for the eyes, brain and     Mr Chouhan is a canny and able chief
heart, it promoted immunity and could       minister.
alleviate a variety of illnesses.
                                            Significantly, what his bill did was to
But, he noted, 'We have to understand       amend an Act penalising cow slaughter
that these properties have been             passed when Uma Bharti was the chief
explained in the context of desi or         minister.
indigenous breed of cow and not the
hybrid ones which are the major             He is probably using the issue to
source of milk to us today.'                cement his position with the kooks
                                            who dominate the higher echelons of
Cow slaughter and cow protection            the Sangh Parivar. With Modi's PM
have been a vehicle of the Hindutva         candidacy running into a roadblock of
movement from the outset.                   opposition,   Chouhan     is   clearly
                                            positioning himself as an alternative.
The Sangh Parivar's first move to           Pasts Hindus do not actually worship
mobilise the 'masses' came through          the cow.

                                                 plane upon which politics operates in
The bovine, however, has had a major             this country, it would be useless to
role in Indian mythology, religious              argue that the role of the cow has
ritual, sentiment and everyday life.             actually evolved over time and that
The five products of milk, curd, ghee,           one of the most sacred texts of the
urine and dung form part of religious            Hindus, the Rig Veda, even speaks of
ritual.                                          cow sacrifice and beef eating.

There is no revulsion to the urine or            I   can    understand     why        my
the dung of a cow. On the other hand,            grandmothers did what they did.
Indians will swear by the virtues of
ghee and the value of milk and curd in           The burden of tradition was heavy on
their diet. Poets sing of the beauty of          them. In a primitive economy, the cow
godhuli, the sight of the evening sun's          did play a big role in the lives of
rays piercing the dust raised by cows            ordinary folk.
coming back home from pasture.
                                                 Religion sanctified it and practice, such
The dung of the cow is mixed with                as the use of cow dung for fuel,
straw to make patties which are the              cemented     it.   Cows     remain     an
basic fuel in many households, and               important part of Indian life even
dung is also mixed with clay and used            today, but not on the plane that the
to coat the plaster of the walls of a            Parivar wants them to be.
                                                 But my memories are of an era when
When I was a child living in Almora, in          smallpox and TB were big killers, and
the 1950s, the grandmothers of the               penicillin had just about arrived in
house would often sprinkle cow's urine           India; a lot has changed since.
on the sheets soiled by bed-wetting
children.                                        But it would be worthwhile exploring
They said that it was the best thing             just what it is that is impelling the BJP
available for removing the bad odour             to hark back to that era and beyond in
which would not go away with an                  its quest for political moksha.
ordinary washing. It was a primitive
remedy, but life was like that-no                SourceURL:
electricity, little or no milk, eggs,            k/indiahome/indianews/article-
sugar, or antibiotics, even for middle           2096310/MANOJ-JOSHI-The-politics-
class families.                                  holy-cow.html#ixzz1lX7wTHPw

Given the semi-literate and cynical


                 'Holy' Cow And 'Unholy' Dalit

                                           S. Anand

T     here are some protagonists of
      Hinduism who say that Hinduism is a
very adaptable religion, that it can adjust
                                                 dung and piss but digest it too. However,
                                                 while he was right about what Brahminic
                                                 Hinduism could not ever absorb, what he
itself to everything and absorb anything. I      perhaps did not reckon with was that
do not think many people would regard            latter-day dalits would be forced to eat the
such a capacity in a religion as a virtue to     shit and piss of caste Hindus.
be proud of, just as no one would think
highly of a child because it has developed       In Untouchables or The Children of India’s
the capacity to eat dung, and digest it. But     Ghetto, published posthumously like many
that is another matter. It is quite true that    of his other works, Ambedkar devotes two
Hinduism can adjust itself... can absorb         sections to highlight the practice of
many things. The beef-eating Hinduism (or        untouchability in his time through
strictly speaking Brahminism which is the        newspaper sources from the 1920s and
proper name of Hinduism in its earlier           1930s. Close to 50 reports, culled from a
stage) absorbed the non-violence theory of       variety of sources, from The Times of
Buddhism and became a religion of                India to Hindi publications such as Jivan,
vegetarianism. But there is one thing            Milap and Pratap, are cited in an effort to
which Hinduism has never been able to do         convince the reader that various forms of
– namely to adjust itself to absorb the          untouchability were indeed in practice.
Untouchables or to remove the bar of             However, not one of these mentions that
Untouchability.                                  the dalit-untouchables were forced to
                             – BR Ambedkar       consume human excreta. Not one talks
                                                 about dalits being lynched by a Hindu mob
The dalits account for 165 million of            for skinning a cow.
India’s one billion-plus human population.
The population of cows is pegged at 206          Brahminic Hinduism has always yoked
million. There are more cows than dalits in      together practices that are at such odds
India. The cows, therefore, have more            with each other that the meaning of one is
rights than dalits. For instance, you can kill   to be found in the meaninglessness of the
dalits before thousands of witnesses and         other. While it is the brahmin who
get away with it. But the imagined murder        ritualistically excludes himself from the
of a cow will not be suffered. The state         rest of the caste heap and indulgently
promotes the drinking of cow urine and           renders himself untouchable, it is the dalit
dung, while dalits are forced to eat the shit    – whose touch of labour informs perhaps
and piss of caste Hindus.                        everything that is consumed and used by
                                                 society – who is condemned to be
Ambedkar was, perhaps, ironically, aware         untouchable.
of the literalness of his metaphor. Hindus
have proved that they can not only eat

The      brahmin,        to   protect   his    On 21 May this year, a caste-Hindu thevar
untouchableness, has to render others          family in Thinniam branded two dalits,
untouchable. Such a play of contradictions     Murugesan and Ramasamy, with hot iron
that binds the brahminical social order is     rods and forced them to feed dried human
as historical as it is contemporary. In        excreta to each other. After local activists
                                               of the Dalit Panthers Movement heard
such a binary, the ridiculous and the          about the incident on 30 May, they
unimaginable jostle with each other; the       informed a human rights activist-lawyer
claim to superiority and merit of the one      and sometime in mid-June a press
depends on the making inferior of the          conference was organised where the dalits
other. The ridiculous easily invites           presented     their    testimonies.     The
sarcasm, even critique by rational-            mainstream media in India, which has
scientific   voices    that   unwittingly      almost no dalit members, ignored it.
participate in the ridiculous, but the
unimaginable defies words, language – it       About a month and a half later, the media
demands outrage but forces aphasia.            splashed the news that the United States
                                               Patent and Trade Office had granted Patent
Demonstrative of this dichotomy, we see        No 6410059 to an "Indian innovation
in New Delhi, India’s human resource           which has proved that cow’s urine can
development minister, Murli Manohar            make antibiotics, anti-fungal agents and
Joshi, proudly asserting the legitimacy        also anti-cancer drugs more effective"
invested upon the use of cow’s urine for       (The Hindu 4 July 2002). The product,
therapeutic purposes by the United States      cow-urine distillate (CUD), was the result
patent authorities, while in Thinniam, an      of a joint enterprise by the centrally funded
obscure village in Lalgudi taluq,              Council of Scientific and Industrial
Tiruchirapalli district, Tamil Nadu, two       Research (CSIR) and the Vishwa Hindu
dalits are forced to eat dried human shit.     Parishad’s      Go-Vigyan        Anusandhan
The state and the brahminical social order     Kendra (cow science research centre) in
play equally proactive roles in both cases –   Nagpur.
promoting cow urine drinking among caste       Seems Murli Manohar Joshi, union
Hindus, and in forcing human shit and piss     minister for science and technology as
down dalit throats. The bizarre patenting      well, notorious for introducing ‘vedic
of cow-urine therapy elicited three kinds of   astrology’ and reviving Sanskrit courses in
reactions: sniggers from the ‘secularists’     universities, had asked the Centre for
who were amused, at best; a sense of pride     Science and Industrial Research in 1999 to
from a mostly-Hindutvaised Brahmin-            investigate the chemical properties of
dominated media fraternity, among whom         cow’s urine. According to The Indian
there could be several members who             Express (4 July 2002), 10 lakh rupees were
practice cow-urine therapy; and sheer          spent over three years by the Central
indifference. How-ever, Thinniam went          Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants
unnoticed, uncommented upon.                   at Lucknow to establish that "certain

compounds in cow urine, when used in           As evident from brahminic texts such as
combination with certain antibiotics like      the Satpathatha Brahmana and the
the commonly used anti-tuberculosis drug       Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, beef was in
rifampicin, can help kill more bacteria than   fact a favourite food in vedic times.
a single application of the antibiotic".
                                               Following the powerful discourse of
In Tamil Nadu, the Thinniam incident did       spiritual democracy that Buddhism
not make any impression on the                 unleashed, brahmins were forced to give
government, media, civil society or the        up beef and their cults of animal sacrifice.
mainstream        intelligentsia.      Most    As the dalit-bahujan writer, Kancha Ilaiah,
newspapers and television channels did not     points out in God as Political Philosopher,
report it and those that did, like The         "Though the use of animal power had been
Hindu, ran shy of seeming scatological and     discovered, the killing of animals in the
referred to it as simply "a heinous            yajnas     prevented      their     practical
incident". This neglect led to another         implementation". With the coming to
Thinniam. On 7 September, Sankan, a            power of the Buddhist king Asoka in the
dalit, was drinking tea with a friend at a     third century BCE, whose edicts
shop in Goundampatti, Nilakottai taluq,        proscribed the killing of animals for
Dindigul district when he was attacked by      sacrifice (however, not necessarily for
six caste Hindus. He was verbally abused       food), the brahmins not only gave up beef
and beaten up, after which an off-duty         but slowly turned vegetarian and remained
constable urinated in his mouth. Sankan        so in a post-Buddhist society; in a reversal,
had earned the wrath of the caste Hindu        those who continued to, and were forced
gounder community because he had               to, consume beef, specifically the meat of
aggressively pursued his right to a piece of   the dead cow – not in a grand sacrificial
land of which he had been cheated.             manner, but as ordinary food – were
                                               labelled untouchables. They became the
Today in the village, even the dalits appear   ‘broken people’, literally "dalit", falling
angry with Sankan because the caste            outside the pale of the fourfold varna
Hindus are threatening the entire              system to which all caste Hindus belong.
community with social boycott. Peace in a
village can be maintained as long as the       According to this theory of the origin of
dalits accept oppression and learn to digest   untouchability that Ambedkar formulates,
urine.                                         the broken people were the pre-
                                               untouchables of the ‘primitive society’. To
The profanity of the sacred Before             paraphrase him: During the frequent wars
‘discovering’ the medicinal values of cow-     between the ‘settled tribesmen’ and the
urine and dung, the brahmins, during the       ‘nomadic tribes’, those who were
vedic and immediate post-vedic period, ate     separated from their communities came to
the meat of all kinds of animals (see Indian   constitute the ‘broken men’; these were
Food by KT Achaya, 1998).                      then captured and used by the agriculture-

bound settled community to protect the         Civilisation seals. The black buffalo was
villages from the invading nomads.             not endowed with any such sanctity in
                                               spite of its more nutritive milk. They also
Though there was no ritual untouchability      sacralised and consumed every product
imposed on the broken people, they were        and by-product of the cow – milk, ghee,
to live segregated from the main village. It   curd, dung and urine – substitutions for the
was a time where there was no taboo on         real thing, beef. They mixed these five
cow’s meat and it was consumed by all.         ingredients to make panchgavya, assigned
After the brahmins made the cow a sacred       it therapeutic value, and ascribed a place
animal and made beef-eating a sacrilege,       for it in the purity-pollution binary.
the broken people continued to consume         Hence the Manusmriti, a post-Buddhist
beef. The broken people were not to own        text dated around the second century CE,
any wealth, land or cattle. They could not     ordains that "a twice-born man so deluded
kill a cow for its meat because they did not   that he has drunk liquor should drink
own any. But why were they allowed to          boiling-hot cow’s urine, water, milk,
eat beef when the brahmins and non-            clarified butter, or liquid cow dung until he
brahmins had given it up? Because eating       dies"(chapter 11, verses 91-92). Another
the dead cow’s meat was not a crime;           verse decrees: to make up for the crime of
killing a cow was. They could also not         "stealing raw or uncooked food, a carriage,
imitate the savarnas in giving up beef-        a bed, the cleansing is swallowing the five
eating, because they "could not afford it.     cow-products" (Chapter 11, verse 166,
The flesh of the dead cow was their            from the translation by Wendy Doniger,
principal sustenance. Without it they          Penguin, 1991).
would starve. In the second place, carrying
the dead cow had become an obligation          Several Hindu temples, such as the one at
though originally it was a privilege. As       Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh, serve
they could not escape carrying the dead        panchgavya and cow’s urine as prasadam
cow they did not mind using the flesh as       (divine offering) for a price. Cow’s urine
food in the manner in which they were          has since remained ‘sacred’ and Murli
doing previously".                             Manohar Joshi, while announcing the
                                               patent achievement, recalled with pride the
 (Ambedkar, Untouchables: Who They             contemporaneity of it: "When I was young
Were      and    Why       They    Became      and went to Chennai on an educational
Untouchables, Volume 7 of Writings and         tour, I saw people drinking cow’s urine
Speeches, 1990) Having given up the most       straight from the source. Everybody
edible and nutritious part of the cow, and     thought it was dirty.
forcing the outcastes to consume the same,
the brahminic caste Hindus began               Today, I realise that all traditional
sacralising the cow, specifically the          practices from ancient Indian medicine
humped zebu breed found in the                 have a strong scientific base" (The Indian
Subcontinent, which finds mention in the       Express, 4 July 2002).
Rig veda and is common on Indus Valley

And today, that a patent on cow-urine          gathered near the police station where the
therapy is being bestowed by the largest       dalits were sheltered, pulled them out,
consumer of beef in the world does not         burnt two of the them alive and lynched
bother the rightwing Hindu fundamentalist      the other three with stones and sharp
Sangh Parivar or Joshi. The brahmins and       implements. At least 50 police personnel,
brahminic Hindus (dwijas – twice born)         three sub-divisional magistrates, the
have been consuming cow’s urine and            deputy superintendent of police of Jhajjar
other waste for centuries and continue to      and Bahadurgarh and the block
do so. The bovine becomes divine –             development officer watched the carnage.
Kamadhenu, gau-maata (the cow as the           It was the last day of the Dussehra
mother) – but the dalit-untouchables are       festivities, and the Sangh Parivar of which
rendered subhuman.                             the VHP is a member – which has been
                                               working       overtime     to   raise   the
Ambedkar says, "In Manu, there is also a       consciousness of Hindus on issues bovine
provision for getting rid of defilement by     – found it easy to mobilise villagers from
transmission – namely by touching the          the surrounding areas to "avenge the
cow or looking at the sun after sipping        killing of the cow-killers".
water". Meaning, a dwija, defiled by the
sight or touch of a dalit-untouchable, has     A post-mortem report of the cow was
simply to touch a cow to be cleansed. The      ordered by the superintendent of police,
pollution caused by touching the wrong         Mohammad Akil, and a case filed against
human being can be nullified by touching       the dead dalits under the Cow Slaughter
the right animal. Hindus believe that some     Act 1960. It was reasoned by the SP that if
330 million gods and goddesses reside in       the post-mortem proved that the cow was
the bowels of the cow. Yet, when a cow         alive before the dalits skinned it, "it will
dies, caste Hindus would stay away.            show how the mob got emotional when
Touching the dead cow and burying it are       they saw an act like this". The priest of the
jobs assigned to the dalit-untouchables.       local temple, Mahendra Parmanand, was
                                               quoted as saying: "If they can kill our
And yet, today we witness in India an          mother then what if we kill our brothers
episode that against this backdrop defies      who kill her". The cow, Kamadhenu, is the
explanation. In Dulina, Jhajjar district,      mother being referred to. And we need to
Haryana, two hours from the capital, New       console ourselves: at least in death a
Delhi, five dalits were lynched by a mob       brahmin priest was referring to the dalits
on 15 October. The dalits were reportedly      as brothers. The VHP justified the killings
sighted skinning a cow, but the local          saying, "According to Hindu shastras a
Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) rumour             cow’s life is very important".
mill, in collusion with the police, spread
the word that the dalits had slaughtered the   Here is a country where the imagined
cow (The Indian Express 17-18 October).        murder of a cow can cause more outrage
                                               than the death of a human being. Again,
Within three hours, a mob – of four to five    the root of such attitudes lies in ancient
thousand according to the police –

brahminic injunctions. After the brahmins      Act 1960), and dalits would be lynched for
gave up beef-eating, cow-slaughter was         dealing with the hide of a dead cow, or that
made a punishable crime and equated with       dalits would be forced to eat shit and piss.
the killing of the brahmin, the ultimate       What is unfolding against the dalits in
crime. According to the scholar of             India is something that even the Gupta
Hinduism, DR Bhandarkar: We have got           period, ‘the golden age of Hinduism’,
the     incontrovertible      evidence    of   would not have witnessed or justified.
inscriptions to show that early in the 5th
century AD killing a cow was looked upon       The Thinniam ‘rebellion’ In Thinniam,
as an offence of the deepest turpitude,        what was Murugesan and Ramasamy’s
turpitude as deep as that involved in          crime? They beat the thappu – a traditional
murdering a Brahman. We have thus a            leather drum used by dalits – and went
copperplate inscription dated 465 AD and       about the village announcing that
referring itself to the reign of Skandagupta   Rajalakshmi Subramani and her husband
of the Imperial Gupta dynasty. It registers    Subramani had cheated their friend
a grant and ends with a verse saying:          Karuppiah of 2000 rupees. About two and
‘Whosoever will transgress this grant that     a half years ago, Karuppiah had paid 5000
has been assigned (shall become as guilty      rupees to Rajalakshmi who was then the
as) the slayer of a cow, the slayer of a       president of the village panchayat (citizens
spiritual preceptor (or) the slayer of a       council) – though her husband Subramani,
Brahman’… A still earlier record [412          a former schoolteacher, was the de facto
AD] placing go-hatya [cow-slaughter] on        president – for a house under a
the same footing as brahma-hatya               government scheme for his sister.
[brahmin-killing] is that of Chandragupta      Karuppiah’s sister was never allowed to
II, grandfather of Skandagupta… (Some          occupy the house, and despite repeated
Aspects of Ancient Indian Culture 1940,        requests, neither was the house allotted nor
quoted in Ambedkar 1948).                      the     money      refunded.    Eventually,
                                               Subramani returned 3000 rupees but
Commenting on Bhandarkar, Ambedkar             Karuppiah insisted on the whole sum.
notes: "The law made by the Gupta              When Subramani refused to pay up,
                                               Karuppiah decided to tell everyone in the
emperors was intended to prevent those         village how he had been cheated.
who killed cows. It did not apply to the       Murugesan and Ramasamy accompanied
Broken Men. For they did not kill the cow.     Karuppiah as he went around the village
They ate only the dead cow". Ambedkar,         with his thappu. Inebriated, and thus made
probably, did not reckon with how the law      bold, they declared that they would no
against cow killing could become an            longer render their traditional caste-based
excuse to lynch dalits. He also perhaps did    service as vettiyans (a dalit sub-
not know that one day cow-urine therapy        community involved in burial ground
would make its way to the US patent            work) to the caste Hindus if they did not
office, that India would have a law that       get the money back from Subramani. In
prohibits cow-slaughter (Cow Slaughter         the villagers’ words, "They got drunk and

made some noises they would otherwise         Ramasamy’s mouth and Ramasamy fed it
not make".                                    to Murugesan. The hands that beat the
                                              drum of rebellion were made to feed shit to
Learning of this, Subramani summoned          the mouths that articulated protest.
Karuppiah the next morning on 20 May.         Subramani then accused them of damaging
The entire family beat up Karuppiah, who      the thappu and made them pay 50 rupees
then quietly returned home and left the       each as compensation.
village the same night. He rarely spends
time in Thinniam these days.                  Many weeks later, the district collector
                                              offered the victims 6650 rupees and some
The following day, a sober and terrified      rice and kerosene as a ‘rehabilitative
Murugesan and Ramasamy went to                measure’. The Lalgudi police went through
Subramani’s house to apologise. There,        the routine of filing weak cases under the
obscenities were hurled at them using their   Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the
caste name – parayar (dalit) bastards – and   Scheduled Castes Scheduled Tribes
Murugesan was kicked. If the temporary        Prevention of Atrocities Act 1989, known
lapse of a drink or two could make them       commonly as the Dalit Act. On
go    around     the    village    speaking   Karuppiah’s      complaint, the police
disrespectfully of the thevars, Subramani     registered cases against six caste Hindus
and Rajalakshmi had methods that would        under sections 341 (‘causing hurt
make them acknowledge the realities that      voluntarily’), 323 (‘wrongful restraint’),
are permanent.                                355 of IPC (‘intent to dishonour a person’)
Rajalakshmi handed a hot iron rod to her      and 3(1)(x) of the Dalit Act.
husband Subramani, who branded                The IPC sections can lead to a simple
Murugesan on his left hand, above his         imprisonment of up to two years and a
elbow, on his neck in three places and        fine. Section 3(1)(x) of the Dalit Act is a
below the left ear in two places.             favourite with the police according to dalit
Ramasamy was branded above his left           activists and lawyers. Irrespective of the
knee and on his left wrist. Then Subramani    crime – rape, burning down a dalit house,
gave them a thappu and ordered them to go     stripping and parading a dalit naked or
around the village, this time to announce     abusing a dalit in public –the police tends
that what they had tom-tommed was not         to book everything under 3(1)(x) that deals
true. After making a round of the village,    with "intentional insult or intimidation
they returned to Subramani’s house where      with intent to humiliate him in any place in
they found dried human excreta in a           full view of the public". Under this section,
winnow. Subramani reasoned that the           punishment       is    minimal     and      a
parayans would come to their senses only      compensation of 25,000 rupees is to be
if they ate shit.                             provided on conviction, which rarely
When      they protested, Subramani           happens.
threatened to brand them again.               The police did add charges under Section
Murugesan put the dried shit into             3(1)(i) of the Dalit Act and sections 324

and 325 of the IPC when Murugesan and           the fingernails of the driver and made him
Ramasamy, who were forced to eat human          drink urine.
shit, filed a separate complaint. As per
Section 3(1)(i), "it is punishable if anyone    Lalit Yadav was dropped from the ministry
forces a member of the SC [scheduled            but remains a free man today.
castes] or the ST [scheduled tribes] to         Again in Bihar, in September 2000,
drink or eat any inedible or obnoxious          Saraswati Devi, a dalit woman was
substance". If it can be proved in a court of   paraded naked on charges of witchcraft in
law that a dalit was indeed forced to eat an    Pakri-Pakohi, Karja block, Muzaffarpur
obnoxious substance, the state pays him or      district. A dozen persons tortured her and
her 25,000 rupees or more "depending on         forced her to swallow human excreta.
the nature of the gravity of the offence".      After Devi lodged a complaint, police
Clearly, the Dalit Act, formulated in 1989,     visited the village but failed to ‘nab’ the
has this clause because such practices were     accused.
prevalent in India. The law in itself was an
acknowledgement of, and a response to, an       The spirit of rebellion The forced
existing, established reality.                  consumption of dried shit in Thinniam was
                                                preceded by a moment of ‘rebellion’ on
The incidents of Thinniam and Nilakottai        the part of three dalits. Some
are of course not unprecedented. In 2001,       commentators in Tamil Nadu have sought
at Prichatur, 75 km from Tirupati in            to locate the expression of such protest in
Andhra Pradesh, caste-Hindu men paraded         the consumption of alcohol. According to
a dalit youth, Murugesh, in a procession        them, it was alcohol that enabled the dalits
and forced him to drink his own urine for       to transgress the social boundaries that
"the crime of relieving himself in the          they knew would be impossible to break
presence of the upper castes" (Deccan           otherwise. It appears that to speak out
Chronicle 30 August 2001).                      against     oppression     and    injustice,
Also in 2001, caste Hindu landlords from        Karuppiah, Murugesan and Ramaswamy
Chanaiyan-bandh       village     in    West    could not be sober. Such a line of
Champaran, Bihar, tied Dasai Manjhi, a          argument seeks social-therapeutic values
dalit, to a pole, shaved his head and           in alcohol.
urinated in his mouth. But it was the dalit     Murugesan and Ramasamy went to
who landed in jail "for felling the timber of   apologise to the thevars, but the message
his landlord" (The Times of India 11 July       that the thevars sent is that even the excuse
2001).                                          of a drink cannot justify resistance. If dalit
Lalit Yadav, a minister in the Bihar state      transgression is seen as arising from
government, held a truck driver Deenanath       ‘drunken behaviour’ in the night, and is to
Baitha and cleaner Karoo Ram, dalits both,      be forgiven by the oppressor the next day
captive for over a month in June-July           when the dalits go to seek pardon, the
2000. The minister and his cousin removed       assumption informing the episode is that a
                                                meaningful rebellion cannot be sustained.

A reading that presumes that dalit protest      (members of the lowest tier of the four-tier
cannot be articulated when the dalits are       Hindu varna system) such as vanniars or
sober undermines both the potential of          thevars, and eventhe dalits, in a Tamil
dalit agency and the possibilities of any       Nadu village have imbibed the practice of
long-term      liberation    agenda     since   cleansing one’s home using gomayam
ventilation of a grievance when drunk need      (cow urine) after a death or ahead of a
not be seen as resistance. This is not to       religious ceremony. It is on this ‘common
make a moral argument against drinking,         sense’ that the Hindutva lobby cashes in
or in this case dalits drinking; if the         while     seeking      a     patent.   Such
gandhian position against alcohol is loaded     brahminisation of the shudras has a telling
with brahminic morality, so is an argument      effect on the dalits. Much of the physical
that seeks to essentialise a drinking culture   violence on dalits in rural India is
with dalit lifestyle.                           perpetrated by the shudra castes. Though
                                                this does not absolve the brahmin of a role
There are other problems with reading too       in such violence – the brahmin historically
much into the aspect of alcohol-                has never had to get physical to defend his
stimulation. In India, when drains filled       rights or others’ rights, but has had the
with human excreta and other wastes get         privilege of letting others slug it out and
clogged, sanitation workers are required to     watching the fun from a safe distance – we
enter them bodily. Invariably, these            need to be alive to how it is on the basis of
workers belong to a particular local            assumed caste superiority that the thevar in
community of dalits; in Tamil Nadu, it is       Thinniam or the gounder in Nilakottai
the arundhatiyars or sakkiliyars. Exposed       makes a dalit eat shit or drink piss.
to noxious waste clad in nothing but a
komanam, a loincloth, for long stretches of     The shudra-thevar does not act in the name
time, it is not surprising that the influence   of Hinduism or as a Hindu; he acts as a
of alcohol becomes necessary for the            thevar, or more specifically invoking his
municipality worker. The drinking in the        subcaste identity as a piramalai kallar. It is
arundhatiyar’s case only enables him to         the ‘social nausea’to use Ambedkar’s
continue to do his work; alcohol does not       phrase – of the dalit that makes the shudra
give him rebellious ideas.                      react with such intolerance to any dalit
                                                assertion. This nausea is expressed in the
The same is true for dalits employed in the     form of caste. While the mainstream media
mortuaries of government hospitals.             and the ‘secularists’ run shy of such
Brahminising the shudra The brahmins            instances of caste-based aggressions, they
might have been the progenitors of the          find it much easier to focus on episodes of
caste ideology                                  violence where the obvious faces of
                                                Hindutva Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang
and the group that invested sacrality on        Dal, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh
cow dung, urine etc but today this              (RSS), Shiv Sena, Bharatiya Janata Party–
ideology has percolated to the dalit. It is a   are involved. These outfits are seen as
fact that the ‘most-backward’ shudras           representatives of a militant form of pan-

Indian Hinduism from which the secular          the VHP and Bajrang Dal – as seen from
brigade– that otherwise indulges in caste –     the experience that the targets of Hindutva
seeks to distance itself, not realising its     are invariably the dalits and Muslims. In
own role in creating and sustaining these       fact, Hindutva, as we have seen it since the
social monsters.                                1990s, is basically an organised, pan-
                                                Indian expression of casteism to which
In Thinniam, where no such Hindutva             even ‘Dravidian’ parties like the DMK and
outfit was involved, and where Subramani        shudra outfits like the Telugu Desam Party
and his family had no significant affiliation   lend legitimacy. A casteism backed by
to any political party, the aggression was      brahmins and other upper castes but acted
simply a result of a thevar-supremacism.        out by the shudras.
Subramani and his family do not identify
themselves as ‘Hindu’ nor do they act in        Research and Analysis Wing
the name of ‘Hinduism’. If they did, the
RSS-type      Hindus     would      distance     If the harassment of dalits has a pattern, so
themselves from such ‘caste Hinduism’           does the effort to formalise the practice of
more forcefully than the secularist Hindus      caste Hindus drinking cow-urine and dung.
would.                                          There was much groundwork done before
For instance, the Swadeshi Jagaran Manch        Joshi could make his announcement about
chief, S Gurumurthy, viewed the VHP-            the patent. Already 200 cow urine therapy
Narendra Modi actions in Gujarat as un-         centres have been established in 18 Indian
Hindu and even ‘Islamic’. In his perverse       states, most of them in Gujarat and
understanding of the carnage in Gujarat,        Madhya Pradesh. The target is 10,000 such
‘Hinduism is getting Islamised’ (Outlook        centres. The Cow Urine Therapy and
23 September 2002). Ezhavas in Kerala,          Research Institute set up in Indore claims
gounders in Tamil Nadu or jats in Haryana       that cow’s urine can cure diabetes, blood
do not victimise dalits to defend               pressure, acidity, asthma, psoriasis,
‘Hinduism’ as much as they do to secure         eczema, AIDS, piles, prostate problems,
their caste supremacy. And when the dalits      arthritis and migraine. This gau-mutra
of Meenakshipuram (in Tirunelveli district      (cow urine) distillate is already being sold
of Tamil Nadu) famously embraced Islam          across the counter as ‘Kamadhenu Ark’.
in 1981, they did it not to escape              There is even a ‘Gaumutra Hospital’ in
Hinduism, to which they anyway did not          Lucknow.
belong, but to liberate themselves from the     The Gujarat government has in place a
oppression of the thevars. The Hindutva         ‘Gau Seva Ayog’ that hopes to improve
groups descended on the area, and on            cow reverence and promote the benefits of
Tamil Nadu in general, only after the           its various excretions. Last year, it talked
Meenakshipuram conversion.                      about a "cow dung and urine revolution".
The assertion of caste supremacy by the         Gujarat truly is a laboratory for Hindutva.
shudra groups is today being increasingly       According to a news report, cow urine is
expressed through Hindutva outlets like

already being sold in 200 outlets in Indore.     Rapid Protection Force to control cow
In Jaipur, Rajasthan, the rightwing Hindu        slaughter; the amendment of the
fundamentalist RSS runs the Gau Seva             Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) to
Sangh, which claims to have at hand the          detain gangs who smuggle cows; the
one element that will guarantee protection       prohibition of cross-breeding with
against the horrors of nuclear radiation:        imported cattle; demanded the scrapping
cow dung. Cover the roof of your house or        of the subsidy on tractors and mechanical
better still, lather yourself with cow dung      appliances for agriculture and encouraging
as a protective shield. At the Krishi Expo       instead the use of bullocks, the constitution
2002, an agricultural fair held in June in       of a permanent National Development
New Delhi, there was a stall where every         Commission       on     Cows,     and     the
product – tea, toothpaste, hair oil, porridge,   introduction of the "panchgavya therapy"
tonics, fertilisers, insecticides, ‘beauty’      (Milli Gazette 15 August 2002).
soap, shampoo, incense sticks – was
manufactured from panchgavya. The                Almost in anticipation of the NCC’s
producer was the Kanpur Gaushala                 recommendations, the patent for CUD and
Society.                                         other related developments, the RSS
                                                 launched a ‘Rashtriya Jagran Abhiyan’ in
In December 2000, a ‘National Workshop           2001 to awaken ‘national consciousness’.
on Scientific Dimensions of Gauseva’ was         One of the pamphlets that was issued for
held in Indore. According to the official        the exercise was The Protection of Cow
report on the seminar, "Cow was given the        Clan, which contained these ideas: ghee
status of mother and worshipped and              made from cow’s milk saves the
honoured by celebrating festivals and            environment from atomic radiation; the
religious functions. The present society is      sound of a cow’s lowing automatically
based on science. Now people need                cures many mental disabilities and
information and data based on research.          diseases; cow’s urine contains copper
Most of the tested practices of cow              which turns to gold on entering the human
therapy, Panchgavya, Agnihotra and milk          body; cow dung and urine are the best
miracles are rejected as myth or                 cures for stomach diseases, heart diseases,
mythological adventures". It concludes, "It      kidney ailments and tuberculosis; the urine
is therefore necessary to blend science,         of a virgin cow is the best; foreign cows
spiritually [sic] and wisdom". Such a            lack the properties which Indian cows
blending has resulted in the patent for          have; the Hindu gotra system applies to the
CUD. More recently, the National                 cow-clan too.
Commission for Cattle, constituted in
September 2001 when Jayendra Saraswati           It is not as if only the Sangh Parivar is a
of the Kanchi Sankara Math threatened a          proponent of the sacred and therapeutic
fast unto death over the "neglect of the         values of cow urine and dung. In Upleta,
country’s cow population", in its report         Rajkot district, Gujarat, 700 woman
running into 1500 pages and four volumes,        workers of the Congress protested the
suggested the constitution of a Central          Bharatiya Janata Party’s ‘Gaurav Yatra’

(tour of pride) by ‘cleansing’ the 1.5-km             complements the state’s indifference to
stretch traversed by the BJP chief minister           force-feeding of dalits with shit and piss.
Narendra Modi’s chariot with cow urine.
                                                      Responding to the Thinniam incident,
Jhajjar was merely the culmination of all             Monica Vincent, a Chennai-based lawyer,
these events in the ‘cow-belt’, as the plains         recalls Nelson Mandela’s words in Long
of north India are somewhat derisively                Walk to Freedom, "At a certain point, one
called.                                               can only fight fire with fire." But how does
                                                      one react to shit like this? In the context of
For every Saraswati Devi who is branded a             legalised and state-sponsored racism –
witch and forced to consume shit, there is            apartheid in South Africa – Mandela talked
an Ulpeta-like celebration of the                     of fighting fire with fire; but can the dalits
‘properties’ of the cow’s excreta. India is           of India fight shit with shit?
equally the land where a prime minister
(Morarji Desai) boasted of drinking eight              (This article first appeared in Himal.
ounces of his own urine every morning                 Author’s note: I thank Sivapriya for
and where Sankan of Nilakottai is forced              comments and suggestions on an earlier
to drink the urine of caste Hindus for                draft, and Ravikumar for discussing
asking for a piece of a land that he has a            various points in the essay. Editorial note:
right to. A land where state-sponsored                Capitalisation style reflects author’s
consumption of cow urine and dung                     preferences.)

                   Holy Cow! Who Moved My Meat
                      Divya Rajagopal, ET Bureau Jan 6, 2012, 08.28PM IST

Indians eat more beef than any other meat.            found guilty of this act would face seven
Beef consumption in India is double the               years of imprisonment and a minimum
combined consumption of meat and                      fine of Rs.5000. The Karnataka
chicken, India is also the third largest              government in 2010 passed the
exporter of beef, but the BJP led Madhya              ‘Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation
Pradesh government is not happy about its             of Cattle Bill’ and Gujarat this year passed
people eating the most favourite meat.                the Animal Preservation (Amended) Act,
                                                      both these bills criminalised cow
The recent bill enacted by the MP                     slaughter. (The names of the bills
government criminalises the consumption               benevolently say about banning the
of beef. The Gau-Vansh Vadh Pratishedh                slaughter or protecting the cow, but in
(Sanshodhan) Vidheyak (Madhya Pradesh                 reality they ban the food habits and harass
prohibition of slaughter of cow-progeny               the entire community that eat the beef or
Bill) can prosecute any person found                  involve in its production).
slaughtering a cow or even transporting the
calf for the purpose of slaughter. Anyone

In the name of protecting ‘religious                  holiness. Rigveda has references of cow
beliefs’, BJP many believe has encroached             being one of the most commonly
upon the fundamental rights of the people.            consumed food item among the Brahmins.
                                                      The practice of cow slaughter was an
                                                      integral part of the Aryan cult. Jha writes
The United Nations Food and Agriculture
                                                      cow and bull meat was one of the favourite
Organisation UN (FAO) report titled
                                                      delicacies of the Hindu deity Indra.
Livestock Information, Sector Analysis
and Policy Branch says the largest
                                                      “Most Indians eat beef, and Indians mostly
consumed meat in India is beef. The per
                                                      eat beef. The principled non eaters of beef
capita consumption of beef in India is 26
                                                      are a minority in India”, says Chittibabu
lakh tonnes, as compared to 6 lakh tonnes
                                                      Padavala a Dalit Marxist scholar.
of mutton and 14 lakh tonnes of pork. It is
clearly the common choice of meat for the
                                                      The BJP has tried to justify such bills in
Indian population. In fact after meeting the
                                                      the name of animal rights, but if it indeed
local consumption, a United States Food
                                                      wants to protect the rights of the animal,
and Drug Administration (USFDA) data
                                                      why protect only cow. “If animal rights is
says India exports 1.28 million tonnes of
                                                      the argument, why not take care of them at
beef, making it the third largest exporter in
                                                      our respective homes, and why not also
the world.
                                                      protect snakes, goats and other animals
                                                      that need help”, says Ram Puniyani,
“The constitution of India gives us the
                                                      Member of All India Secular Forum. “This
right to eat any kind of food; BJP is taking
                                                      law is inhuman, and denies the right of
away people’s right to food through this
                                                      food to a large section of beef eating
law. They are not only targeting Muslims
                                                      population,” says Puniyani. “This is yet
with this bill, but also the large tribal
                                                      another tactic to harass the Muslim and
population of the state”, says Dr Jilukara
                                                      tribal population in MP, and saffronise the
Srinivas Postdoctoral fellow, University of
                                                      But what is appalling is secularists have
For example the tribal population of
                                                      remained silent over this issue. Padvala
Madhya Pradesh is 13 million, and beef
                                                      thinks that the lack of outrage over this ban
always has been an important part of the
                                                      is also because fight against Hindutva is
tribal food culture. In Spite of the large
                                                      led by individuals who are less likely to
section of the population consuming this
                                                      eat beef at their homes. He says the upper
meat, the bill received a Presidential nod.
                                                      caste leadership never took the long
                                                      standing suggestion by dalit activist
Cow as the holy animal of Hindus has
                                                      Kancha Illaiah for organising beef eating
always been a disputed belief. D N Jha in
                                                      by dalits and Muslims to combate
his book ‘The Myth of the Holy Cow’
                                                      Hindutva and assert their own distinctive
explains this misrepresentation of cow’s


            Cow in Contemporary Political Chessboard
                                         Ram Puniyani

K      arnataka BJP Government has passed
       “Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter
and Preservation of Cattle Bill 2010” (June
                                                 situations where beef eating becomes a
                                                 taboo for large sections of society.

2010). There has been a strong opposition        Needless to say beef is amongst the
to this move from the civil society. Some        cheapest sources of proteins for the poor,
of social activists point out that this piece    especially dalits and adivasis. Till just a
of legislation is “communal in intent and        couple of decades ago there were many
anti-farmer in consequence”. There have          communities who were preferring beef to
been series of meetings to express the           other expensive protein rich food. At the
concern of people, especially those of           same time the minorities, Muslims and
dalits and farmers to this legislation. Some     Christians, for whom, beef is neither a
of them said that implementation of the          taboo nor a compulsion, are being looked
bill in its present form will deprive citizens   down on this pretext. Large propaganda
the freedom to choose their food. Mr.            campaigns are on through which
Girish Karnad the noted film personality         minorities are being demonized around the
asked “As long as their choice of food is        issue of beef eating and cow slaughter.
not affecting others, why its consumption        One recalls the incident of Jhajjer where 5
should be prohibited?” Others pointed out        dalits were done to death on the suspicion
that the bill is trying to polarize the          of killing a cow and VHP’s Acharya
majority and minority communities                Giriraj Kishore justified the event as
through this bill. It was also pointed out       saying that cow is so sacred for Hindus
that Gujarat, where such a law already           that killing of dalits does not matter.
exists, was a leading beef exporter in the       Similarly, Sheikh Rahman a cattle trader
country. The points made also indicated          was killed in Orissa on the cooked up
that the controversial anti-cow slaughter        charge of selling cows for slaughter.
Bill, if implemented, would discourage
farmers from rearing cattle and will lead to     The ‘Cow’ seems to be the next emotive
a shortage of milk.                              chariot which probably is being projected
                                                 after the decline in the fervor for Ram
It is not the first time that the debate         Temple issue. One has no problems in
around Cow slaughter bills, beef eating is       respecting animals of one’s choice, but the
taking place. When BJP led NDA was in            fear is this is/will be further used as the
power it went to the extent of appointing a      issue to divide the communities. In our
committee to go into the matter and the          plural democratic society how can faith of
committee concluded that cow protection          section of one religious community dictate
should be made fundamental right and             the policies of the state?
there is a need to constitute Central Rapid
Protection Force to prevent cow slaughter,       As such most of the propaganda that beef
and also to invoke POTA to detain those          eating was brought to India by Muslims is
smuggling cows! The Cow obsession of             a mere hog wash. Most of the serious
BJP is a part of deeper agenda of targeting      researches into the sacred Hindu book,
Muslim minorities as they want to                Vedas, show that Beef eating was a norm
Brahminize the society by creating               in Vedic times. Researches and studies by

Mahmahopadhya Bharat Ratna Pandurang                 Thank Allah for giving us this Kingdom.
Waman Kane’s ‘Bhartiya Dharmgrantho                  We should remove all the differences from
Ka Itihas’ (History of Hindu Holy books),            our heart and do justice to each community
Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, “Did The Hindus                   according to its customs. Avoid cow-
Never Eat Beef?” in “The Untouchables                slaughter to win over the hearts of the
Who were they and Why they became                    people of this land and to incorporate the
Untouchables (Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar,               people in the matters of administration.
Writings and Speeches vol.l7 (Government             Don’t damage the places of worship and
of Maharashtra, Mumbai 1990, first                   temples, which fall in the boundaries of
edition 1948 pp 323-328) and the                     our rule.”
contemporary Historian, D.N. Jha, The
Myth of Holy Cow, all point out that beef            Since the rise of communal streams during
was popular food in Vedic times. Swami               freedom movement the communalists have
Viveknand emphasizes the same point in a             been resorting to all the tricks to rouse
different way. While addressing a meeting            emotions around matters of faith. So
at     Shakespeare     club,    Pasedena,            killing pig and putting it in the mosque &
Californian, USA (Feb 2, 1900) he                    cow slaughter issue have been resorted to
declared, “You will be astonished if I tell          times and over again. It was during
you that, according to old ceremonials, he           freedom movement itself that we see that
is not a good Hindu, who does not eat                the apostle of peace and non-violence,
beef. On certain occasions he must                   Mahatma Gandhi, a total vegetarian
sacrifice a bull and eat it. (Vivekanand,            offering beef to his Muslim guest. A story
The Complete Works of Swami                          goes that when one of his Muslim friends’
Vivekanand, Vol 3, Calcutta, Advait                  son from South Africa visited him in
Ashram, 1997)        Similarly the major             Sevagram Ashram, it happened to be the
ideologue of Hindutva, Savarkar said that            festive day of Bakr Id. Gandhi offered beef
there is nothing sacred about cow, it is a           to the boy, the boy in turn refused to eat
useful animal.                                       beef saying that he will not have any non
                                                     vegetarian food in the Ashram as the
After the advent of agricultural society,            Ashram practices non violence. What a
rise of Jainism and Buddhism the concept             touching sentiment on both the sides.
of non-violence came up in different forms           Respect others’ practices!
and later after 8th century Brahmanism
projected Cow as its icon. Since then Cow            Today with the rise of communalism we
is the projected as sacred, as ‘mother’ and          need to recount the examples set by
gradually large sections of Hindus started           Gandhi in matters pertaining to community
regarding her so. In deference to the                relations and the efforts to demonize and
sentiments of Hindus, most Muslims                   communalize by resorting to such
Kings prohibited cow slaughter. Babur in             symbolisms of cow or Ram Temple should
his will to Humayun writes, “Son, this               be put aside to focus on the issues of living
Nation Hindusthan has different Religions.           in peace and harmony in a plural society.

Cow’s Urine as Medicine: Faith’s leap into blind Alleys
                                       Ram Puniyani

R      ecently the BJP ruled Uttarakhand
       Government     (Feb     2008)     has
announced that it will procure cow’s urine,
                                               transcends the earlier efforts as faith is
                                               being transformed into blind faith. The
                                               Government’s move to collect urine, to
on the pattern similar to the procurement      procure it, refine it and sell it as a medicine
of milk by dairies, refine it and sell it to   defies all the logic of science and
Ayurvedic pharmacies. Other BJP ruled          medicine. It is converting the political
Governments are also working on similar        symbolism into health related prescription
lines.                                         which is fraught with dangers.

Cow has been having a central place in the     As such urine is a product excreted
political symbolism of RSS combine. The        through kidneys and contains the waste
place of this symbolism may be only next       metabolites. It can also contain the
to Lord Ram. On these premises, so far         bacteria, bovine tuberculosis for example,
cow has been projected as mother. In its       and other harmful germs and metabolic
major campaign against minorities’ right       products. The biochemical studies of urine
since 1950s, BJP predecessor Bharatiya         have clearly shown its composition. There
Jansangh, had undertaken a nationwide,         are some who claim magic healing powers
Desh Dharm ka nata Hai Gau Hamari              of drinking one’s own urine, called
mata hai (Cow is related to us through our     Shivambhu, the most famous consumer of
religion and nation as mother) and also        the same was Morarji Desai. Some claim
Janm Janm Ka Nata hai Gau hamari Mata          that it contains antibodies which act
hai (Cow is our mother in our every birth).    against the harmful diseases affecting our
Since Muslims, one does not know why           body, but analytically and biochemical it
Christians were not targeted for it, are not   has not been proven so far. Physiologically
prohibited from eating beef and since          kidneys do not let the antibodies pass out
many a butcher belong to Kasai (butchers)      of the body as the molecular weight of
occupation, this fact has been used to         antibodies is much more than the pore of
demonize the Muslim community. We              the kidney membrane. Of course when
worship cows, they eat, they butcher cows!     kidney is damaged, these antibodies can
This has been used to rouse the sentiments     pass out, not when the cow is healthy.
of majority community time and over
again.                                         Murali Manohar Joshi, who as MHRD
                                               minister initiated the introduction of faith
With Uma Bharati becoming the chief            based     disciplines     like   Astrology,
minister of Madhya Pradesh (2005) for a        Paurohuitya (Ritualism) also diverted
brief while, she introduced cow based          some of the funds for doing cow research.
economy, funds for Goshalas (cow sheds)        One CSIR lab went to the extent of
were given from Government treasury, and       obtaining a patent on a pharmaceutical
her official residence became the first such   composition contating cow urine distillate
Goshala. Cow based economy aimed at            and an antibiotic. Another CSIR lab, in
promoting cow products as the core of          collaboration with a NGO undertook a
economy. The present effort now                study to see the effectiveness of cow urine

in cancer treatment. Our own ayurveda           against the understanding of modern
does not mention any medicinal use of           medicinal sciences and also has no
cow urine. Ayurveda as such has lot of          mention in the traditional wisdom gained
valuable empirical observations which can       over a period of time. In a way it is the
be deepened by rooting them on firmer           translation of RSS combine’s political
rational grounds but that is shrouded in        understanding in to the arena of
mystery and faith and any questioning of it     application to human society. In some
meets angry protesters, who claim their         Islamic countries, on similar lines, state
faith is under threat. Baba Ramdev does         sponsored research to undertake the study
claim that his ‘Ramdevsim’ is scientific        on djinns to solve the energy problem. As
but forgets that the basic premise of           per mythology djinns are supposed to be
science is peer review, facing the questions    infinite source of energy so why bother
and a constant transcendence of                 about oil and electricity when these
inadequacies in our knowledge system.           blessed beings can solve our problems for
The faith based enterprise of Ramdeo is         good. Surely these will also prevent the
too individualistic, too much dipped in         wars which are taking place in the globe
faith and has too little to offer on rational   for controlling the energy reserves. And
grounds. Same is the method of cow              not on a very different track, Christian
medicine, too much faith, and that too of       right is asserting creation science to
blind variety, too much assertion and zero      oppose the theory of evolution.
scientific research. One will like to explore
the veterinary sciences to see if there is      These efforts have no rational and
something drastically right in cow’s            scientific basis, something which our
excreta in contrast to the excreta of bullock   constitution ordains us to follow in the
or buffalo or a dog for that matter. Also       public domain. Social auditing of efforts,
one does recall the claims of the section       which affect human health are mandatory,
that cow dung has purifying effect.             control by bodies sanctioning the drugs
Impurity brought in by the shudras              and other medicinal means are an absolute
touching of water was undone by mixing          must for public safety, all the claims of
cow dung with the water touched by a            politics notwithstanding.
                                                As such enough of politics has been woven
The basic difference between medical            around cow. Many a Mughal kings in
sciences, empiricism, and grandma’s             deference to these sentiments, to respect
medicine needs to be understood before          the feeling of the section of society,
state Government investing and promoting        advised against cow slaughter. Babar in his
cow     excreta,   urine,    for    human       will writes to his son Humayun to avoid
consumption and application. Mercifully         the slaughter of cows.
one has not heard so far of such efforts to
                                                In Hindutva politics also there are many
promote cow dung. The present effort by
                                                streams. While Savarkar called cow as a
the BJP government is an extension of
                                                useful animal, the other sections ignited
RSS combine’s cow politics. It is totally

the emotions against Muslims around cow.              muscle power in conjunction with proper
Irrespective of that many a poor Hindus               exercises, but violence is in the mind.
and Adivasi did            consume beef.
Incidentally it is amongst the cheapest               Undoubtedly one should respect those
source of protein for the poor. Many a                regarding cow as their mother. RSS
surveys showed that a vast number of                  combines’ many followers devote their
Indian communities consume beef. RSS                  lives organizing fodder and other supports
combine’s propaganda went on to assert                for Guashalas. Some of them, the
that Muslims are violent and one of the               upholders of Cow as mother, non violence,
reasons is that they consume beef. This is            go to the extent of justifying violence
so much against the psychological                     against dalits on the ground that they were
understanding of the human mind and the               skinning a dead cow as happened in the
violence. While one knows that beef is a              killings of dalits in Gohana. This cow
staple diet in major parts of the World, one          urine in the pharmacy shops defies all the
also knows and modern psychological                   logic and faith and is directly a threat to
theories demonstrate that violence does not           health of people of the society. Faith can
emerge from diet but from social and                  take such dangerous turns is to be seen to
political situations. Beef can surely build           be believed

                                 Using the cow
                                        Javed Anand

                          Thu Jan 05 2012, 03:03 hrs (Indian Express)

I  f you are a resident of Madhya Pradesh,
   Muslim and poor, nowhere close to the
class of nawabs who can pay for murg
                                                      construed as turning your back on what the
                                                      gau mata has on offer — doodh, dahi, desi
                                                      ghee and more.
musallam or mutton raan, watch your pot!
                                                      In case you missed the news, the MP
The BJP government, led by Chief                      government’s Gau-Vansh Vadh Pratishedh
Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, has just              (Sanshodhan) Act has just received the
armed itself with a big danda ostensibly to           presidential    nod.    Punishment     for
protect the holy cow and its progeny. But,            slaughtering the cow or its progeny,
make no mistake, it’s a stick to beat you             transporting them to slaughter and storing
with.                                                 beef, under the more-Hindu-than-thou
                                                      legislation, will be severe: up to seven
                                                      years in jail.
To save your skin, turn vegetarian or get
out of the state. Better still, go to court.
                                                      Eating beef has been a contentious issue in
Veganism, remember, is not an option in
                                                      the country for long. A few years ago,
the land of gau rakshaks: that might be

Professor D.N. Jha, an eminent historian,       while the punishment for slaughtering a
argued in his book that in ancient India        cow, or keeping beef at home or a hotel (in
Hindus loved their cow and ate it too. For      MP) is up to seven years?
Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, the Hindu
Mahasabha leader who gave us the                Cow protection laws may be justified on
“Hindutva” concept, the cow was merely a        religious grounds. But the provision of
“useful animal”, but by no means a sacred       stringent punishments in BJP-ruled states
animal.                                         clearly points to the communal dimension.
                                                This is starkly evident in the case of BJP-
But for the Arya Samaj founder Swami            ruled Madhya Pradesh. Under its new law,
Dayanand Saraswati, it was indeed Holy          a humble head constable upwards, “or any
Cow. The Arya Samaj endorsed cow                person authorised by a competent
worship even though it rejected idol            authority”, has the power to enter, inspect
worship and polytheism. To Mahatma              and search any premises “where he has
Gandhi, the cow was “a poem of pity”. He        reason to believe that an offence has been,
too worshipped it.                              is being, or is likely to be committed and
                                                take necessary action”.
India has had a long history of agitation for
cow protection, no doubt. Today, laws           Is likely to be committed? You do not
prohibiting cow slaughter are in force in       need a particularly fertile imagination to
several parts of the country. This column is    recognise the numerous possibilities in this
not about their rationale, but the severe       draconian and insidious provision to
punishment stipulated in the new                harass, intimidate, implicate, detain, arrest
enactment in MP.                                or prosecute a targeted section of citizens.
                                                In a state where as often as not the police
A comparison with other states shows that       function as the private militia of the
there is no bar, or limited restriction, on     Saffron Brotherhood, who is to determine,
beef consumption in Bihar, West Bengal,         and on what basis, whether a chunk of
the northeastern states — Assam,                meat stored in the fridge or simmering on
Meghalaya,        Mizoram,        Nagaland,     the burner comes from a buffalo (not
Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura — and Kerala.        prohibited) or from a cow or its progeny?
Where prohibitory laws are in place, the
punishment for offenders varies from six        The low-profile chief minister of MP is
months in Maharashtra to two years in           wilier than we think. Having successfully
Orissa. Some of the stringent provisions        sold the idea that here is a man whose sole
are in states which are, or have been, under    concern is aspirational politics — bijli,
BJP rule: Gujarat, Karnataka, Himachal          sadak, pani — Chouhan has been cannily
Pradesh, Jharkhand.                             pursuing the politics of Hindutva Plus.
                                                Because he chooses to operate below the
Look at it from another angle: check out        media radar, the country remains blissfully
the Indian Penal Code. For example,             ignorant of his relentless Hinduisation of
Section 295 of IPC says that for “whoever       MP society.
destroys, damages or defiles any place of
worship”, the prescribed punishment is          Consider the deeds of the MP government
imprisonment for a term which may extend        as enumerated by the Bhopal-based
to two years, or with a fine, or both. Could    journalist and secular activist, L.S.
this mean that the punishment for               Herdenia, in a report last year:
destroying the Babri mosque is two years

Chouhan publicly enjoins government                 Gita) would henceforth be compulsorily
employees to take an active part in RSS             taught to all students. And many land
activities; several government schemes are          allotments have been made to various
named after Hindu rituals and ceremonies;           saffron organisations; one of them was
the Bhopal police chief issued a “secret”           struck down by the Supreme Court in
circular to all police stations in 2010,            2011.
directing them to collect all kind of
information from Christian institutions             Add the latest draconian enactment on cow
under their jurisdiction.                           slaughter to the above and you get a
                                                    complete picture of the agenda at work in
In early 2007, surya namaskar was made              BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh: target
mandatory in government schools. In                 Muslims with cow slaughter, Christians
2009, the government declared that                  with “forced conversions”.
students would have to recite a Sanskrit
hymn, the Bhojan Mantra, before                     The writer is general secretary, Muslims
partaking of their government-funded                for Secular Democracy and co-editor,
midday meals. In April 2011, Chouhan                ‘Communalism
announced that Gita Saar (Essence of the            Combat’,

                   Tribute to the holy cow
                                  By Jawed Naqvi
                                  Thursday, 08 Jul, 2010

   ndia’s absence from the ongoing world
I  championship in which a political
pariah like North Korea was able to make
                                                    medal in the Summer Olympics held in
                                                    Barcelona earlier that year.

history by scoring a goal was of a piece            When the zealots, represented in
with an even more embarrassing show in              parliament by the Bharatiya Janata Party
1992.                                               (BJP), tore down the mosque they said it
                                                    was their revenge on Mughal Emperor
That year the same lot of people —                  Babar who they claimed had destroyed a
rightwing Hindus that pushed the law to             Hindu shrine to build the Babri Masjid.
protect the cow in the southern state of            Babar would have frowned not only on the
Karnataka — had travelled to Ayodhya to             events in Ayodhya but would have found
raze a 16th-century mosque. Many saw it             the BJP’s efforts in Karnataka a bit
as a frustrated response by pseudo                  cynical.
nationalists at not getting even a single

                                                 enough of the good food going around.
                                                 That’s perhaps why former Lok Sabha
                                                 speaker G.G. Swell, an MP from the tribal
                                                 state of Meghalaya, protested strongly
                                                 when Prime Minister Vajpayee, during his
                                                 13-day tenure in 1996, introduced a ban on
                                                 cow slaughter as one of his government’s
                                                 priority objectives. It takes courage to
                                                 question the axiom of the holy cow, but
                                                 the alternative before Swell was to see his
                                                 people starve to death.
In his will to Humayun, Babar wrote:
“Son, this nation Hindustan has different
                                                 It was not the first time that the debate
religions. Thank Allah for giving us this
                                                 around cow slaughter bills and beef eating
kingdom. We should remove all the
                                                 took place. When a subsequent BJP-led
differences from our heart and do justice to
                                                 government was in power it went to the
each community according to its customs.
                                                 extent of appointing a committee to go into
Avoid cow-slaughter to win over the hearts
                                                 the matter and the committee concluded
of the people of this land and to
                                                 that cow protection should be made a
incorporate the people in the matters of
                                                 fundamental right and there was a need to
administration. Don’t damage the places of
                                                 constitute a Central Rapid Protection Force
worship and temples, which fall in the
                                                 to prevent cow slaughter, and also to
boundaries of our rule.”
                                                 invoke Pota (the now repealed Prevention
                                                 of Terrorism Act) to detain those
There can be of course many good reasons
                                                 smuggling cows!
to avoid as opposed to banning the
consumption of beef. A leading heart
                                                 Of course to stop the smuggling of cows is
doctor at a specialist clinic in Delhi insists
                                                 well nigh impossible and there is this
that if he had his way he would add
                                                 instructive story from a Pakistani diplomat
cholesterol-reducing statins to the city’s
                                                 who used to have his many Indian friends
municipal water supply, such is the
                                                 in splits. In one of their meetings that
tendency of the South Asian gene to
                                                 India’s Border Security Force (BSF) and
accumulate lethal levels of lipid in the
                                                 Pakistani Rangers had in Islamabad, the
                                                 Indian side complained how large volumes
                                                 of heroin were being smuggled from
It is another matter that the dairy culture of
                                                 across the border.
milk, butter and ghee prevalent in the
regions surrounding Delhi is just as
                                                 How was that possible with the fence in
harmful for its high cholesterol content.
                                                 place, they were asked by Rana Chander
(Lord Krishna, born in neighbouring
                                                 Singh, Pakistan’s minister dealing with the
Mathura, as the legend goes, used to steal
                                                 smuggling issue. Why of course there was
butter and there is so much music — both
                                                 this occasional bag of heroin that was
thumris and bhajans, including a beautiful
                                                 found stuck on the fence. The drug was
song by K.L. Saigal — celebrating this
                                                 being tossed across the border, came the
aspect of the deity when he was a child!)
                                                 BSF’s reply. If so, then how come the
Of course if they were to follow the
                                                 Indians had never found a cow that got
doctor’s instructions on healthy eating,
                                                 stuck on the fence, guffawed Chander
most Indians would starve, as there is not

                                                      A scion of the ruling family of Sharjah
The implication was that if smuggling was             offered me another vignette. It so
happening — cattle, drugs or whisky — it              happened that the emirate, the third largest
could be possible only with the complicity            state of UAE, was losing its once
of the security forces that controlled the            flourishing hotel business to Dubai.
gates of the fence. In this situation the             Everyone who came to watch a cricket
buck never stopped.                                   fixture in Sharjah would check into hotels
                                                      in the neighbouring emirate.
“The cow obsession of BJP is a part of
deeper agenda of targeting Muslim                     The reason soon became obvious. Sharjah,
minorities as they want to Brahminise                 under heavy financial obligations to Saudi
society by creating situations where beef             Arabia, had cracked down on alcohol and
eating becomes taboo for large sections of            had banned its consumption even in five-
society,” says Prof Ram Puniyani, a liberal           star hotels. Yet the breakfast tables would
ideologue.                                            be piled with pork ham and sausages,
                                                      forbidden in Islam.
Beef, he says, is amongst the cheapest
sources of proteins for the poor, especially          So I asked the ruler’s close relative about
Dalits and Adivasis. Till just a couple of            the logic behind serving pork while
decades ago there were many communities               banning alcohol in hotels, particularly
who preferred beef to other expensive,                when it was driving away customers. “The
protein-rich food. At the same time the               reason is very simple my friend,” said the
minorities, Muslims and Christians, for               sheikh with a wink. “Pork is not as
whom, beef is neither a taboo nor a                   tempting as alcohol.” There is a lot for the
compulsion, are being looked down on this             government in Karnataka to learn in the
pretext. Large propaganda campaigns are               edicts of Babar, from the wry humour of
on through which minorities are being                 Chander Singh and from the ready wit of
demonised around the issue of beef eating             Ghalib. Let it learn the art of winning
and cow slaughter.                                    medals in international sports. Let it find a
                                                      healthy way to feed its poor. That should
That food habits should be our personal               be a good tribute to the holy cow, and a
choice was best summed up by the poet                 possible way to protect it.
Mirza Ghalib. He told a British magistrate
how he was a half-Muslim, that though he              The writer is Dawn’s correspondent in
drank wine he did not eat pork.                       Delhi.


                What a hypocrisy, gau mata!

                        Assault on food habits

L    AST fortnight, former Prime Minister
     and Janata Dal (Secular) leader H.D.
Deve Gowda and a team of his party MPs
                                                     and Meghalaya.

                                                     The southern state, too, was not an
and MLAs met President Pratibha Patil                exception. The Karnataka Prevention of
and requested her not to give assent to the          Cow Slaughter and Cattle Preservation
'Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and               Act, 1964, was in force when the Bill was
Preservation of Cattle Bill, 2010', passed           passed. So what was the need for a new
by the State Assembly by voice vote. They            law? The Karnataka Government says the
told the President that the Bill has                 Bill is similar to the one in Gujarat, whose
dangerous implications for the whole                 validity was gone into by the Supreme
farming community and it was an attack               Court. However, there is a fundamental
on the food habits of a large section of the         difference between the Gujarat law and the
people, including Dalits, Muslims and                Karnataka Bill. While the relevant Acts in
Christians.                                          most of the states ban cow slaughter, the
                                                     Karnataka Government seeks to ban
It is true that the Directive Principles of the      slaughter of all cattle, including male and
Constitution authorise Central and state             female buffaloes.
governments to take steps for the
protection of cattle. When the issue was             Cow slaughter in India is taboo because of
debated in the Constituent Assembly,                 the religious sensibilities of some Hindus
some members wanted a specific ban on                who worship the cow and sentimentally
cow slaughter, once and for all. They were           see it as an embodiment of nurture, and
also the ones who wanted the primacy of              therefore, as mother: gau mata. But I am
Hinduism spelt out in the Constitution.              yet to come across anyone who worships
Jawaharlal Nehru and others of his ilk               buffalo, male or female, though it is the
opposed a total ban but they, eventually,            vehicle of Yama, the god of death.
had to make a compromise.                            Needless to say, the Bill will strike hard at
As a result, the Indian state is directed by         the butchers, whose surnames do not
the Directive Principles of the Constitution         include such popular ones as Agarwal,
to discourage the slaughter of draught and           Sharma or Yeddiyurappa.
milch cattle. This is not legally binding
upon the State but, like all directive               A large section of the people, whose
principles, the State is meant to enforce            source of protein is animal meat, will be
this principle over time. But in this                deprived of it once the Bill gets the
particular case, there is now near total ban         Presidential assent. India has the world's
on cow slaughter in all the states barring           largest bovine population and, yet, it lags
the Left-ruled Kerala and West Bengal and            behind even smaller European nations
                                 some states         likes the Netherlands and Switzerland in
                                 in         the      the production of milk and manufacture of
                                     Northeast       milk products like cheese and chocolate.
                                           like      The farmers of Karnataka will now be
                                     Nagaland        forced to feed and maintain cattle, which
                                                     have crossed their productive life.

                                                "economic" reasons for the ban -- it will
Of     course,    Chief    Minister      B.S.   increase urine production.
Yeddiyurappa says cow's urine has
medicinal properties and cow-dung is good       Now, let us see how Yeddiyurappa and
manure. It is a well-known secret that          Company would have reacted if say, the
earlier, the farmers could sell the cattle to   Indian National Muslim League demanded
the traders who would "export" them to          a ban on sale of liquor in the State. The
Kerala or would secretly slaughter them.        League would be on as firm a ground as
By making the punishment for the "crime"        the BJP is on the cow slaughter, for the
stringent and non-bailable, farmers will be     Directive Principles enjoin Central and
forced to "maintain" such cattle.               state governments to promote prohibition.
Ultimately, the cattle will have the luxury     The party could also point out that in the
of starvation.                                  BJP-ruled Gujarat, prohibition has been in
                                                existence for long, though liquor is freely
Even in a city like New Delhi, it is not        available, at a higher price, in the black
uncommon to find stray cattle moving on         market in Gujarat.
busy roads looking for food. I have seen
some "devout Hindus" feeding such cows          There are hundred and one reasons for
with their leftover food like "roti". But for   promoting prohibition, other than the
sustenance, the cows and bullocks look for      Islamic injunction against the consumption
food in the dustbin. Even in Delhi, waste is    of liquor. Alcohol is bad. Women suffer
not segregated and put in separate              terribly at the hands of alcoholic husbands.
biodegradable and non-biodegradable             Women in Andhra have fought against
dustbins as in Europe or St. Stephen's          alcohol-sellers in the state. Mahatma
College, Delhi.                                 Gandhi was opposed to it. Millions of
                                                people are pauperised because of their
So it won't be a surprise if used needles       addiction to liquor etc.
and razor blades are found wrapped in
rotten cauliflower petals which the cow is      Barring a microscopic, negligible section
forced to eat. Unfortunately, "mother cow"      of Muslims, the entire minority
has not been blessed with Yeddiyurappa's        community would support prohibition.
intelligence to distinguish between good        Yet, why is not the BJP in Karnataka ready
food and dangerous stuff. Small wonder          to introduce prohibition in the state? Of
that postmortems conducted on cattle have       course, it will have some difficulty in
shown their intestines choked with plastic      explaining its cozy relationship with Vijay
bag.                                            Mallya, the liquor magnate, whose United
                                                Breweries is operational in several
This is the kind of fate that awaits the        countries, and who was elected to the
cattle in Karnataka once the Bill is cleared.   Rajya Sabha with the BJP's tacit support.
Needless to say, manufacture of leather
products like shoes, belt, bags etc will also   Or, take another example. During the
suffer a setback. If the government is          heydays of the late Sant Bhindranwale,
sincere in its profession, it should recall     some kind of a ban was imposed on selling
the Bill and include provisions in it under     tobacco products in some areas in Punjab.
which anybody who is found not feeding          Sikhs are opposed to smoking. A Sikh may
properly his cattle will invite stringent       drink gallons of liquor but if a turbaned
punishment. To be fair to the Chief             Sikh is seen smoking in public, he will
Minister, he has given "rational" and           know what mob (read Sikh) fury is. All the

arguments in support of prohibition can be     conditioned rooms in plush business areas.
used to demand a ban on smoking.               Why is the Karnataka government not
Smoking forces non-smokers to become           outraged by such activities, particularly
passive smokers. So it is more dangerous       when selective abortions have reduced the
than drinking.                                 percentage of female population in the
                                               country? Men outnumber women in all
It is for this very reason that smoking in     states except Kerala.
public places is banned in a city like
Chandigarh.      There     are    increasing   Muslims consider pig unholy. They can
restrictions on smoking in public places       even go to ridiculous extent in their hatred
like trains, buses, theatres, cinema halls,    for such products. I recently wrote an
restaurants etc. But there is no ban as such   article for a newspaper published from an
on smoking. Those who want to smoke            Islamic nation. In the article I mentioned
can do so in the privacy of their homes or     that one of the terrorists who piloted an
in dedicated smoking cubicles as in some       aircraft that hit the World Trade Centre in
cinema halls. Health warnings, public          New York was not religious as he had
education and punitive taxation are the        bacon and eggs for breakfast that day. The
ways in which smoking is discouraged.          sub-editor thought "bacon" was un-Islamic
                                               and substituted it with non-harmful
Smoking has not been criminalised or           "chicken". In the process, the purpose of
driven underground as has happened in          my mentioning "bacon" was defeated.
Gujarat in the case of drinking. Nowhere
in the public campaign is mentioned that
Sikhism is opposed to smoking.                 Will the Yeddiyurappas ban piggery
Yeddiyurappa would surely say that cow         because Muslims may support such a
slaughter is not comparable to the Muslim      decision? Incidentally, pigs are reared
distaste for drinking or the Sikh rejection    mostly by the Scheduled Castes. What
of smoking. After all, cow is a mother for     about banning the killing of rats? There are
Hindus and that her murder, therefore, is      temples in the country where the rats are
matricide.                                     worshipped and are fed by the devotees.
Now listen to what Catholics say about         Or, take the case of Jains. They are strictly
abortion. They call it "murder in the          vegetarian. They do not eat any roots,
womb". By what reckoning do the                ruling out potato and onion as edibles.
Yeddiyurappas rank killing adult bovines
as more offensive than killing human           The Karnatka Chief Minister has reason to
foetuses in the womb? What kind of a state     know the Jains pretty well. The Jain
is that which promotes killing of foetuses     pilgrimage town of Sravanabelagola is
and subsidises it in a host of ways and        situated in the state. It was there, in the
discourages slaughter of even non-             third century BC, that the first Emperor of
productive cattle?                             India, Chandragupta Maurya, embraced
                                               the Jain religion and died through a self-
I have seen in Bihar signboards that           imposed fast to the death. Twelve hundred
proclaim "Abortion for Rs.999 only" that       years later, in AD 981, a Jain general
reminds one about the Bata shoe prices.        commissioned the largest monolithic
Then there is the multinational agency         statue in India, 60 feet high, on the top of
Marie Stopes that advertises its abortion      the larger of the two hills, Vindhyagiri. It
services for those who want the "murders"      is the Vatican of the Digambara, or Sky
committed in the privacy of air-               Clad Jains.

                                                       "millions" of soldiers of both Pandavas
The Jains are so fastidious when it comes              and Kauravas were killed in the epic war!
to eating. This is how William Darlymple               The second largest mass killing in human
describes a Jain "Mataji" eating her food in           history occurred when the Second World
his latest book Nine Lives: "The woman                 War was triggered by a vegetarian by the
waited for her to nod, and then with a long            name of Adolf Hitler.
spoon she put a titbit of food into her
cupped and waiting hands. Each morsel                  For want of space, I would not like to
she then turned over carefully with the                quote from the Hindu scriptures which
thumb of her right hand, looking for a                 suggest that beef-eating was common in
stray hair, or winged insect, or ant, or any           the Vedic period. There are countless
living creature which might have fallen                temples where animal sacrifices are still
into the strictly vegetarian food, so                  performed.
rendering it impure".
                                                       I will end this column with an anecdote. I
It would be wholly unreasonable to expect              travelled in Germany for 14 days in the
non-Jains to adhere to the food habits of              company, among others, of a senior
the Jains. Nowhere in the Constitution is              journalist closely identified with the BJP. I
there any warrant for treating a community             found him eating beef throughout the
as pre-eminent or its preferences as                   journey. But after a few months of our
overriding. At this rate, it would not be              return, when the BJP protested against a
long before non-vegetarian food would be               beef-processing company in Andhra
banned in the country.                                 Pradesh, he wrote a spirited article in
                                                       defence of the holy cow. What a
At Kurukshetra in         Congress-ruled               hypocrisy, gau mata! (Courtesy: Indian
Haryana, no non-vegetarian food is served              Currents)
in any of the hotels or restaurants. A
resident who enjoys non-vegetarian food                ---
occasionally has to go to Ambala to                    The writer can          be    reached     at
procure it. Come to think of it, killing of  
even chicken is banned in a place where



                       M.P.: Path Way to Hindu Rashtra
                                        Ram Puniyani

                                               per this Bill anybody consuming or storing

R     ecently (December 2011) M.P.
      Government’s Gau-Vansh Vadh
Pratishedh (Sanshodhan) Act (Bill for
                                               or intending to violate the law can be
                                               apprehended by head constable upwards.
                                               The onus of proof is not on the prosecution
Protection of Cow Progeny) got the             but on the accused. It will have lot of
Presidential clearance. As per this act        logistical problems to prove as to how
punishment for slaughtering the cow or its     does one say that the meat being consumed
progeny, transporting them to slaughter        is not from cow but from buffalo or other
house, eating and storing beef, is             lesser animals? This draconian bill brought
punishable with a fine of R 5000 and           in the name of faith of Hindus is a direct
prison term up to seven years. States like     manipulation of the food habits of large
Gujarat, Karnataka, Jharkhand and              section of poor Indian population,
Himachal Pradesh already have laws             Adivasis, Dalits and Minorities (Muslims
against cow slaughter, while Orissa and        and Christians) for whom this is an
Andhra Pradesh permit the killing of cattle    affordable source of proteins. It is also an
other than cows if the animals are not fit     attempt to intimidate the Muslim
for any other purpose.                         minorities.

There are minimal restrictions in other        Through word of mouth propaganda, and
states and none in Nagaland, Meghalaya,        the sustained campaign through literature,
West        Bengal       and         Kerala.   small pamphlets etc. , the perceptions like
Surprisingly beef consumption in India is      ‘cow is holy for Hindus, Muslims eat it,
double the combined consumption of meat        it’s an insult of Hindu faith and that
and chicken, not only that India is also the   Muslims are violent because they eat non
third largest exporter of beef, As per the     vegetarian food/beef’ has become part of
United Nations Food and Agriculture            the ‘social common sense’. When BJP led
Organization UN (FAO) report titled            NDA came to power at Centre for 13 days,
Livestock Information, Sector Analysis         in 1996, the Government tried to pass the
and Policy Branch says the largest             bill against cow slaughter. Cow has been
consumed meat in India is beef. The            part of the identity politics of RSS
annual consumption of beef in India is 26      affiliates, Hindu right, Hindutva in India.
lakh tons, as compared to 6 lakh tons of       Even during freedom movement many a
mutton and 14 laky tons of pork.               riots were instigated around the issue of
                                               cow slaughter. This has been a part of
While the right wing Hindutva parties          propaganda, and Gau Raksha Samitis
make no bones about their assertion that a     (Cow Protection societies) are dime a
total ban on cow slaughter is their aim, the   dozen, which maintain Guashalas (Cow
Congress too has time and again played         sheds). This is done at social level by RSS
                                               affiliates and followers.
                                               While Ram Temple issue was the main
the cow protection card especially in the      point of onslaught on democracy, Cow
north.                                         issue has been always on the stand-by so
                                               far. Gradually the intensity about cow
In BJP ruled or ruling states the              protection and the myths built around cow
legislations are tougher already, but the      are becoming more intense. The MP
one in MP beats them all in its                Government’s Bill is yet another step in
ferociousness and potential for targeting      this direction. As such MP Government
minorities and Adivasis in particular. As      has been communalizing the state by the

religio-cultural mechanisms. There are                Many a Kshmiri students were harassed in
multiple ways to communalize the society.             MP. The capital city of Bhopal, founded
Identity based issues, are the major ones’.           by a Mughal Nawab Dost Mohammand
Communal violence is the ghastly outcome              Khan is intended to be changed to Bhojpal
of identity politics. In MP from last couple          after the Hindu King Raja Bhoj.
of years with the current BJP Government,
the slow and subtle Hinduisaion of state is           This silent communalization of state has
in progress. Even the predecessor of                  escaped the notice of national media to
Shivraj Chauhan, Uma Bharati had                      some extent. Most of these steps of the
converted her official residence in to a              Government are not in tune with the spirit
Gaushala for all practical purposes. Lot of           of Indian Constitution, which respects the
things have been started around the                   personal choices about faith and food and
divinity of cow. Marketing of cow urine as            keeps the state policies away from the
a medical remedy for diseases, chain of               religious veneer and content. The schemes
shops selling Cow urine drink and other               started by the BJP Government are a sort
products are on the upswing in the state. In          of intimidation to minorities and is
addition one sees that the state government           pushing them to the status of second class
has introduced Hindu ritual of Surya                  citizens. In MP we are witnessing yet
Namaskar (worshipping the Sun God),                   another pattern for marching towards the
Government has introduced Gita Sar                    goal of Hindu Nation, the gradual and
(Essence of holy Hindu book Gita) in the              sustained intensification of anti minority
schools, introducing Bhojan Mantra                    policies in the name of promoting Hindu
(Hindu meal prayer) in schools, collected             culture. This is unlike the phenomenon in
information about Christians in the state,            Gujarat where communalization was
has introduced most of its welfare schemes            intensified through violence. The paradox
in the name of Hindu Gods- Goddesses.                 in MP is that all these practices showing
Like Ladli Laxmi for girl child welfare,              intolerance to the sentiments and needs of
Anna Prashan for Children’s nutrition                 minorities are done while blowing the
programs. Many an accused of Hindutva                 trumpet that Hinduism is the most tolerant
terror attacks were taking shelter in MP.             religion



                            ‘A political tool'

  Interview with D.N. Jha, historian of ancient India and
         the author of ‘The Myth of the Holy Cow'.

IN his career spanning more than 25 years,         followers of Islam, and accordingly, they have
Dwijendra Narayan Jha, an eminent historian        stereotyped Muslims as beef-eaters. The best
of ancient India, has dispelled many Hindutva      way to dispel this myth is to draw data from
myths. He has used ancient Indian literary and     Indian religious texts to show the prevalence of
archaeological sources to show that much of        beef-eating in ancient India. Accordingly, I
the Hindutva propaganda is based on false          have used evidence from Brahmanical,
premises. His book The Myth of the Holy Cow        Buddhist and Jain religious texts to show that
                                   shows that      our ancestors ate beef much before Islam
                                   beef has        came to India.
                                   been       a
                                   part      of    Could you give us some examples of where
                                        Indian     cows were used for consumption and for
                                        dietary    sacrifices in ancient India?
                                   habits. He
                                                   Animal sacrifice was very common in the
                                                   Vedic period. In the agnadheya, which was a
                                    extensivel     preparatory rite preceding all public sacrifices,
                                   y on the        a cow was required to be killed. In the
                                                   asvamedha, the most important of public
                                   culture of
                                                   sacrifices, more than 600 animals and birds
                                                   were killed and its finale was marked by the
                                   India and
                                                   sacrifice of 21 cows. In the gosava, an
                                   has done        important component of public sacrifices like
                                       research    the rajasuya and the vajapeya, a cow was
 D.N. Jha:“ Eating of beef was
                                              on   offered to Maruts. The killing of animals,
  de rigeur in ancient India.”
                                      feudalism    including cattle, figures in several other yajnas
in early medieval India, a topic his mentor, the   as well.
historian R.S. Sharma, had so successfully
handled. In the context of the Madhya Pradesh      In the Vedic texts and the Dharmashastras,
government's decision to implement an              there are also references to occasions when
amended Act on cow slaughter, which is             cows were killed for consumption, and eating
termed “draconian” by many analysts, Jha           of beef was de rigeur. One later Vedic text
speaks in detail about the myth of the ‘holy'      unambiguously tells us that “verily the cow is
cow in Indian traditions and how the Sangh         food”, and another refers to the sage
Parivar has managed to use it to communalise       Yajnavalkya's stubborn insistence on eating
the country. Excerpts from an interview:           the tender flesh of the cow. The reception of a
                                                   guest, according to Vedic and post-Vedic
Your book ‘The Myth of the Holy Cow'               normative texts, required the killing of a cow in
dispels the impression that Muslims                his honour. Textual evidence also indicates
introduced beef-eating in the Indian               that Brahmins were fed the flesh of the cow in
subcontinent. What were the most                   funerary rites. I have indicated only a small
important sources you used to come to this         portion of evidence, but ancient Indian texts
conclusion?                                        provide copious references to the killing of the
                                                   cow for sacrifice and sustenance.
For over a century, the sanctity of the cow in
India has been a matter of more than               You have used a lot of ancient Indian
academic debate. Hindu communalists and            sources to elaborate on this point. But
their fundamentalist organisations have been       have there been other “Hindu sources” or
propagating that the killing of the cow and        literature in medieval India and modern
eating its flesh were introduced in India by the

India that elaborate on the material use of           feudalised, leading to a major socio-cultural
the cow?                                              transformation. This phase of transition, first
                                                      described in the epic and Puranic passages as
There is considerable evidence of the                 Kaliyuga,     saw     many    changes      and
continuity of the beef-eating tradition in post-      modifications in social norms and customs.
Vedic times. Manusmriti (200 B.C.-A.D. 200),          Brahminical religious texts now began to
the most influential of the Dharmashastra             speak of many earlier practices as forbidden in
texts, recalls the legendary examples of the          the Kaliyuga – practices which came to be
most virtuous Brahmins who ate ox-meat and            known as Kalivarjyas, and most of the relevant
dog-meat to escape starvation. The Smriti of          texts mention cow-killing as forbidden in the
Yajnavalkya (A.D. 100-300) laid down that a           Kaliyuga.
learned Brahmin (shrotrya) should be
welcomed with a big ox or goat. It may be             Cow-killing and eating of beef came to be
recalled that most of the characters in the           increasingly associated with the proliferating
Mahabharata are meat-eaters, and not                  untouchable castes. It is, however, interesting
surprisingly, it refers to King Rantideva in          that some of the Dharmashastra texts consider
whose kitchen 2,000 cows were butchered               these acts as no more than minor behavioural
every day and their flesh, along with grains,         aberrations. Whatever be the Dharmashastric
was distributed among Brahmins.                       prescription, eating beef by some people
                                                      cannot be ruled out. As recently as the late
The sage Bharadvaja is said to have                   19th century, Swami Vivekananda was alleged
welcomed Rama by slaughtering a fatted calf           to have eaten beef during his stay in America.
in his honour. What is found in religious or          Similarly, in the early 20th century, Mahatma
Dharmashastric texts is also reflected in             Gandhi spoke of the hypocrisy of orthodox
secular literature. Early Indian medical              Hindus who “do not so much as hesitate or
treatises speak of the therapeutic use of beef,       inquire when during illness the doctor
and several authors of literary works (Kalidasa,      prescribes them beef tea”. Even today, 72
Bhavabhuti, Rajashekhara and Shriharsha, to           communities in Kerala – not all of them
name only a few) refer to the eating of beef.         untouchable perhaps – prefer beef to the
                                                      expensive mutton, and the Hindutva forces are
How did the myth of the cow's holiness                persuading them to go easy on it.
come into existence in the Hindu psyche?
Are there incidents or periods in Indian
history that establish the cow's holiness as
opposed to its material use in ancient
India? Were there parallel narratives in
ancient India that saw the cow as a
religious and holy symbol of Hinduism?

It is often held by some scholars that the Vedic
cow was sacred. Such an assertion is based
on the occurrence of the word aghnya
(meaning, not to be slain) in the Atharvaveda.
However, it has been convincingly proved that
if the Vedic cow was at all inviolable, it was so
only when it belonged to a Brahmin who
received cows as a sacrificial fee (dakshina).
Buddhism and Jainism opposed animal
sacrifice and the killing of cattle. But even their   A SCENE IN Bhopal. Nothing is done about
canonical works do not refer to the cow as a          the care of cows like these which are often
sacred animal.                                        found rummaging through heaps of
                                                      garbage for food.
The sacred-cow concept developed much
later. Lawgivers began to discourage beef-            In spite of all this, the development of the
eating around the middle of the first millennium      doctrine of non-violence in the Upanishadic
when Indian society began to be gradually             thought, its prominent presence in the

Buddhist and Jain world views, and its              The killing of kine seems to have emerged
centrality  in     the   Vaishnava      religion,   again and again as a troublesome issue on the
strengthened the idea of non-killing of animals:    Indian political scene even in independent
the cow became specially important and              India. In 1966, nearly two decades after
sacrosanct because of its economic value in         Independence, almost all Indian communal
an agrarian society and because Brahmins            political parties and organisations joined hands
received them as dakshina and would not like        in organising a massive demonstration by
them to be killed.                                  several hundred thousand people in favour of
                                                    a national ban on cow slaughter, which
Since when did cow slaughter become a               culminated in a violent rioting in front of India's
political issue in India? Has there been any        Parliament House, resulting in the death of at
historical movement around this issue?              least eight persons and injury to many more. In
Could you give us some examples of when             April 1979, Acharya Vinoba Bhave, often
the “manufactured holiness” of the cow              supposed to be the spiritual heir to Mahatma
began to be used as a tool for political            Gandhi, went on a hunger strike to pressure
mobilisation?                                       the Central government to prohibit cow
                                                    slaughter. Obscurantist and fundamentalist
                                                    forces have converted the cow into a
The cow has tended to become a political
                                                    communal identity of Hindus and they refuse
instrument in the hands of rulers over time.
The Mughal emperors (for example, Babar,            to appreciate that the “sacred” cow was not
Akbar, Jahangir and Aurangzeb) are said to          always all that sacred in the Vedic and
                                                    subsequent Brahminical and non-Brahminical
have imposed a restricted ban on cow
                                                    traditions and that its flesh, along with other
slaughter to accommodate the Jaina or
                                                    varieties of meat, was quite often a part of the
Brahminical feeling of respect for and
veneration of the cow. Similarly Shivaji,           haute cuisine in early India.
sometimes viewed as an incarnation of God
who descended on earth for the deliverance of       Beef-eating is much more an accepted
the cow and the Brahmin, is described as            norm in south India than in north India.
proclaiming: “We are Hindus and the rightful        What could be the reasons for this, since
lords of the realm. It is not proper for us to      such acceptance and oppositions must
witness cow slaughter and the oppression of         have grown historically?
                                                    In some parts of south India beef-eating is
But the cow became a tool of mass political         common, but it is not possible to generalise.
mobilisation when the organised Hindu cow-          Most tribes, Dalits and Muslims in different
protection movement, beginning with the Sikh        parts of the country, eat beef and so do the hill
Kuka (or Namdhari) sect in the Punjab around        communities of north-eastern India. But even
1870 and later strengthened by the foundation       here, it is not possible to generalise because
of the first Gorakshini Sabha in 1882 by            most tribes in the erstwhile south Bihar do not
Dayanananda Saraswati, made this animal a           eat cow meat.
symbol to unite a wide-ranging people,
challenged the Muslim practice of slaughter         According to one estimate, 40 per cent of
and provoked a series of communal riots in the      Hindus eat beef even today, even if we
1880s and 1890s. Although attitudes to cow-         leave out the tribal people, Muslims and
killing had been hardening even earlier, there      Christians. Dalits all over India have been
was an intensification of the cow-protection        eating beef. It is the most economical meat.
movement when in 1888 the North-Western             The Madhya Pradesh government has
Provinces High Court decreed that the cow           recently banned not just cow slaughter but
was not a sacred object. Not surprisingly, cow      also the consumption of beef. Many believe
slaughter very often became the pretext for         the ban is draconian. What is your view on
many Hindu-Muslim riots – especially those in       the Act?
Azamgarh district in the year 1893 – in which
more than 100 people were killed in different       In my view no sane Indian would like to kill his
parts of the country. Similarly, in 1912-1913       cattle, and if he does he can be punished
violence rocked Ayodhya, and a few years            under the law. Animal rights must be
later, in 1917, Shahabad witnessed a                respected, but why a special status only to the
disastrous communal conflagration.                  cow? And if the Sangh Parivar is serious about

stopping cow slaughter, what has it done in the        without equivocation the eating of the flesh of
BJP-ruled States for the care of cows which            cows dying a natural death.
are often found bumbling between the
luxurious limos of the privileged and the              What could be the implications of a
pushcarts of the poor, causing traffic snarls in       resurgent anti-cow slaughter idiom in
metros, and browsing on heaps of garbage,              India? In most BJP-ruled States, this issue
ranging from inedible throw-outs to the stinking       has seen a lot of political mobilisation, with
carrion.                                               one of the priorities of the respective
                                                       governments being to bring an anti-cow
It is preposterous to ban the slaughter of old,        slaughter Act as soon as they come to
ailing and starving cows and to prohibit the           power.
consumption of their flesh, which is poor man's
protein. The law to dictate dietary preferences        The Sangh Parivar has communalised the
is a gross violation of personal freedom and is        politics of the country. The resurgent anti-cow
certainly draconian. Why not remind the Sangh          slaughter movement will only add fuel to the
Parivar that its own ideologue of the Jan              fire.
Sangh (now the BJP), K.R. Malkani, permitted



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