Is cow really sacred to the Hindus?
A very difficult topic indeed to write on but even before I start off please consider the following points which will come in handy later
>Max Mueller never came to India, never learnt Sanskrit at the feet of a great Hindu priest like we still do in India and latest research shows he never translated Rig Veda just paid some ghost ‘writer’ to do the job.
>Sanskrit had no script for thousands of years and Devnagri script as we know and understand it came into being only around 170 years back.
Ever since the so called ‘gau rakshaks’ started doing their heinous acts I have been thinking, like I used to do about twenty five years back in college – is the cow really sacred to Hindus? Was the cow always sacred? Did Hindu priests really slaughter cows ritually and eat its meat? I am sure you all must have read this for the first time in college. This is very important – college. This is the root of everything I am going to say subsequently. It is important to remember that – ‘Hindus ate cow’ is only in books; neither your grandparents nor the pujaris nor any great holy man in your area really subscribes to that view.
I have spent many weeks researching the basis of ‘eating of cows’ by Hindus mainly on the internet; you may condemn me for only using the internet but believe me in these few weeks I have learnt more about the aforementioned topic than I can hope to learn in years of ‘offline’ learning. You yourself can google and experience the journey I have experienced but now back to our topic – who really said ‘Hindus ate cow’ or ‘cow was served to guests’ and the answer is - scholars from the west; scholars sometimes on payroll of East India Company itself! And what is more around 1857 yes 1857! So the plea of mainly north Indians who triggered the so called Mutiny of 1857 that the British were trying to convert them to Christianity is not altogether wrong. That there really was such a movement afoot; how large it was and whether it was overt or covert is a matter of a separate research.
Most of our history comes to us from the so called ‘Marxist’ historians though to be frank I have never fully understood what that means except that until very recently they used to live in a fort that would take no breach. The Marxist historian if one is to believe the pages and pages on the internet, almost idolized people like Max Mueller who was for all practical purposes an English man and in all probability receiving favours monetary and otherwise from the great East India Company. He became most active around the time of mid nineteenth century a few years before the so called Mutiny. Such a man is entrusted with giving us the authoritative translation of Rig Veda. Imagine the glee with which an Englishman would have jumped to discover that certain words in the holiest of the holy verses of people he is about to enslave could be twisted to mean that which would be most abhorrent to those people and to make those people thus hate their past. What exactly was the twisting can easily be googled.
So fundamentally it is the foreigner who is telling the Hindu that his ancestors were beef eaters much like the foreigner himself. I am laughing as I write this one. If I were to become an expert on Bible and its teachings living right here in India and receiving my lessons from some Dixit Ji not even Christian priests and never in fact visiting places where Christian scholars live what would you say about me. Yet that is what most mid nineteenth century scholars did including the grand daddy of Indology Shri Max Mueller. We live in an age where we do not really understand the hold that Europeans had on Indian minds so it is a lot easier for us to blame early Indian scholars and teachers for being enthralled by European scholars but that said it is time to rethink and relearn.
Vedas were never easy to understand they never were created for a wider understanding and perhaps that is why they have been passed onto us virtually unchanged from their first creation, by very conservative estimates almost four thousand years back. Howsoever you may criticize the orthodox Brahmins but it is they who have preserved this priceless legacy of Hindus. Sanskrit is not a language that reveals itself readily and in absence of very deep understanding of Panini’s grammar it is very unlikely that a foreigner who never came to India and never met an orthodox Brahmin acharya would get an authoritative grasp on Vedas. Even now it is not easy to learn Sanskrit from a great Brahmin teacher one has to prostrate himself before a guru many times and serve him for a long time before he is convinced that the person in question is the right candidate and deserving to be imparted priceless knowledge.
Sanskrit the language of Vedas never had a script it was only sound; but very intricate set of sounds and in retrospect perhaps a script has made it poorer rather than enriched it – because it defeated the primary purpose – imparting of knowledge only to the deserving: since post script-ising the language all and sundry can read the holy verses and could even corrupt it. That is what probably happened in Europe. Just a thought! I may add that many newbie Indologists made millions both in Germany and England by getting their books sold; the very first books on Indology.
If ritually killing the cow was so common in Hinduism why does it not figure at all in Ramayana and Mahabharata? If it was so common to serve guests beef why ritual killing is not there on temple walls and sculptures? So far as I remember not a single temple wall or painting anywhere figures killing of cows.
Vedas in fact prescribe strict punishment for killing of cows ranging from exile to more severe punishments. That said there are many offshoots of Hinduism and virtually unknown sects like I am sure in all religions; which practice things abhorrent to mainstream Hinduism but these cannot be used to analyse the widespread beliefs. A recently highlighted but by no means new ‘sect’ in Hinduism is aghori that reportedly practises cannibalism but they do their activities under cover and by no means have sanction of Hindus or Hinduism.
Lastly in absence of any concrete proof even a court of law examines the antecedents of the person on trial to see if there is anything in the person’s life that points at his tendency towards crime and is lenient if the same is missing; similarly does anything in a modern day Hindu’s life and religion point at his cow eating past?
Copyright Anurag Kumar - do not reproduce without permission