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Why Cows are considered secred in Hinduism?

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Hindus consider Cows revered and secred the most. What is the thinking behind that? Are cows only secred?
asked Feb 27, 2014 in Hindu - Philosophy by anonymous

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Again, as our motto says here, Hinduism is all about Symbolism. We need to understand what that stands for. We agree that in general, it is most revered animal among Hindus. Until early 20th centuary, cows and kettle is considered as wealth all over the world. Anywhere the grazing lands are found, the cows are considered equivalent to wealth and sign of prosperity. This is fairly common in Africa, Asia, South America, and even in North America.

It is possible that during ancient pre-RigVeda times, cows could have been slaughtered for flesh, but in light of economic status associated with kettle, ancient hindus must have increasingly prohibited slaghter of milk-producing cows. Hindus took "Kettle (cows) - Wealth" equivalence further, they made cows are sacred, they even potrayed God in cows. Cows cannot be killed for food, sacrifice, or any other reasons, making sure wealth grows. It takes years to grow a healthly cow that can yield good milk and other resources, so conserve it, protect it. Philisophically, a good Hindu sees God in everything, and especially in things that benefits lifestyle and growth. 

Cows produce milk, dung, urine (गोमुत्र). These three have seen so many different applications in ancient rural India. Considering those, it would be utter waste of such a venerated animal. Almost every Godly form in Hinduism has preferred ride like Indra has Airavat (The mighty Elephant), Ganesha has Mushak (a rat) etc, but cows are kept  out of this entire fleet of transportation vehicles. Cows has seen to symbolize a giving mother, like mother earth. On other note, although, cows are treated as secred, the oxen or bull is Lord Shiva's ride named Nandi. Young oxen can also be sacrificed for religious reason. 

Ancient Hindu texts are full of cows and their related stories, cows are donated to noble men, cows are given as gifts in wedding, cows are taken as war reparations, cows are stolen, cowherding problems in grazing lands etc, etc. Certainly the cow references are abundent in these texts. Lord Krishna was adopted by a cowherd, he grew up grazing cows. Lord Indra had a wish granting cow named Kaamdhenu (कामधेनु), which led into big anti kshatriya fight of Parashuram

Subsequently, with the rise of the ideal of ahimsa (“noninjury”), the absence of the desire to harm living creatures, the cow came to symbolize a life of nonviolent generosity. In addition, because her products supplied nourishment, the cow was associated with motherhood and Mother Earth. The cow was also identified early on with the Brahman or priestly class, and killing the cow was sometimes equated (by Brahmans) with the heinous crime of killing a Brahman. In the middle of the 1st millennium ce, cow killing was made a capital offense by the Gupta kings, and legislation against cow killing persisted into the 20th century in many princely states where the monarch was Hindu.

Ref :
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cattle_in_religion
http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/141206/sanctity-of-the-cow
http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacred_cow
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/holycow/hinduism.html

 

 

answered Mar 1, 2014 by anonymous
selected Mar 19, 2014 by TransLiteral Admin
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Offering of food to the Cow is called Gavaahnikam..

This can be done every day in addition to offering of food to guests too. Sage Markandeya prescribes that the food should be offered to the Cow with the following prayer..

सौरभेय्यः सर्वहिताः सर्वपापप्रणशनाः। प्रतिगृह्णन्तु मे ग्रासं गावः त्रैलोक्य्मातरः॥

saurabheyyaḥ sarvahitāḥ sarvapāpapraṇaśanāḥ| pratigṛhṇantu me grāsaṁ gāvaḥ trailokymātaraḥ||

the Cows who are the daughters of Surabhi the Kamadhenu, the cows who live for the welfare of all the living beings, the cows who are capable of dispelling all the sins committed by the humans, the cows who are the Mothers of the three worlds, may be pleased to receive these morsels of food offered by me.. (graasam represent the quantity of food prepared by cooking two hundred pieces of full grains of edible cereal..like yava, rice, etc..) The cows should in addition be fed with grass to the best of their contentment.

answered May 14 by Ananthanarayanan Vai (50 points)

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