Cow protection and vegetarianism.

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Robert Haines        

Cow protection and vegetarianism

In the Vedas, the earliest of Hindu scriptures, there is a reference to animals being an important part in religious ceremony. There are also references of cows in the hymns. The cow was a sacrificial animal which was appreciated for its role in offerings to the gods. Hindus believed that the person, who offers a cow, would gain immediate ascension to heaven, so the cow must be holy and important. Around the time the Vedas were written cows were regarded as a great prize. It had a high value and was the source of many useful products such as milk, cheese and meat. It was also thought to protect Brahman.

Ahimsa however was only introduced around the 6th Centaury BCE, by Mahavira the Jain. It gradually increased in popularity amongst Hindus. Nowadays one could say the cow is like a domestic animal in India. They are permitted to roam freely around the streets and they are cared for in temples. A westerner would never think of eating his dog or cat, so a Hindu would never dream of eating a cow. In villages in India, the cow nurtures and sustains life. Its milk provides essential food; its manure provides fuel, heat and light in the home. The cow’s urine is alleged to have special healing properties and is available as a cream or liquid.

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Gandhi said that the cow was a symbol of Hinduism. As most Hindus are vegetarian, they believe in total respect to all living creatures. It has a very important role in India’s village life. The bulls (male cows) are used to pull along carts, plough fields and make grain into flower, which are all essential to life in a village. One bull and cow is enough to do all the work and supply enough food for more than one family. Hindus protect cows and other animals because of the teaching of Ahimsa. They believe all animals have the right to ...

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