☄ The Myth of the Holy Cow PDF / Epub ✓ Author D. N. Jha – Horse-zine.co.uk

The Myth of the Holy Cow files The Myth of the Holy Cow, read online The Myth of the Holy Cow, free The Myth of the Holy Cow, free The Myth of the Holy Cow, The Myth of the Holy Cow b825059f2 Hugely Controversial Upon Its Publication In India, This Book Has Already Been Banned By The Hyderabad Civil Court And The Author S Life Has Been Threatened Jha Argues Against The Historical Sanctity Of The Cow In India, In An Illuminating Response To The Prevailing Attitudes About Beef That Have Been Fiercely Supported By The Current Hindu Right Wing Government And The Fundamentalist Groups Backing It


10 thoughts on “The Myth of the Holy Cow

  1. says:

    Ask anyone about the basic tenets of Hinduism, and the majority of them are likely to quote cow worship as one of them We have been brought up in the belief that the cow has always been sacred in our culture though my own state, Kerala, is the exception The Indian constitution contains a directive principle to end the killing of cows and promote cow welfare ever since Independence, there have been calls some peaceful and others violent to ban cow slaughter We Indians have even contributed the phrase the sacred cow to the English language.But has the cow always been holy Well, actually, no, says Professor D N Jha The early Aryans were confirmed meat eaters, and beef was a particular favourite The Buddhists, though they disapproved of the Vedic sacrifice, still ate meat and there was no specific taboo on cow meat Even Jains, the present day vegan extremists, have been known on occasion to eat meat.Professor Jha argues from textual and archaeological evidence The Vedas and the Brahmanas, and the other shrutis, speak eloquently about meat eating with a special emphasis on beef The Vedic gods Indra, Agni et al were fond of eating cows, oxen, bulls and buffaloes Sacrifice was the mainstay of the Vedic religion and kine were the usual victims But the consumption of bovine meat was not limited to religious occasions guests were also treated to it, the proverbial fatted calf being slaughtered in their honour so much so that guests came to be known as goghnahs, that is, cow killers.Contrary to popular belief, Buddhists were no vegans in fact, there is strong evidence to suspect that the Buddha died of eating a dish of spoiled pork Though the idea of ahimsa which appears first in the Upanishads was echoed by the Buddha also, he allowed his disciples to eat meat where the slaughter had been unseen, unheard and unsuspected to be on one s account and also where the animal had died a natural death or had been killed by a bird or animal of prey I can personally vouch for Buddhists being non vegetarians after visiting Thailand Even the extremely puritanical Jains are known have eaten meat at one point of time, from the textual evidence of their own sacred literature As we move ahead on the historical timeline, we begin to see exhortations against cow slaughter and the consumption of beef towards the middle of the first millennium but these are in the nature of rants against an existing practice than diktats to be followed Both Manu and Yajnavalkya, in their smritis, talk about beef consumption, and even the medical texts of Charaka and Susrutha mention it as a matter of course The epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata also talk about the consumption of meat including beef But there is a steady movement to sanctify the cow, and the use of panchagavya a mixture of cow s milk, cow dung, cow urine, butter and ghee as a purifying agent and as medicine starts getting extolled.Why exactly did the slaughter of cows stop Professor Jha proposes that it might have been due to the fact that the nomadic Aryans settled down to agriculture by the middle of the first millennium The sacrifices and the indiscriminate use of meat, a remnant of their days of wandering on the plains of Middle Asia, changed with the arrival of feudalism Apart from Vaishyas, Brahmins also started to do agriculture and the cows they received as gifts from yagas were too valuable as domestic animals to kill and eat.Dr Ambedkar, whose essay on this issue has been attached as appendix, provides a clever yet rather weak theory He says that Brahmins purposefully adopted vegetarianism to steal a march on the Buddhists, whose religion was gaining ascendancy In contrast to Buddhists, who argued only against ritual sacrifice, the Brahmins banned meat eating in toto to prove that their faith was much better The affluent non Brahmins gave up the eating of beef to move up the social ladder while those at the bottom, the so called Broken Men who had been relegated to the borders of the society by the proponents of the Vedic religion, could not do so because dead cows were their main source of nourishment Thus, because they ate this defiled meat, over a period of time they became untouchables.However, I take this theory with a huge pinch of salt Because while the origin of untouchability may have roots in the eating of the so called forbidden flesh , the veneration of the cow seems to have complex root than a social strategy It is a fact that the cow came to be regarded as sacred over a period of time as to the exact reason, I feel that the jury is still out on that one.But the important thing is that, until relatively recently, no one denied the meat eating past of the Brahmins and neither the fact that beef was consumed by the Vedic people Even in later literature, beef eating is considered a kalivarjya something to be shunned in the modern, degenerate age Even then it is not a major crime mahapataka but a minor one upapataka Prof Jha writes Needless to say, then, that the image of the cow projected by the Indian textual traditions, especially the Brahmanical Dharmasastric works, over the centuries is polymorphic Its story through the millennia is full of inconsistencies and has not always been in conformity with dietary practices current in society It was killed but the killing was not killing When it was not slain, mere remembering the old practice of butchery satisfied the brahmanas Its five products including faeces and urine have been considered pure but not its mouth Yet through these incongruous attitudes the Indian cow has struggled its way to sanctity But the holiness of the cow is elusive For there has never been a cow goddess, nor any temple in her honour Nevertheless the veneration of this animal has come to be viewed as a characteristic trait of modern day non existent monolithic Hinduism bandied about by the Hindutva forces. This is a valid point With the Indian Independence, the holiness of the cow should have been seen for what it was a temporary viewpoint in shifting cultural landscape and it should have remained a matter of personal religious belief instead, it has been enshrined as the basic tenet of a monolithic faith Prof Jha enumerates the number of agitations and potentially disastrous political incidents in independent India connected to cow slaughter and the opposition to it and also the number of threats he and his book had to face In the face of such frenzy, it is high time we looked this whole issue from a historical and cultural point of view, leaving aside our emotions Professor D N Jha has done a commendable job of writing an accessible history book for the layman, with clear indications of sources and flawless logical reasoning In a society where scholarly discourse is getting increasingly polarised ideologically, such calm voices are a must.


  2. says:

    Jha has clearly done his homework in writing the book The extensive footnotes and bibliography are evidence for that The controversy surrounding the publication is quite unfortunate, because if the people who protested it and threatened the author s life had actually read the book, they d have had to admit that the claim Jha makes that the cow has not always had a holy status in Indian religious traditions and was at one point routinely killed and eaten is neither outlandish nor baseless The sources cited are impeccable primary and secondary material they range from the Vedic sources to the Dharmasastras and commentaries thereof and the most credible founts of information on the subject.The scope of the argument is short, so there s not much speculation in the book on why the cow may have become holy in what became Hinduism This is a much larger question and deserves a deeper treatment than Jha s perfunctory allusion that changing socio economic conditions may have led to the re classification of the cow as an inedible animal, and indeed as an object of veneration if not worship Hopefully, Jha will take up the question elsewhere if he has not already.


  3. says:

    Religious fundamentalism relies on the assumption that the passage of time is incidental and that modern worshippers are no different from their forbears, with an obvious bias to the interpretation of the modern A brief study of history immediately ideally tears up this thesis as the novice historian comes to realize that the past was not like the present and the mindset and foundations with which our ancestors and predecessors built their lives is as incomprehensible to us as those of an undiscovered country.As someone who was raised as a fundamentalist Christian, this was my path out a healthy stream of historical research and broad perspectives slowly dismantled the fortress of logical fallacies propped up by cherry picked Bible verses Wait, wasn t this supposed to be a book review When I first announced my intention to travel to the Himalayas and through India, my grandmother s initial reaction was, You need to be careful The Indians, they worship cows And if you re driving a car and you hit a cow, they will attack the driver Despite the fact that my trip to India never panned out as of this writing this sentiment, tucked away in the back of my head as a kernel of truth in a wider picture I didn t yet understand, stayed with me.At my university library in Hamburg, this book, with a hot pink spine, back, and cow on the front cover, leapt out at me Reading the title and the quote from the Observer,Not since Salman Rushdie s Satanic Verses has a book caused such a violent reaction.I was sold.Now, the content of the book is fairly simple Jha outlines the history of the Indo Aryan relationship with cattle from the Aryan Migration to the Present Day He quotes Hindu, Buddhist, and Jaina sources with great skill and writes in a way that is dense with information but compact and light for the uninitiated I a non Indologist found this book suspiciously easy to read, but when I was able to look at the endnotes of each chapter, felt comforted at the breadth and depth of Jha s research and knowledge.This passage At one place Indra states, they cook for me fifteen plus twenty oxen 14 At other places he is said to have eaten the flesh of bulls, 15 of one 16 or of a hundred buffaloes 17 or 300 buffaloes roasted by Agni 18 or a thousand buffaloes 19 Second in importance to Indra is Agni to whom there are some 200 hymns in the Rgveda 20 29 is notable for the amount of time it cites scripture in the space of three sentences 6 but is by no means extraordinary in the terms of the book.Jha is a particularly gifted historian he is not only able to readily cite his sources and seemingly at will the generally easy part but can deliver them in a cohesive and generally light narrative On a difficult topic, no less.To summarize the history of the sacred cow the Aryan tribes were nomads who measured wealth in cows and other livestock They brought their mythology and rituals including animal sacrifice with them to the Indian subcontinent, where a host of Vedic literature exists full of references not only to ritual animal slaughter but to regular meat consumption All the characters of the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, Jha notes, further explaining the most incriminating parts of the stories, are meat eaters, and do so without shame.Only with the composition of the Upanishads, and later with the advent of Buddhism and Jainism do we see a shift The doctrine of ahimsa nonviolence is introduced and ritual animal sacrifice is or less banned by the Buddha and Mahavira However, strict vegetarianism is still not prescribed at those times It is recorded that the Buddha died from eating bad pork, while it was not unheard of that Mahavira accepted chicken meat as alms Neither the Buddhists, Jainas, or Upanishads would sign the death knell for cattle sacrifice and beef eating in general.The earliest date that Jha can apparently ascribe to that is 883 Around this time, Dharmashastric authors began writing extensively about the kaliyuga, the era of decline, and within a millenium, would ultimately prescribe fifty new laws of purity for Indians to reduce the age of corruption One of these, was to ban cow slaughter The year 883 is the date of the earliest cow sanctuary that has been identified in India, a feature of Hindu temples that would pop up all over the subcontinent in succeeding centuries From then on, the Brahmanical class, obsessed with ritual purity and preserving the clarity and goodness of the age sought to stamp out as much heterodoxy regarding this issue continuing into the present day.But why Jha doesn t explicitly answer this and seems to go out of his way to not answer the question Religious fundamentalists view their religion as ideally unchanged and at most corrupted but that doesn t mean historians have to then avoid a cause and effect understanding What Jha did was essentuially lay out a road map of the textual history regarding the relationship between Indians and their cows.The answer, I suppose, will have to wait until another time For Jha The year 883, I think, gives us a good, clear indication for what changed the Gupta Empire responsible for India s Golden Age fell, and the first waves of Muslim Conquerors were threatening the political makeup of the subcontinent To even the learned, especially to those with a cyclical understanding of time i.e the kaliyuga it certainly seemed like the world was going through a crisis, and emergency ritual measures needed to take place As the centuries wore on, the Islamic Invaders became pronounced, and powerful Though they never succeeding in their ultimate goal of converting all of India, they certainly established deep roots on the subcontinent, with a dark memory stained on the cultural psyche of the Hindus.Not once does Jha mention the word Muslim or Islam, and whether it was a strategic or smart decision, remains to be said Even the way I wrote it above might come over as finger pointing, but is not intended to be The Islamic conflict with the Indians produced an othering effect Muslims shied away from pork but indulged in beef, among Hindus, the exact opposite What was an inoccuous difference borne of the ahimsa doctrine now became a mark of identity, a token to wear around one s neck to identify one s tribe from the other.Jha doesn t call out the role Islam and hallal played in the sacralizing of the Indian cow But he does hint at them with his last line, calling out the Hindu identity movement, Hindutva But the holiness of the cow is elusive For there has never been a cow goddess, nor any temple in her honour Nevertheless the veneration of this animal has come to be viewed as a characteristic trait of modern day non existent monolithic Hinduism bandied about by the Hindutva forces 146 As it was pointed out by the novelist Pankaj Mishra in his own review, Jha did not set out to provoke His main thesis that beef eating was not unknown to Indians of the pre Muslim period is neither new nor startling Yet, the Hyderabad Civil Court set out to ban it, and a self described Defender of the Faith took a page out of the Muslims book and declared a fatwa against Jha Why Because Jha pointed out what was already apparent and written down in Hinduism s own sacred texts No Because at the core of it, identity built on intentional midunderstanding is fragile, and Jha held up a mirror to a particularly holey theory of belief For this review and other articles visit or follow me.


  4. says:

    It s an important and well researched book presenting undeniable evidence that beef was a major part of the Indian diet through most of her history It neglects, however, addressing the factors behind Hinduism s sudden veneration of the cow and gradual transition to complete vegetarianism I m giving it three stars only for begging a compelling question and failing to answer.


  5. says:

    3.5The book does not live up to the potential offered by its captivating title The Myth of the Holy Cow has no dearth of references and examples of animal sacrifice and non vegetarianism from various holy books and legal scriptures of Hinduism As I am unfamiliar with most of these referenced texts, I cannot vouch for the objectivity lack of internal bias Where it fails terribly is in its structure The first few chapters are bound to overwhelm lay readers with its scrambled excess of examples The main argument this book puts forth is the claim for supremacy by Hindus over Buddhists in the society Jha proposes that the concept of ahimsa non violence towards all living entities preached by the Buddhists was gaining popularity, and they strongly condemned the pointless sacrifices by the Hindus, even when they allowed consumption of meat in practice This in turn forced Hindus, especially Brahmins, to give up meat altogether and adopt vegetarianism for Hinduism to regain foothold as a revered religion This argument, however interesting, is not central to the book as it should have been, and is only dealt with in the last few pages in a cursory fashion Also, it fails to answer with certainty why and when the cow was anointed holy.But do read it, for it presents intriguing examples and anecdotes of animal sacrifices and non vegetarianism prevalent in the Vedic times, the central tenets of Budhhism and Jainism dealing with animals and treatment of animals, and of course, the ever contradictory injunctions in most or all Probably all holy texts.


  6. says:

    Its an eye opener Lets say the author misinterpreted and misrepresented the words in ancient sacred text books and misread the evidences Half of the pages of book are references How can someone be so wrong Appreciate the hard work of author over the background study I would call it as a review paper than a book.


  7. says:

    The issue of beef consumption is a pretty inflammatory and divisive topic in India currently Mohammad Akhlaq, a Muslim, was killed by a mob in September 2015 see for allegations that he had kept beef in his refrigerator The repercussions of this case are far reaching Laws against eating beef, especially meat from cows, have been included in Directive Principles of State Policy in India Many states have passed laws prohibiting beef consumption.India is a Hindu majority 80% , but secular country States which have passed the above laws have done so due to the influence of Hindu organizations, most notablyt RSS Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and VHP Vishwa Hindu Parishad These organizations revere Cow as a goddess and therefore, advocate for the ban on beef.So, amidst all these events, the central question is What is the evidence for the claim that Hindus always revered Cow, and never ate beef The answer, lucidly provided in this short but powerful book, is in negative With considerable backing of sources including some of the holiest Hindu scriptures, the author demolishes this claim I cannot recommend this book strongly to any Indian interested in knowing Hindus beefy past


  8. says:

    Interesting historical treatise about the beef and meat eating culture in ancient India right from the Vedic period to the modern Brahmanical period.Especially relevant with the growth of Hindutva and cow vigilantism I wish people would learn to debate sensibly around these topics I would have preferred a bit of analysis on why this society turned towards Ahimsa and started valuing vegetarianism was it because of a nomadic and pastoral society turning into a feudal society or was it because of the outsized influence of Buddha and Mahavira on the political structure in post Vedic times As an aside, I learnt that there were cow slaughter related communal clashes in Azamgarh documented as far back as 1880


  9. says:

    The author of this ridiculous book is politically influenced by Marxist ideologues and hence, uses the cheap method of deliberately twisting, misquoting and mistranslating the verses of each and every text mentioned Be it the Vedas, or the Arthashastra, etc Such irresponsible work may lead to breaking one s own image in the field of study.


  10. says:

    insightful and backed by reasons.on a topic as sensitive as this,every statement is backed by logic.an academic effort, though against the cult, one may agree to it or not, its a must read


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