The Cow & Hindutva: Some Myths & Facts

The Hindutva juggernaut which rode first on a Rath (chariot) with Ram, then on the false hysterias around love jihaad and ghar wapsi is today riding the cow. There have been countless incidents of lynching, maiming and robbing of Muslims and Dalits in the name of saving the holy cow. There are also a large number of such attacks which go unreported. The videos of such lynching and maiming uploaded on the social media by the perpetrators as instances of latter’s bravado are blood curdling, comparable only to the violence India has seen during Partition. This spectacle clearly shows the collusion of State with the criminals who fear no law. These visuals also show how brazenly Hindutva perpetrators make merry, celebrate and enjoy the actual ‘game’ of lynching. These criminals who believe they are performing a religious duty expose themselves as mere mortals, too: these videos also show the lynchpins robbing the victims before lynching.

This killer cow juggernaut continues to roll despite our Prime Minister (PM), a senior leader of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), describing most of these lovers of the holy cow (‘gaumaataa’) in August 2016, as ‘anti-social elements’. He spoke only after the Una incident took place in his home state, Gujarat. According to him: “It makes me angry that people are running shops in the name of cow protection…Some people indulge in anti-social activities at night, and in the day masquerade as cow protectors.”[i]

If despite, this seeminglystrong rebuttal by the PM, almost a year back, violence in the name of cow has only increased, or spread, covering larger areas of India; the cries to kill and lynchhave grown evenmore strident and beyond control, the reasons could be only one of two. First, the PM was only playing to the gallery when he spoke those words in order to diffuse the social anger against such criminal activities. Or, second, the current brand of cow vigilantes (post 2016) are not those defined by the PM as ‘anti-social elements’ but fall into the category of persons who have the PM’s approval and sanction as ‘genuine holy cow saviours’. There is no doubt, these gangsters have the sanction of the RSS and section of India’s law and order machinery.

Unfortunately, the judiciary, too, has been by and large silent.  Mandated with the Constitutional authority to intervene when government’s or the executive govern outside the pale of the law, the judiciary which has often spoken on issues of public concern, has so far been dishearteningly silent. This silence has clearly emboldened the criminals. In fact, a judge of Rajasthan High Court instead of looking into the atrocities being committed by the so called saviours of the cow (Rajasthan tops in cow violence and recently witnessed the horrendous public lynching of Pelu Khan; the perpetrators uploading full video of the lynching) [ii]ordered that cow be made a national animal and anybody found killing it should be given death sentence.[iii]

Indian home minister, Rajnath Singh, a prominent ideologue in the RSS hierarchy, even invented a ‘scientific’ reason to justify the ‘holiness of cow’. While referring to a report of the US department of Agriculture he told a gathering of the RSS leaders that “80% of genes found in the cow are found in humans too”. He also called upon Indians to “save and worship the cow”.[iv]

Not surprisingly, as a product of RSS cadres Singh was selective in his attribution and wrong on fact. The findings of a leading English daily of India, based on a world acclaimed journal SCIENCE show that many other animals have a greater percentage of genes common to himans. Chimpanzees, cats, mouse and dogs, for instance, have 96%, 90%, 85% and 84% respectively genes common with human beings. These are not only animals but even fruits; bananas having 60% similar genes.[v] Will then, India’s home minister, on these similar grounds, also announce these species to be ‘Holy?!’ We also need to know from the Home Minister whether he considers India’s minorities and Dalits as human beings at all, and those who should be saved from lynching(s).

The latest victims have been the beef-eaters of IIT-M (this institute at Chennai continues with older nomenclature of the city Madras) who were victims of murderous attack by the ABVP (RSS student wing) activists on the campus.[vi] The continuing murderous attacks by the Hindutva cadres in the name of the cow make one thing very clear: these majoritarian and fascist elements are ignorant of India’s present day reality and its historical past.

If somebody is looking for a gurukul or university to graduate in deceit and lies, doubtlessly, the RSS will be his or her best choice. Its mastery over this trait is unparalleled and is proved once again by its criminal disregard of facts on the controversy over beef-eating in Indian history by Hindus of India. It aggressively claims that beef-eating in India came with the arrival of Muslims and Christians as rulers who initiated and was subsequently popularised in order to denigrate Hindus and their holy symbols. Golwalkar, an inveterate Goebelisian, is loose with the facts. Responding to a question, (1966) “How did cow slaughter begin in our country [India]?” replied, “It began with the coming of foreign invaders to our country. In order to reduce the population to slavery, they thought that the best method to be adapted was to stamp out every vestige of self-respect in Hindus…In that line cow slaughter also began”.[vii]

Such unsubstantiated propaganda helps the Hindutva gang in terrorising both the largest minority and Dalits of India who also consume beef and are involved in its trade. It is not insignificant that since the onset of the 20th century, (that coincided with the rise of Hindutva politics) the cow has been the single greatest cause behind triggering the maximum cases of violence against the Muslims and Dalits of the country. It is immaterial to the Indian heirs of Nazi propagandist Paul Joseph Goebbels that the claim that beef-eating started with the arrival of Muslims in India is not even in keeping with the Vedic version of history as narrated by ‘Hindu’ chroniclers.

Swami Vivekananda, regarded as a philosopher of Hindutva by the RSS, while addressing a meeting at the Shakespeare Club, Pasadena, California, USA (February 2, 1900) on the theme of ‘Buddhistic India’, declared:  
“You will be astonished if I tell you that, according to old ceremonials, he is not a good Hindu who does not eat beef. On certain occasions he must sacrifice a bull and eat it.”[viii]

This is corroborated by other research works sponsored by the Ramakrishna Mission established by Vivekananda. According to C. Kunhan Raja, a prominent authority on the history and culture of the Vedic period:
“The Vedic Aryans, including the Brahmanas, ate fish, meat and even beef. A distinguished guest was honoured with beef served at a meal. Although the Vedic Aryans ate beef, milch cows were not killed. One of the words that designated cow was aghnya (what shall not be killed). But a guest was a goghna (one for whom a cow is killed). It is only bulls, barren cows and calves that were killed.”[ix]

One of the greatest researchers who was also an authority on Indian politics, religions and culture produced a brilliant essay on the subject titled ‘Did the Hindus Never Eat Beef?’ All those who are really interested in understanding the Indian past and wish to challenge the supremacist myth making for cleansing and marginalizing minorities must read this monumental work of Dr. Ambedkar.[x]

Dr. Ambedkar after studying very large number of Vedic and Hindu scriptures arrived at the conclusion that, “when the learned Brahmins argue that the Hindus not only never ate beef but they always held the cow to be sacred and were always opposed to the killing of the cow, it is impossible to accept their view”.

Interestingly, the findings of Ambedkar were that cows were sacrificed and beef consumed because COWS were HOLY.

According to Ambedkar: "It was not that the cow was not sacred in Vedic times, it was because of her sacredness that it is ordained in the Vajasaneyi Samhita that beef should be eaten." (Dharma Shastra Vichar in Marathi, p. 180). That the Aryans of the Rig Veda did kill cows for purposes of food and ate beef is abundantly clear from the Rig Veda itself. In Rig Veda (X. 86.14) Indra says: ‘They cook for one 15 plus twenty oxen’. The Rig Veda (X.91.14) says that for Agni were sacrificed horses, bulls, oxen, barren cows and rams. From the Rig Veda (X.72.6) it appears that the cow was killed with a sword or axe.”

Ambedkar concluded his essay with the following words: “With this evidence no one can doubt that there was a time when Hindus, both Brahmins and non-Brahmins, ate not only flesh but also beef.”[xi]

The violence unleashed by Hindutva cadres on vulnerable sections of Indians also underscores the inate hypocrisy which is an integral trait of the RSS. In fact, to say that it indulged in double/triple speak would be an understatement. Those with allegiences directly or indirectly to the ideaology of the RSS are killing indiscreetly poor Indians, not only for slaughtering cows but for even transporting these animals. This is happening under RSS/BJP rule even in states like Goa, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Arunachal and Manipur where cow slaughter is legal and beef is staple diet. This obvious duplicity is a contraditction in RSS politics today.

There are studies available that demonstrate that the ban on cow trade and ban on beef is going to put Indian farmers under an even more severe economic burden; farmers who are already facing a crisis of basic existence. After the Modi government’s coming to power farmers suicides have increased by 30% and the recent ban on the trade of cattle for slaughter is going to further play economic havoc with the plight of farmers.

In fact, Sharad Pawar, a seasoned politician who learnt his politics as a leader of farmers has come out with an amazing proposal. According to him as Modi government is banning cow trade and slaughter under the diktats of RSS, the affected farmers who cannot afford to feed barren cows should leave them with RSS organizations to SERVE these HOLY COWS. It should not be a problem for RSS as it is one of the largest colonizers of land after government in India He has even demanded that RSS should turn its headquarter at Resham Bagh, Nagpur into a GAUSHALA (home for cows) so that individual farmers are not forced to feed such cows and RSS also has opportunity to earn puniya (good faith points) from Bhagwan (God) for serving gaumaataa (cow mother).

One not so hidden agenda of the holy war on cow seems to be to destroy the economy of Qureshis (who are in meat trade) among Muslims and Dalits who control skin processing. It is also to see the death of industry which at the retail level is almost in the unorganized sector. This will open Indian meat market to world meat processing cartels.

RSS trained in fascist culture practises multiple agendas with multiple tongues. Whenever one polarising agenda loses steam or becomes controversially hot the same is abandoned and a new polarising issue is taken out from the hat. Going around polarizing with Ram temple, ghar-wapsi (conversion of Muslims and Christians to Hinduism), love-jihaad, now it is the turn of cow to divide India.

The singular focus on the issue of the cow is also a clever attempt to divert attention from poverty, unemployment, riots, violence against Dalits minorities and women. The RSS/BJP rulers believe that they can fool all the people all the times. Though eventually thy will be proved wrong and a resistance will emerge, the costs will be high.


[vii] MS Golwalkar, Spotlight, Bangalore, Sahitya Sindhu (RSS publication house), 1974, p. 98
[viii] Vivekananda, The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, vol. 3 (Calcutta: Advaita Ashram, 1997), p. 536.
[ix]C. Kunhan Raja, „Vedic Culture‟, cited in the series, Suniti Kumar Chatterji and others (eds.), The Cultural Heritage of India, vol. 1 (Calcutta: The Ramakrishna Mission, 1993), p. 217.
[x] B. R. Ambedkar, ‘Did the Hindus never eat beef?’ in The Untouchables: Who Were They and Why They Became Untouchables?in Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Writings and Speeches, vol. 7, (Government of Maharashtra, Bombay, 1990, first edition 1948) pp. 323-328.]
Also see great work by Professor DN Jha, The Myth of the Holy Cow, link:
[xi] B. R. Ambedkar, ‘Did the Hindus never eat beef?’ in The Untouchables: Who Were They and Why They Became Untouchables?in Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Writings and Speeches, vol. 7, (Government of Maharashtra, Bombay, 1990, first edition 1948) pp. 323-328.

Related articles:
1. The Day of the Violent Vegetarian and the Myth of the Militant Meat Eater
Using the cow as a stick in Madhya Pradesh



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