The Cow Protection Movement in India
The Holy Cow
The Cow Protection Movement took place in the British India with the goal of ending the Slaughtering of cows. The movement as founded by Swani Dayananda Saraswati with the support of Arya Samaj. The movement advocated for the protection of cows in India. The Hindu religions upholds a cow as a sacred animal whose products are used in a variety of sacrificial rituals. Besides, it is also one of the key components of the Hindu diets. The Hindu religion considers a mother cow a goddess since it offers mile that is life sustaining to the people. The Hindus use it as a caretaker of the people and a divine bounty of the earth (Freitag 152). The cows provide ayuverda that comprises of the sattvic properties in the provision of milk and dairy products. The cow also gives the pancagavya which is used in the puja and rites of extreme penance (Freitag 153). The products of pancagavya include milk, curds, ghee, urine, butter and the dung that were objects used in scaring devils and also as medicine (Freitag 152). The cow dung (gobar) is used to generate energy to the households and also used as tilak.
Why the topic is Important
This topic matters because it provides the significance of how different religious groups view various objects as sacred. Besides, it also shows the significance of animals, especially the cow to the Hindus. We can clearly observe the Hindus getting worried When Muslims use cows as food and sacrifices. This is an indication of how far the Hindus have been keeping animals. By knowing the reason why they hold animals in high regards, one is able to get the different understandings of what a cow means to the Hindus and other religions.
This is a society of noble people that began in 1875 under the leadership of Dayananda Saravasvati as a reform sect of the modern Hinduism with the aim of re-establishing the Vedas (these are the ancient Hindu scriptures) as the revealed truth. In his own interpretation, Dayananda included post Vedic thoughts like the doctrines of Karman and that of re-birth. The society held the view that the Hindus should cleanse their form of religion and turn back to the form that was considered purer that prevailed during the Vedic times. This movement forbid all kinds of idol worship, polytheism as well as child marriage and widow celibacy (Datta 160). On the other hand, they also rejected the superiority of the brahmic priests. Besides, their beliefs allowed the worshiping of cows as part of their culture. In 1881, Dayananda came up with the treaty known as the Gokaruanidhi that meant the ocean of mercy dedicated to the cow and strongly admonished the slaughtering of cows (Van der veer 89-93). In fact, he pointed out that doing so would be against the acts of Hinduism. Dayananda and his subjects move from place to place across India lecturing people and building societies to champion the protection of cow rights. They presented their messages in buses, trains and other printing presses to ensure that the information is well passed on to the masses. The movement had its largest following from the west and north India with the structuring conducted in local societies called Samojas. Every Samoja was required to send representatives to the Samojas democratically. As outlined, it follows the doctrine of the Karman; the sanctity of the cow and the importance of Samskaras that are the individual sacraments. It also upholds the program linked to social reformation and has established many schools and colleges in order to enhance growth of nationalism (van der veer 91-104). In 1882, the movement created the cow protection association whose goal was to saving the cows from being slaughtered. The functionality of the organization was significantly enhanced after the court ruled in its favor (Datta C 161).
Reflection on Why the Topic Matters
This topic is of importance since it provides the different meanings of a particular religious organization. It also outlines the changes that have taken place within the organization from the ancient to the modern times. In this case, Vedic was the main worry of this movement since the starters wanted to teach and educate the Hindus about the importance of abiding by the traditions. It also matters because it enables the reader to learn about the struggles that were experienced and fought before a particular religious organization attained its modern status. Besides, it can also provide a documentation of the contributions of the group and its founders.
Cow Protection and Consumption
Before the initiation of the cow protection movement, the Muslims were known to offer sacrifices using cattle during festivals and eating cow meat. The riots led to the evolution of many groups across western and northern India, advocating for the protection of cows. With regards to consumption, the cow products are used in various areas including health, farming and firewood among others. The laws lobbying for the protection of cows are varied and there is no nation that has explicitly banned or prohibited the slaughtering of cows. Generally, the cows are considered to be sacred and the daily products are used as food with great nutritional values.
This topic is important because it points out the various ways through which cows have been accorded protection by the Hindus. Besides, it also indicates the views of the governments and the extent to which cows have been respected in society. It highlights the conflict between different cultures and religions. It also matters since it explains how some animals were used in the traditional setting, especially in sacrifices and use by different religious organization.
The Protection Movement
The cow movement was established in the 1870s and re-launched severally with the main aim of saving the cow from slaughter. The organization led by Vijay pal Baghel was able to change this organization into a national movement in the northern India. In 1882 at Punjab, India Gaurakshini Sabha was created. This movement was concerned with rescuing the wandering cows, reclaiming them and placing them in Gaushalas or ‘’cow refugees’’ (Freitag 149). Most of the charity organizations in northern India collected rice and other foods from people to acquire funding for the Gaushalas after their resale. The symbol of the cow was used in uniting many people and had different meanings to different people but mainly represented the people’s ideological identity (Fretag 149). The goal of the movement was to reaffirm its commitment to the protection of cows by emphasizing on purity and strict ritual adherence on the issue of slaughtering cows (Jaffrelot 192). This organization spread through the local structures and fed into the existing local schisms (Freitag 149-152). It spread to UP via the urban networks that spread throughout UP and increased its activities further in 1888 when the court made the declaration that cows were not sacred and not covered by the Indian penal code (151).
This topic is important to the readers since it shows how various organizations were established for religious purposes. It also presents the effects of these movements that were formed on the people and the state. This matters since it offers the views of a particular religion and the way in which the opposing groups are. The protection movement tries to explain why communities are involved in conflicts with each other with regards to their beliefs. Besides, it also matters because it outlines the processes that are involved in the formation of a given movement.
The cow protection riots, pitting Hindus against the Muslims, took place several times across the northern India during the 1890s and the 1990s from the Bombay and Maharashtra in the west to the Bengal in the east (Walsh 161-164). These riots occurred in Punjab in 1893 and were impacted by the act of slaughtering cows by Muslims for meat especially during religious festivals like the Bakr-Id. It was a show of the way in which the Hindu religious festivals were not being respected by the Muslim and other religions. Arya Samaj, Dayananda Sarasvati had in 1881 advocated for the protection of cows and the societies protested on the slaughtering of cows with emphasis on veneration of the cow (162). They even went ahead to petition the government to put in place measures prohibiting the slaughtering of cows in hygienic grounds (162). In 1893, large public gatherings were conducted in various places across India inclusing Nagpur, Hardwar and in Benares to denounce those who ate cow meat. People held demonstrations to show the plight of the cows and pamphlets were distributed to those who ate meat and sacrificed cows, especially the Muslims. It was during this time that riots erupted between the worrying groups in Azamgarh and it took three days for the government to contain them. After the local magistrate ruled on the matter, advising the Muslims who had interest in slaughtering cows to register. This was misinterpreted by the Muslims to mean protection from the Hindus who were denying them the right to offer sacrifices. This led to riots in Bombay and other areas resulting into the deaths and civil unrests for over six months.
Why the topic is of Importance
The 1893 riots matter since it gives an explanation of the consequences of disagreements between religious activities, groups and beliefs. Besides, it also shows the various factions and locations impacted by the riots as well as the results of the riots. This topic explains the causal elements of the riots and the reported casualties in the conflict. This determines the future relationship between the conflicting groups.
The riots of 1893 generated enmity between the Muslims and Hindus, thereby leading to discrimination among the factions. Because of the riots, many middle men and traders were arrested and thrown in jail. At the same time, the riots also resulted into the creation of avenues for other subsequent impacts. It also affected the city’s social order in that, people lived in fear of one another.
As outlined, the outcome of the riots is very important since it provides an explanation of the significance of the riots to those involved. It also shows the impacts of the riots in terms of location, social status of those involved and the government actions against the rioting groups. It also highlights the effects of the war and the losses or gains acquired from the rioting activities by various groups.
Freitag, Sandria B. Collective action and community: Public arenas and the emergence of communalism in north India. Univ of California Press, 1989.
Van der Veer, Peter. Religious Nationalism: Hindus and Muslims in India. Univ of California Press, 1994.
Datta, Nonica. Indian History. New Delhi: Encyclopaedia Britannica (India) and Popular Prakashan, Mumbai, 2003. Print.
Jaffrelot, Christophe. India’s silent revolution: the rise of the lower castes in North India. Orient Blackswan, 2003.
Walsh, Judith E. A Brief History of India. New York: Facts on File, 2006. Internet resource.