The central fact of Hinduism is cow protection.
Cow protection to me is one of the most wonderful phenomena in human evolution.
It takes the human being beyond his species. The cow to me means the entire
sub-human world. Man through the cow is enjoined to realize his identity with
all that lives. Why the cow was selected for apotheosis is obvious to me. The
cow was in India the best companion. She was the giver of plenty. Not only did
she give milk, but she also made agriculture in the gentle animal. She is mother
to millions of Indian mankind. Protection of the cow means protection of the
whole dumb creation of God. The ancient seer, whoever he was, began with the
cow. The appeal of the lower order of creation is all the more forcible because
it is speechless. Cow protection is the gift of Hinduism to the world. And
Hinduism will live so long as there are Hindus to protect the cow…
Hindus will be judged not by their tilaks, not by
the correct chanting of mantras, not by their pilgrimages, not by their most
punctilious observances of caste rule but by their ability to protect the cow.
Young India, 6-10-‘21
Mother cow is in many ways better than the mother
who gave us birth. Our mother gives us milk for a couple of years and then
expects us to serve her when we grow up. Mother cow expects from us nothing but
grass and grain. Our mother often falls ill and expects service from us. Mother
cow rarely falls ill. Hers is an unbroken record of service which does not end
with her death. Our mother when she dies means expenses of burial or cremation.
Mother cow is as useful dead as when she is alive. We can make use of every part
of her body her flesh, her bones, her intestine, her horns, and her skin. Well,
I say this not to disparage the mother who gives us birth, but in order to show
you the substantial reason for my worshipping the cow.
Criminal negligence is the only cause of the
miserable condition of our cattle. Our pinjrapoles, though they are an answer to
our instinct for mercy, are a clumsy demonstration of its execution. Instead of
being model dairy-farms and great profitable national institutions, they are
merely depots for receiving decrepit cattle. Whilst professing the religion of
cow protection, we have enslaved the cow and her progeny, and have become slaves
Young India, 6-10’21
But let me reiterate… the legislative prohibition
is the smallest part of any programmed of cow protection… People seem to think
that when a law is passed against any evil, it will die without any further
effort. There never was any grosser self-deception. Legislation is intended and
is effective against an ignorant or a small evil-minded minority; but no
legislation which is opposed by an intelligent and organized public opinion, or
under cover of religion by a fanatical minority, can ever succeed. The more I
study the question of cow protection, the stronger the conviction grows upon me,
the protection of the cow and her progeny can be attained, only if there is
continuous and sustained constructive effort along the lines suggested by me.
Young India, 7-7-‘27
Then how can the cow be saved without having to
kill her off when she ceases to give the economic quantity of milk or when she
becomes otherwise an uneconomic burden? The answer to the question can be summed
up as follows:
1. By the Hindus performing their duty towards the
cow and her progeny. If they did so, our cattle would be the pride of India and
the world. The contrary is the case today.
2. By learning the science of cattle-breeding.
Today there is perfect anarchy in this work.
3. By replacing the present cruel method of
castration by the humane method practiced in the West.
4. By thorough reform of the pinjarapoles of India
which are today, as a rule, managed ignorantly and without any plan by men who
do not know their work.
5. When these primary things are done, it will be
found that the Muslims will, of their own accord, recognize the necessity, if
only for the sake of their Hindu brethren, of not slaughtering cattle for beef
The reader will observe that behind the foregoing
requirement lies one thing and that is Ahimsa. If that supreme thing is
realized, everything else becomes easy. Where there is Ahimsa, there is infinite
patience, inner calm, discrimination, self-sacrifice and true knowledge. Cow
protection is not an easy thing. Much money is wasted in its name. Nevertheless,
in the absence of Ahimsa the Hindus have become destroyers instead of saviours
of the cow. It is even more difficult than the removal of foreign rule from
(Note: The average quantity of milk that the cow
in India yields is said to be roughly 2lbs. per day, that of New Zealand 14lbs.,
of England 15lbs., of Holland 20lbs. The Index figure for health goes up in
proportion to the increase in the yield of milk.)
I am amazed at our partiality for buffalo milk and
ghee. Our economics is short-sighted. We look at the immediate gain, but we do
not realize that in the last analysis the cow is the more valuable animal. Cow’s
butter (and ghee) has a naturally yellowish colour which indicates its
superiority to buffalo butter (and ghee) in carotene. It has a flavour all its
own. Foreign visitor’s cow’s milk they get there. Buffalo milk and butter are
almost unknown in Europe. It is only in India that one finds a prejudice in
favour of buffalo milk and ghee. This has spelt all but extinction of the cow,
and that is why I say that, unless we put an exclusive emphasis on the cow, she
can onto be saved.