143. How to save the cow ?

Let us at the outset realize that cow worship in the religious sense is largely confined to Gujarat, Marwad, the United Provinces and Bihar. Marwadis and Gujaratis being enterprising merchants, have succeeded in making the greatest noise without at the same time devoting their business talent to the solution of the very difficult question of conserving the cattle wealth of India.

It is obviously wrong legally to enforce one's religious practice on those who do not share that religion.

In so far as the pure economic necessity of cow protection is concerned, it can be easily secured if the question was considered on that ground alone. In that event all the dry cattle, the cows who give less milk than their keep, and the aged and unfit cattle would be slaughtered without a second thought. This soulless economy has no place in India, although the inhabitants of this land of paradoxes may be, indeed, are guilty of many soulless acts.

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:

» 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.

» By learning the science of cattle breeding. Today- there is perfect anarchy in this work.

» By replacing the present cruel method of castration by the humane method practised in the West.

» 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.

» 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 or otherwise.

The reader will observe that behind the foregoing requirements lies one thing and that is Ahimsa, otherwise known as universal compassion. 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 India.

Calcutta, 22-8-'47

[Note: The average quantity of milk that the cow in India yields is said to be roughly 2 lbs. per day, that of New Zealand 14 lbs., of England 15 lbs., of Holland 20 lbs. The index figure for health goes up in proportion to the increase in the yield of milk.


- M. K. G. ]

Harijan, 31-8-1947