Divine Bovine – The Beef about Cows in India, vigilantism and lynching – Mark Ulyseas
The present hysteria about the sanctity of ruminating four legged critters, cows, appears to be a mishmash of politics, creative interpretation of beliefs and regional power play. It is fuelled by a new found righteous indignation. Animal and human rights have no place in this debate. It would appear that the cow has suddenly been elevated to divinity. Innocent people falsely accused of eating the meat of cows or trading in them have been lynched by thugs purporting to represent Hinduism. Will the relatives of these murdered folk receive justice from the state? Or will the killings be viewed as divine retribution?
|Number of people of religion eating beef/buffalo meat||1999-2000||2004-05||2011-12|
Source: NSSO Rounds 55, 61, 68. Further, according to data, there is regional variation in consumption of buffalo/beef among Hindus. Southern States have the maximum number of Hindus eating beef/buffalo meat — the highest in Andhra Pradesh (32.8 lakh) followed by Tamil Nadu (31.4 lakh), Kerala (15.5 lakh) and Karnataka (9 lakh). – The Hindu, December 02, 2016. – http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/%E2%80%98More-Indians-eating-beef-buffalo-meat%E2%80%99/article16085248.ece
It is a blessing to be a bovine in India. However, not all bovines are sacred. Especially the millions of stray cattle (cows) that continue to roam the streets of India. You can see them wandering around defecating, munching on plastic bags at garbage dumps or garbage mindlessly discarded by civic conscious citizens anywhere and everywhere …fornicating in public, giving birth and then being milked at night by their owners…the contaminated milk being sold to unsuspecting customers.
One doesn’t see stray buffaloes roaming the streets. I suppose buffaloes are of high commercial value whilst cows are merely divinity on four legs. And while we are on the subject of the divinity of cows let us include the other animals – dogs, rats, snakes, monkeys, elephants, whales, dolphins etc. what about their divine right?
It is a common sight to see injured cows hobbling around in pain – the result of vehicles having run over them, the result of being beaten by persons or from dog bites. Religion is not a bar towards sublime cruelty to animals.
Buffaloes may be killed, eaten and their body parts used to make various products. Cows, however, are a good sauce to spice religious fundamentalism to tackle, perhaps, the perceived rising influence of other religions. Otherwise why will state governments ban cow slaughter?
In hindsight this ban is commendable. Why bother with the hundreds of millions of Indians living from hand to mouth. Why bother with caste politics…a proven system of inbuilt racism for millennia, which is perpetrated with religious zeal? Why bother about youngsters being killed by their own parents for marrying outside one’s caste? Why bother with the utterances of a former High Court judge who claims that peacocks don’t have sex because it is written in the Hindu religious texts, and that peahens get pregnant by swallowing the tears of peacocks. The same judge had recommended life imprisonment for the killing of a cow and further suggested that the bovine should be declared the national animal. One supposes that the life of a tiger is now of secondary importance.
“When the holy cow is alive, it is divine. We are less than the cows. The moment that animal dies, it ceases to be sacred. Then, those who worshipped it while it was alive will not touch it. They are desperate to get rid of it. You would think that if something was sacred, it would remain sacred always. But no. At that point, they remember us. Everybody comes down to earth in death.” – Dalit, Hindu untouchable The Dalits traditionally perform such work as they are the lowest caste in the hierarchy of the system in India. The Hindu, LINK
This is the paradox that is India. A country that has given the world Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. A country whose contribution to science and technology is second to none. Yet it remains prisoner to an asinine medieval-like inheritance that defies common sense. Certain Hindus are using the cow as an excuse to enforce an ideology on the populace that will in all likelihood create schisms where there were none and alarmingly become the new normal for killing, on pretext, anyone deemed to have hurt the bovine and (by default) the religious sentiments of over one billion Hindus.
For these people I have a message:
The term Hindu/Hinduism does not refer to a religion. It is a geographical term. The followers of the Sanātana Dharma (Hindus?) believe in a perennial philosophy far removed from the present day casteism, bigotry and religious chauvinism; A philosophy that teaches one that all life is sacred and how to live in harmony with all living things; A philosophy central to the well spring of life itself.
Sanātana Dharma gives reverence to individual spiritual experience over any formal religious doctrine. Wherever the Universal Truth is manifest, there is Sanātana Dharma — whether it is in a field of religion, art or science, or in the life of a person or community. Wherever the Universal Truth is not recognized, or is scaled down and limited to a particular group, book or person, even if done so in the name of God, there Sanātana Dharma ceases to function, whatever the activity is called. LINK
Most Indians are concerned about basic food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, clean drinking water, paved roads, transport, law and order, education and toilet facilities. The life and times of a bovine does not feature in their hopes and dreams. Just ask those in far flung villages across the country, subsistence farmers and the millions existing on the periphery of modern society. They are devout, god fearing and follow the rituals of their ancestors/faith and do not impose such beliefs on others. And they carry themselves with great dignity. These people are the true representatives of a civilisation called India. And not those who seek to distort the universal principles of the Sanātana Dharma.
The present beef about cows is not the real issue. This much abused benign bovine is being used as a hammer to impose the diktat of those seeking to recreate an India that did not exist. But will exist, perhaps, if the slaughter (with political connivance) of those Indians accused of eating beef or trading in the bovine continues to grow unchecked across the country.
The only blessed creatures in India are people who believe in the sanctity of all living things and follow this in their daily lives. But they are a fast dwindling species, a species overwhelmed by an insidious form of religious fervour cloaked in spurious nationalism.
What a tragedy.
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti Om
The Myth Of The Holy Cow by D. N. Jha is ground breaking research on the prevalence of beef-eating practices in ancient India, shattering the perception of sanctity that has been associated with the cow in India.