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Mainstream, VOL LV No 26 New Delhi June 17, 2017

Cow and Hindutva: Myths and Facts

Saturday 17 June 2017, by Shamsul Islam


The Hindutva juggernaut, which rode on with Ram, love jihaad and ghar wapsi on top of it, is riding with the cow this time. There have been countless incidents of lynching, maiming and robbing of Muslims and Dalits in the name of saving holy cows. It is to be noted that there are 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 the latter’s bravado are horrendous and blood curdling comparable only to the violence during Partition. This spectacle clearly shows the collusion of the state with the criminals who fear no law. These shameful visuals show how brazenly the Hindutva forces make merry, celebrate and enjoy the ‘game’ of lynching. These criminals, who are out on the religious duty of saving holy cows, are worldly mortals also. This is proved when we find them robbing the victims before lynching. This killer cow juggernaut continues to roll down despite our PM, a senior RSS leader, describing most of these lovers of ‘gau maataa’ in August 2016, as anti-social elements. 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.”1

If despite this strong rebuttal by the PM, almost one year back, violence in the name of the cow has become more common, covering larger areas of India, more strident and beyond control; this may be due to either of the two following explanations. Firstly, the PM playing to the gallery spoke those words in order to defuse the social anger against such criminal activities. Secondly, the current cow vigilantes are the ones who are not anti-social elements but fall in the category of those who have Prime Ministerial approval and sanction as genuine holy cow saviours. There is no doubt, these gangsters have the sanction of the RSS, and law and order machinery.

Unfortunately, a judiciary, which is supposed to ensure that Indian rulers govern as per the rule of law and many times call for scrutiny of the issues of public concern before it, has so far kept quiet emboldening the criminals. In fact, a judge of the Rajasthan High Court, instead of looking into the atrocities being committed by the cow saviours (Rajasthan tops the list in cow violence and recently witnessed the horrendous public lynching of Pelu Khan; the perpetrators uploading the full video of the lynching2), ordered that the cow be made a national animal and anybody found killing it should be given death sentence.3

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, a prominent ideologue in the RSS hierarchy, even invented a ‘scientific’ reason for the holiness of the cow. While referring to a report of the US Department of Agriculture he told a gathering of RSS leaders that “80 per cent of genes found in the cow are found in humans too” and called upon Indians to “save and worship the cow”.4

Not surprisingly, as an RSS cadre Singh was very selective, partisan and wrong. The findings of a leading English daily of India, based on a world acclaimed journal Science, show that many other animals have greater percentage of genes like human beings. Chimpanzees, cats, mouse, dogs have 96 per cent, 90 per cent, 85 per cent and 84 per cent respectively genes like human beings. These are not only animals but even fruits; bananas having 60 per cent similar genes.5 It is to be seen when Rajnath Singh is going to announce these species also as Holy! We also need to know from him whether minorities and Dalits are human beings too to be saved from lynching.

The latest victims have been the beef-eaters of IIT-M (this Institute at Chennai continues with the older nomenclature of the city, Madras) who were victims of a murderous attack by the ABVP (the RSS’ student wing) activists in the campus.6 The continuing murderous attacks by the Hindutva cadres in the name of the cow make one thing very clear: that these fascist elements are totally illiterate about present-day India and have absolutely no knowledge of India’s history, specially Vedic history, which they glorify as the golden period.

If somebody is looking for a gurukul or university to graduate in deceit and lies, doubtless 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 contro-versy over beef-eating in Indian history by the Hindus of India. It aggressively claims that beef-eating started in India with the arrival as rulers of the Muslims who initiated and subsequently popularised it in order to denigrate the Hindus and their holy symbols. Golwalkar, a shameless liar, while responding to a question, “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.” 7

Such propaganda helps the Hindutva gang in terrorising the largest minority and Dalits of India who consume beef and are in its trade. It is to be noted here that since the early 20th century, coinciding with the rise of Hindutva politics, the cow has been the most important issue which has triggered the maximum cases of violence against the Muslims and Dalits of the country. It is immaterial to the Indian heirs of the 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 the ‘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.”8 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 the 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.”9

One of the greatest researcher and 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 marginalising the minorities must read this monumental work of Dr Ambedkar.10 Dr Ambedkar, after studying a 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.”11

The violence unleashed by the Hindutva cadres on the vulnerable sections of Indians also under-scores hypocrisy as an integral trait of the RSS. In fact, to say that it indulged in double/triple speak would be an understatement in its case. The RSS cadres are killing indiscreetly poor Indians, not only for slaughtering cows but for even transporting these animals. At the same time the RSS/BJP are ruling single-handedly the States of Goa, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Arunachal and Manipur where cow slaughter is legal and beef is a staple diet. The RSS dictum seems to be that in some areas you will go to hell for slaughtering Cows and in some areas you will rule for slaughtering Cows.

There are studies available which show that ban on cow trade and ban on beef is going to put Indian farmers under a more severe burden at a time they are already facing a crisis of existence. After the Modi Government’s coming to power, farmers’ suicides have increased by 30 per cent and ban on the cow sale is going to play havoc with the 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 the Modi Government is banning cow trade and slaughter under the diktat of the RSS, the affected farmers, who cannot afford to feed barren cows, should leave them with the RSS organisations to serve these Holy Cows. It should not be a problem for the RSS as it is one of the largest colonisers of the land after the Government in India He has even demanded that the RSS should turn its headquarters at Resham Bagh, Nagpur into a gaushala so that individual farmers are not forced to feed such cows.

The RSS, trained in the 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 polarising with the Ram temple, ghar-wapsi (conversion of Muslims and Christians to Hinduism), love-jihad, now it is the turn of the cow to divide India. The issue of cow as the only issue faced by India today is also an 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 time. They will be proved wrong, that is sure, but till the time that happens democratic-secular India is going to have a terrible time.







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7. M.S. Golwalkar, Spotlight, Bangalore, Sahitya Sindhu (RSS publication house), 1974, p. 98.

8. Vivekananda, The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, vol. 3 (Calcutta: Advaita Ashram, 1997), p. 536.

9. 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.

10. 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. http://www. Also see the great work by Professor D.N. Jha, The Myth of the Holy Cow, link:

11. B. R. Ambedkar, ‘Did the Hindus never ate 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.

Shamsul Islam, a well-known theatre personality, is a former Associate Professor (now retired), Department of Political Science, Satyawati College, University of Delhi. For some of the author’s writings in English, Hindi, Malayalam, Kannada, Bengali, Punjabi, Urdu and Gujarati use the following link: http/

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