Why the cow was chosen to be holy - a hypothesis
#1
A while ago when we had a house opening ceremony. As per requirements of tradition a cow was brought in and made to roam inside the house. I can't remember the reason, but it had something to do with the cow being holy. One thing I observed was that the cow was bloody scared, probably due to being in a new place and surrounded by lots of people.

The reason given by religious texts for choosing the cow as being holy is that it always gives and never asks anything in return. A pure symbol of altruism. But I propose that there was another significant reason the cow was chosen. It's a docile animal and no matter what inane rituals you perform on it, it just stands there and accepts the abuse. I don't think other animals can withstand the abuse (maybe buffaloes can, but they are black in color which may have been deemed inauspicious).

This is a true scientific achievement of the Vedic religion (by way of observation and experimentation). They found the perfect animal to ritualize.
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#2
Please read the following article to find out reasons for considering cow as sacred animal:
http://www.archaeologyonline.net/artifac...d-cow.html
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#3
(30-Apr-2010, 03:49 PM)shrihara Wrote: Please read the following article to find out reasons for considering cow as sacred animal:
http://www.archaeologyonline.net/artifac...d-cow.html

Robin Winter's sense of humour is better than' Lije's!
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#4
(30-Apr-2010, 03:49 PM)shrihara Wrote: Please read the following article to find out reasons for considering cow as sacred animal:
http://www.archaeologyonline.net/artifac...d-cow.html

The author makes a valid point. The failure of Indian governments over the years to provide infrastructure for rural India leaves the farmers no option but to depend on cattle for their livelihood. But that is no excuse for giving up and resorting to cow worship. That's plain superstition. Smearing a cow with sindoor and turmeric and subjecting it to mindless rituals accomplishes nothing. If you want to make people aware of the usefulness of cows, do it the right way. By way of facts, not blind belief.

The article also makes a fair no. of claims that sound dubious to me. I don't have the time to research all claims, but one stuck out:

Quote:But the cow's dung, far from being contaminating, instead possesses antiseptic qualities. This has been verified by modern science. Not only is it free from bacteria, but it also does a good job of killing them. Believe it or not, it is every bit as good an antiseptic as Lysol or Mr. Clean.

A perfect example of pseudo science. Use the name of science and make nonsensical claims. Cow feces, just like other mammalian feces, are infested with bacteria.
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#5
(30-Apr-2010, 08:12 PM)Lije Wrote:
(30-Apr-2010, 03:49 PM)shrihara Wrote: Please read the following article to find out reasons for considering cow as sacred animal:
http://www.archaeologyonline.net/artifac...d-cow.html

The author makes a valid point. The failure of Indian governments over the years to provide infrastructure for rural India leaves the farmers no option but to depend on cattle for their livelihood. But that is no excuse for giving up and resorting to cow worship. That's plain superstition. Smearing a cow with sindoor and turmeric and subjecting it to mindless rituals accomplishes nothing. If you want to make people aware of the usefulness of cows, do it the right way. By way of facts, not blind belief.

The article also makes a fair no. of claims that sound dubious to me. I don't have the time to research all claims, but one stuck out:

Quote:But the cow's dung, far from being contaminating, instead possesses antiseptic qualities. This has been verified by modern science. Not only is it free from bacteria, but it also does a good job of killing them. Believe it or not, it is every bit as good an antiseptic as Lysol or Mr. Clean.

A perfect example of pseudo science. Use the name of science and make nonsensical claims. Cow feces, just like other mammalian feces, are infested with bacteria.

You nailed it !
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#6
I love cows. Stir fried cows, grilled cows, roasted cows, cow curry etc. Big Grin Big Grin I kid. I didn't read the article. But I've always felt that Hindus deify cows because they give them milk. Milk plays such a large part of society and apparently it warrants making the cow godly. It's easier to think that the cow is holy and sent from heaven to provide us with nutritious liquid, rather than realise we are squeezing a cows pink bits and drinking the fluid that pours out of it. Religion does that a lot. Rain gods, Mayan sun god sacrifices, gods of violence and war etc.
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#7
Cow worship probably is one of the first signs of ritualism that cropped up in the IVC. Just like it did for the neighboring civilization in the Greater Khorasan area. Zoroastrians view the cow as holy as anyone on our sub-continent. Cows were extensively used in religious and political symbolism while that was not the case here, we were just extremely ritualistic about them.

The affinity that Humans would've developed to the many benefits the cow offered them is beyond obvious. Milk, fuel in the form of cowdung, muscle power for ploughing and of course, ancient Indians ate beef. I do not know of a credible, monolithic online source, but the fact's been verified by leading Historians like Romila Thapar and was the center of controversy when BJP made changes to the History syllabus in Gujarat, which was in part crafted by Romila. Although until I verify this myself, I agree that I might be wrong.

Assigning sacred status to them was more or less, natural for (relatively) primitive man.

... or were you really just poking fun with your hypotheses and I made a fool of myself? XD

(30-Apr-2010, 03:49 PM)shrihara Wrote: Please read the following article to find out reasons for considering cow as sacred animal:
http://www.archaeologyonline.net/artifac...d-cow.html

That link, is plain hilarious. What loads of cowdung.
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#8
(02-May-2010, 01:02 PM)iconoclastmolotov Wrote: ... ancient Indians ate beef. I do not know of a credible, monolithic online source, but the fact's been verified by leading Historians like Romila Thapar and was the center of controversy when BJP made changes to the History syllabus in Gujarat, which was in part crafted by Romila. Although until I verify this myself, I agree that I might be wrong.

Here is an article on beef eating in ancient India.

Quote:... or were you really just poking fun with your hypotheses and I made a fool of myself? XD

I wasn't making fun :-). It was just an observation. Given the tendency of hindus to ritualize everything, the cow seemed to be the perfect animal upon which they can imprint their ritualistic desires.
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#9
(02-May-2010, 02:42 PM)Lije Wrote: I wasn't making fun :-). It was just an observation.

I hope you are aware of 'Poe's law' (I suppose already cliched). I certainly took it as a sarcasm!
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#10
(03-May-2010, 04:30 PM)manju Wrote: I hope you are aware of 'Poe's law' (I suppose already cliched). I certainly took it as a sarcasm!

No. I was not aware of Poe's Law. Now that I've read it, I realize that it is a very deep and profound manifestation of the eternal, ebullient and ethereal truth in the physical and spiritual realms.
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#11
@ Palaeo: you nailed it. Milk.. any wonder, women have to bear the brunt of 'gau-mata'?
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#12
(29-Apr-2010, 08:48 PM)Lije Wrote: A while ago when we had a house opening ceremony. As per requirements of tradition a cow was brought in and made to roam inside the house. I can't remember the reason, but it had something to do with the cow being holy. One thing I observed was that the cow was bloody scared, probably due to being in a new place and surrounded by lots of people.

The reason given by religious texts for choosing the cow as being holy is that it always gives and never asks anything in return. A pure symbol of altruism. But I propose that there was another significant reason the cow was chosen. It's a docile animal and no matter what inane rituals you perform on it, it just stands there and accepts the abuse. I don't think other animals can withstand the abuse (maybe buffaloes can, but they are black in color which may have been deemed inauspicious).

This is a true scientific achievement of the Vedic religion (by way of observation and experimentation). They found the perfect animal to ritualize.

Yeah, that's probably it - a docile animal and not of an inauspicious colour.
Also, the cow was probably more useful alive than dead.

This well-researched and written book was first banned and then unbanned in India :
"The Myth of the Holy Cow" by D. N. Jha.
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