Since ages, Hindu groups and saints are fighting against cow slaughtering. Cow-protection is the central issue of Hinduism. I’m writing about it because it is common to the classes as well as the masses. Yesterday, Suresh Chavhanke, the owner of Sudharshan TV along with saints and social workers led and initiated the campaign to ‘Save Cow’. Through this campaign, they are planning an innovative method to generate employments as well as create awareness over various issues pertaining to health and hygiene regarding keeping cows at home. They are collecting the data of people having big bungalows and farm houses, where they can afford to keep a cow. Most of the house owners hesitate to keep cows at their premises due to its maintenance. There are many uneducated unemployed people in this country especially from rural India, who can be trained and deputed to these places along with the cows for maintenance. There are many Gober-Gas portable plants or bio fertilizer machines, through which you can generate Gas for your own usage and fertilizers for your garden and farm. Apart from this, one can have healthy fresh milk at home for the entire family and if it is in excess then any neighbour can happily buy it. This was a good idea to discuss but implementation could be actually tedious. They also want to stop cow-slaughtering and export of beef, but they have some plans catering to old and ailing cows.
The first Gaurakshini sabha (cow protection society) was established in the Punjab in 1882. The movement spread rapidly all over North India and to Bengal, Bombay (Mumbai), Madras (Chennai) and other central provinces of that time. The organisation rescued wandering cows and groomed them in places called gaushalas (cow refuges). Charitable networks developed all through North India to collect rice from individuals, pool the contributions, and re-sell them to fund the gaushalas. Signatures, up to 350,000 in some places, were collected to demand a ban on cow sacrifice. During Swami Dayananda Saraswati’s time, cow protection was not much regarded as an anti-Muslim phenomenon, and he attempted to build a rational and respectable movement around this sentiment. It gradually became an issue of communal rivalry, when calls for a legal ban on cow slaughter were raised.
Cow protection sentiment reached its peak in 1893. Large public meetings were held in Nagpur, Hardwar and Benares (Varanasi) to denounce beef-eaters. Melodramas were conducted to display the plight of cows, and pamphlets were distributed, to create awareness among those who sacrificed and ate them. Riots broke out between Hindus and Muslims in Mau in the Azamgarh district; it took 3 days for the government to regain control. The rioting was precipitated by contradictory interpretations of a British local magistrate’s order. He had apparently asked all the Muslims interested in cow slaughter to register, an undertaking of which was in fact performed to identify problem-prone areas. However, Muslims had interpreted this as a promise of protection for those who wanted to perform sacrifices. The series of violent incidences also resulted in a riot in Bombay involving the working classes, and unrest occurred in places as far away as Rangoon and Burma. An estimated thirty-one to forty-five communal riots broke out over six months and a total of 107 people were killed.
The cow protection movement was the movement that demanded end of cow slaughter in British India. The movement gained momentum with the support from Arya Samaj and its founding father Swami Dayananda Saraswati. Swami Dayananda and his followers travelled across India which led to the establishment of cow protection societies in various regions of India an attempt of which was started in 1882. The movement antagonised many Muslims, who saw it as a Hindu tool of oppression.
The cow is a sacred animal in the Hindu religion. Dairy products are extensively used in Hindu culture and are one of the most essential nutritional components of Hindu meals. Panchagavya, a mixture of five products of cow milk, curd, ghee, urine and dung, is consumed in Brahmanical rituals. The mixture is also smeared on ulcers as a healing product. Veneration of the cow increased during medieval times, when the rate of cow slaughter increased phenomenally. It is also believed that Muslim sacrificing cows during Bakr-Id also led to an increase in cow veneration among Hindus. Arya Samaj propounded the idea that Hindus should cleanse their religion and return to the purer form of Hinduism which existed during Vedic times. While this movement rejected idol worship, polytheism, child marriage, widow celibacy, the caste system by birth and the spiritual superiority of Brahman priests, it accepted the practice of cow worship.
Though goat slaughter is also permitted in Islam, cows are cheaper; cow slaughter also became a symbol of Muslims asserting their rights and not bowing down to the demands of their Hindu neighbours. Beef was a popular food for the British living in India as well and even today many religions other than Hinduism (even some secular Hindus) consume Beef. These days, non vegetarian food is most preferable food as they connect it with lifestyle. Anyway, a cow has many utilities and benefits to human life and somewhere killing of cows should be stopped by creating social awareness.