August 20, 2016: Cow vigilantes have made the situation precarious and have hurt the sentiments of Punjab. PM Narendra Modi’s assertion and the warning to the disservice of Gau Rakshaks have now got a new angle.
“Cow Worship and compassion of Gau Seva,” as our PM said, is now a debatable issue especially in the case of Hingonia and many other cow shelters where cow conservators are reaping the benefits of milk revolution. Sheltering cows are not new to the people of this country; even deities and castes are linked with this sacred animal and are believed to share an inseparable bond. In Hindu Mythology, Lord Krishna is known to be ‘Yaduvanshi’ and till date the Yadavs, a Hindu sect is known for protection of cows and its conservation. Religious significance attached to it has helped us to protect the animal- “gau hamari mata hai.”
Vinoba Bhave (1895-1982) was an Indian advocate of non-violence and human rights. He fought his whole life for a nation-wide ban on cow slaughter and quite aptly said that the ‘misapprehensions of the secular character of state and protection of the cow are misunderstood’. But Mahatma Gandhi had clearer thoughts regarding cow slaughter. “Cow slaughter can never be stopped by law. Knowledge, education, and the spirit of kindliness towards her alone can put an end to it. It will not be possible to save those animals that are a burden on the land or, perhaps, even man if he is a burden” said Gandhi in 1946.
Cow has always been a tricky issue for our political class- be it Beef ban or export of Beef. It’s a common fact, that we are exporting a large quantity of beef to numerous countries and we are happily garnering a pink revolution. The real problem is the politicisation of the animal who is considered Kamadhenu- a cow who is worshipped by Gods and instead the animal fulfils wishes of the Gods. Strange but true, that no one feels pity when they see cows roaming on roads and when urban infrastructure too, lacks space to serve the animal in a better manner.
There is a big gap between political sensitivity and people’s nature towards animals, which has proved to be very useful in numerous ways. It is beyond doubt, that there are thousands of cowsheds which are engaged in cow breeding, conservation, dispensaries, and care. They holistically work to save the Indian breeds and take care of the old age cows. Gau Seva versus Gau Raksha are the two corners of this real story.
Media reports said, in Punjab, a particular body is behaving like an army of cow protectors and willfully harassing people who go against their views or ideas. Gau Raksha Dal is a menace which is taking place due to the sentiments and lawlessness of the state. Even cow organisations are now opposing them and the Hindu organisations are now facing heat to ideologically support them. Cow protection through law is more challenging than public awareness campaigns.
PM Modi knows the value of cows especially when its status is venerated. In 1966, when thousand of saints marched towards Delhi; they went through a brutal time and many bruises had created. In this November, 50 years of this fateful day will be remembered in full glow. There are many organisations who work for cow protection and has now teamed up to do a big show in Delhi where PM Modi will be invited. The initiative to ‘save the cow’ campaign revolves mostly around beef and illegal trade. A few months back a saint from Punjab, Swami Krishnanandji got disappeared. He was known for his best practices and services to save the cow.
Rajasthan has the largest livestock population and the state has a cow welfare minister as well. But when it was heard that due to the strike of staffs, around 500 cows died in a government-funded shelter, it was quite saddening for the nation. The cow has proved its role by the milk cooperatives movements and from the desi ghee revolution of Swami Ramdev.
– by Bhavya Srivastava, a freelance contributor. He is a member of International Association of Religion Journalists and can be contacted at Twitter: @MeBhavya