Why Is Cow Considered Sacred In India?
Sacred Cow - A Dumb Indian Idea?
When used in a modern sense, the term holy cow or sacred cow sums up the idiosyncrasies, superstitions, folklores and primitive obstinacies of a backward India. The average Westerner (or a person with that mindset) finds this highly amusing that Indians ‘worship’ cows. Time and again in last two hundred years, this fact has been brought up, much to the astonishment of giggling school girls in London and Newyork. And this idea has found plenty of takers in all parts of the world, including India with the spread of Western values and ideologies.
On the other hand, hamburgers and Mcdonald’s are the icons of a chic and smart world. They represent a world which has wriggled itself out from the fetters of primitiveness and blind belief.
Just as Britney and Madonna are female icons, Marlboro Man and Rambo are the male ideal, cows are our food, nothing more. From Cleveland to Cairo to Caracas, Baywatch is entertainment and CNN is news...and cows are the food. And you got to be dumb if you suggest anything to the contrary.
These are the times of homogenization. We are living in a world in which people everywhere are eating the same food, Mcdonald and KFC, wearing the same clothing, jeans and T-shirt and live in houses built from the same materials. Anywhere you go you find multi-lane highways, concrete cities, a cultural landscape featuring grey business suits, fast food chains, Hollywood films, and cellular phones. It is a world in which every society employs the same technologies, depends on the same centrally managed economy, offers the same Western education for its children, speaks the same language, consumes the same media images, holds the same values, and even thinks the same thoughts and carry the same idea ....Cows are simply dumb animals and they taste good.
The world over, the term "sacred cow" has come to mean any stubborn loyalty to a long-standing institution which impedes natural progress. The term originates in India, where the cow is said to be literally worshiped. The common, popular view of India in the West is that of an underdeveloped nation steeped in superstitions. Overpopulated, overcrowded, undereducated, and bereft of most modern amenities, India is seen to be a backward nation in many respects by the ‘progressive’ West. "If only India would abandon her old wives’ tales and and eat cow!" Over several decades many attempts have been made by the compassionate West to alleviate India's burden of poor logic, and to replace it with rational thinking.
Much of the religious West finds common ground with the rationalists, with whom they otherwise are usually at odds, on the issue of India's "sacred cow." Indeed, worshiping God is one thing, but to worship the cow is a theological outlook much in need of reevaluation. Man is said to have dominion over the animals, but it would appear that the Indians have it backwards.
In an age when we pay to kill our own children in the womb, its no surprise that Indians are mocked for honoring the cow.
Were Indians Really Dumb? Are The Modern Dudes Really Smart?
The term sacred cow finds its origin in the ancient Vedic tradition, dating back to thousands of years. What really prompted these folks to revere and worship the cow? Were they really so stupid as to worship an animal? Are we really that smart now to ridicule their idea? Why didn’t they propose to worship any other animal like tiger, dog or monkey. Take a look at the following facts about these folks.
Native tongue of the ancient Indians was Sanskrit. British scholar Sir Willian Jones considered it to be the mother of all European Languages including Latin. Sanskrit is the world’s oldest known tongue and Nasa has declared it to be "the only unambiguous language on the planet". Many scholars have established presence of words in European Languages that have come out of Sanskrit.
It is the most systematic language in the world. The vastness and the versatility, and power of expression can be appreciated by the fact that this language has 65 words to describe various forms of earth, 67 words for water, and over 250 words to describe rainfall.
The Sanskrit verbal adjective samskrta- may be translated as "well or completely formed; refined, adorned, highly elaborated" The corpus of Sanskrit literature encompasses a rich tradition of poetry and drama as well as scientific, technical, philosophical and dharma texts. Sanskrit continues to be widely used as a ceremonial language in Hindu religious rituals and Buddhist practice in the forms of hymns and mantras.
Just to learn Sanskrit grammar properly, it takes a minimum of 12 years. European scholarship in Sanskrit, begun by Heinrich Roth(1620-1668) and Johann Ernst Hanxleden (1681-1731), is regarded as responsible for the discovery of the Indo-European language family by Sir William Jones. This scholarship played an important role in the development of Western philology, or historical linguistics. Sir William Jones, speaking to The Asiatic Society in Calcutta on February 2, 1786, said:
“The Sanskrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of a wonderful structure; more perfect than the Greek, more copious than the Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either, yet bearing to both of them a stronger affinity, both in the roots of verbs and in the forms of grammar, than could possibly have been produced by accident.”
Throughtout the length and breadth of India, even a commoner could speak and write in Sanskrit. Practically the whole subcontinent was literate because the education, unlike today, was imparted by selfless brahmanas on village level.
Written tradition in Sanskrit is 5000 years old. Before that there was no need for written word. The brains were so sharp that all the knowledge existed in oral tradition. A student could memorize everything simply by hearing it once from the teacher. All these super brains were subsisting on the super foods – cow’s milk and butter, added with some grains and fruits. The cows greatly outnumbered humans.
It was not just the language. Science and technology in ancient India covered all major branches of knowledge like mathematics, astronomy, physics, chemistry, medical science, surgery, fine arts, mechanical and production technology, civil engineering, architecture, shipbuilding and navigation, sports and games etc.
Ancient India was a land of saintly scholars and scientists. India's contribution to science and technology include:
Mathematics - In India, mathematics has its roots in Vedic literatures which are nearly 5000 years old. Apart from original vedic texts, between 1000 BC and 1000 AD various treatises on mathematics were authored. In these treatises were set forth, for the first time, the concept of zero, the techniques of algebra and algorithm, square root and cube root. A method of graduated calculation was documented in the Pancha-Siddhantika (Five Principles) in the 5th Century, long before Newton and Leibniz. The technique is said to be dating from Vedic times circa 3000 B.C. Geometry called Rekha-ganita in ancient India was formulated and applied in the drafting of Mandalas for architectural purposes. They were also displayed in the geometric patterns used in many temple motifs.
Astronomy - Astronomy literally means, "the law of the stars" and refers to the science involving the observation and explanation of events occurring beyond the Earth and its atmosphere. Ancient India's contributions in the field of astronomy are well known and well documented. The earliest references to astronomy are found in the Rig Veda, dating back to 3000 BC. By 500 AD, ancient Indian astronomy had emerged as an important part of Indian studies and its affect is also seen in several treatises of that period. In some instances, astronomical principles were borrowed to explain matters pertaining to astrology, like casting of a horoscope. Apart from this linkage of astronomy with astrology in ancient India, science of astronomy continued to develop independently, and culminated into original findings like:
-The calculation of occurrences of eclipses
-Determination of the circumferences and sizes of the planets. (They knew long ago that Earth is round. Planets were described by the words like ‘bhugola’ or ‘brahmanda’, meaning a round or egg-like shape.)
-The theory of gravitation
-Structure of the universe.
Physics - Physics of ancient India, like mathematics and astronomy, is replete with theories and calculations that anticipate western scientific achievements by many centuries.
These treatises included the concepts of atom (Anu, Parmanu), theory of relativity (Sapekshavada), creation of the cosmos, constituents of matter, mysteries of the universe, laws of motion etc. These ideas were of fundamental import and had been developed in India independently and prior to the development of ideas in the Greco-Roman world.
6th century BC physicists, Kanada and Katyayana are well knows for their pioneering work on the atomic theory and atomic constitution of the material world. They considered atom to be indivisible and indestructible. Speaking of ancient Indian expositions, A.L. Basham, the veteran Australian Indologist says, "They were brilliant imaginative explanations of the physical structure of the world, and in a large measure, agree with the discoveries of modern physics."
Chemistry - The advanced nature of ancient India’s chemical science finds expression in fields like distillation of perfumes and fragrant ointments, manufacturing of dyes and chemicals, polishing of mirrors, preparation of pigments and colours etc. Paintings found on walls of Ajanta and Ellora (both World heritage sites) look fresh even after 1000 years. This feat can not be achieved with the available technology today.
Also they were very advanced in metallurgy. By the side of Qutub Minar in Delhi stands an Iron Pillar which is believed to be cast in the Gupta period around 500 AD. The pillar is 7.32 meters tall, tapering from a diameter of 40 cm at the base to 30 cm at the top and is estimated to weigh 6 tonnes. It has been standing in the open for last 1500 years, withstanding the wind, heat and weather, but still has not rusted, except some minor natural erosion. This is a miracle even when compared with metullurgical achievements of the 20th century.
Medical Science & Surgery - Ayurveda as a science of medicine owes its origins in ancient India and it literally means ‘the science of life or longevity’. Ayurveda constitutes ideas about ailments and diseases, their symptoms, diagnosis and cure, and relies heavily on herbal medicines, including extracts of several plants.
Ancient scholars of India like Atreya, and Agnivesa have dealt with principles of Ayurveda as long back as 800 BC. Their works and other developments were consolidated by Charaka who compiled a compendium of Ayurvedic principles and practices in his treatise Charaka-Samhita. This has remained a standard textbook for almost 2000 years and has been translated into many languages, including Arabic and Latin. Charaka-samhita deals with a variety of matters covering physiology, etiology and embryology, concepts of digestion, metabolism, and immunity. Preliminary concepts of genetics also find a mention there.
Shushruta, a medical theoretician and practitioner, lived around the same time in the ancient Indian city of Kasi. He wrote a medical compendium called Shushruta-Samhita. This ancient medical compendium describes at least seven branches of surgery: excision, scarification, puncturing, exploration, extraction, evacuation, and suturing. The compendium also deals with matters like rhinoplasty (plastic surgery) and ophthalmology (ejection of cataracts). It also has instructions on studying the human anatomy by using a cadaver. There are thousands of other works on traditional medicine, both in Sanskrit and other varnaculars like Tamil and Malayalam.
Fine Arts - Fine arts permeated the very fabric of people’s lives. In Vedic sastras, we find description of innumerable arts out of which sixty four find prominence.
Following are some of the performing and fine arts for which vast resources and references are still available.
Music, instrumental music, dance, drama, painting, body decoration, ornamental arts, cooking, engineering, horticulture, magical entertainment, astrology, gambling, amusements, literature, physical and social arts, erotics etc.
Then there was the art of reciting vedic hymns. It was governed by a fine science of sound and phonetics.
Mechanical & Production Technology - Mechanical and production technology of ancient India ensured processing of natural produce and their conversion into merchandise for trade, commerce and export. A number of travelers and historians (including Megasthanes, Ptolemy, Faxian, Xuanzang, Marco Polo, Al Baruni and Ibn Batuta) have mentioned a variety of items, which were produced, consumed and exported around the world by the ancient Indians. Greek historians have testified to smelting of certain metals in India in the 4th century BC.
Civil engineering & Architecture - In ancient India, architecture and civil engineering was known as sthapatya-kala and it found its expression in construction of temples, palaces and forts across the Indian peninsula and the neighbouring regions. During the periods of Kushan and Maurya empires, the Indian architecture and civil engineering reached the regions like Baluchistan and Afghanistan. Over a period of time, ancient Indian art of construction blended with Greek styles and spread to Central Asia.
On the other side, Indian architecture and civil engineering spread to countries like Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Burma, China, Korea and Japan. Angkor Wat is a living testimony to the contribution of Indian civil engineering and architecture to the Cambodian Khmer heritage.
In mainland India today, there are several architectural marvels including world heritage sites like Ajanta, Ellora, Khajuraho, Mahabodhi Temple, Sanchi, Brihadisvara Temple, Puri, Konark, Mahabalipuram etc.
Shipbuilding & Navigation - Sanskrit and Pali texts have several references to maritime activity by the ancient Indians. The science of shipbuilding and navigation was well known. They were having trade relations with several countries of across bay of Bengal like Cambodia, Java, Sumatra, Borneo, right up to China and Japan. Similar maritime and trade relations existed with countries across the Arabian Sea like Arabia, Egypt and Persia. America had not been discovered and Europe was not civilized enough to have trade relations with.
Even around circa 500 AD, sextants and mariner's compass were known to Indian shipbuilders and navigators. According to a report published in the Bombay Gazetter by J.L. Reid, a member of the Institute of Naval Architects and Shipbuilders, England,"The early Hindu astrologers are said to have used the magnet, in fixing the North and East, in laying foundations, and other religious ceremonies. The Hindu compass was an iron fish that floated in a vessel of oil and pointed to the North. The fact of this older Hindu compass seems placed beyond doubt by the Sanskrit word 'Maccha-Yantra', or 'fish-machine', which Molesworth gives as a name for the mariner's compass".
Dumbing Down of The Modern World
After examining vedic culture where cows were protected, we can examine as to what is happening to a cow eating civilization.
In the last few years, startling surveys have come out, exposing the intellectual state of younger generation in the developed countries. While the younger generation in America, Europe and Australia are busy reveling in drug and sex, companies are forced to outsource work to countries in Asia and elsewhere. Many Americans and Australians are finding Indians and other Asians moving in their neighborhood and taking up jobs as doctors, engineers, dentists and scientists.
In a 2007 survey by the British author Hilary Spurling, it was found that a significant percentage of univesity students in Britain could not write properly or spell or present an argument. No, these weren't university rejects, but students at prestigious establishments.
Prize-winning biographer Hilary Spurling says, "Most contemporary British students arriving at university lack the basic ability to express themselves in writing." The poet and playwright Michelene Wandor says: "They don't know what a sentence is, what a verb is, what a noun is. They struggle with apostrophes and they often don't know what tense they're writing in."
The childrens author Yvonne Coppard agrees. "Their syntax and grammar are sloppy, they have sentences that draggle all over the place, you can see whole pages without paragraphs, and as for speech punctuation - I don't know what happened to that!"
Educationists are blowing the whistle on the scandal of a generation that lacks the basic skills to study for a degree.
University students can't write decent English. Worse, their attempts to do so show that many can't follow a logical train of thought or present a reasoned argument. In fact, growing numbers are not ready for the demands of higher education.
Standards of spelling among university students are now so bad that lecturers are being urged to turn a blind eye to mistakes.
In another survey in US, 50% of 17 year old students in San Francisco did not know where the Pacific Ocean was. A significant percentage of students of the ‘New York Institute of Technology’, or NYIT for short, could not spell New York. It is pertinent to note that In 1993, 90 million Americans lacked basic literacy.
In another survey, it was found that many British GCSE students could not spell simple words such as 'was' and were writing it as ‘whas’. Simple words such as "looked", "there" and "was" were all spelt wrongly in the English GCSE exam scripts. It was brought to noticed when researchers were going through the scripts for Cambridge assessment.
Many undergraduates misspell basic words such as "their", "speech" or even "Wednesday" in essays. First year students were the worst offenders, despite already spending at least 13 years in the education system.
Moving on to Australia, Two-thirds of Australian adults could not spell the word ‘embarrass’ in a 2009 survey.
The Galaxy survey commissioned by Westpac was conducted on 400 people, aged over 16 years, from Sydney and Melbourne. It showed about 70 per cent could not spell the world ‘accommodation’. One in two people wrongly spelt ‘accessory’, and a quarter had trouble with ‘February’.
“Universities are even finding they have masters-level students who cannot spell," says Jack Bovill, Chairman of The Spelling Society. It is not just a question of spelling but overall intellectual capacity is coming down rapidly.