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TheNakedHippie's avatar

What is the significance of the cow in Indian culture?

Asked by TheNakedHippie (470points) January 6th, 2009

I know it sounds ignorant, and I know it has something to do with their religion, but I don’t know the reason why it’s sacred or how that came about. I don’t even know what else to ask! Any and ALL details are welcome. ;]

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7 Answers

Magnus's avatar

It’s holy. Cow.

inoffensive's avatar

fascinating article. here.

marinelife's avatar

In the Hindu religion, the cow is sacred. Here is some basic information. There is much more on the Web. Here is an excerpt:

“In ancient India, oxen and bulls were sacrificed to the gods and their meat was eaten. But even then the slaughter of milk-producing cows was prohibited. Verses of the Rigveda refer to the cow as Devi (goddess), identified with Aditi (mother of the gods) herself.

Even when meat-eating was permitted, the ancient Vedic scriptures encouraged vegetarianism. One scripture says, “There is no sin in eating meat… but abstention brings great rewards.” (The Laws of Manu, V/56) ”

Jack79's avatar

I had a very religious Indian landlady and she said that the reason cows are holy is precicely the fact that they are so useful: you can take their milk, their skin and even eat their meat. which is a bit of a paradox since they (at least she) never eat beef because of the holiness. Apparently it is also a caste thing. She said that some castes are allowed to eat beef and others not.

Not sure how much of this is accurate though. It sounds weird.

asmonet's avatar

Wikipedia misses you, NakedHippie.

Irishsoul's avatar

Anyone seen the movie “Outsourced”? A wonderful film about a Seattle businessman whose job selling American patriotic novelty items is outsourced to India. There are many hilarious cultural clashes, including one about cows and branding irons! As mentioned by Jack79, the cow is revered by devout Hindus as a symbol of the great mother and in Ayurveda, the ancient health system of India, milk is considered to be the most sattvic (pure)and nourising of foods.

Noel_S_Leitmotiv's avatar

The significance is irony.

All that meat walking around as some Indians starve.

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