Why Is Cow Sacred? | Cows In India
In the Hindu religion, cows are sacred animals. Hindu people worship her. In religious scripture, the killing of cows is forbidden. There are references to punishment in old religious texts if a cow is slaughtered.
The question is raised, why is the killing of cows forbidden? Why is the cow sacred to the Hindu people?
There are many reasons offered for the sacredness of cows. These reasons may include religious, economic, social and cultural. But the economic reason is more convincing than the other reasons.
So, what is the economic reason which explains the sacredness of the cow? The explanation can be as follows.
Up to around the 7th century AD, killing cows was not forbidden. The historian D N Jha in his book ‘ The Myth Of Holy Cow ‘ had shown that animal sacrifice was common in ancient India and the cow was among the animals sacrificed. The sacrificial meat, including beef, was distributed among believers and consumed.
But from the 7th century AD onwards, India used to experience repeated famines. Famines were severe and long drawn. People used to have no food to survive. In such dire conditions to survive, people started to slaughter their animal livestock including cows to feed themselves.
This led to the decimation or decline of animal livestock for the next agricultural season. Agriculture activities were totally dependent upon the availability of animal livestock including cows. As there was low animal livestock to support the agricultural activities, that had impacted the agriculture productions adversely. To resolve the issue of a shortage of animal livestock for agricultural activities, the killing of cows was forbidden in the religious scripture by the elite class of that time.
To conclude, making cows sacred was a more rational decision of that time to prosper the economy.