Friday, October 2, 2015

Views of Mahatma Gandhi Ji on Cow Protection

Paragraph 9.3


1. (From )



THE COW is a poem of pity. One reads pity in the gentle animal. She is the mother to millions of Indian mankind. Protection of the cow means protection of the whole dumb creation of God. The ancient seer, whoever he was, began with the cow. The appeal of the lower order of creation is all the more forcible because it is speechless.316

…The cow is the purest type of sub-human life. She pleads before us on behalf of the whole of the sub-human species for justice to it at the hands of man, the first among all that lives. She seems to speak to us through her eyes: 'you are not appointed over us to kill us and eat our flesh or otherwise ill-treat us, but to be our friend and guardian'.317

I worship it and I shall defend its worship against the whole world.318

Mother cow is in many ways better than the mother who gave us birth. Our mother gives us milk for a couple of years and then expects us to serve her when we grow up. Mother cow expects from us nothing but grass and grain. Our mother often falls ill and expects service from us. Mother cow rarely falls ill.

Here is an unbroken record of service, which does not end with her death. Our mother, when she dies, means expenses of burial or cremation. Mother cow is as useful dead as when she is alive. We can make use of every part of her body-her flesh, her bones, her intestines, her horns and her skin. Well, I say this not to disparage the mother who gives us birth, but in order to show you the substantial reasons for my worshipping the cow.319

The central fact of Hinduism is cow protection. Cow protection to me is one of the most wonderful phenomena in human evolution. It takes the human being beyond this species. The cow to me means the entire sub-human world. Man through the cow is enjoined to realize his identity with all that lives. Why the cow was selected for apotheosis is obvious to me. The cow was in India the best companion. She was the giver of plenty. Not only did she give milk, but she also made agriculture possible…..

Cow protection is the gift of Hinduism to the world. And Hinduism will live so ling as there are Hindus to protect the cow……

Hindus will be judged not by their TILAKS, not by the correct chanting of MANTRAS, not by their pilgrimages, not by their most punctilious observances of caste rules, but their ability to protect the cow.320


I would not kill a human being for protection a cow, as I will not kill a cow for saving a human life, be it ever so precious.321

My religion teaches me that I should by personal conduct instil into the minds of those who might hold different views, the conviction that cow-killing is a sin and that, therefore, it ought to be abandoned.322

Cow slaughter can never be stopped by law. Knowledge, education, and the spirit of kindliness towards her alone can put and 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.323

My ambition is no less than to see the principle of cow protection established throughout the world. But that requires that I should set my own house thoroughly in order first.324

Cow protection to me is not mere protection of the cow. It means protection of that lives and is helpless and weak in the world.325

But lit me reiterate….that legislative prohibition is the smallest part of any programme of cow protection.

…People seem to think that, when a law is passed against any evil, it will die without any further effort. There never was a grosser self-deception. Legislation is intended and is effective against an ignorant or a small, evil-minded minority; but no legislation which is opposed by an intelligent and organized public opinion, or under cover of religion by a fanatical minority, can ever succeed.
The more I study the question of cow protection, the stronger the conviction grows upon me that protection of the cow and her progeny can be attained only if there is continuous and sustained constructive effort along the lines suggested by me.326


Preservation of cattle is a vital part of GOSEVA. It is a vital question for India . . . There is urgent need for deep study and the spirit of sacrifice. To amass money and dole out charity does not connote real business capacity. To know how to preserve cattle, to impart this knowledge to the millions, to live up to the ideal oneself, and to spend money on this endeavour is real business.327

In so far as the pure economic necessity of cow protection is concerned, it can be easily secured if the question was considered on that ground alone. In that event all t he dry cattle, the cows who give less mild than their keep, and the aged and unfit cattle would be slaughtered without a second thought. This soulless economy has no place in India, although the inhabitants of this land of paradoxes may be, indeed are, guilty of many soulless acts.


Then, how can the cow be saved without having to kill her off when she ceases to give the economic quantity of milk or when one becomes otherwise an uneconomic burden? The answer to the question can be summed up as follows:

By the Hindus performing their duty towards the cow and her progeny. If they did so, our cattle would be the pride of India and the world. The contrary is the case today.

By learning the science of cattle-breeding. Today there is perfect anarchy in this work.

By replacing the present cruel method of castration by the humane method practised in the West.

By thorough reform of the PINJRAPOLES [institutions for aged cows] of India, which are today, as a rule, managed ignorantly and without any plan by men who do not know their work.

When these primary things are done, it will be found that the Muslims will, of their own accord, recognize the necessity, if only for the sake of their Hindus brethren, of not slaughtering cattle for beef or otherwise.

The reader will observe that behind the foregoing requirements lies one thing and that is AHIMSA, otherwise known as universal compassion. If that supreme thing is realized, everything else becomes easy. Where there is AHIMSA, there is INFINITE patience, inner calm, discrimination, self-sacrifice and true knowledge.328`
2. From the web site
Epigrams from Gandhiji
(Quotations from book - Epigrams from Gandhiji) Compiled by : S. R. Tikekar

• The cow to me is a sermon on pity. XXVI-545
• The cow is the purest type of sub-human life. MM-387
• Mother cow is as useful dead as when she is alive. MM-387
• Mother cow expects from us nothing but grass and grain. MM-387
• Mother cow is in many ways better than the mother who gave use birth. MM-387
• Man through the cow is enjoined to realize his identity with all that lives. T-2-51
• Cow protection is the gift of Hinduism to the world. T-2-51
• Cow protection to me is one of the most wonderful phenomena in the human evolution. T-2-51
• We cry for cow protection in the name of religion, but we refuse protection to the human cow in the shape of the girl widow. T-2-277
• Cow protection can only be secured by cultivating universal friendliness, i.e. ahimsa. XXV-520
• Cow protection means protection of the weak, the helpless, the dumb and the deaf. XXVI-545
• Cow protection to me is infinitely more than mere protection of the cow. XXVI-545
• The central fact of Hinduism is cow protection. MM-388
• Cow preservation is an article of faith in Hinduism. T-3-290
• The only way Hindus can convert the whole world to cow protection is by giving and object-lesson in cow protection and all it means. XXV-436
• My religion teaches me that I should by my personal conduct instil into the minds of those who might hold different views the conviction that cow-killing is a sin. XXV-518
• By ahimsa we will be able to save the cow and also to win the friendship of the English. XXV-520
• When I see a cow, it is not an animal to eat; it is a poem of pity for me and I worship it and I shall defend its worship against the whole world. XXV-459
• If I were overfull of pity for the cow, I should sacrifice my life to save her but not to take my brother’s. X-30
• Cow-slaughter and man-slaughter are in my opinion the two sides of the same coin. XXV-519
• Cow-slaughter can never be stopped by law. MM-388
• The cow can be saved only if buffalo-breeding is given up. T-2-267
• It is no part of religion to breed buffaloes or, for that matter, cows. T-2-267
• Nowhere in the world you find such skeletons of cows and bullocks as you do in our cow-worshipping India. XXV-518

3. From web-site


Mahatma Gandhi's Sound Advice, Circa 1927

In my opinion the economic side of the cow question, if properly handled, automatically provides for the delicate religious side. Cow slaughter should, and can be made economically impossible, whereas unfortunately of all the places in the world it is the sacred animal of the Hindus, which has become the cheapest for slaughter. To this end I suggest the following:

1. The State should buy every cow offered for sale on the open market by out-bidding every other buyer.
2. The State should run dairies in all principal towns ensuring a cheap, consistant supply of milk and all non-violent bi-products.
3. The State should run tanneries where the hides, bones, etc., of all dead cattle in its possession may be utilized. They should also offer to buy all privately-owned dead cattle.
4. The State should keep model cattle farms (goshallas) and instruct people in the art of breeding and keeping cattle.
5. The State should make a liberal provision for pasture land and import the best experts in the world for imparting knowledge of the science of cattle to all people.
6. There should be a separate department created for this purpose and no profit should be made so that people may receive the full benefit of every improvement that might be made in the different breeds of cattle and other matters pertaining to them.

The foregoing scheme pre-supposes the State maintains all old, maimed and diseased cattle. This no doubt constitutes a heavy burden, but it is a burden which all States, but above all, a Hindu State, should gladly bear.

My own study of the question leads me to think the running of scientific dairies and tanneries would enable the State to cover the expenses of the upkeep of cattle that have become economically useless, apart from the manure they yield and to sell at market rates, leather goods, milk products and the many other things that can be manufactured from dead cattle.
From Young India, 7-7-1927

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