The five esoteric ideals or maxims that every noble human being should enshrine in his mind and practice to attain enlightenment according to Hindu philosophy consist in the five ‘Gagaraas’ or five ‘G’s’ that is
1) The Gov- The Holy Cow
2) The Geeta- The Bhagavad Geeta
3) The Gayathri- the mother Goddess Gayathri whose mantra chanted brings enlightenment
4) The Ganga- The holy river Ganges
5) The Guru- The master or Sadguru who guides his disciples on the path of truth.
The Holy tradition narrates the origin of Kaamadhenu in a splendorous fashion. The divine cow was one among the ‘14’ jewels such as Lakshmi, Parijaata, Chandrama, Dhanvantri, Kalpavriksha, Paanchjanya that emanated from the sea during the great Samudramanthana- the churning of the ocean by the Devas and Asuras. Over Kaamadhenu a severe battle was waged between Sage Vishwamitra and Sage Vasishta in which was established ‘Brahma Tejo Balobalam Dikk Kshtratejaha’ Down with violence all glory to Saatwick forces.
The Holy Cow, like one’s mother, gives life to everyone with her life blood turned into milk nay, more than a mother, for she gives only for a few months, but the mother Cow, the Gomaatha sustains every one of us throughout our lives, young or old sick or healthy, rich or poor, irrespective of color or religion. Many studies agree that cow’s milk is a complete food and is easily digestible, which makes it an all giving gift from the mother cow to us. According to the Shatras, cow’s milk is ‘sathwic’ in nature and helps us to rise up in the spiritual path, unlike others which are Raajasic and Thaamasic in their qualities exciting us to passion and sloth. It’s only given to the cow to produce in plenty, ‘God’s plenty’ more than what is required by its young ones, the calves, even to ourselves the human calves. She becomes the universal mother, the Bhoomaatha the Sreemaatha. In the “lalithaa Sahasranaama’, the cow is worshipped as Gomaatha, as the mother cow. Along with being worshipped, the cow should also be protected and well cared for.
In the temple, the priests recite a prayer every day, Go Brahmanebhyo sukham astu nityam, lokaha samasthaha sukhino bhavantu: “If cows and brahmins are happy, the whole universe will be happy.” Kanchi Shankaracharya has said that service to the cows is considered to be supreme, because the cow is considered to be God of Gods. He used to spend many hours in goshalas. But in modern times, there has been in a shift in the way dairy cows are treated and kept. Instead of living on sanctuaries or small farms, the vast majority of dairy cows spend their entire lives on factory farms.
Unfortunately the cows are mistreated very badly in modern dairy farms. Their babies are stolen from them within days and sometimes hours of being born, they are given hormones to produce an unnatural amount of milk, they are sent to slaughter once their milk production goes down even a little bit, sometimes they are not given space to express their natural behaviors, male calves are sent to slaughter since they are of no use to the dairy industry, and they endure unimaginable transportation methods and disrespect. The current industry has taken the mother cow and turned her into a machine, disregarding her irreplaceable value as an individual and manipulating her and her children into becoming just another piece of the industrial farms.
There is a need to change. The conditions on modern dairy farms are inexcusable and show the ultimate disregard of the mother cow’s well-being and protection. If we do not stop buying dairy products from these farms, they will not cease to exist. We as responsible citizens cannot be purchasing dairy products from farms where the cows are viewed as mere commodities and are considered disposable products of the industry. Instead, we must only use Ahimsa milk produced at sanctuaries where the cows are protected. There are many instances where milk has been purchased without consideration as to the full treatment of the mother cow. In order for the cow to be properly protected, we must remove the cow from the modern dairy farm as it does not provide the holy cow with the desired treatment and care.
In many Hindu temples, the author has seen hundreds of gallons of milk bought from commercial dairy farms poured on deities like Lord Shiva during Abhishek. This milk is produced where the cows are treated miserably. Another problem is that fish oil is often added to this commercial milk for vitamin D. The pouring of milk during Abhishek is supposed to represent love and devotion to all beings. Instead, we are pouring the suffering of the cows on the God. Each ounce of that milk represents an act of violence. All temples should make it a practice not to use this commercial milk, especially in huge quantities and particularly for Abhishek. When we are pouring this milk with love and devotion chanting hymns and praising the Lord to give us daya and prosperity, it is imperative that all temples should use only Ahimsa milk. In the Northeast USA Sringeri Temple in PA and Guruvayurappan Temple in Nj, have their own Go-Shalas and use milk from protected cows under the leadership of Dharmatma Yegna Subramanian. If temples do not have land to have their own Go-Shalas and do not have access to cow sanctuaries then we can help them to start their own sanctuaries. If that is not possible then we appeal to the temples to use only a pint of milk for Abhishek as a token instead of hundreds of gallons of milk representing the horror and torture of cows, mother divine. We urge all of you to arise, awake and stop not until the mother cow is treated with total love and compassion which she is giving us all the time, all over the world.
The Rig Veda states, “The cow is like the mother of cosmic Forces, the daughter of cosmic Matter, the sister of cosmic Energy, the center of ambrosia. I address to men of wisdom – kill not her, the sinless inviolate cow.” Let us emulate the cow by showing compassion in all of our actions all the time. Love, desire, relationships, etc. must come out of compassion only. Compassion is the highest of all the feelings that circulate within us as humans.
We invite all of you to come and see Lakshmi Cow Sanctuary in Northeast Pennsylvania, 70 miles from NYC to see how the cows are protected. If anyone wants to start a cow sanctuary, we will be happy to provide any help that we can give.