26 Sep 2011

Non-Hindu References on Cows & Bulls

Cows and bulls are not only glorified by Hindus but are also respected in various believes/religions making them an emblem of inter-religion harmony. Its worth having a look.

In Islam:

Islam is the most MIS-understood religion especially when it comes to cows. Many quotes in Islamic scriptures favor cow and glorify her. In Islam, Hadiths are regarded as important tools for understanding the Qur'an and in matters of jurisprudence.

Zad al-Ma'ad (زاد المعاد) is a book written by Islamic scholar Ibn al-Qayyim (1292-1350 CE) and is one of the best books written on the subject of seerat of prophet Mohammed. One of the hadith in that book says:

The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: "You should use cows' milk, because it is good for health, and cows' ghee is good for health, but beef is bad for health."

Actually, the literal meaning of the words the Prophet used is much stronger than that. He said that milk is "healing," ghee is "medicine," and beef is "disease."

In the Book of Medicine of the Mustadrak al-Hakîm (a classical hadith commentary by al-Hakîm al-Nîsaburî), the first hadith is:

The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings upon him, said: "Allah did not create any disease without creating its cure; and in cows' milk is a cure for every disease."

It would be noteworthy the Hikmat which dictates every Muslim that milk of the cow is greatly useful for health and beef is harmful for health as it causes various diseases.

In Christianity/Judaism: (New International Version)

Deuteronomy 33:17 - In majesty he is like a firstborn bull; his horns are the horns of a wild ox….

Numbers 23:22 - God brought them out of Egypt; they have the strength of a wild ox.

Proverbs 14:4 - Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty, but from the strength of an ox come abundant harvests.

Psalm 22:12 - Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.

Revelation 4:7 – The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, …

In Zoroastrianism (Mazdaism):

The term "geush urva" means the spirit of the cow and is interpreted as the soul of the earth. In the Ahunavaiti Gatha, Zarathustra (or Zoroaster) accuses some of his co-religionists of abusing the cow. Ahura Mazda tells Zarathustra to protect the cow.

According to the Zoroastrian story of creation, Ahura Mazda created the floating, egg-shaped universe in two parts: first the spiritual and 3,000 years later, the physical. Ahura Mazda then created the archetypical perfect man, and the first bull. Later when Angra Mainyu (the evil) invaded universe and killed them, bull's seed grew in all beneficial plants and animals of the world.

The 9th chapter of the Vendidad of the Avesta expounds the purificatory power of cow urine. It is declared to be a panacea for all bodily and moral evils.

In Jainism:

The name of the first Tirthankara in Jainism is Rishabh (ऋषभ which means the "Bull"). King Nabhiraja (the father) invited his friends and relatives on the next day to a feast and announced that the child be named as ‘Rishabh Kumar’ since there is a sign of a bull on the thigh of the new born, and Marudeva (the mother) first of all saw a bull in her great dreams. 

There are numerous other references which can be quoted here but the list is kept concise to help reader get a quick overview. Please feel free to share!

23 Sep 2011

Glories in Ancient Vedic Scriptures

Sanctity of the cows and bulls has been extensively described in ancient Indian literature. In fact in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (बृहदारण्यक उपनिषद्) – 5.8.1, vedas are symbolized as a cow:

vāca dhenum upāsīta |
tasyāś catvāra stanā |
svāhākāro vaakāro hantakāra svadhākāra |
tasyai dvau stanau devā upajīvanti |
svāhākāra ca vaakāra ca |
hantakāra manu |
svadhākāra pitara |
tasyā prāa ṛṣabho mano vatsa ||

One should meditate upon speech (the Vedas) as a cow (as it were). She has four teats – the sounds “Svaha’, ‘Vasat’, ‘Hanta’ and ‘Svadha’. The gods live on two of her teats – the sounds ‘Svaha’ and ‘Vasat’, men on the sound ‘Hanta’, and the manes on the sound ‘Svadha’. Her bull is the vital force, and her calf the mind.

Cows and bulls have also been associated with various deities, notably Lord Krishna (a cowherd boy in his youth, also called Gopal - गोपाल - the protector of cows), Lord Shiva (who is carrying a bull - Nandi - नंदी) and goddesses in general due to maternal attributes of many of them.

Here are some of the famous vedic injunctions:

Rig Veda 4.1.6
अस्य शरेष्ठा सुभगस्य संद्र्ग देवस्य चित्रतमा मर्त्येषु |
शुचि घर्तं तप्तम अघ्न्याया सपार्हा देवस्य मंहनेव धेनोः ||
asya śreṣṭhā subhaghasya sadgh devasya citratamā martyeu |
śuci gh
ta na taptam aghnyāyā spārhā devasya mahaneva dheno ||

Excellent is the glance, of brightest splendor, which the auspicious God bestows on mortals. The God's glance, longed-for even as the butter, pure, heated, of the cow, the milk cow's bounty.

Rig Veda 6.28.5
गावो भगो गाव इन्द्रो मे अछान गावः सोमस्य परथमस्य भक्षः |
इमा या गावः जनास इन्द्र इछामीद धर्दामनसा चिदिन्द्रम ||
ghāvo bhagho ghāva indro me achān ghāva somasya prathamasya bhaka |
imā yā ghāva sa janāsa indra ichāmīd dhdāmanasā cidindram ||

To me the Cows seem Bhaga, they seem Indra, they seem a portion of the first-poured Soma. These present Cows, they, O ye Indra. I long for Indra with my heart and spirit.

Rig Veda 7.69.9
एष सय कारुर्जरते सूक्तैरग्रे बुधान उषसां सुमन्मा |
इषा तं वर्धदघ्न्या पयोभिर्यूयं पात ... ||
ea sya kārurjarate sūktairaghre budhāna uasā sumanmā |
iā ta vardhadaghnyā payobhiryūya pāta ... ||

With his fair hymns this singer, too, extols you, waking with glad thoughts at the break of morning. May the cow nourish him with milk to feed llim. Preserve us evermore, ye Gods, with blessings.

Atharva Veda 1.22.1
Panchgavya produced by red cow is a miraculous remedy for treating heart and liver diseases.

Atharva Veda 9.10.5

hikr̥ṇvatī́ vasupátnī vásūnā vatsám ichántī mánasābhyā́gāt |

duhā́m aśvíbhyā páyo aghnyéyá sā́ vardhatā mahaté sáubhagāya ||5||

She, Lady of all treasures, hath come hither, yearning in spirit for her calf, and lowing. May this Cow yield her milk for both the Asvins, and may she prosper to our high advantage.

19 Sep 2011

Panchgavya (पञ्चगव्य) - 5 most important gifts from cow

Though there are numerous endowments from vedic cows, her five products are considered to be the most significant for health and spiritual advancement.

Milk (दूध): Milk is the foremost and easily recognizable product and can be taken as synonym of cow. If a cow does not give milk, she is treated as of no worth! According to Ayurveda, cow milk provides special and unique nutrition that cannot be derived from any other type of food. Milk of white cows are beneficial in liver ailments, milk of brown cow has huge effect on all types of Vaat Rogas whereas the milk of black cow can be used to treat respiratory diseases and lung ailments. A black cow whose udders are also black produces milk of infinite medicinal qualities and therefore can be utilized for treating vast spectrum of physical and mental disorders. Cow milk, when digested properly, nourishes all the tissues, promotes balanced emotions, and helps to balance all the doshas (defects). It is one of the most important foods to promote Ojas (the force that maintains life).

Curd (दही): Curd is a byproduct of cow milk. All the leading practitioners of Ayurveda, including Charaka and Sushruta, have written on its qualities and usefulness. It is considered as one of the most wholesome food items throughout the world. Curd has its therapeutic value in many diseases. It has been described as a tonic and is credited with the properties that prevent premature aging. Curd also brings relief to patients of diarrhea and dysentery and is recommended in chronic specific and non-specific colitis.

Makkhan (मक्खन) / Ghee (घी): Makkhan is wrongly called butter these days. Think of bread and roti. Bread can be called as English translation of roti but the process, properties and effects are entirely different. Same thing is between Butter and Makkhan.

Makkhan is made by churning the curd while butter is made (these days) by separating the cream from raw unheated milk. Ghee is prepared by heating makkhan after filtering water and milk solids from it. Ghee is cream to yellowish in color depending upon cow's breed and the time of the year.

In Ayurveda, cow's Ghee is believed to be the best for human consumption. It is full of nutritive qualities and an ideal diet for these heart patients who suffer due to excessive cholesterol in their blood. Its regular consumption enhances physical and mental strength, keeps the body healthy and increases the potency of the body. It is not only nutritive, but also helps in taking out the impurities from the body. It enhances eyesight, keeps muscles and tendons healthy, and bone sturdy yet supple.

Dung (गोबर): As the name says, गो-बर , it’s the benediction from cow. It is anti-septic and has anti-bacterial and fungicidal action. A filtrate of the suspension made by thoroughly mixing cow dung and water forms one of the main ingredients of skin ointments, which are useful in serious skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema and gangrene. Cow dung has provided man with fuel for millennia and used it as fertilizer. It may be used as a seed protector, a heat source (cow dung is naturally hot – compost makes it hotter and it is put into glass-houses to heat them or run pipes through to get hot water). It is employed as a purifier (natural antiseptic qualities), floor coating, mud brick additive (improves resistance to disintegration), a skin tonic (mixed with crushed neem leaves); the smoke is a mosquito repellent, dung is a pond pH balancer. Cow dung is also used in cases of malaria, itching, snake-bite, burns, dental problems like pyorrhea and cholera. Cow dung cakes have been traditionally used by villagers in India as a common fuel, along with firewood. Cow is the only animal whose dung doesn't stink and rather gives good smell. We can generate energy from its manure. Its manure is used as a natural fertilizer. Also cows dung acts as mosquito repellent.

Urine (गोमूत्र): Cow's urine has been described in Ayurveda as a therapeutic agent. The use of cow urine therapy, which is in use over the centuries as a traditional ayurvedic practice, is gaining recognition and acceptability the world over due to recent advances in research in this type of therapy. Cow urine is very useful for curing Jaundice.

Gavyam pavitram ca rasayanam ca pathyam ca hrdyam balam buddhi syata
Aayuh pradam rakt vikar hari tridosh hridrog vishapaham syata

गव्यं पवित्रम् च रसायनम् च पथ्यम् च ह्रदयं बलं बुद्धि स्यत
आयुः प्रदम् रक्त विकार हरि त्रिदोश हृद्रोग विशपाहं स्यत

Cow urine is great elixir, proper diet, pleasing to heart, giver of mental and physical strength, enhances longevity. It removes all blood disorders. It balances bile, mucous and airs and is a remover of heart diseases and effect of poison.

It includes 5 rasas i.e. it tastes bitter, hot (as in chilly), sour, sweet and salty. It is in mode of goodness. It brings goodness in thoughts. By drinking it regularly for six months, man’s nature comes in the mode of goodness. It destroys mode of passion and ignorance. It purges out toxins from the whole body through urine, sweating and excreta. It is destroyer of psychological diseases.

Unfortunately, these days, people are chasing her for other atrocious 5 products, namely, Bark (Skin), Bod (Meat/Flesh), Blubber (Fat), Blood and Bone.

13 Sep 2011

Why Cow is Called Mother?

Irrespective of caste or religion, ancient texts describe seven mothers for human kind as follows:

ätma-mätä guroù patné, brähmaëé räja-patnikä
dhenur dhätré tathä påthvé, saptaitä mätaraù småtäù

आत्म-माता गुरु: पत्नी, ब्राह्मणि राज-पत्नीका
धेनु: धात्री तथा पृथ्वी, सप्तैता मातर: स्मृत:

One's own mother, the wife of the spiritual master (guru - गुरू), the wife of a brahmin (or a saint), the wife of a king, the cow, the nurse (care taker), and the earth are known as the seven mothers of a man.

One’s own mother and nurse is very much understandable in this context. Earth bears our weight and never rebukes even when we spit and do all non sense. The wife of spiritual master, saint and king help us in gaining spiritual and economic benefits. But why cow? What's so special about her?

A mother is one who not only nourishes but also protects her child from present and prospective future dangers. Cow is blessed with such qualities. There are myriad injunctions in vedic scriptures glorifying cows and her worth in this regard.

Buffalo and other mammals also give milk but why are they not called a mother or at least aunt (मौसी)? It has been found through modern researches at agricultural universities that if the same fodder containing DDT, BHC and other pesticides is given to the cow and buffalo, the milk of cow contain only 5% of DDT and BHC etc, while that of buffalo contains 12% of the same. Moreover, buffalo's milk makes mind dumb because the milk carries the property of its source (there are many idioms on buffalo conveying its dumbness). We notice that the calf of a cow can recognize his mother at once amongst hundreds of cows but a calf of a buffalo would mistakenly approach other buffaloes and gets kicked away.

Cow gives countless gifts in the form of milk, yoghurt, ghee, dung and urine (Panchgavya पञ्चगव्य) necessary for economic and spiritual advancement of human society. The manure from cow and bull makes soil fertile and healthy and only healthy soil can give nutritious food.

People have cited many life time incidents where their cow has tried to save their lives without caring for hers. No wonder that she is known as the mother of the world - Gavo vishwasya maatarah - गावो विश्वस्य मातरः

12 Sep 2011

Cholesterol - Phobia

Talking about "cholesterol-free diet" is a modern trend now. Marketing stunts like "100% fat free" or "Only 0.1% fat" have further caused restlessness in already agitated minds who don't have time to investigate enough to know what CHOLESTEROL is and whether its really that bad as is publicized.

Further, many people think fat = cholesterol (or vice versa) i.e.  they think that a fat free diet can not have cholesterol and a diet with cholesterol must have fat. Lets see.

Cholesterol is a waxy steroid of fat that is produced in the liver or intestines. Surprised? Most people think its produced in stomach or heart or in blood cells!

It is used to produce hormones and cell membranes. It is an essential structural component of mammalian cell membranes and is required to establish proper membrane permeability and fluidity. In addition, cholesterol is an important component for the manufacture of bile acids, steroid hormones, and Vitamin D. That makes things clear that it is required by the body.

There are two basic types of Cholesterol:

    HDL (High Density Lipoprotein) - The good one
    LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein) - The bad one

Cholesterol does not mix with water, and therefore needs some assistance to travel throughout the blood stream. With the help of HDL, packets of cholesterol are formed to help move cholesterol through the blood. Hence, HDL helps remove cholesterol from the body by transporting it to the liver. On the other hand LDL does not aid in the transportation of cholesterol out of the body, instead it deposits cholesterol onto the vessel wall. In summary the ratio of LDL/HDL should be low i.e. more of good part then bad part.

Total Cholesterol (TC) = LDL + HDL for almost all practical purposes. The ratio of  TC/HDL is more indicative of cardiovascular disease than simply total cholesterol. For men an acceptable ratio of TC/HDL is 4.5 or below, and women is 4.0 or below. HDL levels have an inverse relationship with coronary heart disease. So a high HDL diet can be helpful in curing cardiovascular diseases.

Researches have proven that ghee contains  medium and short chain fatty acids which are absorbed easily by the body and digested too, unlike the other oils like sunflower/canola/palm oils and hydrogenated fats (like vanaspatee ghee - वनस्पती घी). Also ghee contains 27% mono unsaturated  fatty acids which are good and 4 to 5% polyunsaturated fatty acids. They help controlling the LDL levels and only causes increase in HDL cholesterol which isn't bad. Ghee does not raise the cholesterol levels to the levels compared to what oils would cause. But note that the ghee must be made authentically by churning the curd from the milk of vedic cows. Two tea spoons of ghee in daily diet twice a day is the recommended amount from some ayurvedic and modern doctors. Please consult yours.

11 Sep 2011

Why Indian Cows Are Better

An Indian vedic cow or bull is highly adapted to high temperatures and is characterised by a fatty hump, dewlap (hanging fold of loose skin on the neck) and the rounded back part where the back meets the legs. All these bodily features distinguish them immediately from the foreign breeds like Jersey, Holstein, Ayrshire, Guernsey etc.

Indian cow's DNA has amino acid PROLINE at location 67 out of 209 elements. This got converted into HISTIDINE due to mutation caused by migration of Indian cows to the west.

Originally, Proline (at position 67) is very firmly attached to its neighbor ISOLEUCINE (at position 66) but Histidine (after mutation) is not that firm. Consequently, it breaks easily during human digestion of milk protein and forms a casomorphin called BCM7.

BCM7 is an opioid (narcotic) which is very strong oxidant and adversely affects human body similar to other opioids of its category. The milk containing BCM7 is termed as A1 milk (i.e. amino acid histidine at position 67) while the milk without BCM7 is called A2 milk (i.e. amino acid proline at position 67).

The potential release of BCM7 is about 0.4 grams per litre of milk assuming that there are 12g of ß-casein per litre.

Keith Woodford, Professor of Farm Management and Agribusiness at Lincoln University in New Zealand brings together the evidence published in more than 100 scientific papers, examines both the population studies and the research undertaken with animals and humans, and explains the scientific cause behind diseases and health problems due to digestion of milk from cows in New Zealand, Australia and many other western countries.

Fortunately, Indian cow milk DOES NOT contain BCM7 and hence is of type A2. Modern research in America has also revealed the fact that the milk (or products) from a correctly fed Indian breed cow doesn't cause any human disease.

Unfortunately, vedic cattle are being slaughtered for its hide to make vanity bags and belts, bone-meal for tooth paste, blood for vitamin tablets and intestines (especially of calves) for making gold and silver wafers to stick on sweets. This caused an alarming decrease in human-cattle ratio (cattles per thousand of humans).

Glories of Vedic Cow

COW is called gaaya (गाय) in Hindi and gau (गौ) in Sanskrit. The word gau is derived from the verb gama (गम्), which means, "To Go". Mother Earth is also called gau in Sanskrit, and the earth is the place where all the living beings reside.

In the AtharvaVeda (अथर्ववेद), cow is described as the mother of Adityas, daughter of Vasus, and the very soul of the people.

The YajurVeda (यजुर्वेद) considers a cow as incomparable, meaning that she has unlimited qualities and virtues. There is no concept of eating a cow’s meat in the Vedas. In fact, the Holy Koran says that eating cow meat brings many kinds of illnesses and diseases.

In Mahabharat (Anusasanika parva), muni Vashitha said to king Soudasa that cow is sacred in the entire world and Lakshmi (लक्ष्मी - the goddess of wealth) stays where cows stay. Cleaning house with cow dung is advisable as cow dung and cow urine are sacred and has anti-microbial and excellent mosquito repellent property.

Gomaye Vasate Lakshmi (गोमय  वसते लक्ष्मी) - this phrase has repeatedly been used in Upanishad (उपनिषद). Apparently, it may look an unbelievable connotation. How can Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, live in cow dung? How is cow dung relevant to creation of wealth? If analyzed deeply in terms of modern economy, it would be revealed that what our ancient rishis (ऋषि) expressed is a universal truth, irrespective of area, community or time. The cow has always been held in high esteem as cattle wealth of India.  The five products of cow (milk - दूध, curd - दही, butter/ghee - मक्ख्न/घी, cow dung - गोबर and cow urine - गोमूत्र) — the panchgavya (पञ्चगव्य), possess excellent quality of nourishment and purification of five basic elements of cosmos (earth, water, fire, air and space/ether). While her milk, curd, butter churned from curd (दही का मक्ख्न, not the modern day butter we get in market), ghee and whey (छाछ) are most meritorious and energetic nourishment for us, the dung and urine are best nutrients to keep the land live, fertile and healthy.