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How to behave with cows, according to the Mahabharat

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Vrindavan, 2017.02.22 (Raseshwari Dasi for VT) “Behaviour with Cows” – From Mahabharata, Anusasana parva 69, 73,74,78,126)

The scriptures give directions on how to behave with cows. It is very important to adhere to these principles while serving cows.

Cows are the mothers of all creatures. They bestow every kind of happiness. The person that desires his or her own prosperity should always make gifts of cows.

1. No one should kick the cows, for one who does this will have to suffer in hell for a hundred lives. Cows are goddesses and the homes of all auspiciousness. For this reason, they always deserve worship. Formerly, the deities, while tilling the earth whereon they performed a sacrifice, used the goad for striking the bullocks yoked to the plough. Hence. In tilling earth for such a purpose, one may, without incurring sin, apply the rod to bullocks.

2. In other acts, however, bullocks should never be struck with the goad or the whip.

3. One should not proceed through the midst of cows.

4. When cows are grazing or lying down, no one should annoy them in any way.

5. When cows are thirsty and they do not get water [because of someone obstructing their access to the pool or tank or river], by merely looking at such a person they can destroy him with all his relatives and friends. What creatures can be more sacred than cows, whose very dung is also purifying?

6. That man who, before eating himself, gives everyday, for a year, only a handful of grass to a cow belonging to another, is regarded as undergoing a vow or observance which bestows the fruition of every wish. Such a person acquires children, fame, wealth and prosperity; and dispels all evils.

7. The cow should never be given away for slaughter (i.e., to one who will kill her)

8. A bull or bullock should be used for ploughing, but never a cow should be used to till the soil.

9. A cow should not be given to an atheist.

10. One should not, mentally or even in thought, injure a cow. One should, in one’s conduct, imitate the cow and show compassion towards her.

11. One should never show any disregard for cows in any way.

12. One should never cast one’s urine, excreta, and other secretions on cowdung.

13. One should never obstruct cows in any way.

14. One should not disrespect cow dung. The circular marks in the cow dung represent Lord Vishnu’s Chakra. It is also above the abode of Lakshmi Devi.

15. He who, without being checked by the restraints of the scriptures, sells a cow, or kills one, or eats the flesh of a cow, or one who for the sake of wealth makes a person to kill cows, rots in hell for as many years as there are hairs on the body of the slain cow.


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