Indic Varta

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Currently, the need for sustainable resource management has become increasingly urgent with the rapid rise in demand for commodities as the world’s population is increasing. Here, sustainable livestock sector works as one of the pillars of the global food system and a contributor to poverty reduction, food security and agricultural development. However, long before the ancient Hindus realized its deep connections with economy, society and biodiversity and their scriptures make it clear how this sector can work as a contributor to poverty reduction, food security and agricultural development. From the very first, India possessed a huge livestock population reared under diverse production systems and agroclimatic conditions. And, it reflects in their texts how they started sustainable livestock development through cattle rearing, especially bull and cows, balancing wide array of demands and resolving various environmental challenges. No doubt, it is well understood from the scriptures like Padma Purana, how and why at the extreme end, these domestic creatures were given a divine status and always given special respect in the Hindu society. Here, some selected portion of the Padma Purana is chosen to highglight the importance given to bull and cow farming.

Values of Cow and Bull in Sustainable Livestock Development (C20_Indic Wisdom Series_Sustainable Lifestyle)

  • Currently, the need for sustainable resource management has become increasingly urgent with the rapid rise in demand for commodities as the world’s population is increasing. Here, sustainable livestock sector works as one of the pillars of the global food system and a contributor to poverty reduction, food security and agricultural development. However, long before the ancient Hindus realized its deep connections with economy, society and biodiversity and their scriptures make it clear how this sector can work as a contributor to poverty reduction, food security and agricultural development. From the very first, India possessed a huge livestock population reared under diverse production systems and agroclimatic conditions. And, it reflects in their texts how they started sustainable livestock development through cattle rearing, especially bull and cows, balancing wide array of demands and resolving various environmental challenges. No doubt, it is well understood from the scriptures like Padma Purana, how and why at the extreme end, these domestic creatures were given a divine status and always given special respect in the Hindu society. Here, some selected portion of the Padma Purana is chosen to highglight the importance given to bull and cow farming.

110. In the absence of four (he should employ) three. He should give them rest. He should graze them on uncut grass in a place free from thieves and tigers.

111-112. He should give (the bulls) an abode as desired (i.e. agreeable), and should himself gratify them. For a bull he should get prepared a cowpen free from trouble, and always free from cowdung, cow urine and leavings of food eaten.’ He should not put filth in the cowpen which is the abode of all gods.

113. A wise man should get fashioned a cowpen like his own couch. He should make it completely free from cold air and dust.

114. He should look upon the bull as his own life, and the bull’s body similar to his own. Pleasure and pain are possible in the bull’s body as in his own body.

115-116. He, who practises agriculture in this manner, would not be smeared with the sins involved in driving bulls; he would be wealthy. He, who would trouble a weak bull or a sick one, and also a very young or a very old one, would kill (i.e. commit the sin of killing) a bull.

117. There is no doubt that he, who drives an uneven pair -a weak one and a strong one-commits the sin equal to that of (i.e. equal to that obtained by) killing a bull.

118. He who drives a bull without (feeding him with) grass, or he who prevents a bull who is eating (grass, from doing so), or keeps away through folly grass or water, commits a sin equal to that (of having killed a bull).

119. Driving a plough on a samkranti’ day or a full-moon day, or a new-moon day, brings in sin to one which is (equal to that brought in by) the murder of a myriad (bulls).

120. The man, who, on these days, worships (a bull) with various kinds of sandals, collyriums, flowers and oils goes to (ie. lives in) heaven eternally.

121-122. He who everyday gives a handful of grass to a bull, has all his sins destroyed and he obtains (i.e. lives in) heaven eternally. As a brahmana is, so is a bull; the fruit of the worship of both is the same. On thinking (it is clear that) a brahmana is the chief among men, and a bull among beasts.

Narada said:

123. O innocent one, you had told me that a brahmana was born from the mouth of Brahmå. O lord, O creator, how is he then equal to bulls (i.e. a bull)? I have certainly a doubt.

Brahma said:

124-125. Listen to the fact about brahmanas and bulls. Formerly men brought about the unity (between the two) by offering the funeral rice-ball to them. Formerly a great lustrous projection sprang up from the mouth of Brahma. It became divided into four parts: Vedas, Agni (i.e. fire), Bull and Brāhmaṇa.

126. From the lustre the Veda rose first, and also Agni.

Then Brahmana and Bull separately sprang up.

127. At that time, I first fashioned together the four Vedas for the stability of all the people and worlds everywhere.

128. Agni, and also the brahmana should enjoy the oblations (meant) for gods. Know that clarified butter is a product of the cow. Therefore they are begotten (from the source).

129. If these four more important ones are not there in the worlds, then the entire world and the immobile and the mobile are doomed.

130. The worlds always supported by these, remain in their natural condition. Natural condition is the nature of brahman. (So) they are said to be of the nature of Brahman.

131. Therefore a bull should be worshipped even by gods and demons. He, the noble one, is born as the mine of excellences in all acts.

132. He is actually of the form of all gods. He feels com- passion for all beings. I have formerly only made (i.e. laid down) his work with reference to nourishing.

133. Therefore only I have given him a very auspicious boon. “It is certain that only in (i.e. after) one birth you will attain salvation.”

134. All bulls that die here only will come to my abode. There will not be even an iota of sin on their bodies.

135. A cow is a goddess, (while) the bulls are gods; the first goddess has three powers. The rise of the sacrifices is certainly due to his favour.

136. All (the products) of cows, viz. urine, dung, milk, curd, ghee, which are pure, purify the entire world.

137. Sin does not remain in the body on eating (or drinking) these. Therefore the religious people always eat (or drink) ghee, curd and milk. 138. The product of cows is the best of all things, is desirable and is most auspicious. He, in whose mouth there is no food (containing the product of a cow), has a stinking figure.

139. Food eaten is (effective) for five nights; milk for a month, curd for twenty nights; and ghee for a month.

140. Evil spirits eat the meal of him (i.e. while he is eating), who eats his meals continuously for one month without using the products of cow.

141. That merit done (i.e. collected) by eating the best and purest food, moistened with hot rice is crore-fold.

142-143a. All acts done after having eaten even other food, which is made fit for oblations by the sacred precepts, would be a lakh times more effective than the fruit one would get from whatever is vegetarian food.

143b-144a. Therefore a bull alone is recommended for all acts in every yuga. In all desired objects he always is the giver of the (fruit of) pious acts, love of worldly prosperity and sensual enjoyments and salvation.

Narada said:

144b-145a. O lord of all worlds, tell me, so that I follow correctly: In (the performance of) which acts or by (following) which procedure great merit is known to follow?

145b-146. Having gone round once, a man should salute the wealth in the form of kine. Being free from all sins he ob- tains heaven for ever. As the preceptor of gods is adorable or as Visnu is adorable (so is a bull).

147-148. Indra went round him seven times in gran- deur. Listen to the religious merit of him, who, observing a fast, and having got up at day-break, takes a pot with water (and moves) among bulls, and sprinkles the water on the bull’s horns and then receives it on his head.

149-150a. The bath taken at the places known to be sacred and thronged by Siddhas and Caranas and resorted to by great sages, is equal to the sprinkling done with the water from a cow’s horn.

150b-151a. That mortal, who, having got up in the morning, would touch a cow, ghee, honey, mustard and priyangu (i.e. saffron) gets free from sin.

151b-153. ‘Cows are the givers of ghee and milk; they are the source of ghee; ghee is their product; they are the rivers of ghee, and the eddies of ghee. Let them always remain in my house. Ghee (remains) in all my limbs, ghee resides in my mind. Cows are always in front of me and behind me. Cows are (present) in all (my) limbs; I live among cows.’

154. All the sin of him, who, (every) morning and even- ing, having sipped water, recites this sacred hymn, perishes; and he is adored in heaven.

155. As is the bull, so is a brahmana; as is a brahmana, so is Hari, so is the Ganges; these are not said to be non-bulls.

156. Bulls are the kinsmen of men; men are the kinsmen of bulls. That house in which there is no bull is without kinsmen,

157. The Vedas with their six limbs and the pada and krama, reside in the mouth of cow. On the horns Hari and Kesava always stay together.

158. In the belly lives Skanda; and Brahma always re- mains in the head. Sankara lives in the forehead and Indra on the tip of the horn.

159-164a. The deities, Asvins, live in the ears; the Moon and the Sun live in the eyes. God Garuda lives in the teeth and Sarasvati in the tongue. All the sacred places remain in the anus, and the Ganges in the urine. The sages live in the pores of the skin, and Yama lives in the backside of the face. Kubera and Varuna have resorted to the right side; the lustrous and very powerful Yaksas reside in the left side. Gandharvas reside in the centre of the face, and the serpents on the tip of the nose. The celestial nymphs have resorted to the hind parts of the hoofs. The all-auspicious Laksmi resides in the cow-dung and cow-urine. Those who move in the sky reside on the tips of the feet; Prajapati lives in the bellowing sound. The full four oceans reside in the udders of the cows.

164b-166a. A mortal who everyday bathes and touches a cow, gets relieved from all major sins. He who holds by (i.e. on) his head the dust raised by the hoofs of the cows, has (indeed) bathed in all the sacred places and is free from all sins.

Narada said:

166b-167a. O best of preceptors, O Brahman, if you like, (please) tell me which fruit is obtained by presenting which (kind of) cow out of the cows of ten colours.

Brahma said:

167b-168a. By giving a white cow to a brahmana, a man becomes wealthy. He always lives in a palace, and enjoying pleasure, becomes happy.

168b. A grey cow (i.e. presenting a grey cow) relieves (a man) from sins in (this) wilderness of the mundane existence and (takes him to) heaven.

169. The gift of a tawny cow (gives) an inexhaustible (fruit). By giving a black cow, a man does not sink. A yellowish white cow is difficult to get in the world. A yellowish cow de lights the family.

170. A cow (i.e. the gift of a cow) with red eyes (is re- commended) for (a man) who desires handsomeness. A black cow (i.e. the gift of a black cow) (is recommended) for (a man) who desires wealth. By presenting only a tawny cow a man is free from all sins.

171-173a. All the sin, such as committed in childhood, youth or old age, or by words, deeds, or conceived by mind, and the sin due to cohabitation with one with whom it is prohibited, or the sin of treachery towards a friend, and also (the sin due to) fraud in measuring or weighing, or falsehood with reference to a girl or a cow, of him, who presents a tawny cow, perishes.

173b-175a. A cow should be looked upon as the earth, having a big river extending over ten yojanas, and having large banks, with water-elephants in the water-forest-the extended ocean of water-as long as she does not release her embryo (i.e. does not bring forth a calf)-as long as the two feet and the face of the calf have not come out.

175b-177. A man should give a tawny cow with golden horns, endowed (decorated) with a piece of cloth and with all ornaments, with a reddish back, silver hoofs and bell-metal udders, adorned with sandal and flowers and with all ornaments, to a brahmana who has mastered the Vedas. All his sins perish, and he does not fall from the world (i.e. heaven) of Vişņu.

178. When she is being milked drops (of milk) fall on the earth. (From them) xcellent gardens with many flowers, are produced.

179. Those who give cows (to brahmanas) go there, where there are desire-yielding trees, where the rivers have thick milk, and where there are golden palaces also. 180. Brahma has said that the fruit is the same (to him) who gives ten cows or one bull. 181. He should give one (bull) with ten (cows); the fruit of giving thousand is hundred (-fold). O Narada, the fruit is to be carefully understood accordingly.

182. The ancestors of that son, who releases a bull on the earth dedicating it to those manes, are honoured in Vişnu’s world (i.e. heaven) as desired (by them).

183. Four weaned female calves for one bull are released. O son, this is the old rule everywhere. 184. Men enjoy heaven for thousands of years i.e. for as many years as there are hairs on (the bodies of) them.

185. That water which a bull tosses up with his tail would be (ie. would serve as) nectar to the manes for a thousand years.

186. The ground or the clod that he tears and also the mud (trodden by him) is Svadha for the manes having a crore-fold effect.

187. If a man’s father is alive, (but) his mother is dead, a cow marked with sandal is given for her (going to the) heaven (i.e. the gift of such a cow takes the mother to heaven).

188. Such a giver pays off the debt of the manes. He gets (i.e. lives in) heaven eternally and is honoured like Indra.

189. A young milch cow, endowed with all (good) characteristics, and regularly bringing forth (calves) is auspicious and is said to be the earth.

190. The gift of him accompanied by a sacred hymn has the same fruit as the gift of the earth. (Such) a man, resembling Indra emancipates a hundred (members) of his family.

191. If the cow or her calf dies after a man steals a cow, he would remain in a well full of worms till the destruction of the beings (i.e. till deluge).

192. Having killed cows (i.e. he who kills cows) is cooked with manes in the terrible Raurava hell; the retridution lasts till that time.

193. A breaker of a bull or one who yokes (to a vehicle) or ties a bull set at liberty, will eternally get (i.e. go to) hell, birth after birth.

194. He who recites to others this most auspicious account even once, has all his sins perished, and enjoys with gods.

195. He who listens to this great (account), which is most auspicious, gets, at that moment only, free from sins committed during seven births.

 [Note:

vighasa-leavings of food eaten,

Vipro Brahmamukhe…The famous Puruşasakta tells the same thing]

Bibliography:

Padma Purana: Part IV G.P. Bhatt Published by Motilal Banarsidass

Padma Puran, Gita Press, Gorakhpur

Padma Purana, Vol II, Chapter 48

Padma Purana, Shristikhanda, Chapter  58


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