Sunday, 22 July 2012

Gandhi on cow protection

Thanks to Harish for this post.

Dr. Yogendra Yadav
Gandhian Scholar
Gandhi Research Foundation, Jalgaon, M.S.
Gandhi Teerth, Jain Hills PO Box 118,
Jalgaon - 425 001 (Maharashtra), India

Cows Protection and Mahatma Gandhi

Cows are a common domestic animal. She is referred to as the foster mother
of human being because it produces most of the milk that people drink. Every
produce of cows are used in India. The people of India worship her as
mother. So they loved her very much. But the people of other community do
not worship. So they killed her and use her flesh and skin. So they fight
each other. Mahatma Gandhi gave permanent solution for this struggle.

Mahatma Gandhi asked, "I am thankful to the Gaurakshini Sabha and to you all
for inviting me to lay the foundation-stone of the gaushala in this town.
For the Hindus, this is sacred work. Protection of the cow is a primary duty
for every Indian. It has been my experience, however, that the way we set
about this important work leaves much to be desired. I have given some
thought to this serious problem and wish to place before you the conclusions
I have formed.

We do not go the right way to work for protecting the cows against our
Muslim brethren. The result has been that these two great communities of
India are always at odds with each other and cherish mutual distrust.
Occasionally, they even fight.

As long as we do not get this terrible slaughter stopped, I think it is
impossible that we can produce any effect on the hearts of Muslims or
protect the cows against them. Our second task, therefore, is to carry on
agitation among our British friends. We are in no position to use brute
strength against them. They also should be won over by tapascharya and
gentleness. For them eating of beef is no religious act. It should be easier
to that extent to persuade them. It is only after we have rid ourselves of
the taint of violence which I mentioned earlier and have succeeded in
persuading our British friends not to eat beef and kill cows and bullocks;
it is only then that we shall be entitled to say something to our Muslim
friends. I can assure you that, when we have won over the British, our
Muslim brethren will also have more sympathy for us and perform their
religious rites with some other kind of offering. Once we admit that we are
also guilty of violence, the working of our gaushalas will change. We shall
not reserve them merely for decrepit cows but maintain their well-nourished
cows and bullocks as well. We shall endeavour to improve the breed of cattle
and will also be able to produce pure milk, ghee, etc. This is not merely a
religious issue. It is an issue on which hinges the economic progress of
India. Economists have furnished irrefutable figures to prove that the
quality of cattle in India is so poor that the income from their milk is
much less than the cost of their maintenance. We can turn our gaushalas into
centres for the study of economics and for the solution of this big problem.
Gaushalas cost a great deal and at present we have to provide the expenses.
The gaushalas of my conception will become self-supporting in future. They
will not be located in the midst of cities. We may buy land in the
neighborhood of a city to the tune of hundreds of acres and locate these
gaushalas there. We can raise on this land crops to serve as fodder for the
cows and every variety of grass."1

"Cow protection is an article of faith in Hinduism. Apart from its religious
sanctity, it is an ennobling creed. But we, Hindus, have today little regard
for the cow and her progeny. In no country in the world are cattle so
ill-fed and ill-kept as in India. In beef-eating England it would be
difficult to find cattle with bones sticking out of their flesh. Most of our
pinjrapoles1 are ill-managed and ill-kept. Instead of being a real blessing
to the animal world, they are perhaps simply receiving-depots for dying
animals. We say nothing to the English in India for whose sake hundreds of
cows are slaughtered daily. Our rajas do not hesitate to provide beef for
their English guests. Our protection of the cow, therefore, extends to
rescuing her from Mussulman hands. This reverse method of cow protection has
led to endless feuds and bad blood between Hindus and Mussulmans. It has
probably caused greater slaughter of cows than otherwise would have been the
case if we had begun the propaganda in the right order. We should have
commenced, as we ought now to commence, with ourselves and cover the land
with useful propaganda leading to kindness in the treatment of cattle and
scientific knowledge in the management of cattle farms, dairies and
pinjrapoles. We should devote our attention to propaganda among Englishmen
in the shape of inducing them voluntarily to abandon beef, or, if they will
not do so, at least be satisfied with imported beef. We should secure
prohibition of export of cattle from India and we should adopt means of
increasing and purifying our milk supply. I have not a shadow of doubt that
if we proceed along these sane lines, we would secure voluntary Mussulman
support, and when we have ceased to compel them to stop killing cows on
their festival days, we would find that they have no occasion for insisting
on killing them. Any show of force on our part must lead to retaliation and
exacerbation of feeling."2

Mahatma Gandhi told, "Cow-protection is the outward form of Hinduism. I
refuse to call anyone a Hindu if he is not willing to lay down his life in
this cause. It is dearer to me than my very life. If cow-slaughter were for
the Muslims a religious duty, like saying namaz, I would have had to tell
them that I must fight against them. But it is not a religious duty for
them. We have made it one by our attitude to them.

What is really needed for protecting the cow is that the Hindus themselves
should care for her, since they, too, kill her. The barbaric practice of
blowing for extracting milk to the last drop, of tormenting oxen, which are
the progeny of the cow, by using the goad, and of making them draw loads
beyond their strength —these things amount to killing the cow. If we are
serious about cow-protection, we must put our own house in order.

Mahatma Gandhi described that "Goshalas of this kind cannot protect the cow.
Real goshalas should supply fresh milk to the towns. This will be possible
only when they have thousands of milch cows and thousands of bighas of land.
Only when we look after cows with the utmost care, shall we raise kamadhenus
from among them. Then alone will the misery, the hunger, the nakedness and
the spiritual abjectness of the country disappear. What I have said has come
of itself. Never before have I spoken so earnestly about cow-protection.
Protect mother cow, and mother cow will protect you."3

Gandhi advised, "The issue of cow-protection is intimately connected with
the problem of Hindu-Muslim unity. But we will not consider it today from
this point of view. There is much that I want to write about Hindu-Muslim
unity and its bearing on the issue of cow-protection. But that can wait. Nor
will we consider the question from the religious point of view. We shall
discuss it exclusively from the economic standpoint. I wish only to place
before my readers some of my experiences during my stay here in the quiet of
Juhu and the old ideas of mine that they revived. I have invited some
persons who live with me or have been brought up by me or have been close to
me, persons who have been ill for some time, to share with me the benefits
of change of air. Their diet is mainly cow's milk. We found it rather
difficult to obtain it here. There are in the vicinity three suburbs of
Bombay, viz., Vile Parle, Andheri and Santa Cruz. Cow's milk was very
difficult to obtain from any of these places. Buffalo's milk was plentiful.
But even that could be had without adulteration only because of friends in
the neighborhood who are solicitous about my needs. Otherwise, pure milk of
even buffaloes would be hard to come by. Ultimately, through God's grace and
the kindness of friends, I could even get cow's milk.

There are goshalas in every part of the country and they are all in a
pitiable state. Here, too, the cause is simple inefficiency. Enormous sums
are spent on these goshalas or pinjrapoles. Some people say that this stream
is also drying up. Be it so. I am convinced nonetheless that, if these
institutions are established on a sound footing, devoted Hindus will pour
out money to help them. I am sure that the task is not impossible.
Pinjrapoles should be located on extensive grounds outside the city. They
should house not only aged animals but milch cattle as well, so that pure
milk needed by the city could be supplied from them." 4

The father of nation described, "For, it is this special feature that has
given to Hinduism it's inclusive and assimilative character and made its
gradual, silent evolution possible. Go to any Hindu child and he would tell
you that cow-protection is the supreme duty of every Hindu and that anyone
who does not believe in it deserves the name of a Hindu. But while I am a
firm believer in the necessity and importance of cow-protection, I do not at
all endorse the current methods adopted for that purpose. Some of the
practices followed in the name of cow-protection cause me extreme anguish.
My heart aches within me. Several year ago I wrote in Hind Swaraj that our
cow-protection societies were in fact so many cow-killing societies.

Once, while in Champaran, I was asked to expound my views regarding
cow-protection. I told my Champaran friends then that if anybody was really
anxious to save the cow, he ought to once for all to disabuse his mind of
the notion that he has to make the Christians and Mussalmans to desist from
cow-killing. Unfortunately today we seem to believe that the problem of
cow-protection consists merely in preventing non-Hindus, especially
Mussalmans from beef-eating and cow-killing. That seems to me to be absurd.
Let no one, however, conclude from this that I am indifferent when a
non-Hindu kills a cow or that I can bear the practice of cow-killing. On the
contrary, no one probably experiences a greater agony of the soul when a cow
is killed. But what am I to do? Am I to fulfil my dharma myself or am I to
get it fulfilled by proxy? Of what avail would be my preaching brahmacharya
to others if I am at the same time steeped in vice myself? How can I ask
Mussalmans to desist from eating beef when I eat it myself? But supposing
even that I myself do not kill the cow, is it any part of my duty to make
the Mussalman, against his will, to do likewise? Mussalmans claim that Islam
permits them to kill the cow. To make a Mussalman, therefore, to abstain
from cow-killing under compulsion would amount in my opinion to converting
him to Hinduism by force. Even in India under swaraj, in my opinion, it
would be for a Hindu majority unwise and improper to coerce by legislation a
Mussalman minority into submission to statutory prohibition of
cow-slaughter. When I pledge myself to save the cow, I do not mean merely
the Indian cow, but the cow all the world over. My religion teaches me that
I should by my personal conduct instill 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. 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."5

"It will be remembered that at the Cow-Protection Conference held at Belgaum
a committee was appointed to frame a constitution for the founding of a
permanent All-India Cow-Protection Organization. In consequence of the
resolution, the Committee met in January at Delhi and framed a draft
constitution in Hindi which will be submitted to a general meeting to be
held in due course."6

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, "The work of cow-protection has been going on at a
snail's pace. I can assure the gosevaks that the movement does not come to a
standstill even for a single moment. I keep all the time thinking of it and
also discuss it. And, as there are many people in Kutch who wish to serve
this cause and also because it does not seem likely that I shall be able to
come to Kutch again, I have explained my scheme and collected some funds."7

Bapu advised to Goraksha Mandal, "The All-India Goraksha Mandal has been
established just for this purpose. But as I get more experience I realize
the difficulties in the way of bringing all such societies together under
one body and a common set of rules. I have asked for full details from as
many societies as have sent their names and addresses. But very few of them
have supplied the information asked for. It is not that they do not wish to
send particulars, but probably lethargy or indifference or a feeling of
shame prevents them from replying. The shame is on the score of lack of
proper management, for I have seen institutions which were not properly
managed and did not maintain proper accounts.

Various bodies in the country for the protection of weak and infirm cattle
should unite to form an all-India body and formulate a plan whereby they
would maintain healthy cattle, supply pure milk to the people and from the
income so derived look after weak and infirm cattle. there are some 1,500
goshalas is India. If they are all properly managed and turned into dairies,
there is no doubt at all that the problem of protecting the cows will be
then very easy to solve. But what is the way to bring this about? Who will
bell the cat? I will only say this, that it is necessary to infuse life into
all these institutions. It is difficult to frame rules for them unless they
work as model dairies and leather work-shops. The All-India Goraksha Mandal
has not been indifferent to this task."8

"The motive that actuates cow-protection is not 'purely selfish', though
selfish consideration undoubtedly enters into it. If it was purely selfish,
the cow would be killed as in other countries after it had ceased to give
full use. The Hindus will not kill the cow even though she may be a heavy
burden. The numberless goshalas that have been established by
charitably-minded people for tending disabled and useless cows is in a way
an eloquent testimony of the effort that is being made in the direction.
Though they are today very poor institutions for the object to be achieved,
the fact does not detract from the value of the motive behind the act. The
philosophy of cow-protection therefore is, in my opinion, sublime. It
immediately puts the animal creation on the same level with man so far as
the right to live is concerned. But it is no part of

Hinduism to prevent by force cow-slaughter by those who do not believe in
cow-protection. Hindus will bring the Mussalmans and the rest of the world
to their way of thinking only by living the religion of ahimsa as fully as
it is humanly possible. They must rely upon the working of the great
principle in their own lives and making its effective appeal to the outer

Mahatma Gandhi told, "In matters of religion I am against any State
interference, and the cow question is in India a mixed matter of religion
and economy. So far as economy is concerned, I have no doubt that it is the
concern of every State, whether Hindu or Mussalman, to conserve the cattle
supply. But, if I have understood your questionnaire rightly, the underlying
note is whether the State would be justified in interposing itself between
Hindus and Mussalmans and regulating cow slaughter even for purposes which
Mussalmans consider to be religious. In India which I consider to be as much
the land of Hindus born in it as of Mussalmans, Christians and others born
in it, even a Hindu State may not prohibit cow slaughter for purposes
considered to be religious by any of its subjects without the consent of the
intelligent majority of such subjects so long as such slaughter is conducted
in private and without any intention of provoking or giving offence to
Hindus. That the very knowledge of any such slaughter would give offence to
Hindus is inevitable. But unfortunately we know that in India cow slaughter
is often resorted to defy and wound Hindu sentiment."10

Mahatma Gandhi suggested, "The suggestion in regard to bones needs some
modification. Burying bones as they are does not produce manure; they have
to be ground into powder. The flesh and intestines need not be buried.
Intestines are used even now for making leather strips, strings for musical
instruments and catguts, and the fat obtained from flesh is used in great
quantities for lubricating machinery. So there remains very little to be
buried in its natural form. But this concerns the future.

If we accept in principle that by making in goshalas and pinjrapoles all
those things against the use of which we have no religious objection, we can
save the maximum number of cattle, other discoveries will follow.

The reproach to cow-protection workers implied in the last suggestion
deserves attention. Every such worker should bear in mind that there is a
greater need for workers who will devote themselves to active work of
service and make themselves proficient in their field of work than for
preachers who go round exhorting others.

The suggestion obviously seems to be that the methods of cow-protection
advocated by me are not consistent with my profession of Hinduism. For in
his introductory remarks to his questions the writer has tried to make light
of the basic principle of cow-protection that I have formulated, viz., that
what is economically wrong cannot be religiously right. In other words, if a
religion cuts at the very fundamentals of economics it is not a true
religion but only a delusion. My critic on the other hand believes that this
view is opposed to the teachings of our ancient scriptures. I, at least, am
not aware of a single text in opposition to this view nor do I know of any
religious institution that is being maintained in any part of the world
today in antagonism to the elementary principles of economics. As for
Nature, anyone who has eyes can see, that it always observes the principle
that I have stated. For instance, if it has implanted in its creation the
instinct for food it also produces enough food to satisfy that instinct from
day to day. But it does not produce a jot more. That is Nature's way. But
man, blinded by his selfish greed, grabs and consumes more than his
requirements in defiance of Nature's principle, in defiance of the
elementary and immutable moralities of non-stealing and non-possession of
other's property and thus brings down no end of misery upon himself and his
fellow-creatures. To turn to another illustration, our Shastras have
enjoined that the Brahmin should give knowledge as charity without expecting
any material reward for it for him. But they have at the same time conferred
upon him the privilege of asking for and receiving alms and have laid upon
the other sections of the community the duty of giving alms, thus uniting
religion and economics in a common bond of harmony. I need hardly say that
the humanitarian tanneries that I have suggested would also be utilizing the
bones and other useful parts of the dead cattle. In fact it is more
necessary than ever."11

Mahatma Gandhi described, "We find that many of the things we do are
contrary to our beliefs or our religion. We believe that we should speak the
truth, yet we practice untruth; we believe that we should not indulge in
immoral activities but we do indulge in them; we believe that we should
refrain from violence, yet we practice it at every moment; we believe that
we should win swaraj, yet do much which is contrary to this belief. We do
not even do khadi work which will promote swaraj. The human race would
perish if it always acted against its beliefs in all matters. Innumerable
persons thoughtlessly do what should not be done. The foregoing describes
the plight of those who have formed the habit of thinking.

Mahatma Gandhi told about its failure, "Failure to serve the cow is an
instance of conduct contrary to religion. Every Hindu believes that it is
his special dharma to serve the cow. But only a handful of Hindus will be
found to observe the basic rules of goseva. Many persons believe that they
have done their duty once they have put a couple of pice into the
cow-protection fund."12

Mahatma Gandhi told, "The pity is that most of our cow-protection
associations will keep cows and buffaloes both and try to run them and make
them paying concerns by selling buffalo's milk. The cow, they think, is
uneconomic, not knowing that if the cow was exclusively taken care of, and
all attention concentrated on increasing her yield of milk, in making her a
good breeder, and on making use of every bit of her carcass after she is
dead, she would be more than an economic proposition. If someone could
convince me that both the cow and the buffalo could be protected, without
our having to feed on them or slaughtering them, I should be only too
willing to include both in my scheme. The fact, however, is that the
buffalo, apart from her milk, is an uneconomic animal. Except in a few wet
regions of India the buffalo is useless for agricultural purposes, and so we
either starve or kill the male progeny. Some of the best known dairies
priding themselves on the wonderful milk-yield of their cows have been found
to be doing away with the male calves. We have to make them good milkers and
good mothers of fine plough-bullocks. It is no use saying that there is no
demand for cow's milk. If we refused to supply any other milk, and if we
ensured a supply of the richest and purest and safest milk, everyone would
enlist himself as our regular customer.

But the first thing is to eliminate the buffalo. It is like the exclusive
emphasis on khadi. You cannot promote khadi by dividing your attention
between khadi and mill-cloth. But we have not given the necessary attention
to her feed and her upkeep. Show the best results and I tell you you will
not have to complain of lack of patronage. Why is there such a mad run on a
certain company's shares? Because people know that it is going to be a
highly paying concern. If you could make people believe that yours also
would be a paying concern, they would rush to offer their patronage to you.
Concentrate on one. Take a city like Bombay, take a census of the children,
enlist the names of people who will buy only cow's milk for their children,
and make your dairy an exclusive cow's milk supplier for children. Don't you
know how they popularize an article like tea? They distribute free packets
of tea; they run free tea-houses. You can do likewise and popularize cow's
milk. Your ambition should be to cater to the needs of the whole of Bombay.
There is a demand for cow's milk in a city like Calcutta. The best Haryana
breeds are imported to Calcutta, but as soon as the cows go dry they go to
the butcher. The result is that the Haryana cow is getting scarce in the
Punjab. No, the cow need not go to the butcher at all. She will have more
than paid for her upkeep for her dry years by her rich yield of milk and
progeny, and after death, she would fetch the same value as she did when
alive. The cow can either be protected by the State or by those who are
really religiously inclined. The State we may leave aside for the moment, it
is the religiously inclined who should rise to the occasion and bring to
bear knowledge and industry to the task. Humanitarianism without knowledge
is futile and may even be harmful."13 I have called cow-protection goseva,
i. e., service of the cow. Legislation hardly serves the cow, much less
protects it. If we follow the given solution by Mahatma Gandhi, struggle
will stop.



3. SPEECH AT BETTIAH GOSHALA; December 8, 1920


5. Young India, 29-1-1925

6. Young India, 9-4-1925

7. Navajivan, 1-11-1925

8. Navajivan, 23-5-1926

9. Young India, 11-11-1926


11. Navajivan, 29-5-1927

12. Harijanbandhu, 17-1-1937

13. Harijan, 19-6-1937


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