The person who handles all the administration on a day to day basis in People for Animals is Ozair Husain who is also the Nawab of Lorpur and a senior member of Muslim royalty across India. He is a devout vegetarian Muslim as are many Muslims I know. 

Recently a Muslim doctor called Shabana who lives in Tilak Bazar, Delhi and feeds the dogs in her colony came to me in tears. Her neighbour Khursheed Ahmed had poisoned her dogs. When she went to the police station, the Muslim Inspector said to her, what kind of Muslim feeds dogs? 

I have written about the Prophet’s love and compassion for all animals. However, as Islam has percolated down, there seems to be a misunderstanding regarding dogs. Let us deal with the references in the Quran: 

In the story of the cave sleepers in the Quran, the dog is regarded as an integral part of the young men who were protected by God for centuries. The verse does not describe the dog as a guard dog, but an individual of the group and protected by God as well. If the presence of the dog was problematic to these people whom God chose to protect, then he would not have been included in the tale. 

Muslims believe that they have been instructed that the saliva of the dog is dangerous. But that belief that has been taken out of context. In the Quran when discussing whether dogs can be used for hunting in the desert, the Quran says “Lawful unto you are things good and pure, and what you have taught your trained hunting animals to catch in the manner directed to you by God. Eat what they catch for you, but pronounce the name of God over it. “The verse explains that a trained animal could lawfully hunt food for a Muslim only when the hunting is overseen by him and the name of God is taken when killing the animal. This teaching was in response to a doubt as to whether people could eat a hunted animal even if they did not witness the killing. In all the commentaries on this verse, there is no concern about the saliva of the dog or its effect on the purity of the hunted food. The issue in this verse is related to the conditions for lawful or unlawful hunted food, not the fact that the dog’s saliva will be on the hunted animal.

Most of the rulings of Islamic Law are derived from the hadith since the Quran does not provide all of the information a person needs to know to live his life in an Islamic way. The hadith deal with a vast array of topics related to dogs. By studying these hadith, it is clear that the dog deserves proper treatment.

Dogs would enter mosques in the time of the Prophet. According to Hamza b. Abdullah, ‘Umar b. Khattab reported on the authority of his father that: “in the time of the Prophet, dogs would come and go easily into the mosque, and no one would sprinkle water on those areas of the mosque.” The Prophet’s rule on dogs entering the mosque was in contrast to his action when a man urinated in the mosque. According to Anas b. Malik: “The Prophet observed a Bedouin urinating in the mosque. He said, ‘let him be,’ and when he finished, the Prophet called for water and poured it on the urine.”

People say that something is wrong with dog saliva since Abu Hurayra reported that the Prophet said: “if a dog drinks from a vessel of yours, then wash it seven times.” However other versions of the hadith contain different numbers of required washings. Obviously the numbers are to emphasize “wash the bowl well.” This hadith does not mean that something is wrong with the dog, it is simply a hygiene alert literally meaning: If a dog drinks from one of your bowls, then you should wash it well. The hadith specifically states the bowls you use for yourself. This instruction is common sense: keep the water vessels for humans and dogs separate.

This meaning is reinforced by the hadith where a man gave a dog water to drink using his shoe as the vessel. The hadith praises the man, and God forgives his sins as a result of his kindness. The hadith does not say that the man should wash his shoe seven times because he is not going to drink water from his shoe.

The hadith about dogs drinking from a person’s bowl also contains another lesson: dogs in the time of the Prophet were even then part of the daily life of humans. If this mixing of dogs and humans were not the case, there would not be so many hadith dealing with the matter of what to do if a dog drinks from your vessel.

Another issue related to dogs is the question of purity. Islamic rules of purity mainly pertain to prayer. Islamic law requires that a Muslim’s body, clothing, and space for prayer be pure. All three must be washed and purified if touched by a substance that is considered impure. Scholars have debated what substances are impure. They agree that blood, urine, pus, and feces are unclean and must be washed off the person or his clothes or his prayer space before prayer.

Some scholars in the Hanbali and Shafi’i schools of law, believe that touching by a dog requires washing that portion of the body or clothing before prayer. The Maliki School does not consider dogs impure at all. The Hanafi School considers only the saliva of dogs to be impure, so only the part of the body or clothing that the dog’s saliva touched needs to be washed before the person prays.

But is the dog alone? Even the scholars who believe that the dog is impure consider many other substances impure too, and a simple washing is all that is required. Butchers, for example, routinely get blood on their clothing and body, and must wash it off before prayer. Al-Asqalani, in the hadith about dogs entering the mosque in the time of the Prophet, said that all scholars believed that the urine of all animals is pure, except for human urine. Anyone who is touched by human urine on his clothes, body, or place of prayer must purify it. But just because the blood, urine, and feces of a human are impure does that mean humans are impure?

Most Muslims do not understand the rules about keeping a dog at home. There are many versions of a hadith relating that the Prophet restricted possessing a dog except for lawful purposes. The typical purposes listed are guarding, herding, hunting, and assistance with agriculture.

At the time of the Prophet, the most common reasons people kept dogs were for guarding, herding, hunting and protection. Naturally, these are the reasons that the hadith define for keeping a dog.

These restrictions are requirements to protect dogs from mistreatment. According to the hadith, you may not keep a fancy dog just as a status symbol to brag to your friends about. Dogs are active and social creatures, and it is cruel to lock up a dog in a room or balcony. The dog must have a purpose for you or else you are treating a living being as if it were a mere object of decoration without regard for the dog’s own needs. Dogs need exercise and tasks to accomplish or else they get bored and depressed. Guarding has a very broad meaning apart from protecting people, animals, and property. A dog who lives with an old person may guard that person against loneliness through its companionship or bark to alert neighbors that the person is sick or needs help.

The Prophet’s concern for mercy, kind treatment, and proper care for animals stands out. The field of animal welfare needs leaders, and I invite Muslims to be the example for everyone else to follow.

Maneka Gandhi

To join the animal welfare movement contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Someone has written to me from Orissa, “This is to bring to your knowledge that in Orissa the Swine flu (H1N1) has spread like anything. But in reality the rumors about this disease has put the life of the local pigs in a miserable condition. The administration has banned the keeping of pigs in the open so they have all been herded in small government enclosures. Most of them are have become sick and died of starvation.”

The government nonsense about swine flu is just that – nonsense. It is part of a much bigger conspiracy – to make money by buying expensive foreign tablets called Tamiflu. First let me tell you about Swine Flu.

Swine influenza is a flu virus called H1N1. The reason it is called Swine Flu is because it spreads from Humans to Pigs – not from Pigs to Humans. There is not a single case of a human being getting swine flu from a pig. But pigs get flu regularly from humans who sneeze and spit round them.  

Flu is flu. The symptoms of Swine Flu or H1N1 are the same as any other flu: chills, fever, sore throat, muscle pain, headache, coughing, weakness. Influenza spreads between humans when infected people cough or sneeze, then other people breathe in the virus or touch something with the virus on it and touch their own face. The way to prevent spread of the virus is the standard for all flu viruses: frequent washing of hands with soap specially after being out in public; [disinfecting household surfaces; not touching your face; staying away from other people who might be infected; avoiding large gatherings. You can keep 50 pigs, even pigs with flu in your house and you will not get H1N1. The truth is: The H1NI virus which is mistakenly called swine flu is not a strain which even exists in pigs. 

In 2009 the World Health Organisation declared that Swine Flu would kill millions of people and it was a pandemic, a world epidemic. India’s health minister was very excited – as was the health minister before him because each disease brings the opportunity of buying medicines.

Everything the WHO said was untrue. Swine flu turned out to be a normal flu problem. Exactly one year later, in August 2010 the WHO declared the swine flu pandemic to be officially over. No country except India got it. 

The curious thing is that in spite of it not existing anymore, India continues to have hundreds of victims.

Now let me tell you the truth. The last minister Ambumani Ramadoss, in a scandalous waste of health funds, bought hundreds of crores of a medicine called Tamiflu (oseltamivir phosphate marketed by Roche) to treat another nonexistent disease called Avian Flu. Again, through total misinformation, the government announced that humans got this flu from chickens. They killed millions of chickens all belonging to poor people. Not a single chicken from a rich man’s poultry was killed. There was not a single case of Avian flu in India – or anywhere else in the world. Finally WHO had no option but to announce that the “Avian flu pandemic was over.” No one in Parliament except me asked why the government had spent money to buy useless medicines.

This Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has learnt from the tricks of his predecessor. The Health Ministry has bought even more crores of Tamiflu and everyone who goes to hospital with flu is given Tamiflu. Now Tamiflu is not for Avian flu but for Swine Flu.

The truth is that H1N1 take a lot of time and money to be diagnosed. The blood and mucus samples have to be taken and it takes over 10 days to deliver the results. So all government hospitals are under orders that everyone coming in with flu like symptoms is not to be tested. They are to be diagnosed with Swine Flu and given Tamiflu tablets. 

The truth is: In the last 60 years the Indian government has kept no records of diseases. There is absolutely no data of how many people have died from kidney failure, heart attacks, cancer, Japanese encephalitis or malaria. America has kept records of their sicknesses. And, according to them, over 1.5 lakh people die in America annually of normal flu: mainly the very young and the very old. Which means that in India, at least 5 lakh people die of normal flu every year – those suffering from malnutrition, exposed to the extreme winter, HIV positive, cancer ridden, the old and the babies. 

Flu is part of one’s life, like the common cold that comes so many times a year. But with the government putting out mysterious and threatening advertisements on television, many people are now going to hospital with flu in order to find out whether it is swine flu. And in every case they are told it is, and given Tami Flu. So these artificial statistics are mounting up. And the stupid small town administrator, who has not bothered to learn anything after passing his government entry exam, immediately decides that it is the fault of the pigs and puts them into pig jails to die. And once they are dead, their meat is sold to poor people so that they can actually die of food poisoning.  

Swine Flu is a normal flu. It has been in the world since 1918 and no one talked of it – until the politicians and the medicine companies and WHO came together in an unholy trinity to invent pandemics of simple problems. Sometimes it is Asian flu, chicken flu, then swine flu, then it will be cat flu and horse flu – anything that sells medicines. In 2003 it was SARS (Severe acute respiratory syndrome) which also disappeared after the companies had sold their medicines. 

Swine Flu is very lucrative for everyone. The Health Ministry officials and politicians buy pills on commission. Scientists get grants to discover a useless vaccine (withdrawn because it paralyzes and kills) and then they get national awards, companies can sell those useless paper masks to scooterists and cyclists, the municipal sweepers who can collect the pigs every day and then take bribes to let them go again, the media gets shocking news every day. Everybody is having fun – except the person who gets flu and is told lies and given the wrong medicine. 

What is the truth about Tamiflu – the medicine that Health Ministers love to buy?

First: A study by a group of Singapore doctors led by Dr Timothy Barkham, a senior consultant in laboratory medicine at Tan Tock Seng Hospital has discovered that flu patients develop resistance to Tamiflu in two days. The research was supported by three Agency of Science, Technology and Research institutes: the Experimental Therapeutics Centre, the Genome Institute of Singapore, and the Bioinformatics Institute. Dr Barkham said: "As with all antimicrobial medicines, we should not give patients anti-viral drugs unless it is really necessary." But in India, it is the first thing that all the hospitals are giving – because it is a political decision and not a medical one.

Second: Professors of medicine at All India Medical Institute in Delhi have found that children infected with swine flu virus and given a five-day Tamiflu-regimen, continue to carry the virus in their nasal cavity, capable of infecting others for two more weeks.  

Flu will always exist as long as we live cheek by jowl with each other since it spreads from person to person through proximity and touch. It’s a mild disease if you are otherwise well. Most people do not even go to the doctor. They get into bed. The ones that are already very weak can die of respiratory failure, pneumonia, high fever (leading to neurological problems), dehydration, electrolyte imbalance. Care should focus on controlling fevers, relieving pain and maintaining fluid balance. According to the government doctors themselves the majority of people infected with the virus make a full recovery without requiring medical attention or antiviral drugs. 

Relax: Get a pig as a pet. Put officials into enclosures and starve them instead.

Maneka Gandhi

To join the animal welfare movement contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

That poaching is an organised crime throughout India and not an impulse decision by some loafer who gets greedy is uncontestable. There are well defined gangs with their own territories. Vehicles, weapons and ammunition are in plenty. So is their protection from the local police who escort them to their destinations. They always have shrieky expensive lawyers, judges in the lower courts. Violence against law enforcement personnel is common. The markets are protected by local politicians and police and the Indian Forest service personnel who are probably the stupidest and most scared people in the country look the other way. In most cases they are not even considered worthy enough to bribe.

I was in Bareilly which forms part of my constituency Aonla, last week. On the way I received an SMS saying that if I was interested in stopping poachers from the jungles of Uttarakhand and Pilibhit/ Lakhimpur next door, I should pack up the huge bird markets in Bareilly. It gave me the details of the four biggest markets. As soon as I reached the Circuit House, I sent for the District Forest Officer, a plump pathetic obsequious creature typical of his tribe in Uttar Pradesh. Three predictable excuses: No birds are being sold; I have no place to keep confiscated birds; These poor people should be allowed to be criminals!! He came to life was when I told him I would ask the Crime Branch to investigate his assets since he was obviously involved with these criminals and scurried off with my team. In two hours they found 600 birds. How many people arrested? None. Why not? Because these were women. The women did not run away. On the contrary, they collected outside the police station and thumped their breasts and wailed till they were driven away. Imagine people being caught with stolen jewellery and TVs who collect before a police station to demand them back – and are driven away instead of being arrested!!!

In Amritsar recently, one of our Delhi socialites whose husband’s family owns the biggest medicine empire was caught with a suitcase of Shahtoosh shawls which she was taking for sale to London. Since she is Sikh and well connected, she immediately called upon Punjab politicians to get her off the hook which they did. She does this regularly. So does the millionaire mother of the ex- high flying cricket entrepreneur. In fact most of the wildlife smuggling that is done by airline passengers is done by women. According to the research done by CITES, international organised gangs use persons of “high political or social status” as their smugglers. CITES also says that the smugglers usually have previous convictions for other types of crime – both these women have been accused of crimes ranging from arson to insurance frauds and members of their family are regularly accused of tax fraud. Unfortunately they always get away and are welcomed back into the social circle. Thai Customs officials regularly catch high society women. Last month they caught two women dealers with ivory items worth millions disguised as toys and gifts. Last week a live tiger cub was found drugged and hidden among stuffed-tiger toys in the over sized luggage of a woman at Bangkok's airport. 

Delhi has a woman called Moti who sits in Jama Masjid and sells every known form of wildlife article from birds to tigers. We have had her arrested more than 30 times. She is out the next day on bail – beating even the record of the notorious tiger skin smuggler Sansar Chand who is represented by the best lawyers. Why is she released? Because she is a woman. The fact that she is the face of a 300 member gang who bring in birds, snakes, cat claws, scorpions, mongooses etc. is irrelevant. She has never even been interrogated so her gang roams free.

When I caught the monitor lizard oil dealers in Badaun it was the women who had brought the lizards in from Rajasthan. When I stopped the buses from Pilibhit to inspect the luggage on the roof, it was women bringing in birds to Delhi. When we rounded the bird catching Bahelias in Pilibhit, we found their women running dhabas using servants (so much for how poor they are) and selling wild animal parts like leopard skins and live birds to truckers to take on to the cities. 

In all the tribes that are doing nothing but poaching in India: the Bawarias who move as a family and are organised big cat hunters who operate in and around wildlife sanctuaries, the nomadic Pardhiis, the Narikauravas of South India who steal squirrels and domestic cats as well, the Kela tribes of Orissa who poach monitor lizards and sell their skins to the music industry … the women are partners in crime. If you see women selling cheap jewellery in temporary shops anywhere near a forest or sanctuary, you can be sure this is a hunting party whose men are already in the kill zone laying out their traps. At midnight the women and children will move in, after the forest guards are drunk and asleep (if they ever got up at all) and by late morning the animal is dead, skinned, the parts separated and the women and children are in the train to give them to the exporter who will send them on to China. These tribes kill leopards, bears and elephants for ivory, indulge in organised theft of railways and telecom properties, are into sandalwood smuggling while some do contract murders.

Women have long past the time when all they were caught for was prostitution or the murder of a spouse. Now, according to all studies on women criminals they are involved in everything from robberies to murder, drug smuggling, bomb making and gun running, wood smuggling to wildlife crime. According to a report in Uttar Pradesh’s prominent Hindi Daily ”Dainik Jagaran” on July 02, 2009 “Zaraim Ki Duniya Mein Mahilayein Bhi Kam Nahi Hai” (Women are as prominent in the world of crime ) female gangs operate in the trains by drugging railway passengers and then looting their possessions.

Police say that women voluntarily enter into crime for the money since most of them belong to families having a criminal background and find nothing wrong in their way of life. This, I have seen, applies to all the women in the wildlife trade. 

Most police people refuse to recognise women in the wildlife trade as criminals and so they are never arrested or, if arrested under pressure from people like me, they are never remanded to custody. Our police need to understand that these women are habitual offenders and if let off today, will be back selling birds on the street the next day. They should be arrested is because they will destroy the evidence and they will warn their men who are still free. They should be arrested because they will abscond. 

The police claim that arresting women is a nuisance as they bring their children with them, they have to all be fed, care has to be taken that female constables are around so that these women do not claim they have been raped, molested or abused. Searches of women can only be made by other women. Women police officers have to be associated where women are being arrested and no arrests of women between sunset and sunrise can be done. They have to be put in a separate lockup from the men. They have to be given free legal aid and a female requesting for medical help should be examined only by a female registered medical practitioner. They can only be interrogated by women.

So what? None of this is impossible to do. The women should be interrogated as they are the key to all the gangs. Interrogation must be consistent with the recognised rights to life, dignity and right against torture and degrading treatment. The women must be produced before the appropriate court within 24 hours of the arrest. But that does not mean that the police do not ask for remand. Crime is crime — irrespective of gender.

When will wildlife crime become a law enforcement priority? Banks and jewellery are covered by insurances and money stolen can be replaced. But once the leopard and owl is poached, it is gone forever. The illegal killing, the cross-border smuggling and the trade in natural resources bring profits that greatly exceed those acquired by criminals engaged in trafficking narcotics, humans or firearms. Every year, law enforcement officials combating such crimes lose their lives. Yet illegal activities targeting fauna and flora continue to be seen as petty misdemeanours. 

Maneka Gandhi

To join the animal welfare movement contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Every time you eat a hamburger or steak, what you are really eating is recycled chicken feces. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulations allow chicken feces to be used as feed for cows. American farmers feed their cattle 2 million tons of chicken feces each year. This cross-species practice worries scientists who are concerned about the increased risk of mad cow disease contaminating meat products. Mad Cow disease or Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), is a fatal disease which literally causes the brain to melt slowly shutting down cognitive function little by little. First you lose concentration, then your speech goes, and eventually all brain function stops altogether. It's a horrifying way to die.

It occurs when vegetarian animals are made to eat non vegetarian food and then killed for meat. The biggest cow user in the world, McDonald's is, believe it or not, seeking to ban the practice, saying "We do not condone the feeding of chicken litter to cattle." After all they don't want their customers looking at a hamburger and thinking, "I am paying for second-hand feces." Center for Science in the Public Interest and the American Consumers Union have also joined the fight, petitioning the government to ban the practice. 

Ask me why chicken feces fed to a cow could cause Mad Cow disease. It's because chickens are fed ground up parts of other animals such as chickens, cows, sheep and other animals. Some of that chicken feed spills out and gets swept up with the chicken feces or litter which is then fed to cows. The meat industry has concocted a bizarre cocktail in which dead cows, sheep, goats, pigs and other animals are fed to chickens, and then chicken feces is fed to cows. These cows, in turn, are ground up and fed back to the chickens and us.

Am I talking only about America/Australia and Europe? No. The same model exists in Asian countries except that it is done secretly. I will tell you my own experience. Many years ago, I received a complaint about a gaushala in Madhya Pradesh. Old and rescued cows were being given to the gaushala but within a few days all them died. The gaushala was owned by a man who was prominent in the cow-saving movement and, in fact, held a very prominent government appointed state position in that field. 

I investigated. It turned out that all the cows brought in were deliberately starved to death. Why? The owner had a poultry at the back. The dead cows were mashed and fed to the chickens who were later beheaded and sold as meat.

All the animals you eat are vegetarians. They do not normally eat meat or even the feces of other animals. Chickens don't eat cows in the real world, either. Normally they live on a diet of insects and weeds. But the compulsions of cheap meat farming in factories has created this unnatural food cycle threatening all meateaters with Mad Cow Disease. Alzheimer’s disease is a similar form and for a continent that had not a single case 70 years ago, look how fast it is spreading in Asia. In America’s every 72 seconds one person develops Alzheimers. From 2000-2006, Alzheimer's disease deaths increased 46.1%. It is the 7th largest cause of death.

It takes approximately 5 - 7 years after eating an infected burger for Mad Cow Disease to destroy the brain of the eater. Cooking the meat does not destroy the mad cow disease germ. In cattle BSE has a long incubation period, about 4 years, usually affecting adult cattle when they are four to five years, all breeds being equally susceptible. In Britain alone, more than 179,000 infected cattle were identified and killed but between 460,000 and 482,000 BSE-infected animals had, by then, entered the human food chain. By October 2009, it has killed 166 people in Britain with the number expected to rise because of the disease's long incubation period. Rather than trying to ward off this disease the industry continues to feed corpses to chickens, and feces to cows. Why are the figures low still in America of mad cow disease? Because, believe it or not, the USDA has banned farmers from testing their cattle for mad cow disease!!

Every time India is isolated for a disease, every politician and “scientist” goes crazy and denies having the disease at all. Remember the recent tamasha when India was identified as the home of the antibiotic resistant superbug. Our politicians claimed that this was a plot to prevent tourists from coming for the Commonwealth Games.

India has been equally vociferous in denying that we have Mad Cow disease. The fact is that we have no way to test it nor do we want to. As a matter of national patriotism we will continue to deny we have it specially since it is not lucrative to acknowledge it, since the pharmaceuticals have nothing to treat it with (On the other hand, every flu is swine flu because the Health Ministry has bought millions of Tami flu tablets and has to sell them now).

But, according to British scientists in Lancet magazine, Mad Cow disease may have originated from animal feed contaminated with human remains washed ashore after being floated down rivers. Professor Alan Colchester of the University of Kent and scientists of the University of Edinburgh in England say they believe that the Mad Cow disease outbreak in Britain may have been caused by the tonnes of animal bones and tissue imported from India for animal feed, which may have contained the remains of humans infected with Mad Cow disease. They base this theory on the fact that a large amount of imported animal feeding material was brought into Britain during the period when BSE must first have occurred and the largest source, more than a third of a million tonnes, was from the Indian subcontinent. The scientists believe the contaminated feed led to BSE from eating meat from infected cattle, which means that the subcontinent has to have had Mad Cow disease long before anyone else. 

Is eating meat worth the risk? Is chicken feces essential to your diet?

Maneka Gandhi

To join the animal welfare movement contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

This article is my offering of love to that creature which is taken at night, thrown on top of hundreds of her kind, made to travel hundreds of miles, pulled out from the truck by her tail as her legs have broken and then, as she lies there helplessly, she is stabbed repeatedly and killed. Your breakfast is from her sore and bruised teats. Your shoes are made from her dead body. Our government’s boasts that it is the largest exporter of leather in the world and the second largest producer of milk. All this from this cow who is mute, walks slowly, endures pain with dignity and gentleness, does not kick, cries soundlessly when we kill her calf in front of her and when we hang her upside down and tear her flesh off while she is alive. 

What has happened to the spirit of India? When did our national character shift from wanting the beautiful, gentle and wise cow as our national symbol to the tiger? Is it because we are ashamed that we have wiped out the tiger population? But we have almost wiped out the cow population as well. An animal that gives birth once a year for four years only and whose sons are killed immediately, can she survive the leather industry, the illegal export oriented slaughterhouses and the smuggling of one crore of her kind annually to Bangladesh? No, a survey of one constituency of 25 lakh in Andhra Pradesh people found less than 1200 cows.

The cow was considered so much the epitome of excellence of character and beauty that many of our names, and those of the gods are based on her. I do not know whether any names in any other religion are based on animals but the Hindus have dozens of names based on the cow: Here are some common ones: Gauri (as beautiful as the cow) , Gaurang / Gaurangi (cow coloured), Gopi (cowherdess), Gauhar (cow coloured) Gaurava: cow voiced, another word for glory, Gautam/ Gautami (comes from Gau Uttama, the best cow/ox). It is not a coincidence that the Buddha’s name was Gautama. Nandin is the bull of Shiva and his name means both son and delightful. Gavendra or bull is another name for Vishnu. Gauri is the wife of Shiva and Mount Everest is called Gaurishankar . The famous Gorkhas of Nepal, the military force that the British and the Indian armies boast of are a short form of Gorak?h meaning protectors of cows. 

It is not a coincidence that Krishna the best loved incarnation of Vishnu is a cowherd. Gopala (one who looks after cows) Govardhana (cow increaser) are his most common names. He proclaims: "The piety that comes from bathing at holy places, the piety that comes from feeding Brahmins, the piety that comes from giving generous charity, the piety that comes from serving Lord Hari, and the piety that comes from all vows and fasts, all austerities, circumambulating the earth, and speaking truthfully, as well as all the devas, always stay in the bodies of the cows. The holy places always stay in the cows' hooves. O father, Goddess Lakshmi always stays in the cows' hearts. A person that wears tilaka of mud that touched a cow's hoof attains the result of bathing in a holy place. He is fearless at every step. A place where cows stay is holy. One who dies there is at once liberated. One who harms a cow is the lowest of men. He commits a great sin, as if he had killed a Brahmin. Of this there is no doubt. A person who harms the cows, who are the limbs of Lord Narayana, goes to hell for as long as the sun and moon shine in the sky." 

How many rivers are linked to the cow? Gomati (with the mind of a cow) river is a tributary of the Ganges River. According to Hindu mythology the river is the daughter of Sage Vashist, and bathing in the waters of the Gomati on a certain day can wash away one's sins. The Godavari (bestowing prosperity) river has pilgrimage centers on its banks.

How many states and cities are named for the cow? Offhand - Gopalpur and Gopalganj, Guwahati, Gotegaon, Gondhia, Goregaon, Gonda, Gokarna, Kovvur which comes from Govuru meaning cow town. The state of Goa is a short form of Gomantak (rich in herds). Gorakhpur are named after a renowned ascetic saint, Gorakshanath meaning ‘cow protector’. Godhra in Gujarat means the land of the cow. Even the gotra or family name is derived from the word ‘go’. Gotra means cowpen, within which the family lived with its cattle. 

The cow is in the Vedas as a symbol of wealth and light. Aditi, the supreme force of Nature, is described as a cow, and the supreme soul as a bull. Vyasa said: “Cows are sacred. They are embodiments of merit. Other scriptures identify the cow as the "mother" of all civilization.

Mahatma Gandhi said: "I worship the cow and I shall defend its worship against the whole world," and that, "The central fact of Hinduism is cow protection." He called her "the mother to millions of Indians”.

Other mythologies have fairies and genii to grant wishes. We have Surabhi meaning sweet smelling, agreeable, shining, pleasing, good, beautiful, beloved, wise and virtuous. She is the fabulous cow of the gods, the daughter of Daksha, wife of Kashyapa and mother of Kamadhenu, the wish fulfilling cow. She is formed from a syllable of Brahma and her daughters Surupa (beautiful), Hansika (graceful), Subhadra (auspicious) and Sarvakamadugha (fulfiller of desires) are protectors of the Earth. 

By her docile, tolerant nature, the cow exemplifies the basic virtue of Hinduism, noninjury, known as ahimsa. In the Vedas, cows represent wealth and joyous life. From the Rig Veda (4.28.1;6) we read. 'The cows have come and have brought us good fortune. Rejoice our homestead with pleasant lowing. In our assemblies we laud your vigor."

In their Dharmasutras, Vasishta, Gautama and Apastambha prohibit eating the flesh of both cows and draught oxen, while Baudhya-yana exacts penances for killing a cow, or ox. Again and again the Vedas emphasize:

Atharva Veda III.30.1 You should impart love to each other as the non-killable cow does for its calf.
RgVeda VIII.101.15 Cow is pure, do not kill it.
Yajur Veda XIII.49 Do not kill the cow.
RgVeda VI.28.3 Enemy may not use any "astra" i.e. weapon on cows
RgVeda VI.28.4 Nobody should take them to butcher house to kill them
Mahabharata- Shantiparva 262.47 Cow is called 'aghnya' non-killable

The Indian rebellion of 1857, the forerunner of the Independence movement started with popular anger that bullets were being greased by the British with cow fat. Thousands of Indians died rather than tolerate this. The term sacred cow has passed into the English language to mean an object or practice which is considered immune from criticism and to be treated with respect. 

The term now has no meaning: cow slaughter is banned except in two states: West Bengal and Kerala. But they have no cows of their own. Thousands of cows are sent there from other states to be killed. Mumbai slaughterhouse Deonar kills them illegally in the lakhs. So does Idgah in Delhi. There are 30,000 illegal slaughterhouses stretched across India, which kill them with impunity, paying the Hindu police money to do so. Our government trains carry them openly to Bangladesh slaughterhouses.

What kind of Hinduism is this that violates its most profound tenet? It is not going to mandirs that makes one a Hindu. It is how you live your life within its dharma. When the last cow has gone, the last Hindu will have gone too.
Maneka Gandhi

To join the animal welfare movement contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.