As the sheep is to Christianity, the cow is to Hinduism

RELIGIONS IN INDIA

India is  known as the land of spirituality and philosophy, was the birthplace of some religions, which even exist today in the world.

The most dominant religion in India today is Hinduism. About 80% of Indians are Hindus. Hinduism is a colorful religion with a vast gallery of Gods and Goddesses. Hinduism is one of the ancient religions in the world. It is supposed to have developed about 5000 years ago. Later on in ancient period other religions developed in India.

Around 500 BC two other religions developed in India, namely, Buddhism and Jainism. Today only about 0.5% of Indians are Jains and about 0.7% are Buddhist. In ancient times Jainism and specially Buddhism were very popular in India. Indians who accepted Buddhist philosophy spread it not only within the Indian sub-continent but also to kingdoms east and south of India.

These three ancient religions, Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, are seen as the molders of the India philosophy. In ‘modern’ period new religions were also established in India.

One comparatively new religion in India is Sikhism and it was established in the 15th century. About 2% of Indians are Sikhs. There were other attempts to create new religions in India but they did not always succeed. For example, a Moghul emperor, Akbar, who reigned between 1556 – 1605, tried to establish a new religion, Din- E- Elahi, but it did not survive. There are other religious philosophies whose believers see themselves as a separate religion, but they do not always get this recognition. For example Lingayat of south India see themselves as a different religion, while others see them as a sect of Hinduism. There are also some tribal communities who demand to be recognized as separate religion from Hinduism. In the 19thcentury some Hindu reformers tried to remodel Hinduism to adjust it to modern period.

Along with the religions that developed in India, there are followers of non- Indian religions. The largest non-Indian religion is Islam. They are about 12% of India’s population. Christians are more then 2% of India’s population. There are also Zoroastrians who even though make less then 0.01% of India’s population, are known around India. There are also a few thousand Jews in India. Judaism and Christianity might have arrived in India before they arrived in Europe.

http://adaniel.tripod.com/religions.htm


Cows, Cows Everywhere!

India has 30 per cent of the world’s cattle. There are 26 distinctive breeds of cow in India. The hump, long ears and bushy tail distinguish the Indian cow.

Here cows are everywhere! Because the cow is respected as a sacred animal, it’s allowed to roam unharmed, and they are pretty used to the traffic and the rhythm of the city. So, you can see them roaming the streets in towns and cities, grazing unmindfully on the roadside grass verges and munching away vegetables thrown out by street sellers. Stray and homeless cows are also supported by temples, especially in southern India.

Conserve the Cow

As opposed to the West, where the cow is widely considered as nothing better than walking hamburgers, in India, the cow is believed to be a symbol of the earth – because it gives so much yet asks nothing in return.
Because of its great economic importance, it makes good sense to protect the cow. It is said Mahatma Gandhi  became a vegetarian because he felt cows were ill-treated. Such is the respect for the cow, notes scholar Jeaneane Fowler in her book on Hinduism, that Indians had offered to take in millions of cows waiting for slaughter in Britain as a result of the crisis in beef production in 1996.
Religious Significance of the Cow

Though the cow is held sacred to the Hindus, it is not exactly worshipped as a deity by all. On the 12th day of the 12th month of the Hindu calendar, a cow ritual is performed in Jodhpur palace, in the western Indian state of Rajasthan.
History of the Holy Cow

The cow was venerated as the mother goddess in the early Mediterranean civilizations. The cow became important in India, first in the Vedic period (1500 – 900 BCE), but only as a symbol of wealth. For the Vedic man cows were ‘the “real life” substratum of the goods of life’, writes JC Heesterman in The Encyclopedia Of Religion, vol. 5.
Cows as Symbol of Sacrifice

Cows form the core of religious sacrifices, for without ghee or clarified liquid butter, which is produced from cow’s milk, no sacrifice can be performed.
In the Mahabharata, we have Bhishma saying: “Cows represent sacrifice. Without them, there can be no sacrifice…Cows are guileless in their behaviour and from them flow sacrifices…and milk and curds and butter. Hence cows are sacred…”
Bhishma also observes that the cow acts as a surrogate mother by providing milk to human beings for the whole life. So the cow is truly the mother of the world.
Cows as Gifts

Of all gifts, the cow is still considered the highest in rural India. The Puranas, ancient Hindu scriptures, have it that nothing is more pious than the gift of cows. “There is no gift that produces more blessed merit.” Lord Rama was given a dowry of thousands of cows and bullocks when he married Sita.
Cow-Dung, Ahoy!
Cows are also thought to be cleansers and sanctifiers. The cow-dung is an efficacious disinfectant and often used as fuel in lieu of firewood. In the scriptures, we find the sage Vyasa saying that cows are the most efficacious cleansers of all.
No Beef Please!

Since the cow is thought to be God’s useful gift to mankind, consuming beef or veal is considered sacrilegious for Hindus. Selling beef is banned in many Indian cities, and few Hindus would be ready to even taste cattle meat, for socio-cultural reasons.
Brahmins & Beef
Hinduism and Islam:

A Comparative Study, however, says that the cow used to be slaughtered by the ancient Hindus for beef as well as sacrifice. “There are clear evidences in the Rig Veda, the most sacred Hindu scripture, that the cow used to be sacrificed by Hindus for religious purposes.” Gandhi in his Hindu Dharma writes about “a sentence in our Sanskrit text-book to the effect that Brahmins of old used to eat beef”.

History of the “Sacred” Cow

In ancient India, oxen and bulls were sacrificed to the gods and their meat was eaten. But even then the slaughter of milk-producing cows was prohibited. Verses of the Rigveda refer to the cow as Devi (goddess), identified with Aditi (mother of the gods) herself.Even when meat-eating was permitted, the ancient Vedic scriptures encouraged vegetarianism. One scripture says, “There is no sin in eating meat… but abstention brings great rewards.” (The Laws of Manu, V/56)

Later, in the spiritually fertile period that produced Jainism and Buddhism, Hindus stopped eating beef. This was mostly like for practical reasons as well as spiritual. It was expensive to slaughter an animal for religious rituals or for a guest, and the cow provided an abundance of important products, including milk, browned butter for lamps, and fuel from dried dung.

The cow remains a protected animal in Hinduism today and Hindus do not eat beef. Most rural Indian families have at least one dairy cow, a gentle spirit who is often treated as a member of the family.

The five products (pancagavya) of the cow — milk, curds, ghee butter, urine and dung — are all used in puja (worship) as well as in rites of extreme penance. The milk of the family cow nourishes children as they grow up, and cow dung (gobar) is a major source of energy for households throughout India. Cow dung is sometimes among the materials used for a tilak – a ritual mark on the forehead. Most Indians do not share the western revulsion at cow excrement, but instead consider it an earthy and useful natural product.

Despite their sacred status, cows don’t seem very appreciated in India. Visitors are often surprised to see them walking neglected around city streets, living on garbage from the gutters. But the cow is honored at least once a year, on Gopastami.

On this “Cow Holiday,” cows are washed and decorated in the temple and given offerings in the hope that her gifts of life will continue.

http://www.religionfacts.com/hinduism/things/cow.htm

In India, the cow has become the symbol of Hinduism.

As the sheep is to Christianity, the cow is to Hinduism.

While  Hinduism considers the cow as  the object of worship and held  sacred, the sheep in the bible is regarded as the symbol of the  man of God.

Psalm 95:6-8 (King James Version)

6O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.

7For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice,

8Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness:

For God considers man as the highest form of all His creations. In fact God created man  in His own image.

Genesis 1:26 (King James Version)

26And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

For in the Christian Era the people of God are the friends of  Jesus Christ, the Hindus regard the cows  as an object of worship.

God intentions of the cow is for man to have dominion over them and consume the meat  to sustain their lives.

Genesis 1:26 (King James Version)

26And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

Bhishma also observes that the cow acts as a surrogate mother by providing milk to human beings for the whole life. So the cow is truly the mother of the world.

The Hindus  belief that “Cows represent sacrifice. Without them, there can be no sacrifice…Cows are guileless in their behaviour and from them flow sacrifices…and milk and curds and butter. Hence cows are sacred…” is not true.

In the history of mankind, Jesus Christ is sacrifice personified.

John 19:19 (King James Version)

19And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.

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