I genuinely believe this question is a bit in bad taste but do read below my thoughts of inquisitiveness for putting up a bland question like this:

I was curious to know if karma would adjudge me as more guilty if i kill say a cow instead of a dog? The Vedas mention cow to be holy while a dog has no such mention and assuming that I kill them both under pretty much same conditions, would I be more guilty for killing the cow because it's mentioned as holy in vedas?

Sorry for such macabre query, depictions and ideas.

  • 7
    Yes, killing a cow is a bigger sin than killing a dog, but both are sins. Jun 9, 2017 at 1:59
  • 3
    Yes, go-hatya is a grave sin. In fact, Shastras allow lying in few circumstances - to save your own life, to save a brahmana's life, and to save a cow's life
    – ram
    Jun 9, 2017 at 4:24
  • 1
    @ram I think shastras prescribe remaining silent..rather than lying.
    – Yogi
    Jun 9, 2017 at 6:17
  • @Yogi, that is in general circumstances. when life is on line, if either keeping silent or telling truth will not work, then lying does not cause sin.
    – ram
    Jun 9, 2017 at 8:16
  • 2
    Fish as in matsya form is too mentioned in Vedas... yet we eat it as staple diet ?
    – Arnav Das
    Jun 9, 2017 at 19:17

2 Answers 2


Yes the killing of a cow is associated with a greater sin than killing of other animals and at places is even equated with the killing of a Brahmin. In fact the Manu Smriti explicitly states:

  1. Dying, without the expectation of a reward, for the sake of Brahmanas and of cows, or in the defence of women and children, secures beatitude to those excluded (from the Arya community.)

  2. He who unhesitatingly abandons life for the sake of Brahmanas or of cows, is freed from (the guilt of) the murder of a Brahmana, and (so is he) who saves (the life of) a cow, or of a Brahmana.

There are also multiple Vedic verses that mention the cow as Aghnya or One who can not be hurt. In Rig Veda verse 7.56.17 the supplicant equates the lives of men with those of cattle while praying to the Maruts, the fierce storm gods to keep the lightening bolts away that kill them both.

17 So may the Maruts help us and be gracious, bringing free room to lovely Earth and Heaven. Far be your bolt that slayeth men and cattle. Ye Vasus, turn yourselves to us with blessings.

It is noteworthy that no other animal has been mentioned except cattle which shows how strong the bond was between men and cows. Rig Veda verse 1.164.40 is based on a simile of a cow and its calf and wishes them good fortune to find great pastures in every season so that the men can also stay healthy and wealthy:

39 Upon what syllable of holy praise-song, as twere their highest heaven, the Gods repose them,— Who knows not this, what will he do with praise-song? But they who know it well sit here assembled. 40 Fortunate mayst thou be with goodly pasture, and may we also be exceeding wealthy. Feed on the grass, O Cow, at every season, and coming hitherward drink limpid water.

Rig Veda verse 10.87.16 goes so far as to wish violent death for those who kill cattle, horses and humans showing once again that their lives were quite precious. I quote here the Griffith translation -

15 May Gods destroy this day the evil-doer may each hot curse of his return and blast him. Let arrows pierce the liar in his vitals, and Visva's net enclose the Yātudhāna. 16 The fiend who smears himself with flesh of cattle, with flesh of horses and of human bodies, Who steals the milch-cow's milk away, O Agni,—tear off the heads of such with fiery fury.

The entire 28th sukta of Book 6 Rig Veda 6.28 in fact talks about how cows enjoyed freedom from persecution in the Vedic society -

These are ne’er lost, no robber ever injures them: no evil-minded foe attempts to harass them.... These Cows, the cattle of the pious worshipper, roam over widespread pasture where no danger is.. Never be thief or sinful man your matter, and may the dart of Rudra still avoid you!

Manu Smriti even mentions that errant cows were not to be punished!

  1. But Manu has declared that no fine shall be paid for (damage done by) a cow within ten days after her calving, by bulls and by cattle sacred to the gods, whether they are attended by a herdsman or not.

All these injunctions and verses lead us to conclude that cows were indeed more sacred than other animals. That however doesn't mean that there was no sin in killing/eating other animals. In fact the Manu Smriti explicitly states:

  1. But a student who on any occasion eats honey or meat, shall perform a Krikkhra (penance), and afterwards complete his vow (of studentship).

  2. Fasting during three (days and) nights shall be (the penance for stealing) grass, wood, trees, dry food, molasses, clothes, leather, and meat.

SO to conclude the killing of any animal is associated with sin but the killing of a cow is considered more sinful than the rest.

  • Ved and all other Hindu scriptures venerate the cow. The Vedic dictionary, Nighantu, gives amongst other synonyms of 'Gau' [ or cow] the words 'Aghnya', 'Ahi', and 'Aditi'. Yaska the vedic decoder and commentator on Nighantu, defines these as- Aghnya —— the one that ought not to be killed Ahi —— the one that must not be slaughtered. Aditi —— the one that ought not to be cut into pieces. These three names of cow signify that this is an animal which should not to be put to tortures. These words appear frequently throughout the Veda in context of the cow. Feb 13, 2018 at 7:41
  • Aditi (cosmic mother) is the mother of Lord vamana and Indra and other devas, this is why cow is called mother. Feb 13, 2018 at 7:42
  • 2
    @user9344763 You are not disagreeing with him but Vedas. Feb 13, 2018 at 9:42
  • 2
    @user9344763 not my opinion I just shared what's written in the scriptures :) Feb 13, 2018 at 9:51
  • 1
    As I mentioned in my answer it is a sin to kill all animals but the cow is most sacred of them all. Theoretically yes everyone has god within but the differentiation is similar to the higher value given in society to a human life than that of an animal or of an animal more than that of a plant. We can argue from our own personal points of view but this is the POV of scriptures as asked in the question. Feb 14, 2018 at 4:48

Well .. killing any life has a certain karma associated with it. No animal is holy or dirty for that matter. All life has a certain sanctity. However, we do not treat a rock and a flower in the same way in the social sense!

A cow is known to exhibit human-like emotions of joy, tears & pain according to how people act with it. And in India, lot of children grow up drinking cow's milk, especially in rural India. So, it is considered like killing a human if one kills a cow.

A dog is also a man's friend but sometimes acts violently. So, people have generally kept them at a certain distance (though that is all changing nowadays).

Let's first see how the principle of Karma works. It is not just about action, but also about volition. If you think of doing a violent act, and not actually do it, you still acquire the karma because what we do physically in the world is just an outwardly manifestation of what we think in our mind. Thought precedes action and every action has a consequence.

Karma is so feared because of the impact it is supposed to have on a human being. Most people are ok with taking an action but do not want to deal with the consequence.

Now, if you are killing a human being, do you acquire a bigger karma than killing an animal? Most people would argue yes. But bring in the context that the human is a terrorist trying to kill you & your family whereas the animal is a cow or a dog you are lovingly bringing up. What happens in that case? The equation reverses for most people. Karma does not work like that.

It is actually about how we are while thinking or performing the action! If one is in awareness, of life and consequences of every action one performs, one is said to be free from Karma. This can be considered as the essence of Bhagavat Gita.

So, the answer to "do you get more Karma while killing a cow than while killing a dog?" is - 'It Depends'! It depends entirely on how the volition & action happens within you. If you are acting utterly out of cruelty (knowingly or unknowingly), killing any animal or human will get you lot of Karmic burden.

You may also want to read this to get an idea of how in Sanatana Dharma, a butcher could become a Guru for a monk: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vyadha_Gita

  • 3
    'It Depends'- It does not depend. Your answer is wrong.
    – Rickross
    Jun 9, 2017 at 6:10
  • BTW i am not the down-voter.
    – Rickross
    Jun 9, 2017 at 7:17

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .