New18 quotes from RSS Panchjanya Magazine:

"Vedas order killing of the sinner who kills a cow. Cow slaughter is an issue of honour for Hindus. The Dadri victim perhaps slaughtered a cow under the influence of bad deeds."

Do the "Vedas order killing of the sinner who kills a cow"?


2 Answers 2


There are no mantras in the Vedas (at least not in the portions that exist now) which explicitly state that the killer of a Cow should also be killed.

However, cows have been repeatedly mentioned as not to be be killed in Rig Veda mantras.

Cows should not be killed as per the Vedas

In RV 1.37.5, it's specifically stated, that cows should not be killed. The words used are

"goshu aghnayam"

The word for killing in Vedas is "ghna". So, aghna means non-killing.

The word aghnayAh (not to be killed) or their variants also appear in many other mantras like RV 4.1.6, RV 1.164.27, RV 1.164.40 and there they refer to the Cows.

The word goghna (killing a Cow), on the other hand, occurs only once in the whole Rig Veda, namely in RV 1.114.10 which is a prayer to Lord Rudra not to harm the animals.

Cows are equated to the supreme Vedic deities like Indra in the Vedas

In Vedas the cows are indicated by words like gau or gavah, vasah (the barren cow), pashu.

Now, there are mantras in Rig Veda which equate Cows to Amrita (nectar of immortality). There are also mantras in the Vedas that equate Cows to the most prominent Vedic deities like Indra. I give below two such mantras:

VasAm Eva Amritam Ahuh, VasAm Mrityumupasate, Vasedam sarvamavad, DevA ManushyA AsurAh Pitara Rishayah.


Vasha (the barren cow) they call as immortality (amrita), vasha they worship (upAsate) as death, vasha became all this (sarvam abhavat), Gods, men, asuras, fathers and rishis.

RV 10.10.26


GAvo Bhago, GAvo Indro, Ma IcchAd GAvah Somasya Prathamasya Bhakshah.


To me the Cows (gavah) are Bhaga, they are Indra, they are a portion of the first poured Soma.

RV 4.21.5

However, in Smritis there are verses which say that we should even give up our lives in order to save the Cows. So, these verses indicate (and encourage) us in engaging in some form of combat to save Cows from being killed.

Manu Smriti 10.62. 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 Aryan community, vahya.)

Manu Smriti 11.79. 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.

  1. When spectators keep aloof, and refrain from giving help to cows or bulls in distress they are affected by sin. (Parashara Smriti).

So, these verses are likely to be the ones which might have encouraged the organization to say whatever they have said.

But, in Vedas there are no such explicit orders. But as i have said, Vedas also clearly mention that Cows should not be killed.

Abbreviations used

RV 4.21.5-------> Rig Veda Mandala 4, Sukta 21, Mantra 5 etc.


No, killing a cow does not warrant a death penalty. But it is a sin (under normal circumstances), and Prayaschitta or expiation for it is laid out in this chapter of the Manu Smriti:

  1. He who has committed a minor offence by slaying a cow (or bull) shall drink during (the first) month (a decoction of) barley-grains; having shaved all his hair, and covering himself with the hide (of the slain cow), he must live in a cow-house.
  2. During the two (following) months he shall eat a small (quantity of food) without any factitious salt at every fourth meal-time, and shall bathe in the urine of cows, keeping his organs under control.
  3. During the day he shall follow the cows and, standing upright, inhale the dust (raised by their hoofs); at night, after serving and worshipping them, he shall remain in the (posture, called) virasana.
  4. Controlling himself and free from anger, he must stand when they stand, follow them when they walk, and seat himself when they lie down.
  5. (When a cow is) sick, or is threatened by danger from thieves, tigers, and the like, or falls, or sticks in a morass, he must relieve her by all possible means:
  6. In heat, in rain, or in cold, or when the wind blows violently, he must not seek to shelter himself, without (first) sheltering the cows according to his ability.
  7. Let him not say (a word), if a cow eats (anything) in his own or another's house or field or on the threshing-floor, or if a calf drinks (milk).
  8. The slayer of a cow who serves cows in this manner, removes after three months the guilt which he incurred by killing a cow.
  9. But after he has fully performed the penance, he must give to (Brahmanas) learned in the Veda ten cows and a bull, (or) if he does not possess (so much property) he must offer to them all he has.

The fact that Prayaschitta is laid out for it implies that the person will be alive to do it, and so it is not punishable by death. But bottom line, don't kill cows!

  • 3
    He is asking " Do Vedas order....? " but your answer is from Manu Smriti.
    – Rickross
    Jun 28, 2017 at 16:56
  • 2
    @Rickross And I am saying that the answer was no, because if the answer was yes then the Manu Smriti would not prescribe this sort of Prayaschitta. Jun 28, 2017 at 17:11
  • 1
    Perhaps you should also mention the order of precedence in following these rules. I believe Manu mentions what should be followed when one scripture contradicts another. Jun 29, 2017 at 1:20
  • 2
    But the laws of Manu are not followed throughout India and have never been. DIfferent smritis have been followed in different parts of India. If a person follows all the rules in Manu then they can hold it up for others to follow. But to cite one instance in Manu for one's pet peeve and not follow the others is onerous. The vedas speak of killing cows and eating them. Jun 29, 2017 at 3:58
  • 1
    @SwamiVishwananda Cows can be killed as part of animal sacrifice, but not under normal circumstances. Jun 29, 2017 at 4:33

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