The footnotes of this translation of Āpastaṃba Dharmasūtra says:

Manu III, 119 and 120; Yājñ. I, 110;: Weber, Ind. Stud. X, 125. A guest is also called goghna, 'cow-killer,' because formerly a cow used to be killed on the arrival of a distinguished guest. The rite is described by Āśvalāyana Gṛhya-sūtra I, 24, 31-33.

Is this custom still practiced in the Indian subcontinent? If not, when did they stop following this and why?


3 Answers 3


The questions you have asked are difficult to answer.

For example although i know that it is not followed nowadays but how i am going to prove that?

Similarly the question "When did they stop?" is unanswerable IMO.

As far as the "Why" part is concerned, we can still answer it.

The book " Essence of Dharma Sindhu" says that many forms of sacrifices are prohibited to be performed in the Kali Yuga. And one such sacrifice is the Go-Medha, where a Cow is killed.

Kali Yuga Nishiddhas:

The following are the avoidable and unnecessary acts of Kali Yuga viz. Samudra Yatra, carrying of Kamandulu to misdirect the Public , remarriages, begetting children fro m husband’s brothers; Go Vadha; Mamsa Bhakshana at Shraddhas; performing vivaha to a physically imm ature girl; Chirakaala Brahmacharitwa; Naramedha Ashwamedha Gomedha Yagna; Madya Paana, Abhakshya Bhakshana, Apeya paana, Agamyaagamana orcwandering aimlesly Rahasya Prayascittha, Devata Puja and Pashubali for evil ends; Kula Bhrashtata; Extreme Profiteering and narrow mindedness.

In general (IMO), all forms of animal sacrifices are needed to be stopped now, as only some very adept persons are capable of performing them exactly as prescribed in scriptures.

The person who's conducting the slaying and sacrifice must be spiritually advanced too. Otherwise, it just becomes an act of ordinary killing and in that case both the Pashu and the person go downwards.

And, that's why, i think, Sri Sarada, the wife of Sri Ramakrishna, abolished the practice of Pashu-bali from the concerned Temples entirely, as soon as she arrived there.

  • 'When did they stop?' - This article offers an explanation for when and why: "Some scholars believe that it was with the advent of Buddhism and Jainism at the beginning of the fifth century BCE that the notion of ahimsa or nonviolence slowly rose in prominence within Brahmanical circles (Basham 1959, 48-54). The sacred texts and law books from this period make ample references to it." Nov 20, 2017 at 15:53
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    @sv. Well no, vegetarianism has always been part of Hinduism, you can go and read the answers of Kiron Krishnan on quora, he answered the questions about vegetarianism very well. Also all Hindu holybooks are 5000 year old bed vyasa compiled them, the Westerners have given their own biased time. Jan 30, 2018 at 19:25
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    @AnubhavJha Who is Kiron Krishnan? Is he an expert on the Vedas? Maybe you can invite him to join this site and answer my question. 'vegetarianism has always been part of Hinduism' - agree, but that's not my question. My question is since when did cow-killing for a guest stopped and why. Jan 30, 2018 at 21:21

That's probably a wrong interpretation/translation-

Guests were treated by letting loose the cows (as a gesture to show the “willingness to give off cows”, as a sign of respect to the guest). Goghna is used in this context. The cultural practice of announcing of a released cow before guest is mentioned in Ashvalayana Grihya Sutra 1.24.25. Guest is offered Madhuparka (honey mixture) which he partakes of, partially. Then to him arghya is done, and the cow is shown.

Ghna is derived from “han”, which also means “letting loose”, “abandoning”, “weakening”.

Imagine that funny awkward situation if each cow was killed for feeding a single guest.

Taken from a comment on this quora answer: https://www.quora.com/Why-do-the-Vedas-have-beef-eating-verses

If the person is not able to find the comments, just click on "All" on bottom left below the 3 dots.

The translation of shlokas 119 and 120 of Manusmriti, Chapter III are as under:-

119.He should receive, with the “honey-mixture,” the king, the priest, the accomplished Student, the Teacher, the Son-in-law, the Father-in-law and the Maternal uncle,—coming again after a year.

120.The king and the Learned Man should be honoured with the Honey-mixture, at the approach of a sacrificial performance,—not if there is no sacrifice (going to be performed).

And the translation of Āpastamba-Dharmasūtra (2.8.5-9)is as under:-

‘The Vedic Scholar deserves the cow and the honey-mixture; as also the Teacher, the Priest, the Accomplished Student, and the King, if he be righteous; to the Teacher, the Priest, the Father-in-law and the King, the cow and the Honey-mixture shall be offered when they come after the lapse of one year; the Honey-mixture consists of curd mixed with honey, or water mixed with honey, or, in the absence of other things, water only.’

  • I don't the comment. Is it hidden?There should be clear indication where you took it. BTW, Quora is not considered a reliable source. The answer you took has some citations but comment is not visible for me. Also, who translated it? Is there any other reference for this translation in the comment? Sep 6, 2018 at 17:53
  • @Sarvabhouma it's a comment by kiron krishnan on the answer of kiron krishnan, where he replied to brahmatanu banerjee.
    – Anisha
    Sep 6, 2018 at 17:54
  • Ok I found it. I couldn't find it by first glance. With getting used to Stack Exchange, Quora seems new to me. I didn't know I had to click on dots for comments. :'D Please add this info in the answer. It will be easy to find. Sep 6, 2018 at 18:11
  • 1) Quora.com answers/comments are not valid references here 2) I didn't find a single meaning which is close to "letting loose" at http://spokensanskrit.org. Monier Williams also says the same thing. Sep 6, 2018 at 20:09
  • 3) As for han (हन्) - it also means: 'to slay, kill', 'to put to death' etc. so what other reason did Quora.com user give to cherrypick one meaning over the other? 4) 'Imagine that funny awkward situation if each cow was killed for feeding a single guest.' - Did you miss "on the arrival of a distinguished guest" in the question? Who said only the guest will be eating beef and not the host/his family? Sep 6, 2018 at 20:09

As per the Brahmavaivarta Mahā-Purāṇa, the practice of killing a cow for a guest (गोघ्न | goghna) is prohibited in the age of Kaliyuga.

Brahmavaivarta Purāṇa:

अध्यायः ११५ - पञ्चदशाधिकशततमोऽध्यायः

अश्वमेधं गवालम्भं सन्न्यासं पल-पैतृइकम् । ११२.क । देवरेण सुतोत्पत्तिं कलौ पञ्च विवर्जयेत् ॥ ११३.ख ॥

In this age of Kali, the following five kinds of karma-kāṇḍa practices are forbidden: offering a horse in sacrifice, offering a cow in sacrifice, accepting sannyāsa, offering oblations of flesh to the forefathers, and a man begetting children in his brother's wife.

Verse 4.115.112b,113a, Kṛṣṇa-janma-khaṇḍa, Brahma Vaivarta Purāṇa

  • Do you have some opinion on sanyas, as Adi shankaracharya took it and so are many people Apr 17, 2022 at 10:20
  • I think, there might be two ways to reconcile this. One, the verse from Brahmavaivarta talks about forbidding taking sanyasa after leading a householder's life. Second way, is to understand that not everyone takes every scripture withing Hinduism as an authority. Varies from sects to sects. @Youwillnotknowme
    – Vivikta
    Apr 17, 2022 at 15:01

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