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Everywhere in the Bhagavatam, Lord Krishna keeps asking us to worship cows, not to harm them etc.

Why only cows, why not other animals?

All animals do something or the other for nature. Together they all keep the food cycle alive. Then why give special importance to cows?

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    Hinduism does not teach to harm other animals too. – user11 Jun 21 '14 at 16:00
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    Not only cows, we also do puja of naag devta, tigers, well we cannot do obviously as they are carnivores, peacock feathers are kept in our homes, so some or the other way each animal is given importance, and as far as I know, there is a saying that there are millions of gods in a Cows body – Mr. Alien Jun 21 '14 at 16:12
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    The answer is very simple n direct - Because of all animal-kingdom cow's milk is closest to milk a baby human gets from his/her mother. And for other animals - they should also be protected. – prabhat kumar Jul 10 '14 at 1:01
  • see all Vedic reference : goo.gl/gVUtOk – Keshav Sep 22 '14 at 12:07
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As per rebirth rules, the vegetarian animals will be having human birth sooner than other animals or trees. May be that could be the reason. Also in Bhagavata, earth goddess was in cows form when going to talk with Brahma Deva. Raja Pareekshith saw the earth goddess as a cow.

Also there can be other reasons too. Cows are calm in their nature and usually those animals do not try to hurt any others. Indian culture was deeply associated with agriculture and cattle are an essential part of farming. So cow gave a way of living for the society in ancient India. Hinduism is a culture of truth and it always stick to the truthfulness and rightness. So the people in that culture can not simply forget and avoid anything that have done something useful for them in the past. It is the Dharma and that is why it is known as 'Sanathana Dharma'. So it is not just the economics playing the role here, it is Dharma.

Other animals too are considered to be protected as per Dharma. Ahimsa Paramo Dharma it is a basic block of Hinduism.

Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

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Why cow is given special importance is described in Mahabharata: Anusasana Parva: Chapter 50, 51, 76 to 83 in detail.


Here is the English translation of few verses:

Yudhishthira asked Bhishma

पवित्राणां पवित्रं यच छरेष्ठं लॊके च यद भवेत

पावनं परमं चैव तन मे बरूहि पितामह ||1||

Tell me, O grandsire, what is that which is the most sacred of all sacred things in the world, other than that which has been already mentioned, and which is the highest of all sanctifying objects.'

Then, Bhishma replied

गावॊ महार्थाः पुण्याश च तारयन्ति च मानवान

धारयन्ति परजाश चेमाः पयसा हविषा तथा ||2||

Kine are the foremost of all objects. They are highly sacred and they rescue men (from all kinds of sin and distress). With their milk and with the Havi manufactured therefrom, kine uphold all creatures in the universe.

न हि पुण्यतमं किं चिद गॊभ्यॊ भरतसत्तम

एताः पवित्राः पुण्याश च तरिषु लॊकेष्व अनुत्तमाः

देवानाम उपरिष्टाच च गावः परतिवसन्ति वै ||3, 4.1||

O best of the Bharatas, there is nothing that is more sacred than kine. The foremost of all things in the three worlds, kine are themselves sacred and capable of cleansing others.

Kine reside in a region that is even higher than the region of the deities.

  • This doesn't answer OP's question. "there is nothing that is more sacred than kine" - he's asking why is cow more important that others when "All animals do something or the other for nature. Together they all keep the food cycle alive." Such questions are better answered from a historical perspective & not thru scriptures. This is similar to 'why is Ganga considered sacred' vs. 'why is Ganga more important than other rivers.' Also a 100 years from now if the whole world goes vegan and stop consuming milk and other dairy products, is the cow still considered important? If yes, for what reason? – sv. Sep 16 '18 at 21:45
  • @sv. 3-4 reasons r given in my answer..and it further gives reference where many reasons r given, we can't list everything here rigt...Now, you r creating new condition...if after 💯 years this happens then? which should not be the case...I think even then Panchagavya would be produced from cow and not from some other vegetables...and Panchagavya is very important in many rituals... – YDS Sep 17 '18 at 4:11
  • 'the highest of all sanctifying objects', 'they rescue men (from all kinds of sin and distress)' - all these are scriptural reasons, not necessarily logical. In the Middle East or even the Indian state of Rajasthan, camels must be more sacred than cows. OP is looking for logical/historical reasons not necessarily religious reasons, he already knows cow is sacred from the Bhagavata Purana. He's asking why cow alone is sacred, not camels, buffaloes or donkeys. – sv. Sep 17 '18 at 17:02
  • @sv. "Indian state of Rajasthan, camels must be more sacred than cows."..Is it? 🤔I don't think so..I m from Rajasthan bdw... :) – YDS Sep 18 '18 at 16:08
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Basic economoics. Cows could live on the byproducts of farming, produce milk. Dung is a useful fuel and manure. Even if the animal is past its productive period, as a form of gratitude, there's this advice about not harming them.

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    This certainly seems logical, but not everything that seems logical is correct. Do you know of any studies/works/etc that discuss an economic approach to explaining why cows are given high status in Hinduism? – senshin Jun 22 '14 at 20:42
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    I believe societies understand basic economics first, code them as rules and then they become religious beliefs. – User 1565623 Jun 23 '14 at 0:23
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I think you answered your own question. Because the sacred book, i.e., Bhagavatam says so.

That's most likely to be the answer as why people who practice Hinduism does it.

On the other hand if you're really interested in why would any animal would be considered sacred in a particular (sub)culture, then the economic/utilitarian argument together with the formalization of such truths into some system of beliefs would be closer to the truth.

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Sacred cow, Hindus worship a number of other animals such as snakes, elephants and monkeys besides cows. However cows are considered the most sacred as it is believed that more than 3 crore Hindu gods and goddesses reside in a cow's body. The cow is considered sacred and called go-mata(cow-mother) since it provides milk and is a harmless animal. Dairy products are important in several Hindu rituals such as yajnas where ghee (clarified butter) is used as offerings to gods. In olden times when the cows grazed on medicinal plants on hills, the milk and urine of cows had medicinal values. Thus, go-mutra(urine) was used to treat diseases. For all these reasons , the cow is the most sacred animal for Hindus and men who owned most cows were considered richest( go-maan).

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  1. All animals are given importance. But how can you possibly reference each specific life form in one place. So cows are used as a representative of all animals. Most rituals in Hinduism are representative of something larger in general.

  2. Cows are specifically worshiped as an example because of the benefit they provide. In India, milk is a MAJOR source of nutrients. And India is an extremely agricultural country so the cows fertilizer is necessary to sustenance as well. These, among many other reasons, make a cow the MVP of animals.

Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

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    Please cite sources for your answers. Citations are encouraged on this site, – Sarvabhouma Feb 1 '17 at 3:06
  • @SreeCharan You need citation to prove cows give milk? – A.Kot Feb 1 '17 at 14:18
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    I need citations for the second point you have mentioned about worshiping cows. You may find other reasons too from our scriptures. What is "MVP" ? cow is not a person/player. I think you have got my mean. – Sarvabhouma Feb 1 '17 at 17:10
  • @SreeCharan Once again, why do you need citation for that which is obvious. Using your logic, what scripture says that MVP must apply to a person or player? Feel free to counter the argument that the cow is not the most valuable among animals to India. – A.Kot Feb 1 '17 at 17:14
  • @SreeCharan I think the poster is referencing "gO brAhmaNEbhya subhamastu" - both being representatives of the meekest and most vulnerable of animal and human species. If the meekest are protected, then it is an indicator of an advanced system that protects all of its inhabitants. There are other reasons too for this benediction but this is the one that the poster has in mind I believe. – user1195 Feb 2 '17 at 14:16

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