In the following video, Dr. Zakir Naik says that Bhishma Pitamaha tells Yudhishtira that sacrificing a cow will satisfy their dead ancestors for a period of 1 year.


Is it right? Does the Mahabharata say so?

  • I just downloaded that pdf. The above person who did put photo of shloka no 7 is edited. The word gayen is not there. I dont know how to tag that screenshot here but you can visit bori critical sanskrit version from above source. Hypocrat Zakir Naik. Spreading false information.
    – user7123
    Commented Jul 12, 2016 at 11:57
  • Seventh sloka has the word "gaavasya", which means product from cow. I didn't edit it. Did you see Anushasana parava? Why did you mention Zakir Naik?
    – The Destroyer
    Commented Jul 12, 2016 at 15:02
  • Well cow sacrifice is also known as Gomedha which is a vedic sacrifice. So it may be allowed to sacrifice cow but if its avoidable with kheer as mentioned by Keshav Srinivasan we can do that instead of cow sacrifice.
    – Yogi
    Commented Jul 19, 2016 at 13:15
  • 1
    @DarkKnight Why did you unprotect this post? It has received a lot of bad answers which were later deleted that maybe the reason why it was protected in the first place by the Community user. Besides, it already has several good answers. So we don't need new answers. Commented Apr 12, 2021 at 22:17
  • If you think Cow sacrifice is rare in Hindu Society, I'd advise you to search up the "go-sava" sacrifice of the Jaminiya and Taittiriya Brahmana.
    – Savitr̥
    Commented Aug 17, 2023 at 1:23

5 Answers 5


Yes, Bhishma does say that in chapter 88 of the Anushasana Parva of the Mahabharata:

Listen to me, O Yudhishthira, what those Havis are which persons conversant with the ritual of the Sraddha regard as suitable in view of the Sraddha and what the fruits are that attach to each. With sesame seeds and rice and barley and Masha and water and roots and fruits, if given at Sraddhas, the Pitris, O king, remain gratified for the period of a month. Manu has said that if a Sraddha is performed with a copious measure of sesame, such Sraddha becomes inexhaustible. Of all kinds of food, sesame seeds are regarded as the best. With fishes offered at Sraddhas, the Pitris remain gratified for a period of two months. With mutton they remain gratified for three months and with the flesh of the hare for four. With the flesh of the goat, O king, they remain gratified for five months, with bacon for six months, and with the flesh of birds for seven. With venison obtained from those deer that are called Prishata, they remain gratified for eight months, and with that obtained from the Ruru for nine months, and with the meat of the Gavaya for ten months. With the meat of the buffalo their gratification lasts for eleven months. With beef presented at the Sraddha, their gratification, it is said, lasts for a full year. Payasa mixed with ghee is as much acceptable to the Pitris as beef. With the meat of the Vadhrinasa the gratification of the Pitris lasts for twelve years. The flesh of the rhinoceros, offered to the Pitris on the anniversaries of the lunar days on which they died, becomes inexhaustible. The potherb called Kalasaka, the petals of the Kanchana flower, and meat of the goat also, thus offered, prove inexhaustible.

Pitris are spirits of departed ancestors, by the way. In any case, see my answer here for the moral justification of animal sacrifice.

Also, it should be noted that the Brahma Vaivarta Purana says that offering meat at the Shraddha ritual is not permitted in the Kali Yuga:

In this Age of Kali, five acts are forbidden: the offering of a horse in sacrifice, the offering of a cow in sacrifice, the acceptance of the order of sannyāsa, the offering of oblations of flesh to the forefathers, and a man’s begetting children in his brother’s wife.

Now like many verses in the Brahma Vaivarta Purana, some consider this verse to be an interpolation. But this is a moot point, because pretty much no one offers meat in Shraddha nowadays; they use one of the options referred to by Bhishma that don't involve meat.

  • 1
    Somehow it mirrors Greek practices, like when Odysseus visits the Underworld, he has to sacrifice a goat and allow the ghosts (Pitrs) to take part of the blood before they speak to him.
    – Surya
    Commented Oct 11, 2015 at 13:02
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    Does it specifically say Cow or Beef?
    – user31782
    Commented Oct 11, 2015 at 13:04
  • 3
    One thing I do not understand why everyone here pronounce Bhishm as Bhishma, Ram as Rama etc?
    – user31782
    Commented Oct 11, 2015 at 13:10
  • 1
    @user31782 That's just a language issue. In Sanskrit when a noun ends with an a, the a is taken off when it becomes a Hindi word. So Rama is the original, but in Hindi it becomes Ram. Commented Oct 11, 2015 at 13:24
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    So if someone dies then the pundits would pronounce "Rama Rama satya hai". I don't think so. I've listened pundits chanting mantras and they always pronounce it as Ram in every mantra. Perhaps you know it better.
    – user31782
    Commented Oct 11, 2015 at 13:53

No. It doesn't support cow sacrifice though cow sacrifice is allowed during Yagnas.

Bibek Debroy's translation of BORI critical edition is critical edition of Mahabharta. You can read Anushasana Parva of BORI critical edition (Sanskrit) from here.

मासानष्टौ पार्षतेन रौरवेण नवैव तु |
गवयस्य तु मांसेन तृप्तिः स्याद्दशमासिकी ||७||

मासानेकादश प्रीतिः पितॄणां माहिषेण तु |
गव्येन दत्ते श्राद्धे तु संवत्सरमिहोच्यते ||८||

यथा गव्यं तथा युक्तं पायसं सर्पिषा सह |
वाध्रीणसस्य मांसेन तृप्तिर्द्वादशवार्षिकी ||९||

This is how Bibek Debroy translates these verses:

With the meat of gavaya1 they are content for ten months. With the meat of buffaloes, the ancestors are delighted for eleven months. If the product from a cow2 is given at a funeral ceremony, the satisfaction is said to last for an entire year. The product from a cow can be mixed with payasam and ghee. With the flesh of vardhinasa, the satisfaction lasts for twelve years.

And footnotes say,

1 The gayal or mithun.
2 We haven’t glossed over this in the translation. The text doesn’t say meat, it says product.

Gayal or mithun is an Ox and not Gau or cow.

  • 2
    Nice answer... but it is likely that it is referring meat of cow...as it is used in context of meat as evident from other products... anyway but cows were sacrificed in vedic period... you can read this chapter of Satapatha Brahmana... sacred-texts.com/hin/sbr/sbe26/sbe2661.htm
    – Tezz
    Commented Jun 26, 2016 at 7:32
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    @Tezz Actually, i'm skeptical about various practices described in this Anushasana Parva. See this. Yeah, i know that cows were sacrificed in Vedic days as any animal which was sacrificed amidst Vedic chants would get Moksha but not sure about Sraddha ceremonies. Also, cow is described as Theomorphic animal in Atharva Veda and this will contradict Sraddha ceremony.
    – The Destroyer
    Commented Jun 26, 2016 at 8:07
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    I was also thinking the same... Cow is considered highly sacred animal in Atharvaveda....
    – Tezz
    Commented Jun 26, 2016 at 8:23
  • The destroyer if you have strong proof. So you can post here like mahabharat book page etc. If u have not yet then u have worng information. Because i was read Mahabharata anushsan parve chapter no. 88..but..
    – user7132
    Commented Jul 13, 2016 at 18:28
  • Please read properly before commenting. There's no such word as "Gayen" but 8th sloka has "Gavyena". Also, if you want to discuss, please create an account and don't write comments as answers.
    – The Destroyer
    Commented Jul 14, 2016 at 3:02

No, this is the wrong information given by Zakir naik. But I would like to thank him to read the Anushasana Parva of the Mahabharata or I want to give him a suggestion that he should read properly and then give any speech about our Hindu religion. Now I am showing the proper information about that chapter no 88 - 89 of the Anushasana Parva of the Mahabharata that what Bhishma tells:

strong text

  • 2
    Can you add English translation of those verses because all people who visit this site may not understand Hindi?
    – The Destroyer
    Commented Jun 25, 2016 at 4:59
  • this is right information.. this page is book of mahabharat.. Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 11:33
  • firstly i want to say u.. if you do not know sanskart .. then firstly you have to study about sanskart and meaning of word ..here product of cow means curd, dung,milk,urine.. that product we get from cow. but some people showing wrong information about cow. they said product of cow means ''BEEF", that is wrong.. this pic prove that there are not written about "BEEF,"FISH",GOAT, etc.. Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 12:05
  • this pic prove that there are not written about "BEEF,"FISH",GOAT, etc.. this is the page of mahabharat.......if u offer curd of cow at sraddas(funeral ceremony) then our ancestors remain gratified and with kheer ( which is made by rice and milk of cow) ,food,fruits,mix with ghee at sraddas then ancestors remain delighted and gratified..for full year.. Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 12:20

The sacrifice in yajña, recommended, that is not for killing the animal, but it is a testing, how the Vedic mantras are being properly chanted. Because an old animal put into the fire, by Vedic mantras he would come out again with young life. That is sacrifice of animals in the yajña. Therefore in this age there is no such expert brāhmaṇa who can chant the mantras properly or he can behave because the life is very abominable. Therefore, because there is no expert brāhmaṇa, so these sacrifices are forbidden in this age.



In those places where it is mentioned that a cow can be sacrificed, it is actually referring to a bull, not cow per se.

In the past ages, people used to sacrifice a old bull before fire sacrifice.

They never killed a cow.

Bull is also refereed to as Go/gau etc.


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