Beef was widely eaten in ancient Hindu India – conclusive proofs, as assessed by Sanjeev Sabhlok

Beef eating in India today

A very large number of Indians abroad eat beef. I have personally experienced this. However, even in India, beef is eaten in at least a few places, including Kerala and Mizoram.

Kappa Beef in Kerala:

Kappa beef recipe: here.

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Beef-Eating in Ancient India

By Mahadev Chakravarti, Social Scientist, Vol. 7, No. 11 (Jun., 1979), pp. 51-55 [Word]

BEEF-EATING was not peculiar to the people of the Western countries alone, but was popular with the Vedic Indians also. The food items of the Vedic Indian can be gathered from the list of sacrificial victims because what man ate he usually presented to his gods.[1] Practically all the important ceremonies and sacrifices were attended with slaughter of bulls and cows. The Gomedha and Asvamedha sacrifices are important in this respect. The Sulagava sacrifice, in which the bull, as the name implies, seems to have been pierced with a spike or lance to appease Rudra, is described in detail in the grhyasutras.
Restrictions in Vedic Literature
In a hymn of the RgVeda it is said that “Indra will eat thy bulls.”[2] In another hymn of the RgVeda[3] Agni is styled Uksanna and Vasanna i.e. “eater of bulls and barren cows.” Not only for the purpose of sacrifices but for food also, the bovine species were killed in regular slaughter-houses and this is evident from another hymn of the RgVeda.[4] Again, it is suggested in the RgVeda that the cow was cut up with a sword or axe.[5] It is interesting to note in this context that the modern Hindu practice of Jhatka-bali, that is, severing the head of the animal at one stroke, had not yet come into fashion. There are ample evidences how the Rgvedic people were fond of beef-eating. Even in funeral ceremony beef-eating was considered an essential part.[6]
Interestingly enough in the same Veda the cow is sometimes considered inviolable as indicated by her designation aghnya (‘not to be slain’) which occurs sixteen times in the entire RgVeda,[7] as opposed to three instances of aghnya[8] (masculine). But this fact cannot be regarded as showing that beef-eating was condemned in the Rgvedic period. In this connection, we should point out that the Sanskrit word used for the sacrificial cow is Vasa (i.e. ‘sterile cow’) and a milch cow was seldom sacrificed.[9] It is only in this way that one can explain the lavish praise bestowed on the cow in the RgVeda where she is described in a number of hymns as “the mother of Rudras, the daughter of the vasus, the sister of Adityas, and the centre of nectar.”[10]
Although we have three references of aghnya in the RgVeda, still apparently no strict restriction in regard to the slaughter of bulls (as opposed to milch cows) is found. It seems probable that some composers of Rgvedic hymns were pre-Aryan (non-Aryan) Indians (who disliked beef-eating) who became Aryanized like the Asuras and the Vratyas and labelled the whole bovine species inviolable, because outside India this inviolability is utterly unknown.[11]
In the days of Atharva Veda beef-eating remained unaltered, although it was censured here and there in that Veda. During the Brahmana period the habit of beef-eating seems to have increased. Among the Kamya Ishtis or minor sacrifices set forth in the Taittiriya Brahmana different bovine species were sacrificed to different gods, namely, a dwarf ox to Visnu, a drooping horned bull with a blaze on the forehead to Indra, a red cow to Rudra, a white barren cow to Surya and so on. The Aitareya Brahmana lists the bull as one of the sacrificial animals.[12] From the Taittiriya and the Pancavimsa Brahmanaswe learn that the sage Agastya slaughtered hundred bulls at a sacrifice.’[13] The Satapatha Brahmana gives a picture of the inordinate fondness of Yajnavalkya for beef who said: “I for one eat it, provided it is tender (amsala)”.[14] But, strangely enough, we are to face two exhortations in the same Brahmana against eating beef.[15]
Among the Sutras, kalpasutra and grhyasutra, display less reticence and distinctly suggest beef as an item of food on different occasions of life. According to Sankhyayanasutra a bull or a sterile cow should be killed in the house of the father of the bride on the wedding day and also in the house of the bridegroom when the husband and the wife arrive after marriage.[16] Even at sraddhas or periodical oblations to the manes, the sacrifice of a bull or cow is recommended by the Apastamba and Paraskara grhyasutras.[17] Yajnavalkya indicates how the aroma of beef was thought to be an ailment for the spirits.[18] According to Vasisthasutra “an ascetic who, invited to dine at a sacrifice . . . rejects meat shall go to hell for as many years as the slaughtered beast has hairs.”[19] The Khadira and GobhilaSutras prescribed the sacrifice of a black cow to the deity of the dwelling-houses when a new house was constructed.[20]
Distinguished guests like one’s teachers, priests, kings, bridegrooms and Vedic students on their return home after the completion of their studies are to be honoured with the presentation of a bull or a barren cow to be slaughtered – hence, a guest is denominated in the Vedic literature as goghna or cow-killer.[21] The ceremony of madhuparka is notable in this context. The madhuparka ceremony seems to have been very old because the custom of entertaining a distinguished guest with beef is found both in the Satapatha Brahmana[22] and the Aitareya Brahmana[23] and it was in all likelihood known also in the Rgvedic period.
Moral Codes and Beef-eating
We now turn to the Smrti literature. Manu, like Vasistha, sanctions the consumption of the flesh of all domestic animals which have but one row of teeth.[24] That this would obviously include beef becomes clear from the comments of even such orthodox pundits like Medhatithi and Raghavananda.[25] Manu also recommends the madhuparka with beef for the reception of kings.[26] The Yajnavalkya-smrti distinctly lays down that a mah-oksa or ‘big bull’ is to be slaughtered on such occasions.[27] In fact, both the Manu and Yajnavalkya-Smrtis permit the killing of bovine species on such special occasions, in sacrifices and in rites for manes etc.; otherwise beef-eating was regarded as upapataka or minor offence, though not mahapataka or mortal sin.[28] In spite of the individual predilections of the author of Manu-Smrti, who was a staunch upholder of ahimsa, who even said that no flesh can be had without killing living beings and killing such beings cannot lead to heaven and so one should give up flesh eating,[29] the general usage was different in his times and centuries were required before the views propounded by Manu became predominant.[30]
From Ancient Science and Literature
The ancient medical works like the Charaka Samhita recommend beef for pregnant women, but prohibits it for everyday use for everybody.[31] R L Mitra enlightens us that in some medieval Indian medical works beef soup is especially recommended for people recovering from fainting fits.[32]
The Epics allude to the gomedha without any details. In the ‘Vanaparva’ of the Mahabharata[33] it is stated that animals killed in sacrifices to the accompaniment of Vedic mantras went to heaven and it narrates the story of king Rantideva in whose sacrifices two thousand animals, including cows, were killed every day. In the ‘Udyogaparva’ king Nahusha was cursed and hurled down from heaven by the great sage Agastya because he ventured to cast doubts on the Vedic injunctions for the sacrifice of cows and offered insult to a Brahmana.[34]
Bhavabhuti in his Uttara-Rama-Charita (Act IV) describes how the venerable poet Valmiki, when preparing to receive the sage Vasistha, slaughtered a number of calves for the entertain- ment of his guest. From the Mahaviracharita of the same author it is evident how Vasistha, in his turn, likewise entertained Visvamitra, Janaka, Satananda and other sages with ‘fatted calf’, and tempted Jamadagnya by saying: “The heifer is ready for sacrifice and the food is cooked in ghee.”[35]
In Kautilya’s Arthasastra cattle are classified, where bulls are intended for the slaughter-house, but the killing of the milch cows, and calves, though permitted for sacrificial purposes, is forbidden for butchers’ stalls.[36] Asoka in his Rock Edict I and Pillar Edict I declared how originally thousands of animals were killed in the royal kitchen. Considering the popularity of beef-eating among the people even Asoka, the great propagator of ahimsa, resolved later on to discontinue the slaughter of animals only for some days in the year; for example, he included the breeding bull but not the cow in the list of animals not to be slaughtered on those days.[37]

[1] A A Macdonell and A B Keith, Vedic-Index, Varanasi, 1958, Vol II, p 147.

[2] Rgveda X 85, 13-14.

[3] Ibid., VIII 43, 11.

[4] Ibid., X 89, 14.

[5] Ibid., X 79, 6.

[6] Ibid., X 16, 7.

[7] Ibid., I 164, 27 and 40, IV 16, V 83, 8, VIII 69, 21. X 87, 16 etc.

[8] A A Macdonell Vedic Mythology, Delhi, 1974, p 151.

[9] D R Bhandarkar Some Aspects of Ancient Indian Culture, Madras.

[10] Rgveda VI 28, 1-8, VIII 101. 15-16.

[11]D R Bhandarkar op. cit., p 73.

[12] Aitareya Brahmana VI 8.

[13] Taittiriya Brahmana II 7, 11/1; Pancavimsa Brahmana XXI/14,5.

[14] Satapatha Brahmana III 1, 2, 21.

[15] Ibid., I 2 3, 6-9.

[16] Sankhyayanasutra I 12, 10.

[17] Apastamba II 7, 16-26; Paraskara III 10, 41-49.

[18] Yanavalkya I 258-60.

[19] Vajsistha XI 34.

[20] Khadira IV 2, 17, Gobhila IV 7, 27. 54

[21] Asiatic Researches VII p 289; according to Panini (III 4 73): gam hantitasinai goghno.

[22] Satapatha III 4 1 2.

[23] Aitareya I 3 4.

[24] Manu-Smrti V 18.

[25]D R Bhandarkar Op. cit., p 77.

[26] Manu-Smrti III 119-20.

[27] Yajnavalaka Smrti I 109-10.

[28] Manu V 27-44, XI 60; Yajnavalkya I 109-10.

[29] Manu V 48.

[30] P V Kane, History of Dharmasastra, 1941, Poona, pp 779-80.

[31] R L Mitra, Indo-Aryans, Calcuta, 1881, p 360.

[32] Loc. cit.

[33] Mahabharata 208, 11-12.

[34] E W Hopkins, Epic Mythology, New Delhi, 1968, p 19.

[35]R L Mitra op. cit., pp 357-58

[36] Arthasastra II 26, 29.

[37] Journal of the Asiatic Society, VII, p 249; R L Mitra op. cit., p 359.

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Mistranslation of Vedas – comments

Comment by Krishna Mohan on Facebook (here)

Sanjeev Ji, I know quite a bit of Sanskrit and I have myself noticed so many mistranslations not only of the Vedas but also of Gita. The reason being that Sanskrit and modern languages have a huge difference in their semantic structure.

For example, 'go' in Sanskrit means "anything that moves about freely"

Depending on context it can refer to different things. 'go' when used in context of agriculture means 'cow', when used in context of controlling oneself it means 'sense organs', when used in context of vision it means 'light' and in different contexts 'go' means different objects.

This is a property of every Sanskrit word. 

Another example, 'Yog' means "combination". In chemistry it would mean 'a compound', in spirituality it would mean 'experiencing or combining in God', in the context of health it means 'yoga' where in-going and out-going breaths combine.

This property of Sanskrit in which a word represents "an idea" and not "an object" makes translating Sanskrit accurately very difficult for a person who did not study Sanskrit Vyakaran and Nirukti.

Hence we see in British translations of Vedas that "the so-called Aryans used to kill Cows". Max muller and other Indologists assumed that 'go' means "cow" even if it was used in the context of 'sense organs'. The actual context in Vedas probably was "Control your Sense organs" which was mistranslated to "Kill Cows". This is just one example. I have found so many English mistranslations in Bhagawad Gita itself, let alone Vedas which have more complex Sanskrit.

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One Man’s Beef

One man's beef…

Pankaj Mishra finds the roots of post-Partition conflict in DN Jha's account of India's sacred cows, The Myth of the Holy Cow [SOURCE]

The Myth of the Holy Cow

by DN Jha

183pp, Verso, £16

Shortly before he died, at the age of 101, the Anglo-Bengali scholar and polemicist Nirad Chaudhuri received the leader of the Hindu nationalist BJP party, LK Advani, at his home in Oxford. The Hindu nationalists, who recently presided in Gujarat over India's worst-ever anti-Muslim pogrom, had been pleased by some of Chaudhuri's offhand denunciations of the medieval Muslim invaders of India.

They probably hoped that India's most distinguished intellectual exile would do more for their fascistic cause, but they hadn't fully reckoned with Chaudhuri, who interrogated Advani about his knowledge of India. He was still full of scorn when I saw him weeks later. "These wretched BJP types," he told me, "they call themselves cultural nationalists, speak of an ancient Hindu ethos, yet do not know Sanskrit, know nothing of their own history. Such barbarous people!"

The sayings and beliefs of religious fundamentalists are often taken at face value. As fervent believers, they seem not to have any truck with rational politics. But it is important to realise how pathetically little they know about the religious and spiritual traditions that supposedly inform their political beliefs; and how the superior morality they noisily lay claim to is important to them only so far as it can give legitimacy to resolutely unspiritual ambitions to capture state power in their native countries. This marks most of the fundamentalists as inescapably modern: people quite like us.

The middle-class Hindu nationalists of India are no different. Their agenda – a militaristic nation-state with a culturally homogeneous population of Hindus – resembles not so much anything in the Bhagavad-Gita as it does the nation- and empire-building projects of 19th-century Europe.

They redefine many of their preferred aspects of Indian tradition and culture, and present them as eternal and immutable, interrupted only by alien Muslims and other unclean foreigners. They fear the kind of scholarship that reveals that Indian tradition, like all other traditions, is a man-made thing, vulnerable to endless change, revision, and appropriation.

The education minister in the present Indian government, a promoter of astrology and something called "Vedic Mathematics", recently compared India's most distinguished intellectuals to terrorists. And now DN Jha, a respected historian of ancient India, is under attack for daring to examine the myth of the sacred cow.

His book was turned down by its original publishers in Delhi, who were afraid of provoking the Hindu fanatics who have recently been seen vandalising art exhibitions and burning books. One extremist even sentenced Jha to death in a fatwa – plainly a venerable Hindu tradition, this.

It may be hard at first to figure out what the fuss is about. Certainly, Jha did not set out to provoke. His main thesis – that beef-eating was not unknown to Indians of the pre-Muslim period – is neither new nor startling.

Visitors to India are often baffled by the wide berth given to even those very emaciated and diseased cows that seem to exist for no other purpose than to slow down the traffic on some of the world's most dangerous roads. But the cow wasn't sacred to the nomads and pastoralists from Central Asia who settled North India in the second millennium BC and created the high Brahminical culture of what we now know as Hinduism.

These Indians slaughtered cattle for both food and the elaborate sacrificial rituals prescribed by the Vedas, the first and the holiest Indian scriptures. After they settled down and turned to agriculture, they put a slightly higher value upon the cow: it produced milk, ghee, yoghurt and manure and could be used for ploughing and transport as well.

Indian religion and philosophy after the Vedas rejected the ritual killing of animals. This may have also served to protect the cow. But beef eating was still not considered a sin. It is often casually referred to in the earliest Buddhist texts. The great Indian emperor Ashoka, who instituted non-violence as state policy in the third century BC, did not ban the slaughter of cattle.

It is only in the early medieval period that the eating of beef became a taboo, if only for upper-caste Hindus. But the cow was far from holy. It is significant that no cow-goddesses, or temples to cows, feature in India's anarchically all-inclusive polytheisms.

Jha elaborates on how variously the ancient Indians saw their cattle; and he does so, if not with a graceful prose-style, then with an impressive range of textual evidence.

It is good to have all the relevant facts in one book. But, perhaps, Jha would have better engaged the general reader had he explained in greater detail why upper-caste Hindus have been more passionate about the cow in the last century and a half than at any other time in India's history. Or, as DD Kosambi put it in his Ancient India (1965), why "a modern orthodox Hindu would place beef-eating on the same level as cannibalism, whereas Vedic Brahmins had fattened upon a steady diet of sacrificed beef".

The answer lies in the 19th century, when many newly emergent middle-class Hindus began to see the cow as an important symbol of a glorious tradition defiled by Muslim rule over India. For these Hindus, the cause for banning cow-slaughter became a badge of identity, part of their quest for political power in post-colonial India. Educated Muslims felt excluded from, even scorned by, these Hindu notions of the Indian past; and they developed their own separatist fantasies.

The newly invented traditions helped create two antagonistic political elites, defined primarily by religion, and eventually led to the disastrous partition of India. The nationalist myths are now incarnated by the two nuclear-armed nation-states of India and Pakistan.

DN Jha is their most recent victim; but probably no one has suffered more from them than the poor holy cow that, bereft of a clear economic or religious role, slowly dwindles on Indian roads, until the day it is run over, when it receives the final kindness of being allowed to bleed to death.

· Pankaj Mishra is the author of The Romantics (Picador)

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J.Kuruvachira [Source]
For many Hindus, cow is a symbol of their religius identity. It stands for fertility and the bounty of nature, and a mother symbol revered across sectarian boundaries. Hence the taboo on cow slaughter is one of the unifying factors of Hinduism and it is greatly helping Hindu revivalism in contemporary times. In fact, Hindutva has espoused taboo on cow slaughter as a national issue and it wants to include cow protection as one of the fundamental rights so that it becomes a constitutional obligation on the part of the states to take measures to abolish the practice of cow slaughter.
The orthodox Hindu goes so far as to say that the purificatory ritual of prayaschitra includes partaking of the five elements of the cow: milk, curd, clarified butter (ghee), dung and urine. It has been reported that, in one of the Northern states of India, a businessman has been distributing purified cow urine and ark (a mixture of milk, curd, ghee, urine and dung) claiming that they have medicinal properties (India Today,21 May 2003, 12).
The taboo on cow slaughter is one of the pillars of the Hindutva ideology. According to M.S.Golwalkar, a Hindutva ideologue, cow slaughter in India began with foreign domination. The Muslims started it and the Britishers continued it (M.S.Golwalkar, Bunch of Thoughts, 496). In the past, several futile attempts have been made by proponents of Hindutva to pass a law to ban the slaughter of co ws at the national level. In the NCERT school textbook for Class VI (2002) we read: “Among the animals the cow was given the most important and sacred place. Injuring or killing of cow was prohibited in the Vedic period. The cow was called Aghnya (is not to be killed or injured). Vedas prescribe punishment for injuring or killing cow by expulsion from the kingdom or by death penalty, as the case may be”(Social Sciences Textbook for Class VI, 89.).
Cow slaughter: politicisation of a religious issue 
As already stated, the taboo on cow slaughter is accepted by most orthodox Hindus as an intrinsic element of their religion, and anyone who is not observing this taboo is ipso facto an untouchable. The insistence on the ban on cow slaughter at the national level is a typical case of politicisation of a religious issue. The cow protection movement is an important strategy used by the Hindutva to mobilise the masses. The proponents of Hindutva today manipulate the figure of the cow as the symbol of Hindu identity. In the 1966-1967, the RSS used it to build up votes for the Jan Sangh. The slogan during the Jana Sangh election campaign was: ‘vote Jana Sangh to protect the cow’.
Cow protection societies were a common phenomenon in modern times. Dayananda Saraswati, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and even Mahatma Gandhi stood for cow protection (Y.Ambroise, “Hindutva’s Real Agenda and Strategies”, 82). Golwalkar considered cow as ‘mother’ and the emblem of Hindu devotion and protested against its slaughter (M.S.Golwalkar, Bunch of Thoughts, 59,232,363). Article 48 of the Constitution (part of Directive principles) requires that the states take steps to preserve and improve the breeds and prohibit the slaughter of cows and calves. This mandate is clubbed together with provisions for improving agriculture. Between 1994 and 2000 five unsuccessful attempts have been made to ban cow slaughter in India. But many states are embarrassed to make a ‘religious’ issue a political one. Generally a new legislation normally comes to meet a pressing need or to rectify some legal loopholes. However, in the case of cow protection it is not the case (The Telegraph, 26 March 2003, 12). Besides, many secularists argue that a central ban on cow slaughter would be succumbing to Hindu religious fundamentalism.
Hindutva and the politics of cow slaughter
In post-modern India, the efforts at cow protection have taken many forms. In August 2003 another attempt had been made to introduce a bill in Parliament to ban cow slaughter. But the Government was forced to defer on it (The Hindu, 22 August, 2003, 1). There is a Hindutva lobby spearheaded by the RSS trying to ban factory produced fertiliser and substitute it with cow dung and cow urine (India Today, 23 October, 2000, 38). The VHP demanded declaring cow as the national animal, cow slaughter an non-bailable offence that could incur life imprisonment and even a death sentence, and create a separate ministry to ensure cow protection (The Telegraph, 24 February 2003, 6). The VHP’s senior leader Giriraj Kishore declared that the life of cows was more previous than Dalits’ (The Telegraph, 1 January 2003, 1). In November 2002 at Jhajjar, a Jat dominated town in Gurgaon district of Haryana, five Dalits were killed for allegedly skinning a ‘live’ cow. But later on the post-mortem confirmed that it was a dead cow (The Week, 3 November 2002, 77). Ashok Singhal said: “Hindus are nearly a hundred crore, but they are unable to prevent the killing of cows and that too to feed just about 12 per cent of minorities”(Organiser, 23 March 2003, 10.). In February 2003 A.B.Vajpayee, the present Prime Minister of India, declared in Himachal Pradesh that he would prefer to die rather than eat beef (Organiser, 2 March 2003, 9). He also indicated that export of beef is already banned and that soon cow slaughter would end throughout the country (The Telegraph, 21 February 2003, 6). Recently the Sankaracharya of Jyotispithadeshwar demanded a complete ban on cow slaughter (The Hindu, 1 June 2003, 3).
Cow was not inviolable in Vedic times
But the theory that the in Vedic times there was no cow slaughter is historically inaccurate. Although cow was revered and treated as sacred, it was also offered as food to guests and persons of high status (R.Thapar, The Penguin History of Early India, 115). Besides, in ancient times non-violence (ahimsa) was central focus of Jainism and Buddhism and not of other religious sects, and sacrifice of animals was essential to the Vedic religion (R.Thapar, Cultural Pasts, 868). According to Kunkum Roy, the claim that injuring or killing of cow was prohibited and the Vedas prescribe punishment for injuring or killing cow by expulsion may not be accurate. The Vedic text (which by the definition of the NCERT textbook includes the Veda, Brahmanas, Aranyakas and Upanishads) are not prescriptive. Hence, they do not mention punishment for violations of norms. This was introduced much later in the shastric literature. In addition, there are plenty of archaeological evidence from a number of sites, including Hastianapura, to suggest that cattle were slaughtered for meat in ancient India (K.Roy, “What happened to Confucianism?, 69). B.Walker says: “The cow is spoken of in the Rig-Veda as aghnya, ‘not-slayable’, but this prohibition was chiefly directed against the killing of the milch-cow, and did not preclude the slaughter of bulls and cows for a variety of religious and communal reasons” (B.Walker, Hindu World, I,255).
Vedic Aryans ate beef
Consumption of beef was clearly prevalent among the Vedic Aryans. Romila Thapar observes that to deny, for example, that on certain occasions the Aryans ate beef and drank alcohol is to deny the evidence of both literary and archaeological sources (R.Thapar, Communalism and the Writing of Ancient Indian History, 12). K.N.Panikkar argues that, the scholarship on the subject of Aryans eating beef is abundant ― both literary and archaeological ― and it has been conclusively shown that beef was part of the food of the Aryans, particularly on ritual occasions and when entertaining important guests (K.N.Panikkar (ed.), The Concerned Indian’s Guide to Communalism, xxxii, note 14). B. Walker says: “Several Vedic sacrifices demanded the slaughter of bulls, after which a piece of the flesh was eaten by the sacrificer. Beef in those days formed part of the regular diet of the Hindu, rishis and Brahmins excluded” (B.Walker, Hindu World, I, 255).
Cow meat came to be prohibited because cattle provided both labour and fertilizer, besides milk, in an agricultural society. Ritual recognition of the cow as a holy animal began spreading during the 6th century B.C. under the influence of Jainism. However, it was only in the brahmanical period in the early centuries of the present era that the worship of the cow took on the aspects of a basic belief in Hinduism (B.Walker, Hindu World,I,256). Some scholars even say that when Hinduism sought internal reinforcements in the wake of the Mughal invasion, the cow became a symbol of religious and cultural self-assertion. To day, as an issue, cow-protection is strong mainly in northern India, and it is one of the reasons for considering this part of India as the ‘cow belt’(T.J.S.George, The Enquire Dictionary, 419).
Taboo on cow slaughter as a myth to indoctrinate the masses
Hindutva ideologues invent many myths and they diligently employs them in order to indoctrinate the Indian masses with false notions and utopias. The belief that taboo on cow slaughter existed since Vedic times is one such myth. Myths are designed to make the Hindutva ideology reach the masses by appealing to their emotions. These myths have also the power to stimulate animal passions, diffuse hatred and awaken the villain dormant among certain groups of Indians. Everyone knows that Hindutva’s ultimate aim is the creation of a Hindu nation based on a monolithic Hindu culture, and the methodology for achieving this end is summed up by L.K. Advani who quotes with a rare knowledge of Adolf Hitler who said: “Success is the sole earthly judge of right and wrong’” (L.K.Advani, A Prisoner’s Scrap-Book, 66). In addition, the forms of the myths, the message they convey and the ideals they project reveal that Hinduism has vanquished intellectually and spiritually. But the realisation that the myths of the Hindutva are fabrications intended to brainwash the masses, especially the ignorant and the illiterate, for the political advantage of the upper caste Hindu elite, is already half the battle against the dubious ideology of Hindutva.
Ban on cow slaughter as a misplaced national priority
The attempt to impose a ban on cow slaughter at a national level is a clear case of the present government’s misplaced national priority. Many genuine national priorities such as, eradication of poverty, hunger, illiteracy, building up of infrastructure for health care and sanitation, removal of unemployment, caste system, untoucability, gender discrimination, corruption, etc., are sidelined and in their place protection of the ‘holy’ cow, problem of beef eating, legislation of anti-conversion bills, and the like, have been presented as major national concerns.
Can India be saved from the beef battle?
What India needs today is an enlightened public that can distinguish myth from reality, fact from fiction and national issues from sectarian ones. As long Indians continue to consider taboo on cow slaughter and ‘beef battle’ as the most important national issues, India will never rise to the heights because of the communal and the superficial nature of the so-called national issues. On the other hand, if the people of India are liberated from the narrow-minded, outdated, and sectarian ideology of Hindutva ― which for example, upholds taboo on cow slaughter as one of the major national issues ― India has a chance for progress. Hence, what India needs today is persons with rational orientation and scientific temper who have the courage to explode the myths of Hindutva and expose the falsehood it propagates. But are there Indians around who possess such a calibre? Until such people come to the fore, Hindutva will continue to fabricate more myths and utilise them to enslave and indoctrinate the illiterate, the credulous and the naïve, until a new form of slavery is fully established in India, namely, slavery to Hindutva and its many myths.
(The author is a senior lecturer in Philosophy of religion, Phenomenology of religion and Indian culture. He can be contacted at
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Objections to the view re: beef eating in India

Harsh Vora's comment here:


This slanderous campaign has been unleashed by different vested interests to embarrass Hindus around the world citing specific references from the Vedas.

This also comes handy in convincing poor and illiterate Indians to give up their faith on the grounds that their fundamental holy books – the Vedas – contain all the inhuman elements like denigration of women, meat-eating, polygamy, casteism and above all – beef eating.
The Vedas are also accused of animal sacrifice in sacrificial ceremonies popularly known as the YAJNA. Interestingly a section of home-bred intellectuals claiming to have deep study of ancient India has also come up, who cite references from works of western indologists to prove such unholy content in the Vedas.
Saying that the Vedas permit beef-eating and cow-slaughter amounts to striking a lethal blow to a Hindu’s soul. Respect for cow forms a core tenet of Hinduism. Once you are able to convince him of flaws in the foundation of this core tenet and make him feel guilty, he becomes an easy prey for the predator faiths. There are millions of ill-informed Hindus who are not empowered to counter argue and hence quietly surrender.
The vested interests that malign the Vedas are not confined to foreign and home-bred indologists alone. A certain class among Hindus exploited the rest of the population including the socially and economically weaker sections by forcing them to believe and follow what they said in the name of Vedas or else face the wrath.
All the slanders heaped upon the Vedas can be attributed mainly to the interpretations of commentaries written by Mahidhar, Uvat and Saayan in the medieval times; and to what Vam-margis or the Tantra cult propagated in their books in the name of the Vedas.
In due course the falsehood spread far and wide and they became even more deep rooted when western scholars with their half baked knowledge of Sanskrit transliterated these interpretations of commentaries of Sayan and Mahidhar, in the name of translating the Vedas.
However, they lacked the pre-requisite understanding of Shiksha (Phonetics), Vyakarana (Grammar), Nirukta (Philology), Nighantu (Vocabulary), Chhanda (Prosody), Jyotish (Astronomy), Kalpa and so on that are critical for correct interpretation of the Vedas.
The purpose behind this series of videos is to objectively evaluate all such misconceptions about the Vedas – the foundation of human knowledge and establish their piety, sanctity, great ideals and philosophy that cater not only to Hindus but to every human being without bars, bias or discrimination of any kind.
Section 1: No  violence against animals
Yasmintsarvaani bhutaanyaatmaivaabhuudvijaanatah
Tatra ko mohah kah shokah ekatvamanupasyatah
Yajurveda 40.7

“Those who see all beings as souls do not feel infatuation or anguish at their sight, for they experience oneness with them”.
How could people who believed in the doctrines of indestructibility, transmigration  dare to kill living animals in yajnas? They might be seeing the souls of their own near and dear ones of bygone days residing in those living beings.
Anumantaa vishasitaa nihantaa krayavikrayee
Samskartaa chopahartaa cha khadakashcheti ghaatakaah
Manusmrithi 5.51

Those who permit slaying of animals; those who bring animals for slaughter; those who slaughter; those who sell meat; those who purchase meat; those who prepare dish out of it; those who serve that
meat and those who eat are all murderers.
Breehimattam yavamattamatho maashamatho tilam
Esha vaam bhaago nihito ratnadheyaaya dantau maa hinsishtam pitaram maataram cha
Atharvaveda 6.140.2

O teeth! You eat rice, you eat barley, you gram and you eat sesame. These cereals are specifically meant for you. Do not kill those who are capable of being fathers and mothers.
Ya aamam maansamadanti paurusheyam cha ye kravih
Garbhaan khaadanti keshavaastaanito naashayaamasi
Atharvaveda 8.6.23

We ought to destroy those who eat cooked as well as uncooked meat, meat involving destruction of males and females, foetus and eggs.
Anago hatya vai bheema kritye
Maa no gaamashvam purusham vadheeh
Atharvaveda 10.1.29
It is definitely a great sin to kill innocents. Do not kill our cows, horses and people.
How could there be justification of cow and other animals being killed when killing is so clearly prohibited in the Vedas?
Aghnyaa yajamaanasya pashoonpahi
Yajurveda 1.1

“O human! animals are Aghnya – not to be killed. Protect the animals”
Yajurveda 6.11 

Protect the animals.
Dwipaadava Chatushpaatpaahi
Yajurveda 14.8

Protect the bipeds and quadrupeds!
Kravy da –kravya[ meat obtained from slaughter] + Ada [ the eater]—the meat eater.
Pisacha — pisita [meat] +asa [eater]—the meat eater.
Asutrpa — Asu [breath of life] + trpa [one who satisfies himself on]—one who takes others life for his meals.
Garba da and Anda da – the foetus and egg eaters.
Mans da – the meat eaters
Meat eaters have always been looked down in Vedic literature. They have been known as Rakshasas, Pisacha and so on….All these words are synonyms of demons or devils that have been out-cast from the civilized human society.

Urjam no dhehi dwipade chatushpade
Yajurveda 11.83

“May all bipeds and quadrupeds gain strength and nourishment”
This mantra is recited by Hindus before every meal. How could the same philosophy which prays for well-being of every soul in every moment of life, approve of killing animals?
Section 1: No  violence in Yajna
Yajna never meant animal sacrifice in the sense popularly understood. Yajna in the Vedas meant a noble deed or the highest purifying action.

Adhvara iti Yajnanaama – Dhvaratihimsaakarmaa tatpratishedhah
Nirukta 2.7

According to Yaaska Acharya, one of the synonyms of Yajna in Nirukta or the Vedic philology is Adhvara.
Dhvara means an act with himsa or violence. And therefore a-dhvara means an act involving no himsa or no violence. There are a large number of such usage of Adhvara in the Vedas.
In the post-Mahabharata period, misinterpretation of the Vedas and interpolations in other scriptures took place at various points intime. Acharya Shankar reestablished the Vedic values to an extent.
In the more recent times, Swami Dayanand Saraswati – known as the grandfather of modern India – interpreted the Vedas as per thecorrect rules of the language and authentic evidences. His literature, which includes commentary on the Vedas, Satyarth Prakash loosely translated as Light of Truth, An Introduction to the Vedas and other texts led to widespread social reformation based on Vedic philosophy and dispelling of myths surrounding the Vedas.
Let us discover what the Vedas have to say on Yajna.
Agne yam yagnamadhvaram vishwatah pari bhuurasi
Sa id deveshu gacchati
Rigveda 1.1.4

O lord of effulgence! The non-violent Yajna, you prescribe from all sides, is beneficial for all, touches divine proportions and is accepted by noble souls.
The Rigveda describes Yajna as Adhvara  or non violent throughout. Same is the case with all the other Vedas. How can it be then concluded that the Vedas permit violence or slaughter of animals?
The biggest accusation of cattle and cow slaughter comes in the context of the Yajnas that derived their names from different cattle like the Ashwamedh Yajna, the Gomedha Yajna and the Nar-medh Yajna. Even by the wildest stretch of the imagination the word Medha would not mean slaughter in this context.
It’s interesting to note what Yajurveda says about a horse
Imam ma himsirekashafam pashum kanikradam vaajinam vaajineshu
Yajurveda 13.48

Do not slaughter this one hoofed animal that neighs and who goes with a speed faster than most of the animals.
Aswamedha does not mean horse sacrifice at Yajna. Instead the Yajurveda clearly mentions that a horse ought not to be slaughtered.
In Shathapatha, Ashwa is a word for the nation or empire
The word medha does not mean slaughter. It denotes an act done in accordance to the intellect Alternatively it could mean consolidation, as evident from the root meaning of medha i.e. medhru san-ga-me
Raashtram vaa ashwamedhah
Annam hi gau
Agnirvaa ashwah
Aajyam medhah
Swami Dayananda Saraswati wrote in his Light of Truth:
A Yajna dedicated to the glory, wellbeing and prosperity of the Rashtra the nation or empire is known as the Ashwamedh yajna.
“To keep the food pure or to keep the senses under control, or to make the food pure or to make a good use of the rays of Sun or keep the earth free from impurities[clean] is called Gomedha Yajna”.
“The word Gau also means the Earth and the yajna dedicated to keep the Earth the environment clean is called Gomedha Yajna”
“The cremation of the body of a dead person in accordance with the principles laid down in the Vedas is called Naramedha Yajna”.
Section 3: No beef in Vedas
Not only the Vedas are against animal slaughter but also vehemently oppose and prohibit cow slaughter.Yajurveda forbids killing of cows, for they provide energizing food for human beings

Ghrtam duhaanaamaditim janaayaagne maa himsiheeh
Yajurveda 13.49

Do not kill cows and bulls who always deserve to be protected.

Aare gohaa nrhaa vadho vo astu
Rigveda 7.56.17

In Rigveda cow slaughter has been declared a heinous crime equivalent to human murder and it has been said that those who commits this crime should be punished.
Sooyavasaad bhagavatee hi bhooyaa atho vayam bhagvantah syaama
Addhi trnamaghnye vishwadaaneem piba shuddhamudakamaacharantee
Rigveda 1.164.40 or Atharv 7.73.11 or Atharv 9.10.20

The Aghnya cows – which are not to be killed under any circumstances– may keep themselves healthy by use of pure water and green grass, so that we may be endowed with virtues, knowledge and wealth.

The Vedic Lexicon, Nighantu, gives amongst other synonyms of Gau[ or cow] the words Aghnya. Ahi, and Aditi. Yaska the 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 the animal ought not to be put to tortures. These words appear frequently throughout the Vedas in context of the cow.
Aghnyeyam saa vardhataam mahate soubhagaaya
Rigveda 1.164.27
Cow – The aghnya – brings us health and prosperity
Suprapaanam Bhavatvaghnyaayaah
Rigveda 5.83.8
There should be excellent facility for pure water for Aghnya Cow
Yah paurusheyena kravishaa samankte yo ashwena pashunaa yaatudhaanah
Yo aghnyaayaa bharati ksheeramagne teshaam sheershaani harasaapi vrishcha
Rigveda 10.87.16

Those who feed on human, horse or animal flesh and those who destroy milk-giving Aghnya cows should be severely punished.
Vimucchyadhvamaghnyaa devayaanaa aganma
Yajurveda 12.73
The Aghnya cows and bulls bring you prosperity
Maa gaamanaagaamaditim vadhishta
Rigveda 8.101.15
Do not kill the cow. Cow is innocent and aditi – that ought not to be cut into pieces
Antakaaya goghaatam
Yajurveda 30.18

Destroy those who kill cows
Yadi no gaam hansi yadyashwam yadi poorusham
Tam tvaa seesena vidhyaamo yatha no so aveeraha
Atharvaveda 1.16.4

If someone destroys our cows, horses or people, kill him with a bullet of lead.
Vatsam jaatamivaaghnyaa
Atharvaveda 3.30.1

Love each other as the Aghnya – non-killable cow – loves its calf
Dhenu sadanam rayeenaam
Atharvaveda 11.1.34

Cow is fountainhead of all bounties
The entire 28th Sukta or Hymn of 6th Mandal of Rigveda sings the glory of cow.
Aa gaavo agnamannuta bhadramakrantseedantu
Bhooyobhooyo rayimidasya vardhayannabhinne
Na taa nashanti na dabhaati taskaro naasaamamitro vyathiraa dadharshati

Na taa arvaa renukakaato ashnute na samskritramupa yanti taa abhi

Gaavo bhago gaava indro me achhaan

Yooyam gaavo medayathaa

Maa vah stena eeshata maaghanshasah
1. Everyone should ensure that cows are free from miseries and kept healthy.
2. God blesses those who take care of cows.
3. Even the enemies should not use any weapon on cows
4. No one should slaughter the cow
5. Cow brings prosperity and strength
6. If cows keep healthy and happy, men and women shall also keep disease free and prosperous
7. May the cow eat green grass and pure water. May they not be killed and bring prosperity to us.
What more proofs does one need to understand the high esteem in whichnot only the cow but each living being is held in the Vedas.
The learned audience can decide for themselves from these evidences that the Vedas are completely against any inhuman practice… to top it all the Beef and Cow slaughter.
There is no Beef in Vedas.
1.    Rigveda Bhashya – Commentary on Rigveda by Swami Dayanand Saraswati
2.    Yajurveda Bhashya – Commentary on Yajurveda by Swami Dayanand Saraswati
3.    No Beef in Vedas by BD Ukhul
4.    Vedon ka Yatharth Swaroop (True nature of Vedas) by Pt Dharmadeva Vidyavachaspati
5.    All 4 Veda Samhita by Pt Damodar Satvalekar
6.    Pracheen Bharat me Gomamsa – Ek Sameeksha (Beef in Ancient India – an analysis) by Geeta Press, Gorakhpur
7.    The Myth of Holy Cow – by DN Jha
8.    Hymns of Atharvaveda – Griffith
9.    Scared Books of the east – Max Muller
10.    Rigveda translations by Williams/Jones
11.    Sanskrit English Dictionary – Monier Williams
12.    Commentary on Vedas by Dayanand Sansthan
13.    Western Indologists – a study of motives by Pt Bhagvadutt
14.     Satyarth Prakash by Swami Dayanand Saraswati
15.     Introduction to Vedas by Swami Dayanand Saraswati
16.     Cloud over understanding of Vedas by BD Ukhul
17.    Shathpath Brahman
18.     Nirukta – Yaska Acharya
19.     Dhatupath – Panini
Addendum on 14 April 2010:
After this article, there was severe reaction from various sources who cannot live with the fact that Vedas and ancient culture of our nation could have been more ideal than their current communistic ideals. I received several mails that tried to refute the articles by citing additional references that support beef-eating. These include 2 mantras from Rigveda, and some Shlokas from Manu Smriti and a few other texts. An example is the comment from Avtar Gill on this page itself. On these, I have to say the following:
a. The article has given evidence from Manu Smriti itself which states that even one who permits killing is a murderer. Thus all these additional shlokas are either from adulterated Manu Smriti or misinterpreted by twisting of words. I recommend them to read Manu Smriti by Dr Surendra Kumar which is available from
b. A typical example of foul play by those hell-bent on justifying their obsession with beef in ancient texts, is to translate Mansa as ‘meat’. In reality, ‘Mansa’ is a generic word used to denote pulp. Meat is called ‘Mansa’ because it is pulpy. So mere presence of ‘Mansa’ does not mean it refers to meat.
c. The other texts referred by them are among dubious ones not considered authoritative evidence. Their modus operandi is simple – state anything written in Sanskrit as Dharma and translate the way they want to prove whatever they want. This is how they have been fooling us all by filling our textbooks with all unverified demeaning claims.
d. With regards to Vedas, they could come up with two mantras that supposedly justify beef eating. Let us evaluate them:
Claim: Rigveda (10/85/13) declares, “On the occasion of a girl’s marriage oxen and cows are slaughtered.”
Fact: The mantra states that in winter, the rays of sun get weakened and then get strong again in spring. The word used for sun-rays in ‘Go’ which also means cow and hence the mantra can also be translated by making ‘cow’ and not ‘sun-rays’ as the subject. The word used for ‘weakened’ is ‘Hanyate’ which can also mean killing. But if that be so, why would the mantra go further and state in next line (which is deliberately not translated) that in spring, they start regaining their original form.
How can a cow killed in winter regain its health in spring? This amply proves how ignorant and biased communists malign Vedas.
Claim: Rigveda (6/17/1) states that “Indra used to eat the meat of cow, calf, horse and buffalo.”
Fact: The mantra states that brilliant scholars enlighten the world in the manner that wood enhances the fire of Yajna. I fail to understand from where did Avtar Gill and his friends discover Indra, cow, calf, horse and buffalo in this mantra!
In summary, I continue the challenge to everyone – cite one single mantra from Vedas that justify beef-eating and I shall be eager to embrace any faith that he or she may decide for me. If not, they should agree to revert back to the Vedas.
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Paradox of the Indian Cow: Attitudes to Beef Eating in Early India

Paradox of the Indian Cow: 
Attitudes to Beef Eating in Early India


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Extracts from D.N.Jha’s Myth of the Holy Cow. [And download it free – an external link]

[ADDENDUM: I've found a free download for this book: Download it from here]. 


(Source: here)

(concluding chapter of DN Jha’s The Myth of the Holy Cow)

Several points emerge from our limited survey of the textual evidence, mostly drawn from Brahmanical sources drawn from the Rgveda onwards. In the first place, it is clear that the early Aryans, who migrated to India from outside, brought along with them certain cultural elements. After their migration into the Indian subcontinent pastoralism, nomadism and animal sacrifice remained characteristic features of their lives for several centuries until sedentary field agriculture became the mainstay of their livelihood. Animal sacrifices were very common, the most important of them being the famous asvamedha and rajasuya. These and several other major sacrifices involved the killing of animals including cattle, which constituted the chief form of the wealth of the early Aryans. Not surprisingly, they prayed for cattle and sacrificed them to propitiate their gods. The Vedic gods had no marked dietary preferences. Milk, butter, barley, oxen, goats and sheep were their usual food, though some of them seem to have had their special preferences. Indra had a special liking for bulls. Agni was not a tippler like Indra, but was fond of the flesh of horses, bulls and cows. The toothless Pusan, the guardian of the roads, ate mush as a Hobson’s choice. Soma was the name of an intoxicant but, equally important, of a god, and killing animals (including cattle) for him was basic to most of the Rgvedic yajnas. The Maruts and the asvins were also offered cows. The Vedas mention about 250 animals out of which at least 50 were deemed fit for sacrifice, by implication for divine as well as human consumption. The Taittiriya Brahmana categorically tells us: Verily the cow is food(atho annam vai gauh) and Yajnavalkya‘s insistence on eating the tender (amsala) flesh of the cow is well known. Although there is reason to believe that a brahmana’s cow may not have been killed, that is no index of its inherent sanctity in the Vedic period or even later.

The subsequent Brahmanical texts (e.g. Grhyasutras and Dharmasutras) provide ample evidence of the eating of flesh including beef. Domestic rites and rituals associated with agricultural and other activities involved the killing of cattle. The ceremonial welcome of guests (sometimes known as arghya but generally as madhuparka) consisted not only of a meal of a mixture of curds and honey but also of the flesh of a cow or bull. Early lawgivers go to the extent of making meat mandatory in the madhuparka — an injunction more or less dittoed by several later legal texts. The sacred thread ceremony for its part was not all that sacred; for it was necessary for a snataka to wear an upper garment of cowhide.

The slaughter of animals formed an important component of the cult of the dead in the Vedic texts. The thick fat of the cow was used to cover the corpse and a bull was burnt along with it to enable the departed to ride in the nether world. Funerary rites include the feeding of brahmanas after the prescribed period and quite often the flesh of the cow or ox was offered to the dead. The textual prescriptions indicate the degree of satisfaction obtained by the ancestors’ souls according to the animal offered — cow meat could keep them content for at least a year! The Vedic and the post-Vedic texts often mention the killing of animals including the kine in the ritual context. There was, therefore, a relationship between the sacrifice and sustenance. But this does not necessarily mean that different types of meat were eaten only if offered in sacrifice. Archaeological evidence, in fact, suggests non-ritual killing of cattle. This is indicative of the fact that beef and other animal flesh formed part of the dietary culture of people and that edible flesh was not always ritually consecrated.

The idea of ahimsa seems to have made its first appearance in the Upanisadic thought and literature. There is no doubt that Gautama Buddha and Mahavira vehemently challenged the efficacy of the Vedic animal sacrifice, although a general aversion to beef and other kinds of animal flesh is not borne out by Buddhist and Jaina texts. Despite the fact that the Buddha espoused the cause of ahimsa, he is said to have died after eating a meal of pork (sukaramaddava). Asoka’s compassion for animals is undeniable, though cattle were killed for food during the Mauryan period as is evident from the Arthasastra of Kautilya and Asoka’s own list of animals exempt from slaughter, which, significantly, does not include the cow. The Buddhists in India and outside continued to eat various types of meat including beef even in later times, often inviting unsavoury criticism from the Jainas. In Lahul, for example, Buddhists eat beef, albeit secretly, and in Tibet they eat cows, sheep, pigs and yak.

Like Buddhism, Jainism also questioned the efficacy of animal sacrifice and enthusiastically took up the cause of non-violence. But meat eating was so common in Vedic and post-Vedic times that even Mahavira, the founder of Jainism, is said to have eaten poultry. Perhaps the early Jainas were no strict vegetarians. A great Jaina logician of the eighth century tells us that monks did not have objection to eating flesh or fish given to them by the laity. In spite of all this, there is no doubt that meat became a strong taboo among the followers of Jainism. Its canonical and non-canonical literature provides overwhelming evidence on the subject. The inflexibility of the Jaina attitude is deeply rooted in the basic tenets of Jaina philosophy, which, at least in theory, is impartial in its respect for all forms of life without according any special status to the cow. Thus, although both Buddhism, and, to a greater extent, Jainism contributed to the growth of ahimsa doctrine, neither seems to have developed the sacred cow concept independently.

Despite the Upanisadic, Buddhist and Jaina advocacy of ahimsa, the practice of ritual and random killing of animals including cattle continued in the post-Mauryan centuries. Although Manu (200 BC-AD 200) extols the virtue ofahimsa, he provides a list of creatures whose flesh was edible. He exempts the camel from being killed for food, but does not grant this privilege to the cow. On the contrary, he opines that animal slaughter in accordance with Vedic practice does not amount to killing, thus giving sanction to the ritual slaughter off cattle. He further recommends meat eating on occasions like madhuparka and sraddha. One may not be far from the truth if one interprets Manu’s injunctions as a justification for ritual cattle slaughter and beef eating, as indeed a later commentator does.

Next in point of time is the law book of Yajnavalkya (AD 100-300) who not only enumerates the kosher animals and fish but also states that a learned brahmana (srotriya) should be welcomed with a big ox or goat, delicious food and sweet words. That the practice of flesh eating and killing cattle for food was customary right through the Gupta period and later is sufficiently borne out by references to it found in the Puranas and the Epics. Several Puranictexts, we are told, bear testimony to the feeding of brahmanas with beef at the funeral ceremony, though some of them prohibit the killing of a cow in honour of the guest and others recommend buffalo sacrifice for the goddess atDurga PujaNavaratri, or Dasara.

The evidence from the epics is quite eloquent. Most of the characters in the Mahabharata are meat eaters.Draupadi promises to Jayadratha and his retinue that Yudhisthira would provide them with a variety of game including gayalsambara and buffalo. The Pandavas seem to have survived on meat during their exile. TheMahabharata also makes a laudatory reference to the king Rantideva in whose kitchen two thousand cows were butchered each day, their flesh, along with grain, being distributed among the brahmanas. Similarly the Ramayanaof Valmiki makes frequent references to the killing of animals including the cow for sacrifice and for food. Ramawas born after his father Dasaratha performed a big sacrifice involving the slaughter of a large number of animals declared edible by the DharmasastrasSita, assures the Yamuna, while crossing it that she would worship the river with a thousand cows and a hundred jars of wine when Rama accomplishes his vow. Her fondness for deer meat drives her husband crazy enough to kill Marica, a deer in disguise. Bharadvaja welcomes Rama by slaughtering a fatted calf in his honour.

Non-vegetarian dietary practices find an important place in the early Indian medical treatises, whose chronology broadly coincides with that of the law books of Manu and Yajnavalkya, the early Puranas and the two epics.CarakaSusruta and Vagbhata provide an impressive list of fish and animals and all three speak of the therapeutic uses of beef. The continuity of the tradition of eating beef is also echoed in early Indian secular literature till late times. In the Gupta period, Kalidasa alludes to the story of Rantideva who killed numerous cows every day in his kitchen. More than two centuries later, Bhavabhuti refers to two instances of guest reception, which included the killing of heifer. In the tenth century, Rajasekhara mentions the practice of killing an ox or a goat in honour of a guest. Later Sriharsa mentions a variety of non-vegetarian delicacies served at a dazzling marriage feast and refers to two interesting instances of cow killing. At that time, however, Somesvara shows clear preference for pork over other meats and does not mention beef at all.

While the above references, albeit limited in number, indicate that the ancient practice of killing the kine for food continued till about the twelfth century, there is considerable evidence in the commentaries on the Kavya literature and the earlier Dharmasastra texts to show that the Brahmanical writers retained its memory till very late times. Among the commantators on the secular literature, Candupandita from Gujarat, Narahari from Telengana in Andhra Pradesh, and Mallinatha who is associated with the king Devaraya II of Vidyanagara (Vijayanagara), clearly indicate that, in earlier times, the cow was done to death for rituals and hence for food. As late as the eighteenth century Ghanasyama, a minister for a Tanjore ruler, states that the killing of cow in honour of a guest was the ancient rule.

Similarly the authors of Dharmasastra commentaries and religious digests from the ninth century onwards keep alive the memory of the archaic practice of beef eating and some of them even go so far as to permit beef in specific circumstances. For example, Medhatithi, probably a Kashmiri brahmana, says that a bull or ox was killed in honour of a ruler or anyone deserving to be honoured, and unambiguously allows eating the flesh of cow (govyajamamsam) on ritual occasions. Several other writers of exegetical works seem to lend support to this view, though sometimes indirectly. Viswarupa of Malwa, probably a pupil of SankaraVijnanesvara who may have lived not far fromKalyana in modern Karnataka, Haradatta, also a southerner (daksinatya), Lakshmidhara, a minister of theGahadwala king HemadriNarasimha a minister of the Yadavas of Devagiri, and Mitra Misra from Gopacala(Gwalior) support the practice of killing a cow on special occasions. Thus even when the Dharmasastracommentators view cow killing with disfavour, they generally admit that it was an ancient practice but to be avoided in the kali age.

While the above evidence is indicative of the continuity of the practice of beef eating, the lawgivers had already begun to discourage it around the middle of the first millennium when society began to be gradually feudalized, leading to major socio-cultural transformation. This phase of transition, first described in the epic and puranicpassages as the kaliyuga, i.e. kalivarjyas. While the list of kalivarjyas swelled up over time, most of the relevant texts mention cow slaughter, as forbidden in the kaliyuga. According to some early medieval lawgivers a cow killer was an untouchable and one incurred sin even by talking to him. They increasingly associated cow killing and beef eating with the proliferating number of untouchable castes. It is, however, interesting that some of them consider these acts as no more than minor behavioural aberrations.

Equally interesting is the fact that almost all the prescriptive texts enumerate cow killing as a minor sin (upapataka), not a major offence (mahapataka). Moreover, the Smrti texts provide easy escape routes by laying down expiatory procedures for intentional as well as inadvertent killing of the cow. This may imply that cattle slaughter may not have been uncommon in society, and the atonements were prescribed merely to discourage eating of beef. To what extent the Dharmasastric injunctions were effective, however, remains a matter of speculation; for the possibility of at least some people eating beef on the sly cannot be ruled out. As recently as the late nineteenth century it was alleged that Swami Vivekananda ate beef during his stay in America, though he vehemently defended his action. Also, Mahatma Gandhi spoke of the hypocrisy of the orthodox Hindus who 

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Victory for Hindu fundamentalists: Education council unhappy with move

Victory for Hindu fundamentalists: Education council unhappy with move
Jun. 20, 2006. 01:00 AM

Calcutta—References to the beef-eating past of ancient Hindus have been deleted from Indian school textbooks following a three-year campaign by Hindu hardliners.

For almost a century, history books for primary and middle schools told how in ancient India, beef was considered a great delicacy among Hindus — especially among the highest caste — and how veal was offered to Hindu deities during special rituals.

"Our past" chapters in the texts also detailed how cows used to be slaughtered by the Brahmins, or upper caste Hindus, during festivals and while welcoming guests to the home.

The passages that offended the Hindus, who now shun beef, have been deleted from new versions of the books delivered to schoolchildren last week.

However, the National Council of Educational Research and Training, which is responsible for the texts, now seems unhappy with the changes that were agreed to by a former council director.

Council lawyer Prashant Bhushan said ancient Hindus were indeed beef-eaters, and the council should not have distorted historical facts by deleting the chapters.

Noted Calcutta historian Ashish Bose added: "NCERT has committed a mistake by dropping those facts from the textbooks. It is a victory for Hindu fundamentalists who have lodged a misinformation campaign. Historians should unite against this cowardly move by the council."

Hardline Hindu activists, who consider cattle holy and have been seeking a ban on slaughter by Muslims and Christians, said the beef-eating references were meant to insult Hindus.

In 2003, when the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party held federal power, the educational council decided to delete the references. Congress and leftist opposition parties protested, but the move was approved by Jagmohan Singh Rajput, then council director.

The process took longer than expected, however, and Hindu fundamentalists alleged last year that the council was dragging its feet.

Two activists asked the Delhi High Court to order the immediate deletion of the chapters from new textbooks, but the court has not ruled on the suit.

When the litigation was filed, firebrand Hindu leader Praveen Togadia, general secretary of the World Hindu Council, declared: "Most of the facts in the chapters are not true. Some low-caste dalit (untouchable) Hindus used to eat beef. Brahmins never ate it."

Accusing textbook author Ram Sharan Sharma of shoddy research, Togadia said: "The chapter is poisoning the minds of little children. They will not respect their own religion in future. They will not turn out to be good Hindus and it will cause harm to the nation."

Dwijendra Narayan Jha, a history professor at Delhi University, says there is plenty of evidence showing ancient Hindus, including the Brahmins, slaughtered cows and ate beef.

"There are clear evidences in the Rig Veda, the most sacred Hindu scripture (from the second millennium BC), that the cow used to be sacrificed by Hindus during religious rituals. Ancient Hindu text Manusmriti lists the cow as one of several animals whose meat can be eaten by Hindus. The great epic, the Mahabharata, too speaks of beef being a delicacy served to esteemed guests," he said.

Jha's 2002 book, The Myth of the Holy Cow, presented historical evidence that Hindus ate beef long before the Muslim invasions in the 10th century, and provoked such a furor it was banned. The professor, himself a Hindu, feared attacks by fundamentalists and was given police protection.

The slaughter of cattle is banned in most Indian states, but not in Kerala, West Bengal and seven northeastern states. However, Muslims — the largest minority in the country — sometimes ignore state bans and slaughter cattle, which can spark communal tension.

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Proofs that beef was eaten by ancient Hindus and is eaten by many Hindus today

I started this website in 2011 to compile and assess the evidence for or against beef eating in ancient India. By mid-2014 I had formed a CONCLUSIVE VIEW on this matter, summarised in the following statements:

1) The meat of barren cows (no longer able to give milk) was LEGAL AND WIDELY EATEN – as documented in the Arthashastra.

2) Male calves and bulls were regularly eaten in ancient India.

3) Any cattle that naturally died could be eaten/ its meat dried and sold.

4) There has NEVER been any restriction on eating buffalo meat in Hinduism


Download my manuscript that compiles my findings (including archaeological) below (in Microsoft Word):

Sanjeev Sabhlok

I am one of the few GENUINE Hindus left in the world – a man sworn to SCEPTICISM in the tradition of Charvaka and Chanakya. A scientific Hindu.

HINDUS ARE DIRECTLY RESPONSIBLE FOR EXTREME TORTURE OF COWS IN INDIA. Click anywhere on this sentence to download my slides.


BJP makes HUGE profits from selling beef. Its “gomata” lynchings are intended to force the price of cows to fall.

There’s 30,000 crore rupees to be made from cow beef in India. Vultures like BJP invent ways to get hold of it.


I found a free internet download link for DN Jha’s book, Myth of the Holy Cow. Download here.


A nice take on the recent beef ban in India. Five years for eating beef, but you can become PM of India if manage to get a lot of people killed. [Download my book on Modi: The Truth about Modi]



India the world’s largest beef exporter.

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