Srila Prabhupada on Cow Protection
“My Lord, You are the well-wisher of the cows and the brahmanas, and You are the well-wisher of the entire human society and the world.” (Vishnu Purana 1.19.65)
Five thousand years ago, the Supreme Personality of Godhead appeared to perform many pastimes here on earth. He spent much of His youth herding the calves and cows of Vrindavan. About 4,500 years later, Sri ChaitanyaMahaprabhu appeared in MayapurDham. Since He was Krsna Himself in the mood of Radharani, His greatest devotee, He was especially merciful to all living entities, and also had deep love for the cows. The following verses are from Chaitanya-charitamrita (Madhya 17.194-196):
“When Sri ChaitanyaMahaprabhu passed through Vrindavan, herds of grazing cows saw Him and immediately surrounding Him, began to moo very loudly. Seeing the herds approach Him, The Lord was stunned with ecstatic love. The cows began to lick His body out of great affection. Becoming pacified, Sri ChaitanyaMahaprabhu began to caress the cows, and the cows, being unable to give up His company, went with Him.”
Lord Chaitanya, being Krishna Himself, told an astrologer:
“In My last birth, I was born in the family of cowherd men, and I gave protection to the calves and cows. Because of such pious activities, I have now become the son of a brahmana.” (C.C.Madhya 17.111)
Lord Chaitanya was referring to His appearance of Krishna in Vrindavan and, playing the part of a jiva soul, spoke of how association and service with the cows can only enhance one’s material and spiritual life.
One may ask, “What exactly is so important about the cow?” Here are some scriptural quotes that can illustrate her glories:
In the Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.21.18, Govardhan Hill is glorified as the best devotee because of supplying water, soft grass, caves, fruits, flowers, and vegetables to Krsna, Balarama, the cowherd boys, and the cows.
In the Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.16.10, Krsna Himself states, “The brahmanas, the cows, and the defenseless creatures are My own body.”
All throughout the Vedic literature, it is mentioned how dear brahminical culture and cows are to Krsna, and how important they are in human civilization.
“Lord Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is the prime protector of brahminical culture and the cow. Without respecting these two, one cannot realize the science of God, and without this knowledge, welfare activities or humanitarian propaganda cannot be successful.” (SB 4.21.38)
It is said that cows and brahmanas belong to the same family. They are both in the mode of goodness. The brahmanas are qualified to chant Vedic mantras, and the cows supply the ingredients for sacrifices. Parasurama said in the Gomati-vidya from Vishnu-dharmottara:
“Only by the combination of brahmanas and the cows, is the performance of sacrifice for the pleasure of Visnu complete.”
In fact, Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.8.21 indicates that human prosperity depends on two items: brahminical culture and cow protection. Lord Krishna in never satisfied where these are lacking.
In the BrihatParasara-smriti, it is written:
“Simply by eating grass, the cows give us milk. From milk, ghee is produced by which demigods become satisfied. So how can one neglect the cow ? Simply by her association, a person becomes purified. By serving her, one achieves unlimited wealth, and by donating cows, one can transfer himself to heaven. There is no wealth superior to the cow. All the demigods reside in different parts of her body. By serving the cow with devotion, Lord Hari becomes pleased. Her milk nourishes human beings. How can such a cow not be worshipable.”
Actually, the cow is one of the seven mothers, for she nourishes us with her milk, the miracle of aggregate food values, and other milk products. Many mothers who cannot nurse their babies, turn to cow’s milk. In the same way as a father supplies food for the family, the bull is meant to help in the production of grains and vegetables by plowing the fields.
Srila Prabhupada states:
“The bull is the emblem of the moral principle (dharma), and the cow is the representative of the earth.” (SB 1.16.18, purport)
Srila Prabhupada further comments (SB 1.17.3, purport) that indeed it is a law of nature that one can earn happiness by pleasing the bull and the cow.
There are so many facilities afforded by cow protection, but people have forgotten these arts. The importance of protecting cows is therefore stressed by Krsna in Bhagavad-gita (krsi-go-raksya-vanijyam vaisya-karma svabhavajam [Bg. 18.44]). Even now in the Indian villages surrounding Vrndavana, the villagers live happily simply by giving protection to the cow. They keep cow dung very carefully and dry it to use as fuel. They keep a sufficient stock of grains, and because of giving protection to the cows, they have sufficient milk and milk products to solve all economic problems. Simply by giving protection to the cow, the villagers live so peacefully. Even the urine and stool of cows have medicinal value. SB 10.6.19 Purport
Jamadagni was more powerful than Kartaviryarjuna because of performing the agnihotra-yajna with clarified butter received from the kamadhenu. Not everyone can be expected to possess such a cow. Nonetheless, an ordinary man may possess an ordinary cow, give protection to this animal, take sufficient milk from it, and engage the milk to produce butter and clarified ghee, especially for performing the agnihotra-yajna. This is possible for everyone. Thus we find that in Bhagavad-gita Lord Krsna advises go-raksya, the protection of cows. This is essential because if cows are cared for properly they will surely supply sufficient milk. We have practical experience in America that in our various ISKCON farms we are giving proper protection to the cows and receiving more than enough milk. In other farms the cows do not deliver as much milk as in our farms; because our cows know very well that we are not going to kill them, they are happy, and they give ample milk. Therefore this instruction given by Lord Krsna — go-raksya — is extremely meaningful. The whole world must learn from Krsna how to live happily without scarcity simply by producing food grains (annad bhavanti bhutani [Bg. 3.14]) and giving protection to the cows (go-raksya). Krsi-go-raksya-vanijyam vaisya-karma svabhavajam [Bg. 18.44]. Those who belong to the third level of human society, namely the mercantile people, must keep land for producing food grains and giving protection to cows. This is the injunction of Bhagavad-gita. In the matter of protecting the cows, the meat-eaters will protest, but in answer to them we may say that since Krsna gives stress to cow protection, those who are inclined to eat meat may eat the flesh of unimportant animals like hogs, dogs, goats and sheep, but they should not touch the life of the cows, for this is destructive to the spiritual advancement of human society. SB 9.15.25 Purport
Although in this age men can live up to one hundred years, their duration of life is reduced because they do not drink large quantities of milk. This is a sign of Kali-yuga. In Kali-yuga, instead of drinking milk, people prefer to slaughter an animal and eat its flesh. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, in His instructions of Bhagavad-gita, advises go-raksya, which means cow protection. The cow should be protected, milk should be drawn from the cows, and this milk should be prepared in various ways. One should take ample milk, and thus one can prolong one’s life, develop his brain, execute devotional service, and ultimately attain the favor of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As it is essential to get food grains and water by digging the earth, it is also essential to give protection to the cows and take nectarine milk from their milk bags. SB 8.6.12 Purport
Protection and grazing ground for the cows are among the essential needs for society and the welfare of people in general. The animal fat required for the human body can be well derived from cow’s milk. Cow’s milk is very important for human energy, and the economic development of society depends on sufficient food grains, sufficient milk, and sufficient transportation and distribution of these products. Lord Sri Krsna, by His personal example, taught us the importance of cow protection, which is meant not only for the Indian climate but for all human beings all over the universe. Less intelligent people underestimate the value of cow’s milk. Cow’s milk is also called gorasa, or the juice from the body of the cow. Milk is the most valuable form of gorasa, and from milk we can prepare many important and valuable foodstuffs for the upkeep of the human body. The killing of cows by human society is one of the grossest suicidal policies, and those who are anxious to cultivate the human spirit must turn their attention first toward the question of cow protection.
Light of the Bhagavata Text 27
Thereafter, mother Yashoda and Rohini, along with the other elderly gopis, waved about the switch of a Cow to give full protection to the child Sri Krishna.[SB 10.6.19]
PURPORT: When Krishna was saved from such a great danger, mother Yashoda and Rohini were principally concerned, and the other elderly gopis, who were almost equally concerned, followed the activities of mother Yashoda and Rohini. Here we find that in household affairs, ladies could take charge of protecting a child simply by taking help from the Cow. As described here, they knew how to wave about the switch of a Cow so as to protect the child from all types of danger. There are so many facilities afforded by Cow protection, but people have forgotten these arts. The importance of protecting Cows is therefore stressed by Krishna in Bhagavad-gita (krisi-go-raksha-vanijyamvaisya-karma svabhavajam [Bg. 18.44]). Even now in the Indian villages surrounding Vrindavana, the villagers live happily simply by giving protection to the Cow. They keep Cow dung very carefully and dry it to use as fuel. They keep a sufficient stock of grains, and because of giving protection to the Cows, they have sufficient milk and milk products to solve all economic problems. Simply by giving protection to the Cow, the villagers live so peacefully. Even the urine and stool of Cows have medicinal value.
So similarly, vaisya. Vaisya, they should be trained in three things, productive — krsi-go-raksya-vanijyam vaisya-karma svabhava-jam [Bg. 18.44] — krsi, agriculture; go-raksya, cow protection. Go-raksya. That is essential, agricultural and cow protection. And vanijyam. Vanijyam means trade. If there is excess milk product, if there is excess grain product, then you can sell to others. Nowadays the trade is that you take as much milk as you can, and then kill the animal and sell the flesh to other countries. That is going on. No. Go-raksya. Go-raksya. Cow protection is very, very essential in human society because it gives the milk, the miracle food. You can prepare hundreds and thousands of preparation, all not only delicious, but brain-maintaining. You can get good brain. Therefore go-raksya, cow protection is especially recommended, not that animal protection. SB 1.16.1 – Los Angeles, December 29, 1973
Prabhupada: According to Vedic injunctions, children, woman, brahmanas, old men, and cows. How many? Children, women, brahmana, cow, and what else? Devotees: Old men. Prabhupada: Old men. Yes. These five items, according to Manu-samhita, or Hindu law, they have no offense. They have no offense. They cannot be criminally prosecuted. Excused. If a brahmana has committed some fault or a woman has committed some fault or a child has committed some fault or a cow has transgressed the law, oh, there is no punishment for them. Daya. They should be shown always mercy. They require protection, especially. These five items have been especially enjoined that they should be given protection. That is required in human civilization. Cow protection is very important. Woman’s protection is very important. Brahmana’s protection is very important. Children’s protection is very important. SB 12.2.1 – San Francisco, March 18, 1968
The Lord is the protector of cows and the brahminical culture. A society devoid of cow protection and brahminical culture is not under the direct protection of the Lord, just as the prisoners in the jails are not under the protection of the king but under the protection of a severe agent of the king. Without cow protection and cultivation of the brahminical qualities in human society, at least for a section of the members of society, no human civilization can prosper at any length. SB 1.14.34 Purport
The special protection, brahmanas and cow. You know, we offer Krsna obeisances, namo brahmanya-devaya go-brahmana-hitaya ca: “Krsna, You are the leader of brahminical civilization.” The purest civilization. Namo brahmanya-devaya go-brahmana-hitaya ca. “You are the well-wisher of cows and the brahmanas.” Why special stress is given to the words go and brahmana, cows and brahmanas? Then he said, jagad-dhitaya. “After being, first being well-wisher to the cows and brahmanas, then You are well-wisher of this general world.” Jagad-dhitaya krsnaya govindaya namo namah. This is the prayer, namo brahmanya-devaya. So why this specific stress has been given to the cows and brahmanas? Just see Krsna’s picture, how He’s loving the cow. You see? He is instructing by His practical life how He is compassionate with the cows. He played as a cowherd boy. Why? Because if in human society these two things are neglected, cows and the brahmana, that is animal society. Animal society. That is not human society. That is the idea. SB 5.5.1-2 – London (Tittenhurst), September 13, 1969
Progressive human civilization is based on brahminical culture, God consciousness and protection of cows. All economic development of the state by trade, commerce, agriculture and industries must be fully utilized in relation to the above principles, otherwise all so-called economic development becomes a source of degradation. Cow protection means feeding the brahminical culture, which leads towards God consciousness, and thus perfection of human civilization is achieved. …. ….Where wealth and strength are not engaged in the advancement of brahminical culture, God consciousness and cow protection, the state and home are surely doomed by Providence. If we want peace and prosperity in the world, we should take lessons from this verse; every state and every home must endeavor to advance the cause of brahminical culture for self-purification, God consciousness for self-realization and cow protection for getting sufficient milk and the best food to continue a perfect civilization. SB 1.19.3 Purport
If one is trained to honor and worship the cows and brahmanas, he is actually civilized. The worship of the Supreme Lord is recommended, and the Lord is very fond of the cows and brahmanas (namo brahmanya-devaya go-brahmana-hitaya ca). In other words, a civilization in which there is no respect for the cows and brahmanas is condemned. One cannot become spiritually advanced without acquiring the brahminical qualifications and giving protection to cows. Cow protection insures sufficient food prepared with milk, which is needed for an advanced civilization. One should not pollute civilization by eating the flesh of cows. A civilization must do something progressive, and then it is an Aryan civilization. Instead of killing the cow to eat flesh, civilized men must prepare various milk products that will enhance the condition of society. If one follows the brahminical culture, he will become competent in Krsna consciousness. SB 6.18.52 Purport
The occupational duties of the vaisya are conceived in four divisions: farming, commerce, cow protection and moneylending. Out of these, we as a community are always engaged in cow protection. SB 10.24.21 Translation
The administrators should see that there is law and order and that everyone is doing his duty. The next section is the productive class, the vaisyas, who engage in agriculture and cow protection. And finally there are the sudras, common laborers who help the other sections. This is Vedic civilization — people living simply, on agriculture and cow protection. If you have enough milk, grains, fruits, and vegetables, you can live very nicely…. …When Maharaja Pariksit saw a degraded man trying to kill a cow, he immediately drew his sword and said, “Who are you? Why are you trying to kill this cow?” He was a real king. Nowadays, unqualified men have taken the presidential post. And although they may pose themselves as very religious, they are simply rascals. Why? Because under their noses thousands of cows are being killed, while they collect a good salary. Any leader who is at all religious should resign his post in protest if cow slaughter goes on under his rule. The Journey of Self-Discovery – Plato: Goodness and Government
In the material world the human society gives all protection to the human being, but there is no law to protect the descendants of Surabhi, who can give all protection to men by supplying the miracle food, milk. But Maharaja Pariksit and the Pandavas were fully conscious of the importance of the cow and bull, and they were prepared to punish the cow-killer with all chastisement, including death. There has sometimes been agitation for the protection of the cow, but for want of pious executive heads and suitable laws, the cow and the bull are not given protection. The human society should recognize the importance of the cow and the bull and thus give all protection to these important animals, following in the footsteps of Maharaja Pariksit. For protecting the cows and brahminical culture, the Lord, who is very kind to the cow and the brahmanas (go-brahmana-hitaya), will be pleased with us and will bestow upon us real peace. SB 1.17.9 Purport