Lord Krishna states in Srimad Bhagavad-Gita: chapter 10, verse 28
dhenunam asmi kamadhuk
dhenunam-among cows, asmi-I am, kamadhuk-the wish fulfilling cow
Among cows I am the wish fulfilling cow
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In this verse Lord Krishna reveals that among cows He is manifested as the kamadhuk meaning kamadhenu the original wish fulfilling cows known as the surabhi cows. Just who and what are the surabhi cows and how the surabhi cows attained such an elevated and exalted position that they are able to represent a portion of the energy of the supreme Lord Krishna will be revealed in the following information given in the Anusasana Parva of the Mahabharata by Krishna Dvaipayana Vyasa.
The surabhi cow descended from the spiritual worlds and manifested herself in the heavenly spheres from the aroma of celestial nectar for the benefit of all created beings. The direct descendants of the surabhi cows are the sacred cows from the continent India which are uniquely distinguished the same as the surabhi by the beautiful hump on their backs and the wonderfully soft folds of skin under their necks. Since all cows in existence in the world today are factual descendants of the sacred cows of India they are all holy as well and should always be lovingly cared for and protected with the highest esteem and greatest respect. One should never cause harm to cows in any way even in a dream and one should never ever even think of eating the flesh of cows as there is no action more sinful in all of creation then cow killing.
Cows are the mothers of all creatures. Cows are verily the mothers of the 33 crores of demigods that administrate creation in the material existence throughout all the universes. Cows are the goddesses of the gods and the refuge of all auspiciousness. Cows bestow every kind of happiness and for these reason they always are worshippable. Cows are the support of all the worlds for by their milk they nourish terrestrials beings and by their ghee offered in sacrifice they nourish the denizens of the celestial realms. Nothing is superior to cows.
Cows are the foremost of all creatures in all the worlds. It is from cows that the means for sustaining the worlds has established. Cows are auspicious and sacred and the bequeathers of every blessing. Cows benefit humans with milk, yoghurt, cheese, butter and ghee. The Vedas have stated that the milk of a cow is equivalent to ambrosial nectar and that ghee derived from cows milk is the best of all libations poured onto the sacred fires of brahmins.
Cows of various kinds and diverse colors are always worshipable. They are the foremost of all creatures existing in all of creation. Morning and evening one should bow ones head in reverence to cows. One should never show any disregard to cows in any way but should always show them respect. When one awakes in the morning one should always remember cows. Before falling to sleep at night one should always remember cows. Cows are always auspicious. Cows are also fragrant. The wonderful scent of the amytis agallochum emantes from out of their sacred bodies.
Cows are the great refuge of all creatures. Cows constitute the greatest source of blessings for all creatures. Cows are the past. Cows are the future. Cows are the source of evolution and eternal growth. Cows are the root of prosperity. Whatever is given to cows always produces good fortune and is never in vain. It is solely and exclusively from the ghee of cows that the sacred rituals prescribed and authorized in the Vedas are empowered and able to be performed. Without the presence of cows ghee there is no possibility of performing sacred rituals that will gratify the 33 million demigods who are responsible for universal management. Neither will the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krishna be pleased and satisfied. Ghee comes exclusively only from cows from whom flow offerings of milk and milk products. Thus cows verily establish the purity of all sacred rituals and constitute the very essence of performing all sacred activities being the very source of sacred activities.
Cows represent sacred acts themselves and without cows there can be no performance of any sacred act. This is the pure, sublime and supremely exalted position and pre-eminence of cows above all creatures in all the worlds. One who knows the pre-eminence of cows and the selfless service cows render to all creatures and does not protect them affectionately is a sinner and offender and their destination is certainly hell. Cows are equal to the rays of the sun that travel through the universe giving light, warmth and nourishment.
In previous yugas the Vedic injunction was given jiyaite pare yadi tabe mare prani veda-purane ache hena ajna vane that means in the Vedic scriptures known as Puranas there are injunctions declaring that one can take the life of a living being only if they are able to revive it back to life again by chanting Vedic mantras. But we find that this injunction has been terminated in today’s age of kali yuga by the Brahma-Vaivarta Purana where it is stated that in the present age of kali yuga it is forbidden to kill cows under any circumstances.
Cows are equivalent to our mothers for when the mother’s milk has dried up the cow gives her milk unselfishly to nourish and strengthen us. How can one who has ever drunk cow’s milk justify the killing and eating of such a mother as the sacred cow. One should never even in one's mind do injury to a cow or ever think of harming cows as well as bulls. One should show all respect and compassion for cows and sincere reverence should be offered unto them all without reservation.
Those who fail to give cows reverence and protection and choose to foolishly oppose and whimsically ignore the injunctions of the Vedic scriptures by selling a cow for slaughter, by killing a cow, by eating cows flesh and by permitting the slaughter of cows will all rot in the darkest regions of hell for as many thousands of years as there are hairs on the body of each cow slain. There is no atonement for the killing of a cow.
go-ange yata loma tata sahasra vatsara
go-vadhi raurava-madhye pace nirantar
Cow killers and cow eaters are condemned to rot in hell for as many thousands of years as there are for each hair on the body of every cow they eat from.
In comparison to the contrary, sanctified living beings with purified souls that make gifts of cows to worthy twice born in the three higher ashrams established in the Vedas attain celestial realms for as many years as there are hairs upon the body of the cows given away in charity. There is no gift higher in merit than the gift of cows to a Vaisnava or duly initiated brahmana of the Vedic culture in one of the four authorised sampradayas.
Cows constitute the highest good. Cows are the root of great blessing for all living beings.. Cows are the source of eternal growth. Cows are the past and the furure. Evolution itself depends upon cows. The mantras used for Vedic rituals such as Swaha and Vashat without which no Vedic rites are complete are eternally establishe d in cows. Cows verily are the fruit of all Vedic rituals because all Vedic rituals are dependent upon the ghee from cows for the performance of sacred rituals which benefit all of creation. Thus the protection of cows is the greatest dharma or eternal duty for all living beings.
There is no wealth that is equal to cows. To talk about cows, to hear others speak about cows, to offer gifts of cows to worthy people and to see cows are all auspicious activities. There is never any inauspiciousness in cows. On Earth cows represent high energy and are endued with the elements of strength and energetic exertion. There are also elements of great wisdom in cows and they are bestowers of great happiness upon all creatures. The country or nation where cows are protected and live without fear of slaughter becomes exalted and the sins of that country are evaporated. Cows constitute the stairs that lead to heaven. Cows are adored in heaven. Cows are goddesses competent to grant every righteous wish and desire. Verily there is nothing in the worlds more elevated or superior to cows.
Cows are superior to all yogis and ascetics and because of this liberated divine being perform their austerities in the company and presence of cows. Cows do not feel cold or heat nor can rain afflict. Cows are never to be sacrificed they are to be given as gifts to worthy brahmanas. The ruler who gives gifts of cows to the foremost of brahmanas is sure to overcome every calamity he encounters. It is ordained in the eternal Vedas that ghee from the cow is the best of all ingredients offered as libations into the sacrificial fire. For this reason one who makes a gift of a cow to worthy brahmanas who will then use the ghee from this cow to perform Vedic ceremonies, that fortunate gifter is regarded as making a gift of a libation for sacrifice. A bovine bull is considered to be the embodiment of heaven. One who offers a bovine bull to an accomplished brahmana has factually reserved themselves a place in heaven. Cows that have been rescued and protected and cared for in distress give even more merit as well as cows received from persons in distress due to an inability to properly take care of their cows.
A cow must never be given to a tiller of soil. Only a bovine bull may be given to a tiller of soil but never a cow. Neither a cow or a bull should ever be given unto one who will kill them. Nor should a cow or a bull be given unto an atheist or one who makes a business selling or trading cows. The Vedas have stated that one who gives away cows or bulls to such sinful persons suffers interminably in a hellish condition.
There is no gift that is higher in merit than the gift of cows. A cow lawfully acquired if given away in charity protects the whole dynasty of the giver. Cows are the source of that immortality which Vedic sacrifices prescribe. They have within them the nature of both the sun and the moon. Cows verily constitute and determine the eternal destiny of creation.
Cows are the life breath of all living creatures therefore one who makes a gift of a cow is said to be making a gift of life breath to all living creatures. Cows are also constituted as the great refuge of all living creatures thus one who makes a gift of a cow is said to be making a gift of that which is the great refuge of all living creatures.
When the surabhi cows first manifested from the aroma of ambrosial nectar they performed severe penance for 100,000 years for the purpose of acquiring the spiritual merit to be the foremost of all things needed for the performance of Vedic rituals and ceremonies; thus only from cow milk exclusively is sanctified ghee produced for the performance of Vedic rituals. Whatever is produced from any and all other types of milk is not authorised by Vedic scriptures and thus not being sanctioned by the Vedas can never be used in any Vedic rituals or ceremonies.
At the conclusion of the surabhi cows austerities Brahma himself appeared before them and granted their wishes blessing them with the benediction that cows would eternally be the sustainers of all creatures. This is why cows are sacred and most holy and the foremost of all creatures in creation and verily the refuge of all the worlds.
The cow is extremely important regarding the destiny of the total human species in all the worlds and creation itself that her value is impossible to overestimate. The name for cow in the Vedas is known as aghyna which means invioable. Another name is ahi which means not to be killed and another is aditi which means never to be cut into pieces.
Some scholars and indologists in India as well as from western countries without having ever experienced the Vedic culture as a way of life have speculated that cows and other animals were sacrificed in Vedic ceremonies. They take unorthodox interpretations of obscure verses in the Vedas, out of context to postulate this point of view. Two examples of this we are giving as follows.
First in the Satapatha Brahmana, 18.104.22.168 there is a gross interpolation from western scholars echoed by indolologists around the world that the great sage Yajnavalkya would eat the tender meat of cows and bulls. The word dhenu which they translated as cow factually refers to the milk products of the cow only and not the cow herself and the sanskrit word anaduh factually refers to the grains produced by the bull from ploughing the fields. What exactly Yajnavalkya has stated in this verse is that he can eat what is amsala. The interpolators, some being ignorant and some not so ignorant of the rules of Panini have translated amsala as being tender flesh. Panini is the authority on all matters concerning the rules of Sanskrit grammar and according to sutra 5.2.8 of Panini the word amsala can only mean nourishing and strength bestowing. Also in the Amarakosa 2.6.44 it states that amsala is mamsala which never applies to flesh tender or otherwise. Mamsala specifically aplies to cream and sweets made from milk products as well as fresh and dried fruits. So there is no basis according to sastra for translating amsala as flesh.
Secondly some scholars with an extremely limited fund of knowledge want to postulate that meat was an essential ingreient of madhuparka because of one verse in the Rig Veda VI.44.21 which equates Indra as having the strength of a bull and also mentions the sweet drink madhupeya. So they then interpolated the translation to say that bull meat was a part of madhuparka. In this way due to their academic status they are able to mislead the public. The root word madhu means sweet and is sometimes even referred to honey. In the Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary page 780 the meaning of madhuparka is offerrings of honey and milk also sometimes containing equal parts of curds and ghee to a respected guest. No where in the Vedas can be found any reference to meat being an ingredient of madhuparka.
So other examples like the previous two interpolators have found useful for their obscure translations; but the clear, direct, unequivocal statements found throughout the Vedas against cow killing they ignore. We will give a few relevant examples now.
In the Rig Veda X.87.16 we find: One who partakes of human flesh, the flesh of a horse or of another animal and deprives others from milk by slaughtering cows ; if such a fiend does not desist then even cut off their heads by your powers Oh king.
In the Atharva Veda VIII.6.23 we find: Those who eat cooked or uncooked flesh, who eat eggs and embryos are following an evil addiction that must be put to an end.
In the Srimad Bhagavatam, Canto 11, chapter 5, verse 14 we find: Those who are ignorant of the absolute truth and believe they are virtuous although wicked and arrogant who kill animals without any feeling of remorse or fear of punishment are devoured by those very same animals in their next birth.
In the Mahabharata, Anusasana-parva, 115.43 -116.45 we find: That wretch among men who pretending to follow the path of righteousness prescribed in the Vedas, would kill living creatures from greed of flesh would certainly go to hellish regions.
In the Manu-samhita, chapter 4, verse 162 we find: A guru, a teacher, a father, a mother, a brahmana, a cow and a yogi all should never be killed.
Even in the Old Testament of the Bible which applies to both Christians and Jews in Issaih, chapter 66 verse 3 we find: He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man. He that sacrifices a lamb is as if he slit a dogs neck, he that offereth it as an oblation is as if he offered swines blood, he that burneth it as incense as if he blessed an idol. Yea they have chosen their way and their soul delighteth in their abominations.
In the Mahabharata, Anusasana-parva, 114.6, 115.6 it states: As the footprints of all moving, living beings are engulfed in those of the elephant, even thus all religions are to be understood by ahimsa which is non-violence to any living being by thought, words or actions.
So from these examples it can be clearly understood that cow killing and cow eating were definitely not sanctioned by the Vedic scriptures to the contrary they were condemned; and also according to the authority of the Bible cow killing is not sanctioned in the Christian religion either.
This knowledge is highly esoteric and confidential and incomprehensible to those outside the purview of the Vedic culture. It can only be known by that segment of society that is spiritually developed enough to completely abstain from all animal killing and flesh eating while understanding that the soul is eternal and exists in all living beings.
A cow should not be owned by one who is a killer of cows or a seller to killers of cows, by one who is unrighteous, by one who is sinful, by one who is untruthful in speech, and by one who is outside of the Vedic culture nor should cows ever be given to one such as these. Gifts of cows should be made after ascertaining and determining the qualification of the receiver. Cows should never be given unto those whose residence they are likely to suffer from fire or sun. Cows should always be given away accompanied by their calves. Those cows who have been rescued from situations of distress or have been received from humble farmers unable to continue to take care of them properly are considered to be most auspicious.
One should never show disrespect for cows in any way nor should one feel any repugnance towards the urine and dung of a cow because these things are also pure. When cows are grazing or laying down relaxing one should never disturb or annoy them in any way. Cows should never be killed in any type of sacrifice or slaughtered in any way for food as the killing of cows constitutes the most heinous of all sins in existence.