Kamadhenu: The Mother of All Cows

A pre-Socratic philosopher, Parmenides said, “The thing that can be thought and that for the sake of which the thought exists is the same; for you cannot find thought without something that is, as to which it is uttered.”

The essence of this argument is: When you think, you think of something; when you use a name, it must be the name of something. Therefore both thought and language require objects outside themselves. And since you can think of a thing or speak of it at one time as well as at another, whatever can be thought of or spoken of must exist at all times. Consequently there can be no change, since change consists in things coming into being or ceasing to be. [From A History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell]

Of course, the idea is interesting but not true.

Kamadhenu is the legendary miraculous supreme cow, the mother of all cows which has the capability to fulfill all the wishes of her owner. According to Vishnu Purana (or Bhagavata Purana in Mahabharata), she appeared as a result of samudra manthan, the churning of the ocean. Some scriptures consider her to be the daughter of Daksha and hence granddaughter of Brahma. Regarding her possession, Hindu scriptures say that she was possessed by either Jamadagni or Vashista while other scriptures consider her to be the wife of Kashyapa.

She is one of the most interesting characters of Hindu mythology. Her image is a composition of several beings: a female human head and breasts, bird’s wings, tail of a peafowl and rest of the body is a white cow (with udders). There are two kinds of mammary glands here, human breasts and bovine udder! I don’t know if that’s a scriptural glitch. The composite image must be to accommodate the differences in descriptions of Kamadhenu in various scriptures. Her relationship with the human beings is certainly as interesting as her iconography.

She can be compared to a common woman of Indian subcontinent or a cow at the same time and interestingly both comparisons fit, quite snugly I dare say. A woman in Indian subcontinent is expected to be like Kamadhenu, yielding to the desires of her husband by acting like an owned wife and be bound to the household chores like a domesticated animal.

As described in the scriptures, she can provide whatever her owner desires. That’s quite interesting. She is a goddess yet is owned. Owning a goddess gives a person a whole lot of satisfaction, doesn’t it? Cow was and is a boon to Indian subcontinent in the ancient times and was way more important then than it is now. Cow was not only the source of milk, but gave dung which was dried and used as fuel (which is still done in rural areas). It gave birth to oxen which was used for plowing fields. I don’t know whether to give thanks to cows, people turned them into children of a goddess. Since every cattle is mothered by Kamadhenu (or Surabhi), owning the child of a goddess certainly gives an individual immense satisfaction.

Now to derive even more satisfaction from this, an individual turns a cow into a goddess. If a cow is a goddess, then you are owning a goddess and isn’t that freaking cool? Look at you, you owner of a goddess cow, how proud you are!

And someone comes along from very far away to eat your cow, eat your goddess, for which he is not punished by the One which you thought of and prayed and respected and feared. That will certainly turn you red hot, won’t it? What will you do now when your god is doing naught, act yourself. To save your ancient pride and ego, you go and kill another fellow human being who eats your goddess. But you fail to erase your own illusions.

Of course, it’s all in your mind. Thousands of years old stories are fed up to your brains and you believe them for they are not harmful till you listen. But as soon as you make those stories your foundation of thoughts, you get angry with the people who are fed up with stories different than yours.

A person rears a cow and hears thousand years old stories which are different to yours. He doesn’t hear about the cow goddess neither does he consider his own cow as a goddess. So, one day he thinks of eating it up. So, he slaughters it and eats it. Like you do to chickens or goats or pigs or even buffaloes.

But no! For you to own the child of Kamadhenu, you prepare yourself to kill your brother.

For all the concerned parties, please read your own stories and then the stories of others, if you want to base your thoughts on stories. Then only you may realize how cruel even beautiful stories might make you.

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