In order to have a little glimpse of the deeper meaning of Krishna’s pastime with cows, let us first remind ourselves of the cow’s great importance in the Hindu tradition and its symbolism, in particular in Vaishnavism and why she is considered to be the perfect mother.
‘Gau’ means ‘cow’ and ‘Dhaan’ means ‘donation’. The auspiciousness of cow donation is known since ancient times, when cows were donated to brahmins, in particular by kings, whose duty was to support the good functioning of the ashrams. The cows provided the products – milk, yogurt, ghee, urine and dung – which were needed to perform the Hindu rituals of worship, like puja, abhishekam and yagna. In Vaishnavism, the donation of a cow it is considered to be the second highest form of donation which someone can give to a Guru (first being one’s own surrender), and its benefits are endless.
As Paramahamsa Vishwananda himself says:
“In the Hindu tradition, the greatest donation in life which will even give you Heaven and have the greatest merits is a cow.” Indeed, cows cannot talk, but nevertheless, by serving them even once we can receive great benefits and blessings.
‘Gau’ means ‘cow’ and ‘Mata’ means ‘Mother’. In the Hindu scriptures the cow is referred to as Devi and Mother Earth, the ever-giving nourisher, providing for all and sustaining the life of all creatures. In the Hindu tradition, all cows are considered to be the earthly embodiment of Kamadhenu (also referred to as Surabhi), the miraculous ‘cow of plenty’ or ‘wish-fulfilling cow’ and ‘mother of all cows’, who came out of the Churning of the Milky Ocean.
The cow is a symbol of gentleness, maternity, selfless service, loving-acceptance, tolerance, strength and endurance. Moreover, the cow is a great example of humility as it always gives without complaining; the cow gives without any expectation. So in return, we receive so many things from her; cow milk and dairy products are a major source of nourishment; the cow dung is a source of fuel and is also used as fertilizer and disinfectant; its urine is used for medicinal purposes. By venerating the cows, people are inspired to develop these qualities mentioned above.
LORD KRISHNA – THE COWHERD OF VRINDAVAN
The sweetest pastimes of Lord Krishna, the 8th Avatar of Mahavishnu, took place in Vrindavan, where He played the role of a cowherd. His names Govinda and Gopala are related to that Bala Leela:
Govinda – ‘Go’ means ‘cow’, ‘land’, ‘senses’, ‘soul’ and ‘vinda’ means ‘pleasure-giving’; whenever and wherever Lord Krishna appears, everything becomes very satisfying and pleasing.
Gopala – ‘Go’ means ‘cow’, ‘land’, ‘senses’, ‘soul’ and ‘pala’ means ‘protector’, ‘guide’ ; the one who captures our senses, protects, and guides our souls towards the ultimate goal: supreme Love.
Many people must be thinking why cow is also important in the Vaishnava tradition. This is because Cow is dear to Krishna. They have a special relationship with the Lord and they are even worshipped as they they have all the demigods present in their body. Also, in His original form in the spiritual world, Lord Krishna is a cowherd boy from Goloka (‘cow planet’). The way that Lord Krishna used to spend times with cows is a total replica of Goloka on Earth where He shows the importance of cows in human society, the benefits of caring for them and serving them and not slaughtering them.
In His famous book of instructions for humankind, the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna mentions cow protection as one of the prime duties of any civilized society. Hence, killing such an animal would simply be an humiliation towards the Lord and our sacred scriptures, especially for Hindus, who actually venerate cows.
Cows are indeed very sacred for Hindus. They are symbols of abundance and prosperity. Let’s not forget about the importance of cows and move forward with the initiative of helping to protect them from being slaughtered or treated badly.
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