'Godhana' is an article by Shankaracharya Swami Brahmanand Saraswati, contained in the 1946 cow special Go-Ankh edition of the magazine Kalayana (Gita Press, Gorakhpur). [jpg] ['Godhana' Itrans .txt file]

हिन्दी में

English translation by © Paul Mason 2005 (essential Sanskrit work by Avidyanand)
~ Images of cow protection posters from 1890 and c1912 added to illustrate text. ~ 5th April 2007

* गोधन *

Godhana - Cattle

गावः प्रतिष्ठा भूतानाम
" gaavaH pratishhThaa bhuutaanaama "
'Of living beings honour cows!'


Upadesha (instruction) of Bhagavatpujyapada Anantashrivibushita Jagadguru Shri Shankaracharya Jyotishpithadhishvara Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati Ji Maharaj:

'The special greatness of the treasure of cows is pointed out in the Dharma Shastra;

सर्वेषामेव भूतानां गावः शरणमुत्तमम्।
" sarveshhaameva bhuutaanaaM gaavaH sharaNamuttamam ."
['Of all living beings give cows the most excellent protection']

Hindu culture is filled to the brim with this sentiment:-
यद्‌गृहे दुःखिता गावः स याति नरके नरः।
" yad.hgR^ihe duHkhitaa gaavaH sa yaati narake naraH ."

['The man who gives suffering to the cow goes to hell.']

But our civilisation and culture have been become intermixed with the culture of Westerners, from that time, the extensive disappearance of the Indian method of teaching has caused ignorance of the Shastra, Purana etc - that the cow, the Brahmana etc are the same, this devout scriptural knowledge is disappearing.

Today it is usual to be pleased at measuring the material weight of the cow stock; but remember now of the subtler-than-the-subtlest of material knowledge of cow stock, of the excellent dharma and usefulness, the very whereabouts may not [now] be connected with, that was evident through supernatural powers to that Indian law-giver. The greatness and holiness of cow stock, in you is one which is subtler-than-the-subtlest, the cause and form, the reason of keenness of the elements, for their investigation and knowledge the yantra (instrument) of modern material scientists will always remain too crude. Right here is also the cause of the clever twentieth century knowledge remaining unsuccessful in the understanding of the real truth - the secret that in the hairs on the body of the mother cow the gods are dwelling*, and the dawn sighting of a cow, the worship of the cow, the cow-god etc. The universal feeling is held of the holiness of the cow herds and that one bears the truth to oneself by way of intellect, attainable experience, or confident in the way of the shastra, not by physical instruments.

naagpuragorakShaNasabhaa - Nagpur Cow Protection League
Vidyananda Saraswati Swami, 1890

चोरसी देवता‍ओवाली गाय
chorasii devataaovaalii gaaya - The Cow with 84 Deities
Ravi Varma Press, c1912

* According to Skanda Purana every part of the cow houses a deity, According to the illustration above, Brahma is in her back, Vishnu in her throat, Rudra (i.e. Shiva) is established on her face, Sun and Moon are in her eyes, Yama and Indra on the tips of the horns, the Ashvins in her nostrils, Lakshmi and Ganga behind her tail, etc etc.

Dharmashastra then is indeed a description of the greatness and sanctity of godhana (cow wealth), but in the Indian Arthashastra is the special importance of gopalana (cow protection). In the Arthashastra (science of wealth) of Kautilya we meet with a comprehensive explanation of cow custody and cow protection. The Arthashastra commands that earth that is not being cultivated is made into grazing ground for cattle. This manner of property of cattle strongly cherishes both wealth and dharma. From wealth indeed desires are fulfilled and from dharma is moksha (salvation). Thence from godhana (cow wealth) wealth, dharma, desire and moksha - the four are gained. Therefore in Indian life property in cattle is highly valued. Who puts faith in the Hindu Dharmashastra ought to have the reward of wealth and success for service to the cow and progressing the cow herd according to the regulations of shastra, and those who do not put their faith in the Dharmashastra, they want wealth and fulfilment of desires and will make an effort to progress the cow stock and protect cows according to the regulations of Arthashastra.

For those who believe only in tangible proof, [think of] the abundant kindness of the mother cow, what might be the pleasure of eating grass the whole life and donating milk and ghee which contains nutritive matter? If they have been so grateful to gomata (mother cow), then afterwards might they not weigh up a small portion of humaneness. The mother cow is by way of an advantage to human society, to him who this is completely apparent, several thousand pages of books will be written. In brief it can be said that the mother cow is an advantage to the society of man, from this the human race is always indebted to the mother cow. 

Schemes to slaughter and kill are the downfall of the cow and its progeny, and injure the holy and financial delights of both raja and subject. So for this reason everyone should make an effort to put a stop to these gristly practices. Several states have done laudable work in this connection, but unless central government will be compelled, it is impossible to satisfactorily inform of the effects. For the sake of this, effort should be made countrywide.

Together everyone should make an effort to promote the old custom of houses of cow protection, all householders, landlords, land owners, merchants, money-lenders etc should progress cow houses, from where can be gained ideal able-bodied cows and bulls. Nowadays the [lack] of establishment of grazing ground is lamentable. In this connection Manu wrote:- 'On the four sides of every village and city there should be sufficient ground for pasture of cows.' All capable farmers, landlords, merchants and money-lenders should make arrangement for centres to provide proper pasture for cattle. Also you should always consider advancing the cows. In this is the honour of India and Indian civilisation kept true.'



Back to Guru Dev webpage proper