Those were the times when India was at the peak of Mughal Rule. The rulers of a large part of India were muslims and guess what, they had banned Cow Slaughter in that Mughal Empire. Nobody dared to kill cows and eat beef in that Muslim Empire.
The Mughal Empire and Cow
Babur, who invaded India all the way from Kabul and established the Mughal Empire in India, despite being an orthodox Muslim had banned Cow Slaughter in his empire. All successive Mughal Emperors – Humayun, Akbar, Shah Jahan, Jehangir and then even Ahmad Shah had banned Cow Slaughter in their kingdoms. Hyder Ali and Tippu Sultan who ruled the Mysore State in the present day Karnataka had made cow slaughter and beef eating a punishable offence and the crime would be punished by cutting off the hands of the person who committed the crime!
The Mughal Emperor Babar in ‘ Tuzuk-e- Babari’ while making a will in favor of his son Humayun says that, “Humayun should respect the sentiments of the Hindus and hence should not allow the cow to be sacrificed or killed anywhere in the Mughal Empire. The day any Mughal emperor ignores this will, the people of India will reject him”. Aurangzeb ignored this will and that caused the downfall of the Mughal Empire.
Today in India we have over 36000 slaughterhouses! How did this massive turn around take place?
Cow and The Hindu Civilization
To understand that first we need to get back to the importance of cow in the ancient Hindu civilization of India. Cows are the most sacred animals to the Hindus and this is not without any reason. In fact the very word Cow in English is derived from the Sanskrit word Gau for Cow.
Hindus believe that all Gods and Goddesses live inside a Cow
One of the most important reasons is that cows have been the backbones of Indian families and the Indian agricultural system ever since the dawn of this ancient Hindu civilization. Apart from the extensively used Cow’s milk which the ancient Indians used to collect only after the calf has had its share, the most important use of Cows was in Agriculture. Without Cow the Indian agriculture in those days was as good as gone, and this was one of the prime reasons why Hindus being nature worshippers also worshipped Cow.
Cows had their own shelters called Gaushalas (large places where the cows lived) which were many a times larger than the homes where people lived. There used to be people exclusively to look after the well being of the cows here and many a times they used to be the cow owners themselves who used to clean the Gaushalas everyday, feed the cows, take care of their health and so on . Every single festival of harvest had cow worship, house warming ceremonies had the ritual of taking the cow inside the house first and then pray to it to make the house prosper and flood with food grains, milk and butter.
Cows being fed at a Gaushala
Note that those were the days when food was grown in a healthy natural process. There was no industrial revolution, no artificial fertilizers, no chemical pesticides and insecticides. The entire Indian agriculture was based on the nature’s best fertilizer – Cow dung, and one of the nature’s best pesticide – Cow’s urine (along with the neem based solutions) were used extensively in the agriculture. Buttermilk again which is a derivative of Cow’s milk was used as an effective fungicide and weedicide.
And not without any reason, the Indian agriculture in those days was extremely productive thanks to the cow products. Farmers were happy, crops came on time, yield was high, prices were low for food crops, kingdoms even used to export their agricultural output, granaries were always filled, milk was abundantly available and so were its derivatives like Butter, Ghee etc which formed an important part of the Indian diet. Every religious institution, big farms, farmers, diary owners all had thousands of cows – the cows which had made the Indian economy rich and healthy.
Even today in African deserts were growing food is difficult and whatever grows must give a rich yield for people to have adequate food, fermented cow’s urine is used as a natural pesticide. Compare this with farmers today who spend thousands and thousands of rupees on artificial fertilizers and chemical pesticides, which not only make the food unhealthy, but also make the soil unproductive over time.
Cow slaughter and slaughterhouses are banned even today in Nepal. In India, very few are aware of the fact that Article 48 of the Indian Constitution (Directive Principles of State Policy) says clearly that the government must protect the cow, its progeny and other cattle used in agriculture, not just because the cows are sacred to Hindus but because Cows have been the backbone of Agriculture and milk production in this country ever since the dawn of civilization. To millions of poor families in India, even today Cow’s milk is the only source of nutrient to their kids and babies.
In India states like Jammu & Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka etc have already banned Cow slaughter (Karnataka being a very recent addition). Cuba banned cow slaughter after its people virtually ate up all the cattle leading to a scarcity of diary products. Even Iran has banned Cow slaughter and note that it was at the request of a non-muslim – Seth Merwanji Framji Panday that Iran – a muslim dominated nation banned cow slaughter. Now compare this with India today where our politicians are prepared to sell anything in return for votes.
British Rule and Slaughterhouses
Both Mahathma Gandhi and Pandit Nehru had declared before Independence that they would ban Cow slaughter in India after Independence. Obviously they didnt impose it. Why? Thanks to Robert Clive who had converted the Indian muslims (who never ate beef till the end of Mughal era) into believing that beef eating was their religious right. Cow slaughter had become a vote bank issue. How? Read below.
Robert Clive – the so called Founder of the British Empire in India who was twice the Governor of Bengal too – on entering India was astonished and amazed to see the success of the agricultural system here. He went on researching the reasons for the success of the Indian agriculture and discovered the root – The Holy Indian Cow. The entire hindu life style revolved around this animal, not just religiously, but socially. Cow was an integral part of a Hindu family as was any other human member in the family. He even found that in many places the total number of cattle was more than the number of humans living there.
OK, so he decided, to break the backbone of agriculture in India – the holy cows have to be targeted. And thus was opened the first slaughterhouse of cows in India in 1760 by Robert Clive at Kolkata. It had a capacity to kill 30,000 cows per day. And anyone can guess within a year’s time how many cows would have been killed. And within a century India had very little cattle left to sustain its agricultural needs. And Britain as an alternative started offering artificial manure, and in this manner urea, phosphate etc started getting imported from England. Indian agriculture had started becoming dependent on west invented artificial products and was forced to give up home grown natural practices.
Guess what, till 1760 most of India had banned not only cow slaughter, but also prostitution and drinking wine was banned as well. Robert Clive made all three legal and removed the ban.
Now the British had hit two birds with a single stone by this move. The first was to break the backbone of the Indian agriculture ie making cattle not available for agriculture. And the second?
Well, obviously Hindus did not work as butchers at the slaughter houses opened by the British. And of course the British were well known for their divide and rule policies which they practiced throughout their colonial kingdoms then. So what did they do? Well, they hired muslims as butchers and this was done in almost every slaughterhouse they opened. And this slowly pushed the muslims into believing that beef eating was their religious right.
What the Mughal empire had banned had been turned into a practice by the British empire. What Babur and Akbar termed as a crime was converted into a norm by Robert Clive. And today the soil of India is filled with artificial fertilizers and pesticides while the holy Cow cries in the slaughterhouses. While there were over 70 breeds of cows in the country at the time of independence, today we have only 33 and even among them many breeds are facing extinction.
Guess what happened to the man who started all this? Robert Clive became a opium addict and later committed suicide by stabbing himself with a pen knife after being unable to withstand the pain caused by the illness that had resulted from opium addiction.
1. Discourses of Baba Ramdev
2. The foundations of the composite culture in India – Malika Mohammada
3. The Cow and the Koran – People for Animals