Cow in Vedas (वेदेषु गौः)

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परिचय || Introduction

Cow (Sanskrit : धेनु , गौः , सुरभि , पयस्विनी) is a divine being revered and worshiped as the earthy embodiment of devatas by Hindus. Since times immemorial in Bharatavarsha, the cow has well been recognized for Her selflessness and service to humankind and thus has been worshiped with utmost reverence. Importance of cow in the Dharmic way of life can be summarized in the following words of Vasishta || वसिष्ठमुनिः with Rishi Viswamitra || विश्वामित्रमुनिः regarding शबला, the holy cow in as given by Valmiki maharshi in श्रीरामायण

"śāśvatī śabalā mahyaṃ kīrtirātmagato yathāasyāṃ havyaṃ ca kavyaṃ ca prāṇayātrā tathaiva ca || (Val. Ram Bal 53.13)"

"शाश्वती शबला मह्यं कीर्तिरात्मगतो यथा अस्यां हव्यं च कव्यं च प्राणयात्रा तथैव च || (Val. Ram Bal 53.13)"

Meaning: Just as a person with self-respect and his fame are inseparable, so also I (Vasishta) am inseparable from Shabala. With her milk my daily activities for the gods and ancestors are conducted, so as my प्राणयात्रा (life’s journey).

Since time immemorial, in Bharatvarsha the cow is worshiped as it seen to represent selflessness and service to humankind. the sacredness of the cow is described extensively in the Vedas. Kamadhenu or the bovine-goddess, who resides in IndraLoka is described in the Shastras as the Mother of all cows. She is a miraculous provider who fulfills the desires of her owner. Kamadhenu's lineage including he daughter Nandini also feature prominently in the Nirukthas. Yaska Mahrashi explains the name ‘go’ as a part of the 21 names of || prithvi (earth) given below

1) Om gauhu

2) Gma

3) Jnya

4) kshma

5) Ksha

6) Kshama

7) kshoni

8) kshiti 9) Avanihi 10) Urvi 11) Prithvi 12) Mahi 13) Ripah 14) Aditihi

15) Ila 16) Niryathi 17) Bhu 18) Bhumihi 19) Pushaha

20) Gathuhu

21) Gothraha

||Gothra ith yeka vimshati prthivi namadhiyani||


Several explanations are given by Yaska maharishi regarding the origin of the word cow/gau:

"यद्दुरन्गथ भवथि यछस्यम् भुतनि गछति ||"

"yaddurangatha bhavathi yachasyam bhutani gachati || (REF ??)"

that which is extensively pervasive and whence all the living entities are traveling on

"पसुनमेहभवति यथस्म देव ||"

"pasunamehabhavati yathasma deva || (REF ??)"

the same thing is applicable to the specialty : the cow or the word go.

"अदित्योपि गौरुच्यते सर्वेऽपि रश्मयो गवौचन्थि ||"

"adityopi gauruchyate sarvepi rashmayo gavauchanth || (REF ??)"

आदित्य || Aditya () is also called gahu. Surya rash mi (the sun rays) are also called as gau or cow. The Vishnu Purana says

"गवम्सुर्यह परो गुरुहु ||"

"gavamsuryaha paro guruhu || (REF ??)"

when Lord Krishna appears, Bhudevi speaks to the devatas. This is a significant part in the commentary. Vishnu chitta, an ancient acharya explains,

"अत्रा गुरु शब्ध करनमचि ||"

"athra guru shabda karanamachi || (REF ??)"

here the word guru also has the causative meaning.

"सुर्य सुथस्ह्छ गअमह ||"

"surya suthashcha gaamaha || (REF ??)"

So he quotes samvartha shruthi vakya as evidence.

The sun rays are the सूर्य सुतस्च्य गवः || surya sutaschya gavah because surya is the cause of their rays (whose rays).

Therefore, this Sun is accepted as the गुरु || guru and the evidence is the old nirukti, the legacy of that Nirukti is the evidence. Now who is the Sun? and who is the cow?

Sankoshan ??

The cow is called देवानाम माता || devaanaam mata (mother of devathas).

Why is Indra called Gospathi and why do all great maharshis like Gautama, Gavisthara have the name they have?

Also there are gavamayana such significant and symbolic yajna is there(???). This is done with cows only. This is explained in Taitreya Samhita. There is a famous sukta in Rg Veda 10.169 called Go sukta which says that those who are hardworking and perform ||tapasya (), they would understand that these mantras are not addressing just the ordinary cows. It is not possible. Superficial also we can understand this. There is also the kamadhenu cow who is referred to in the Vedas in the clash between Vasishtha and Vishwamitra Muni. Is Kamadhenu an ordinary cow? Kaushika or Vishwamitra was a rich sensuality, and powerful king who had the power of Kshatra dharma (). He desired to own kamadhenu. It is

to understand why he desired Kamadhenu.

The Go suktas

Let’s analyze the go sukta from the Rg veda (10.169). There are only 4 mantras in this sukta, which addresses the cows as devatas. The mood of these verses are as follows. This sukta is addressed to Rudra deva says,

"Let the wind blow pleasingly towards the cows and let the cows enjoy the nourishing milk and the nice grass. Let them drink water which is pleasing and makes life satisfying. This cow which is providing Jiva dhanya (life-sustaining grains) to us, let such cows be satisfied as they stand on their own feet."

Agnidev understands those cows who have got similar forms or different kinds of form or same size through yoga. The rishis of Angirasa kula, the great ||tapasvis () created the cows. These cows are beneficial to the cause of yajna. Let such cows be given unlimited satisfaction by the पर्जन्य || Parjanya (God of rain). The cows offer themselves to those devatas who are qualified to perform the yajna. Only Soma deva understands their entire form,

""Hey Indradeva, please bring them to our cow shed, the cows which are full of milk and one who are always giving children. The paramatama who is the creator has given this cow to me to whom all the glorification is made by me. After the ||pitris () and ||pitridevas () being permitted, let these auspicious cows on their own, let them be tied in cow shed, only because of (go-santan) the family of cows, lets become happy and prosperous."."

Explanation of the Sukta

If one see the above suktas only from the historic perspective, what would one see? It would be only the fake concept of the self-styled historians who claimed that the Aryas who came from some foreign land looking for food and water for their people and cows. The superficial explanation form this perspective seems only a prayer made for cows. It seems incoherent, for eg: if the prayers are only for saying that let the cows eat grass, let them drink water, why would Vedas need such a sukta for it?

Why would somebody need the blessings of rudra?

What does it mean that Angiras is responsible for creating cows?

What is the history behind this?

Cows having many forms or similar shape can be accepted externally and at the same time Agni alone knows all their names. What is the underlying meaning of this sukta? Also what is the meaning of ‘cows alone offer their life to the devatas?’ Why only some are able to understand this secret? Indra should bring those cows to cow shed

What is the historical significance of this statement? ... The cows are given by the lord to those rishis who glorify them. What does it mean?

Why are the vishwa devathas () the protector of cows?

One has to get the proper explanation or else the suktas will be wrongly understood. Just because, one doesn’t understand these esoteric verse, to call it meaningless is foolish. To say that the foolish Rishis and munis wrote these verses out of exaggeration somehow or other they wanted to protect cows, that is what is indicated here? as there were millions of our a and it is important to understand the suktas.


As we have explained earlier: go means light, not external light. For rishis to light up their internal light (should it be effulgence) and for the nourishment of such light, these prayers have appeared. The light Agni, Soma, Prajapatim Vishwadevatha they have a relationship. If someone is sitting in dark and if there is light it is very pleasing. Similarly when there is inner darkness (deergha tamasu), rishis who are aspiring for knowledge receive the transcendental light of knowledge, it is very pleasing.

Just as the cow needs grass, so also the light of transcendental knowledge also needs grass and water. Without nourishment jnana will be dead. Rishis have called even water as jeeva dhanya (that which nourishes life). Also it is explained that cows are standing on their own feet (padadhvi).

Why is it that this is talked about, do only cows have legs?

One has to study this veda sutra to understand it. Rudra represents death (mrityu). So the prayer: Let the light not see its end, offered to him indicates knowledge is limitless and the desire to have that is an eternal desire. Similarly when we see external cows, they have the same colour, different or same shape or light rays that take shelter of the power of Sun god could also have different colors. The janan surya is they have taken shelter of jnana bala and have different colors, the nature of jnana is necessarily not only one, it is varieties, therefore satya or truth has diverse facets and appears in different sizes and colours. As the Bhagavd Gita explains in 11th chapter

""ननवर्नक्र्तिनि च || nana-varnakrtini ca""

this is all explained by Agni, that is the meaning.