Gomedha Yajna (गोमेधयज्ञः)

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The Gomedha yajna is a Vedic sacrifice in which an old cow was sacrificed and then brought back to life in a young body, by chanting the Vedic hymns. The sacrifice was just meant to prove the efficacy of the hymns of the Vedas. But in case if the sacrifice was conducted improperly under inexpert management, surely the performers of sacrifice would become responsible for cow killing. In this age of Kali, there is no possibility of performing the yajnas perfectly for want of expert brahmanas who are able to conduct such yajnas. Therefore, Gomedha yajna is completely prohibited.

The Sacrifice

In the Vedas and Puranas there are injunctions declaring that if one can revive a living being, one can kill it for experimental purposes.Therefore the great sages sometimes killed old cows, and by chanting Vedic hymns they brought them back to life for perfection.The killing and rejuvenation of such old and invalid cows was not truly killing but an act of great benefit.Formerly there were powerful brahmanas who could make such experiments using Vedic hymns, but now, because of the Kali-yuga, brahmanas are not so powerful. Therefore the killing of cows and bulls for rejuvenation is forbidden. (CC Adi 17.160-164)

Prohibition

In this Age of Kali, five acts are forbidden: the offering of a horse in sacrifice, the offering of a cow in sacrifice, the acceptance of the order of sannyasa (karma sannyasa), the offering of oblations of flesh to the forefathers, and a man’s begetting children in his brother’s wife.

asvamedham gavaalambham sannyaasam pala-paitrkam

devarena sutotpattim kalau panca vivarjayet

Brahma-vaivarta Purana (Krishna-janma-khanda 185.180)


Misconception of Gomedha

By constant propaganda it has been dinned into the minds of several people that during the Vedic age reckless killing for consumption was a part of yajna, beef and other kinds of meat were commonly eaten; and the total prohibition of killing (ahimsa) came into vogue in the Buddhist and Jain period. It is true that before the Buddhist and Jain period, by misunderstanding, killing became prevalent among people to some measure, but it is totally false that in the Vedic age there was irresponsible killing in yajna, or meat-eating prevailed.

The Vedas clearly enjoin that cows should not be killed. Therefore every Vedic follower, whoever he may be, avoids indulging in cow-killing

In the Bhagavad-gita (18.44) there is a clear injunction that cows should be protected:

krsi-goraksya-vanijyam vaisya-karma svabhava-jam.

“The duty of vaisyas is to produce agricultural products, trade and give protection to cows.” Therefore it is a false statement that the Vedic scriptures contain injunctions permitting cow-killing.

Cow Killing in Vedas

Not only the Vedas are against animal slaughter but also vehemently oppose and prohibit cow slaughter.Yajurveda forbids killing of cows, for they provide energizing food for human beings

Ghrtam duhaanaamaditim janaayaagne maa himsiheeh (Yajurveda 13.49)

Do not kill cows and bulls who always deserve to be protected.


Aare gohaa nrhaa vadho vo astu (Rigveda 7.56.17)

In Rigveda cow slaughter has been declared a heinous crime equivalent to human murder and it has been said that those who commits this crime should be punished.


Sooyavasaad bhagavatee hi bhooyaa atho vayam bhagvantah syaama Addhi trnamaghnye vishwadaaneem piba shuddhamudakamaacharantee (Rigveda 1.164.40 or Atharva 7.73.11 or Atharva 9.10.20)

The Aghnya cows – which are not to be killed under any circumstances– may keep themselves healthy by use of pure water and green grass, so that we may be endowed with virtues, knowledge and wealth.


The Vedic Lexicon, Nighantu, gives amongst other synonyms of Gau[ or cow] the words Aghnya. Ahi, and Aditi. Yaska the commentator on Nighantu, defines these as-

Aghnya the one that ought not to be killed

Ahi the one that must not be slaughtered.

Aditi the one that ought not to be cut into pieces.


These three names of cow signify that the animal ought not to be put to tortures. These words appear frequently throughout the Vedas in context of the cow.

Aghnyeyam saa vardhataam mahate soubhagaaya (Rigveda 1.164.27)

Cow – The aghnya – brings us health and prosperity


Suprapaanam Bhavatvaghnyaayaah (Rigveda 5.83.8)

There should be excellent facility for pure water for Aghnya Cow


Yah paurusheyena kravishaa samankte yo ashwena pashunaa yaatudhaanah Yo aghnyaayaa bharati ksheeramagne teshaam sheershaani harasaapi vrishcha (Rigveda 10.87.16)

Those who feed on human, horse or animal flesh and those who destroy milk-giving Aghnya cows should be severely punished.


Vimucchyadhvamaghnyaa devayaanaa aganma (Yajurveda 12.73)

The Aghnya cows and bulls bring you prosperity


Maa gaamanaagaamaditim vadhishta (Rigveda 8.101.15)

Do not kill the cow. Cow is innocent and aditi – that ought not to be cut into pieces


Vatsam jaatamivaaghnyaa (Atharvaveda 3.30.1)

Love each other as the Aghnya – non-killable cow – loves its calf


Dhenu sadanam rayeenaam (Atharvaveda 11.1.34)

Cow is fountainhead of all bounties


The entire 28th Sukta or Hymn of 6th Mandal of Rigveda sings the glory of cow. Aa gaavo agnamannuta bhadramakrantseedantu

Bhooyobhooyo rayimidasya vardhayannabhinne

Na taa nashanti na dabhaati taskaro naasaamamitro vyathiraa dadharshati

Na taa arvaa renukakaato ashnute na samskritramupa yanti taa abhi

Gaavo bhago gaava indro me achhaan

Yooyam gaavo medayathaa

Maa vah stena eeshata maaghanshasah


1. Everyone should ensure that cows are free from miseries and kept healthy.

2. God blesses those who take care of cows.

3. Even the enemies should not use any weapon on cows.

4. No one should slaughter the cow.

5. Cow brings prosperity and strength.

6. If cows keep healthy and happy, men and women shall also keep disease free and prosperous

7. May the cow eat green grass and pure water. May they not be killed and bring prosperity to us.

Animal Sacrifice

Madhvacarya has given the following statement in regard to animal sacrifice in his commentary to Srimad Bhagavatam 11.5.13:

yajnesv alabhanam proktam devatoddesatah pasoh himsa nama tad-anyatra tasmat tam nacared budhah yato yajne mrta urdhvam yanti deve ca paitrke ato labhad alabhanam svargasya na tu maranam

The Vedas sometimes prescribe animal sacrifice in ritual performances for the satisfaction of a particular devata. If, however, it is conducted whimsically, without rigidly following the Vedic prescriptions, such killing becomes actual violence and should not be accepted by any intelligent person. If the animal sacrifice is perfectly performed, the sacrificed animal immediately goes to the heavenly lokas of the demigods and the forefathers. Therefore such a sacrifice is not for killing animals but for demonstrating the potency of Vedic mantras, by the power of which the sacrificed creature is immediately promoted to a higher situation.

In an era, before the birth of Lord Buddha, when dishonest persons tried to establish that animal killing is acceptable by misinterpreting the Vedic sacrifices, as a means for consuming flesh, Lord Buddha personally appeared and rejected their heinous proposition. This is described by Jayadeva Gosvami:

nindasi yajna-vidher ahaha sruti-jatam sadaya-hrdaya darsita-pasu-ghatam kesava dhrta-buddha-sarira jaya jagad-isa hare

(Dasavatara-stotra)

See Also