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Cow and the Vedas

Copy of the Rejoinder from Mrs. Asha Swami, President, Love4Cow Trust
addressed to the Editor, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Subject: The Indian Cow - Article by Mr. D.N. Jha and the Rejoinder dated 19th December, 2001 thereof

This refers to the articles "Paradox of the Indian Cow" and "Mincing no words" published in your newspapers of 17th and 18th December, 2001 written by one Mr. D.N. Jha.
At the very outset, let me make it clear that the cow is beyond caste, creed, religion or faith. The cow has secured its respectful position in our traditions and culture not at the mercy of some body but because of its inherent strength, scientific and economic virtues of Panchgavya in the agrarian society. When the Indian scriptures attach highest respect and value to the cow it is not because they were Hindu fundamentalists. The society then was divided into two types of people namely Sur and Asur. The Islam, Christianity and other religions are very recent. It is the mind set of certain people who look everything only through the colours of religion and caste.

Our problem is that earlier, the European distorted our history and then denigrated our civilization and culture. It is that legacy which is being now carried through the pseudo intellectuals under the European influence who are trying to impose their viewpoint as the facts of our traditions and culture. History is an event. The event can never be resurrected. As such, history is always a narration of the event and the narrator presents his perception, his understanding of the events. Therefore, different historians have written history in a different way. And even all these perceptions together can not said to be presenting the event in their right social and environmental context. It becomes all the more unfortunate when historians start commenting on our Scriptures.

The same is the case with the present articles. The author by picking a few sutras here and there has tried to derive and impose viewpoint that cow killing and beef eating was a normal part of our culture. I will take a few of such references to comment. One such reference is that "verily the cow is food". Now does it mean that the meat of cow is food or it means that cow really is the food giver to the mankind and to the nature. It will depend on your perception. It is known that cow milk is a low calorie, low cholesterol, high immunity and high vitamin food. It is essential to develop our mind, rejuvenation of cells and builds up immunity. On the other hand, the cow dung and urine restore and maintain the micro-nutrients in the soil and thus are a good food for soil. The other thing we have to keep in mind is that every word has different meaning and the meaning will depend in the context in which it is used. The literary translation may at times be totally out of place and, therefore, understanding and appreciation of the context is very critical.

Similarly, while referring to the law book of Manu, the author is deriving only an inference that cow killing was permitted. When cow killing did not have the sanction of the society, then the question of its putting together with other animals will not arise. And this is what speaks of the perception out of the context. When the author refers to the welcome of the learned Brahmins with a big ox, he only thinks that it is for eating. He is not linking to the context that earlier the people used to donate cows to the Brahmins and Rishis and presenting a big ox was to help them to have better breeds and was a gift to them. In the same paragraph, the author says "perhaps beef eating in certain sections of society was fairly common". What this 'perhaps' means? Is he doubtful about his own statement or he is just trying to impose his viewpoint. The other reference by the author is worship of Yamuna by Sita with cows. Does it mean that Sita wanted to kill 1000 cows and throw it in the Yamuna or does it mean that she intended to purify the Yamuna with the milk of 1000 cows. Even today, the milk is used for purification and poured in Yamuna river. As regards therapeutic use of beef, does it imply that beef eating was the culture of earlier Indians. Even today, people donate blood to save life. People donate organs. Does it mean that we are taking the blood or flesh of others. The author by such references has only ridiculed himself.

Both the articles by the author are full of ifs and buts. The vedic era has never supported cow killing. In fact in the vedic period, the nature was worshiped and the cow being able of sustaining not only the human but also the bio-diversity of the eco-system that it was given the respectful place. I would like to refer here to few of the references from our scriptures to prove the point of view that we were always against cow killing.

Atharavveda (Kand 75/5) says that it is only duffers who do havan with animal parts. Yajurveda (19-20) says that one who sacrifice animals attains only animal-hood and preaches that do not kill animals and do not kill cow. Rigveda (1-164-40) speaks for the worship of cow for good luck and fortune. Rigveda (10-87-16) call upon people to smolder the head of the person who kills the cow. Atharavveda (Kand 12/5) prescribes exemplary punishment for cow killing and talks about protection and samvardhan of cow and its progeny for agriculture. Brahmvavart Purana explain in detail the importance of cow to our life and nutritive value of its milk and ghee and lays down the necessity of rearing a cow and says that one will be healthy if he does not eat cow meat. Vishnudharmottar Purana explain the capability of the cow to clean and protect the environment. Virtues of the cow are immense and all scriptures bring out this fact and compare cow as encompassing the whole universe. It is now for readers to decide whether such a civilization of ours could reflect the perceptions which the author is propagating.

The purpose of writing this rejoinder is not to prove that cow killing did not take place in the earlier times. There were people who might be killing cows and even eating beef. There are people even to day who kill cow and eat beef. But does it mean that it is the staple food of the Indian society and that it reflects our culture and had sanction of the law or tradition. Even today, murders are committed, young girls are raped, illegitimate children are born, female foeticide takes place, brides are burnt for dowry. The idols are stolen and sold. What I mean to say is that so many activities take place which are against the norms, traditions and laws. Still, these are all documented events. Tomorrow when we write history, will it be correct to infer that this is what our society is today and such activities are sanctioned or that these are only the aberrations. Are these incidents to be emulated as our ideals.
There is one more thing which is called the sense of guilt. When people commit sins, they react in two ways - one is to accept the guilt and try to atone it i.e. to do prayaschit. Then there are others who try to justify their deeds and this is what most of the law breakers do. It is, therefore, not clear that when one speaks, in what shape of mind his guilt is. It is not clear what the author intends to justify or convey, promote or propagate. Is it cow killing or it is beef eating or slaughtering of animals and whose interest are intended to be served is to be judged by the readers.

It is right that the cow protection movement did not put the usefulness and virtues of cow to the mankind in the forefront. This was assumed being part of tradition. But the pseudo secularists and the pseudo intellectuals presented the cow protection as a Hindu movement. The cow does not discriminate in giving its milk or other Panchgavya on the basis of the gopalak being a Hindu or a Muslim, a Pandit or a Kasai. It is also well-known that beef is not a staple food of Indian Muslims. On the other hand, beef is a regular food of Europeans and it is this European mind set which is working to create wedge between the two communities to make themselves saleable outside.

It is unfortunate that we are raising doubts and questions about our knowledge and wisdom to market the European economy. The knowledge which has been practiced for thousands of years is being questioned. The contribution of cow as a source of healthy and nutritious food in the form of milk, dahi, ghee and therapeutic use of cow urine and dung in a number of ailments and the restoration of micro-nutrients in the soil are being seen as religious beliefs. It is the time that the Central and the State Governments and other research organisations come-forward to open research centers to revalidate what has been given as a prescription and is in practical use for thousands of years. You can only pity the author when he says that there are no temples for the holy and the sacred cow. The scriptures at no point of time suggested the cow to be worshiped as a white marble statue. The place of cow is in our heart and mind because the cow represents bio-diversity and is the protector of the environment and the mankind. The cow is to be worshiped and respected in its live form as a benefactor.

In the end, I would only suggest the readers to read themselves the Vedas to find out what was the thrust of vedic culture. If they have difficulty in reading Vedas then they can even read the sixty-ninth special eddition of Kalyan brought out by Geeta Press, Gorakhpur on the cow. It has reference to Vedas, Ramayana and Mahabharat and other scriptures to tell you what these scriptures have talked about the Indian cow.

Yours truly,


Some Bull

D.N. JHA (Paradox of the Indian cow, December 17) referred to a sentence from the Rig Veda which means " Indra has special liking for bulls". 'Bull' is the wrong meaning for the word vrishabh used here. Its actual meaning in this context is 'cloud'. So the actual sentence is; " Indra has special liking of clouds". In the Puranas, Indra is also known as the god of rain. - AMIT DUA, DELHI


THE ARTICLE Paradox of the Indian cow by D.N. Jha reveals his prejudices. In Rig Veda, the word 'bali' means offering, not killing, as in Balivaishvadev which is a Vedic ritual observed to offer food to celestial gods. Jha seems to be unfamiliar with Vedic grammar. Even Panini has defined 'goghn' as the receiver, not the killer, of the cow. J.K. BENIWAL, DELHI

A perennial paradox

WHILE DIGGING into the Vedas for beef, D.N. Jha (Paradox of the Indian cow, December 17) seems to be oblivious of the intricacies of Vedic language which is an esoteric field. Wherever one finds gau in Vedas, it does not invariably stand for cow. If the author things cows were sacrificed in gomedh, will he say that pitars were sacrificed in pitrimedh?

Two thousand years from now, scholars of Jha's caliber might find the mention of hotdogs in 'ancient' books and jump to the conclusion that dog meat was the staple food of Americans and Europeans in the 20th Century. We know Bombay duck is fish. But if at some point of time, someone insists on translating Bombay duck as a kind of duck, truth will be casualty.

There is need to avoid pitfalls while dealing with ancient languages. While dealing with books like Manusmriti, Jha is ignorant about the problem of interpolations. New research in the field, such as the Manusmriti edited and annotated by Surendra Kumar, is worth going into. RAM VIR, FARIDABAD.

THE SPECIAL position that the cow enjoys in Hinduism developed during the period of Lard Krishna. Cow is sacred because Krishna himself was fond of its milk. And, no other milk provides the nutritional and other qualities that cow's milk provides.

The question is not whether you like to eat cow's meat; it concerns the special position of the cow in Hinduism. This is a matter of faith, respect and feelings. M.M. AGARWAL, DELHI

REJOINDER - The word of god. by B.D. Ukhul, Vice-President, Arya Samaj, Janakipuri branch, Delhi

THE ARTICLE by D.N. Jha, Paradox of the Indian cow (December 17) is most provocative since it directly concerns the majority community of the country. It is paradoxical since its revered author is a Brahmin as his surname suggests.

He has stated that various varieties of meat, particularly of cows and bulls, were a part of the cuisine of early Indians and further indicated textual evidence of beef-eating. He has said that the Sangh parivar has turned its guns at historians, instead of at Indian scholars. This is a misconception since we Aryans believe in the Mundokupnishad (3.1.6) - Satyamev Jayate nanritam - that is, only the truth triumphs and not the false hood. We are willing to argue and counter the contrary opinion on the textual evidence.

Concerning Rig Veda and Atharv Veda, it would be revealed that the conclusions drawn by Jha are based on wrong interpretations since in Sanskrit a single word has multiple meanings. We believe the Ved-mantras to be truly Dev Vani (the word of god).

I mention the word rishibh which means bull. But it is also the name of an aushdhi (medicine). It also means surya (sun) the Sanskrit word mahisha means an animal and also denotes padarth (substance) and vighn (obstacle). The word Soma, besides an aushadhi, also means aishvara (an elevated position).

The conclusions based on literal meanings have misled the early commentators and because of this we should be open to correcting these misgivings. In the light of correct meanings, the thesis in the article will collapse under its own weight.

Jha has singled out some hymns of the Vedas whose misinterpretation has led to wrong conclusions. I have come across ample textual evidence in the Vedas where the cow has been glorified saying it needs to be worshipped. The Vedas prescribe punishment for the cow's butcher.

The entire Sukta 28 of Mandal VI (eight hymns) of Rig Veda is devoted to the glorification of the cow; 28.3 states amitrah assam vyathih n aaddharshti - enemy may not use any astra (weapon) on cows; 28.4 states n sanskritam upayanti to abhi - nobody should take them to the slaughterhouse to kill them; 28.5 states - gavah somyasaya prathamasya bhakhshah - in the first ahuti (offering) of Somras, only cow's milk is used.

The glory of the domestic cow is revealed in the Rig Veda hymn II. 35.7. It is also emphasised in Atharv Veda (AV) hymns V.28.3; IV.21.6; IV.21.7; also in the hymn XIX. 48.5 which directs us to protect all animals. Refer the book Swadhyaya Sandoh by Swami Vedanand Teerth, (pg 25-26 and 296, besides referring to the Vedic texts.

AV in its hymn I. 16.4 prescribes punishment to the killer of the cow. Vedic rishis never allowed such killings which Jha tries to prove b singling out solitary references in Taittirya Brahmana, Satapatha Brahmana. Even the name of Ajnavalk and Valmiki Ramayana is referred to fortify his claim. The entire thesis is based on misinterpretations. B.D. Ukhul, The writer is

REJOINDER / Sandha Jain

Cow as mother

The cow is the symbol of the Hindu community's perception of divinity in all forms of life. One detects ill motives behind the contention that Hindus started worshipping cows only from the earl medieval period

MARXISM IS the most aggressive of the monocultures seeking to decimate India's unique civilisation because it has no core values of its own; it lacks a sense of the sacred, and relies wholly on the vitality of fiolence to achieve its ends. Yet, even by the debased standards of Marxist discourse, D.N.Jha's distasteful allegations about the cow as chow in an historically undefined but pristine period in the evolution of our dharmic tradition strikes a new low (Paradox the Indian cow, HT, Dec 17-18).

Jha claims to be an eminent historian; hence his persuasive prattle about cow flesh constituting the haute cuisine and dietetics of ancient India raises critical questions about the use of oral traditions to arrive at historical conclusions in the absence of convincing corroborative evidence. Equally significant is his selective (distorted) use of scriptures to portray a false image of a community that was spiritually awakened so far back in time.

It is necessary to understand the distinctiveness of the sanatan dharma (eternal, Indic tradition) - a way of life based on the cosmic law (rta), inspired by the ideal of universal welfare of all beings, both human and other creatures. Its inner dynamics are characterised by evolution, because it grew on the banks of rivers where the movement of waters is constant, sacred. As Prof. Lokesh Chandra, scholar of Hinduism and Buddhism, says, waters flow because of the banks the waters would not flow but would slush into marshes. In the spiritual universe, banks are our maryadas (sense of the sacred, of limits).

The dharma promotes realisation (sadhna) as oposed to a fixed revelation; hence our samskaras vary with time. The tradition accommodates a multiplicit of perceptions at the highest levels of spiritual perfection. The goal is to ennoble man (ud yaanam te purusa, Rig Veda - RV); man apprehends God and becomes Brahman.

The Indic tradition also has the concept of yuga dharma (dharma of an epoch), as humanity is an end, never a means. In the Vedic age the cow was perceived as supreme nurturer and Moter; auspicious qualities were attributed to her. Thought originated in her (goshthi).

The cow was equated with wealth, and unlikely to be killed symbolically on account of the belief that if ou killed a cow you killed your prosperity. The Vedas describe the cow as sinless and aghna (which cannot or should not be murdered), and prescribed severe punishments for those who killed her.

Jha claims that the Rig Veda provides evidence of beef-eating. While it is true that animals were sacrificed to honour gods in the Vedic era, this was usually the male ox, buffalo or goat. The sacrifice was a special communit event and not an act of individual consumerist eating.

Jha calls Indra a tippler, with a special liking for bulls. But if we look at the original Sanskrit text of his first reference (RV, V. 29.7ab), along with the translation by the British Sanskritist, H.H. Wilson, based on the Bhasya of Sayanacarya, we find that both verses speak of buffaloes (mahisha), not bulls. RV VI.17.11 and VIII.12.8 mention buffaloes (mahishamn). In RV X.27.2 and X.28.3 we find the bull (vrishabham); while X.86.14 speaks of large bulls (ukshano).

Obviously, Jha has engaged in crude genetic engineering to transform buffaloes into cows, and bulls into cows. His articles take so man liberties with truth that the entire Vedic Age appears as a debauched revelry reminiscent of Caligula's Rome.

Agni, another Vedic deit who lives on in the daily jyot in Hindu homes, has been projected as a lascivious lover of animal food, including the flesh of horses, bulls and cows. But these are not interchangeable terms, and in Jha's references (RV VIII.43.11), speaks of large bulls (ukshaannaya), while X.91.14 mentions God as one to whom "vigorous horses and bulls and barren cows and sheep are consigned as burnt offerings". Jha uses the same verse to prove that cattle were killed for Soma (a drink and a God), but the text only mentions somprishtaya, " (Agni) whose back is sprinkled with Soma" (a drink and a god), but the text only mentions somprishtaya, "(Agni) whose back is sprinkled with Soma".

The reliance on the Rig Veda to prove the cow's culinary debut is thus dubious. Jha's sweeping references to later-day Grhyasutras and Dharmasutras may be dismissed, as these texts were prone to corrpution, as noted by Bharat Ratna P.V. Kane. His contention that the grammarian Panini used the word goghn to mean "guest for whom a cow is slain" is false and mischievous. Panini created a special sutra, dashagoghnan sampradane (3/4/73), to establish the rule that goghn will mean only the receiver of a cow.

Jha has not spared even Sita! The poor goddess is mentioned as promising the Yamuna a thousand cows and hundred jhars of wine when Ram accomplished his vow; the suggestion being that the cows will be sacrified. Valmiki states yakshetvam go sahasrena sura ghatashen cha, which means a puja. There is never a sacrifice for a river, and the cows are to be gifted.

Cow slaughter is held to be an important part of public sacrifices like the vajapeya yagna. According to German Saskritist, Hermann Oldenberg (Die Religion des Veda), in the Vajapeya sacrifice, the priest sprinkles the sacrificer with the sacrificial measl mixed with water, milk and nutritive substances. The horses smell the sacrificial meal, both before and after the race, which is a part of this feast, in order to get power and speed. The smoke emanating from the sacrificial fire and aroma of the sacrifice are effective carriers of the power of blessing contained in the sacrifice.

Of course, we need not be dogmatic that there was no cow killing in ancient India, but we can dismiss Jha's contention that there is ambiguous archaeological evidence in support of it. His assertion is false that despite the Upanishadic exhortation to ahimsa, a call supported by Buddha (accused of eating beef and pork) and Mahavira, the cow could not became sacred until the earl medieval period.

The cow became scared and aghnya during the Rig Veda period itself. It emerged as the vehicle of Shiva and the special protectee of the cow-herd god, Krishna. The virtues of its products - milk, curd, ghee, dung and urine - have been extolled from the time of the Vedas.

Beef riddle

Sir, - Dr. D.N. Jha reveals his extreme prejudice and misrepresentation of the Hindu religion in his remarks on the 'Paradox of the Indian cow". He refers to Rig Ved, Panini, Manusmriti and other sacred texts.

However, there is no such thing as sacrificing the bulls and cows in the VIII Mandal, of the Rig Veda. The word medh means "o conjoin" and bali means "offering ", not the killing, as in the term Balivaishvedev which is a Vedic ritual observed daily to offer food to celestial Gods.

Similarly Panini has himself defined the meaning of the word "goghn" as the " receiver of the cow" not the killer of the cow.

It appears that Prof. Jha is ignorant of the Vedic grammer and has never been familiar with Ashtadhyayi of Panini. He must have simply read the books of Max Muller etc, and their followers who were the derogators of Vedic culture, as promoted by the British diplomats, which has deeply affected the Hindu scholars and historians as welll. One should know that Max Muller was amply rewarded for a single sheet of derogatory translation of Rig Veda.

Furthermore interpolations of meat eating in the Manusmriti and the Shatpath Brahman etc. are very obvious. Manusmriti strictly admonishes meat eating and tells that these people involved in the selling, buying, cooking, serving and the eating meat are sinners (5/48.51). I would like to suggest that Dr. Jha study " The True History and The Religion of India" by Swami Prakashanand Saraswati, which is a concise encyclopedia of authentic truth of Hindu culture and religion. J.K. Beniwal, E-300 Greater Kailash-I, NEW DELHI - 110 048.



The Myth of the Holy Cow by D.N.Jha published by Verso, London, 2002 is the most damaging book in its contents since the sole intention of the author has been to prove that all ancient Hindu scriptures particularly the Vedas and Shatpath Brahmana etc.uphold beef-eating and this has been the way of life of the Aryans who were our ancestors since the term Hindu came to be introduced much later. The author has cited references from the Vedas, Brahmanas, Upnishads etc. to prove his thesis which perhaps he chose to be the sole mission of his life even though he comes from a Brahamin family and he has dedicated his so called prestigious book to his kin in Rajrani (a symbol of motherhood). Aryans revered cow as a mother and it is really an irony that a son of Bharat has taken immense pains to prove something which is far from truth and also it injures the sentiments of millions of Hindus and in order to demolish his thesis an effort is being hereby made to trace each and every reference cited by him in the book and reveal the truth and nothing but the truth. To commence with, citations quoted from the Rgveda are being dealt with beginning from the very first Mandala of Rigveda.
It is beyond any doubt that the conclusions drawn by Mr. Jha are based on wrong interpretations and the misleading commentaries by the western scholars and also the works of Indian scholars who got patronage of the British rulers. Role of such scholars and their mission to erase our heritage was under a well planned scheme to mould the Indian mind into the western thought and culture and create conditions to cast off our past. Their mission was to spread Christianity and the major players were Macauley and Max Muller and their correspondence and writings* will substantiate this submission. Hereby it will also be revealed that these western scholars could not derive the right and intended spirit of our ancient Rishis and have erred immensely. In the realm of the Vedic interpretation, we owe debt to Swami Dayanand Saraswati(1825-1883), the founder of Aryasamaj who took us back to the Vedas. His commentaries were based on the Nighantu and Yaska's Nirukta and he thought deep and delved deep to arrive at the rightful adhyatmik and yogic spirit of the mantras. The opinion of a great saint-philosopher Sri Aurobindo Ghosh will be the most pertinent to quote in this regard."In the matter of Vedic interpretation I am convinced that whatever may be the final complete interpretation, Dayananda will be honoured as the first discoverer of the right clues. Amidst the chaos and obscurity of old ignorance and age long misunderstanding his was the eye of direct vision that pierced to the truth and fastened on that which was essential. He had found the keys of the doors that time had closed and rent asunder the seals of the imprisoned fountains". AT THIS STAGE IT IS DESIRABLE THAT WE APPROACH THIS IMPORTANT ASPECT TO ENDORSE AND ACCEPT THE RIGHTFUL INTERPRETAIONS INSTEAD OF CLINGING TO DEFECTIVE LITERAL TRANSLATIONS OF THE VEDAS WHICH ARE REVELATIONS BY THE ALMIGHTY GOD WHO BLESSED US WITH THIS DIVINE KNOWLEDGE TO GUIDE OUR PATH SINCE THE VEDIC REVELATION WAS SYNCHRONOUS WITH MAN'S FIRST APPEARANCE ON EARTH. How can our creator prescribe offerings of his own creatures? After independence, this aspect should have received due attention but it is sad that this remained untapped and even the Sanskrit language came under cloud when a Rajya Sabha nominated Christian member Frank Anthony introduced a bill to drop this sacred language from the eighth schedule of languages enshrined in the Indian constitution in 1977. There is no doubt that some Western scholars did an appreciable job to introduce the Vedas to the outside world which inspired the scholars to learn Sanskrit to benefit from the treasure of wisdom of Vedic Rishis but unfortunately, it followed a wrong path without application of their inner mind or intellect as was done by the devoted disciple of Swami Virajanand who was actually blind of eyes but he imparted such vision and deep knowledge to Dayanand that he clung to the soul and spirit of the Vedas and it is our bounden duty to follow this path to understand the sacred words of God which can never be wrong and are ever infallible. In the context of the commentary/translation of the Vedas by Max Muller, it will be relevant to point out the opinion of Mr. Boulanger, the editor of Russian edition of The Sacred Books of the East Series as follows:
"What struck me in Max Mullar's translation was a lot of absurdities, obscene passages and a lot of what
is not lucid".
"As far as I can grab the teaching of the Vedas, it is so sublime that I would look upon it as a crime on my part, if the Russian public becomes acquainted with it through the medium of a confused and distorted translation, thus not deriving for its soul that benefit which this teaching should give to the people". In his book 'Vedic Hymns', Max Muller himself says "My translation of the Vedas is conjectural".
HEREUNDER the glaring difference in substance and the spirit of the cited Suktas 162 and 163 of the first Mandala of Rigveda is illustrated to establish that misinterpretation is at the root of this problem. Each Sukta has its risi and devata; risi depicts 'drashta' whereas devata depicts the subject matter
which facilitates the understanding of the mantras under respective Sukta.
Sukta 162- Name of risi: Deerghatama Name of devata:Mitradyo Lingokta (As per Sw.Dayanand): Deerghatama :Ashav-stuti (As per translation of HH Wilson)
Sukta 163- Name of risi: Deerghatama Name of devata:Ashvo-agnirdevta(As per Sw.Dayanand): Deerghatama:Ribhuganh (As per translation of HH Wilson)
The above implies that both the Suktas are in glorification of the horse but our Western enthusiasts and Mr.Jha along with his Indian ideals have even ignored the very basic lead and gone for crucification of the spirit of mantras which is left to your esteemed judgement.
Sukta 162 has 22 mantras while Sukta 163 has 13 mantras. Mr. Jha states that in the ashvamedha(horse sacrifice),the most important of the Vedic public sacrifices,first referred to in the Rigveda in the afore-stated Suktas (p.31 of his book).
Sukta 162 in fact deals with the science of applying horse power (automation) of the fire pervading in the form of energy. No mantra supports sacrifice of horses. Of course the first mantra has been translated by Max Muller in a wrong manner as follows:
"May Mitra,Varuna,Aryaman,Ayush,Indra,the Lord of Ribhus and the Maruta not rebuke us because we shall proclaim at the sacrifice virtues of the swift horse sprung from the god".(from History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature). Similarly H.H.Wilson in his translation based on the commentary of Sayanacarya states as follows:
"Let neither Mitra nor Varuna,Aryaman,Ayu,Indra,Ribhukshin,nor the Maruts,censure us;when was proclaim in the sacrifice the virtues of the swift horse sprung from the gods".
Transliterated version of this mantra is given below:
Ma no mitro varuno arymayurindro ribhuksha marutah parikhyan Yadvajino devajatasya sapteh pravakshyamo vidathe veeryani Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati in his Hindi commentary has rendered the translation as follows:
We the performers of yajna in all seasons (vidathe) in the battle field (yat) whose (vajinah) stormy (devajatasya) learned men and borne out of the divine virtues (sapte) of the horse (veeryani) unique performances (pravakshyamah) we shall describe (nah) the daring performances of our horses (mitrah) friend (varunah) sublime (aryama) the deliverer of justice (ayuh) the knower (indrah) the all-elivated or aishvaryavan (ribhuksha) intelligent and (marutah) priests (ma, pari,khyan) should never disregard these properties. To easily grasp the spirit of mantra the following translation will be helpful. We shall describe here the energy generating virtues of the powerful horses(planets),added with brilliant properties of the vigorous force of heat. The learned never dispute these properties. There is vast difference in the above quoted translations.Obviously the wrong seeds were sown by Sayan and Mahidhar who were the ideals adopted by the western scholars, namely Max Muller, Griffith , Wilson etc. Sw.Dayanand Saraswati in his book "An Introduction to the Vedas" has adversely criticised on the commentaries of Sayan and Mahidhar in context of some of their interpretations of the Vedic hymns. They could be held responsile for the horrible and horried interpretations which suggest as if the Vedas were the texts to lay down the modes of sacrifices. Is it not a tragedy for the Dharamacharyas/Sanskrit scholars of this country that they also could not pursue the path shown by Dayanand and got bogged down only in the rituals of worship in the temples and no attention was paid to the sources of knowledge which were the guiding principles of Aryans, our worthy ancestors and sons of the mother India (Aryavrat) as the vedas proclaimed man as 'amritasya putras' and we need to follow this path if we want to be proud of our heritage and hold our head high or otherwise we are going to be labelled with the legacy of butchers and animal killers who desired to please different gods by various sacrifices performed in the yajnas.

Eighth mantra of this Sukta is translated as follows:
The fleet of horses is controlled by holding of bridles and saddles placed thereon. To make them strong,the grass and cereals are fed to them. Likewise,the learned people control and regulate their power of senses and taking nourishing diet.

Wilson's translation is as follows:
May the halter and the heel-ropes of the fleet courser, and the head-ropes, the girths, and any other (part of the harness); and the grass that has been put into his mouth; may all these be with you, (horse) ,amongst the gods. (THIS IS NOTHING BUT LITERAL AND MECHANICAL TRANSLATON BEREFT OF THE SUBSTANCE & SPIRIT OF THE MANTRA) Ninth mantra again was again wrongly interpreted by Max Muller,Wilson and Griffith to translate the word 'kravishah' as the flesh. It is an adjective of 'ashvasya' and derived from kramu-padavikshepe. Hence it means ' the pacing horse' and not of the flesh. 'shamituh' has been translated by Prof. Max Muller and Wilson as of the immolator. Griffith has translated it as 'of a slayer'. But etymologically 'sam-alochne' means 'to look at' (with love and peace) and should mean ' a person who looks at the living beings with love and peace and not slayer'.
Twelfth mantra emphasizes on the qualities of the warrior and its translation is as follows:
They who crave for the meat of a horse and declare the horse fit to be killed should be exterminated. Those who keep the fast horse well trained and disciplined deserve to be praised by us for the strength of their character and perseverance. (IT CLEARLY DEMOLISHES THE THESIS OF JHA AND PROVES THAT HE HAS MERELY QUOTED CITATIONS AND HARDLY CARED TO LOOK AT THE ACTUAL TEXT BUT INSPIRED BY THE FOLLOWING TRANSLATION OF WILSON):
"Let their exertions be for our good who watch the cooking of the horse; who say, it is fragrant; therefore give us some: who solicit the flesh of the horse as alms". (WHAT AN IMMENSE DAMAGE TO THE SPIRIT OF THE MANTRA).
Mantras 13 to 19 deal with the theme of horse or automation power while 20 to 22 are devoted to the benefits of Yoga exercises and an ideal life.
Sukta 163
This Sukta deals with various attributes of learned person, agni, science & technology. There are references to the horse to illustrate its unique qualities of its immense energy likened to agni (fire), intelligence, bravery and inbuilt attributes which are at par with those of the men of wisdom. Perusal of some mantras will bring home this point.
First mantra includes or rather ends with 'arvan' and this word denotes as per Yv 29.12 vigyanvan athva ashvaiv veguvan vidvan=O learned person active like the horse.
Second mantra includes the term 'surat ashvam' which means the fast moving agni i.e the fire which enables a speedy locomotion.
Third mantra includes the term 'adityah arvan' and here it means the sun which is all pervading. 'arvan'means sarvatrapraptah=pervading all. This term was wrongly translated by Prof. Wilson , Griffith and others, while both admit in the notes that Yama means Agni, Aditya-Sun and Trita-Vayu. How can horse be identified with Agni (fire) sun and the air etc.none has cared to justify. To take 'arva' for agni, there is the clear authority of the Taittiriya Brahmana.(I.36,4).
Fourth mantra includes the word 'arvan' where it is used to mean the learned and wise people.
Eighth mantra includes the word 'arvan' through which the mighty and active person has been likened to the horse who bears such characteristics. Ninth mantra includes the word 'arvantam' which means vegavantam agnim ashvam=the rapid horse in the form of Agni (fire, electricity etc.)
Tenth mantra includes the word 'ashva' where it means the bright swift horses in the form of fire, air, water etc.
Eleventh mantra includes the word 'arvan' and the following translation of this mantra will endorse our stand that the unique qualities of the horse are emphasized in Sukta-163:
"O brave person! You are active like a horse, your body is like a swift vehicle, your mind is like the wind in motion. Your sublime actions are initiated from the proper use of fire and electricity. These are spread in all directions like the hoary creatures in the forests". One can see that this mantra is in praise of highly skilled technicians.

Wilson's translation reads as follows:
"Your body, horse, is made for motion , your mind is rapid (in intention ) as the wind: the hairs (of your mane) are tossed in manifold directions; and spread beautiful in the forests".(ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF
Twelfth mantra includes the term 'vajyarva' which means agni swift(vegavan) like a horse and here in this mantra use of agni is highlighted.
Thirteenth and the last mantra of this Sukta contains the word 'arvan' where it means agnyadashvan= horses in the form of fire, electricity etc.
ASVAMEDHA has been translated as horse sacrifice as referred above by Jha and the conclusions drawn accordingly and this has been the root cause of varied wrong interpretations and in order to illustrate its scope and meaning the following is stated:
At the sight of words 'asvamedha,gomedha,purushmedha,ajmedha' there is a general tendency to interpret it to denote as hinsa/sacrifice/killing. 'medha' word's verb or dhatu is 'medhri'. 'medhrisangame hinsayam cha' i.e. to enhance pure intellect , to inculcate love and integration among the people and also hinsa i.e killing (this dhatu conveys these three meanings).But it does not always mean killing or sacrifice and in Sanskrit no literal translation will do where a particular word carries varied meanings and it has to
be applied judiciously and thoughtfully keeping in view the context of the text. The words 'purushmedha'
and 'nriyajna' are synonyms. In manusmriti the word 'nriyajna' has been defined as'nriyajnoatithipoojanam'
(manusmriti -3.70) it means the pooja or honour of the guests. If we take the meaning of the root 'medhri' as sangamanarth it will come to be interpreted as to organize the people for virtuous deeds or to enhance the love and equanimity among them i.e. it would be 'nriyajna'or 'purushmedh'. It may be pertinent to mention here that 'nrimedha' is a rishi of some vedic hymns of Samveda. It can never mean the one who kills or sacrifices the human beings. Consequently, the terms followed by medha always do not signify killing/sacrifice and therefore the interpretations made by the Western scholars are utterly wrong and unacceptable.
In Shatpath Brahmana (13.1.6) it is stated "Rashtramva asvamedhah" i.e. Asvamedha means to manage or run the affairs of the rashtra (country) in a befitting manner.
In the Shantiparva of Mahabharata (3.336) there is mention of asvamedha of the king Vasu in which numerous rishis and learned men participated.In this context it is clearly mentioned "n tatra pashughato-abhoot" i.e. there was no killing of any animal. Further in this Parva at 3.327, the following is stated in context with 'ajamedh':
Ajairyajneshu yashtavyamiti vai vaidiki shruti Ajasanjnani beejani chhaganno hantumarhatha Naishah dharmah satam devah yatra vadhyeta vai pashuh It means that whenever it is stated to use aja for performance of yajna, it means the seeds called 'aja' have to be used. Here it does not mean a goat. It is
not proper to kill goats and it does not behove the virtuous people to indulge in killing of the animals.
Sw.Dayanand Saraswati in his book "An introduction to the Vedas" at p.448-449 states that God is Jamadagni i.e. Ashvamedha. An empire is like a horse and the subjects like other inferior animals. As other animals,the strength, so the subjects are weaker than the state assembly. The glory and splendour of an empire consists in wealth,gold etc. and in administration of justice".(Shatpath Brahmana: XIII.2.2.14-17) It is further stated that God's name is Ashva also,because , He pervades the whole universe (Ashva comes from the root 'Ash' which means to pervade).
The above derivations call for our cautious approach and take upon ourselves the task of removing the mist caused by misinterpretations to see the truth which can be one and only one and feel proud of our heritage.
Rakshabandhan: 7th Bhadrapada, 2059
22nd August,2002

(To be continued)
(The author expresses his gratitude to Shri Bharat Bhushan Vidyalankar for his guidance,encouragement and valuable suggestions in compilation of the write-up)

* It was February, 1835 , a time when the British were striving to take control of the whole of India. Lord
Macaulay, a historian and a politician, made a historical speech in the British Parliament, commonly referred to as The Minutes, which struck a blow at the centuries old system of Indian education. His words
were to this effect: I have travelled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such calibre, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation , which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and , therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own ,they will lose their self-esteem, their native self-culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation.
(Source:The Awakening Ray,Vol.4 No.5, The Gnostic Centre) Reproduced in Niti issue of April,2002 at
p.10- a periodic publication of Bharat Vikas Parishad, Delhi.

Dayanand Saraswati. An introduction to the Vedas ; translated from the original Sanskrit by Ghasi Ram.
3rd edn. Delhi,Sarvadeshik Arya Pratinidhi Sabha,1998.
Bharat Bhushan Vidyalankar. Vedon ke sambandh men bharant dharnayen -mss. Delhi,2002. 11pp.
Rgveda Samhita with English translation by Swami Satya Prakash Sarasvati and Satyakam Vidyalankar.
Delhi,Veda Pratishthana,1977.
The Rigveda with Maharishi Dayanda Saraswati's Commentary. Translated into English by Acharya Dharam Dev Vidya Martanda. Delhi,Sarvadeshik Arya Pratinidhi Sabha,1974.
Rgveda: Hindi Bhashya -pratham mandal by Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati. Delhi,Sarvdeshik Arya
Pratinidhi Sabha,1972.
Rgveda Samhita:Sanskrit text,English translation and notes according to translation of H.H.Wilson and Bhasya of Sayanacarya edited and revised with exhaustive introduction and notes by Ravi Prakash Arya and K.L.Joshi. Delhi,Parimal Publications,1997. 4 vols.
Vidyanand Saraswati. Aaryon ka aadi desh aur unki sabhyata. Delhi,Arya Prakashan,2002

Author is a former Librarian of Indian National Science Academy,New Delhi

Presently up-pradhan of Aryasamaj , C Block, Janakpuri,New Delhi.
Postal Address: C2A/58, Janakpuri, New Delhi-110058. Telephone: 5525128}

The synopsis on the jacket of the book entitled 'The myth of the holy cow' by D.N.Jha reads as follows:
"The growth of religious fundamentalism in India is symbolized by the existence of a BJP government committed to the Hindutva. There is growing pressure to declare the cow a sacred, national animal and to ban its slaughter. The Myth of the Holy Cow is an illuminating response to this crazed confessionalism.
It challenges obscurantist views on the sanctity of the cow in Hindu tradition and Culture. Dwijendra Narayan Jha, a leading Indian historian, argues that beef eating played an important part in the cuisine of ancient India, long before the birth of Islam. It was very much a feature of the approved Brahamanical and Buddhist diet. The evidence he produces from a variety of religious and secular texts is compelling. His opponents, including the current government of India and the fundamentalist groups backing it, have demanded that the book should be ritually burned in public. It has already been banned by the Hyderabad Civil Court and the author's life has been threatened".


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