The supreme divinity in Hinduism having cosmic functions of Creation, Preservation and Destruction/Transformation are personified in Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver and Shiva the Transformer. There was a time in the history when humans underwent all their life stages and functions so passively as God’s will (fatalism or Karma). Now human beings are able to control to a great extent all these stages and functions more consciously and actively as they are gaining more knowledge about the mystery of creation, preservation and transformation. Using their ever increasing knowledge and capacity to organize and to implement his new ideas, they are able to plan their family size, educate their children in national or international schools, administer themselves better health and life prolonging medical facilities, employ better and faster travelling modes and have amazingly fast and efficient communication and computerized mechanization for doing everything in life. Now he is seeing the unseen, hearing the unheard, touching the intangible, reaching the unreachable and doing the unthinkable. In short humans are becoming more and more creators, preservers and transformers of their own destiny and everything around them. Man is the master of all creatures in the world and it is within his duty to organize and reorganize anything in the world.
Though he has not yet taken control over his own death, he can delay it and make it much less painful and more acceptable. Many people now think that once their active and useful life is over it is better to say goodbye before they get into unbearable senility and painful parasitic mode of life. There was a time abortion was illegal in India (till 1971); but now it is legal up to twenty weeks giving relief to millions people every year and contributing to population control. But still there are many people in India who are totally against abortion on religious reasons. But abortion is not forced law like the anti-cow slaughter law but a free choice. The attempted suicide was a punishable crime till recently; but it is no more in our country like in many other countries. Several countries have legalized euthanasia on which our country is also debating. Now in our country one has the right to have or not to have his own life. The concept of life and death is changing and people are gaining more and more control on their own lives and on their own deaths. Many people want to be useful to humanity even after their death/transformation. More and more people are pledging their organs for the benefit of others who still have their lives to complete or to begin. Now there are facilities for preserving human, animal and plant genetic materials for the future use even after many years of their death, proving that death is only a transformation even for all animals and plants and humans are the creators, preservers and transformers of themselves as well as all animals, plants, microbes and all other nonliving things. All human activities including cattle rearing and their extermination/transformation have to be seen from that perspective.
Stupendous are the developments in plant, animal and human genetics. A bull can go on impregnating hundreds of cows many years after his death. Slaughtered cattle can remain alive in thousands of people’s lives for hundreds of generations as protein molecules, hormones and enzymes; it can exist in the lives of millions of people as several products of very valuable leather, bone, horn and hoof; they can be fully alive in its progeny for hundreds of years. People and animals have given themselves to medical research up to their death and transformed themselves into the lives of thousands of others living in the present and future. In biological life the parents, especially the mother, get transformed into the lives of their progeny. As in other parts of the world slaughtering cattle and other domestic animals for food and finance was common in India for hundreds and thousands of years. That is the Law of Nature and transformation of cattle from life to nonlife is part of the same law of Nature which was being followed ever since man appeared on earth. It goes against it is an Invisible Injustice.
Hence all forms of anti-cattle slaughter laws are against the Divine Law of Transformation and cruelty to the aged and miserably suffering cattle population. Besides food and finance there are cases like scientific experiments, control and prevention of contagious diseases like anthrax, TB, foot and mouth disease, brucellosis, rinderpest etc. compelling us to slaughter cattle to save other animals and humans from infection and death. It is dangerous even to keep animals with contagious diseases in goushalas. Maintaining old and unproductive cows in gaushalas is not a viable proposition nor ethical when millions of old and sick humans are left abandoned and under terrible suffering. It is a sin to abandon human beings and then care for old and sick cattle. According to the directory there are nearly 2000 goushalas housing may be couple of million cattle. On an average 400-500 rupees per day per head cattle are required just to feed and water them excluding the medical and veterinary expenses. Surveys in goushalas have shown that the cattle are not fed, watered and cared properly. It is reported that cattle in goushalas die earlier than those let out in the streets and rural areas. The whole concept of banning cow slaughter is the brain wave of a few superstitiously religious and fanatically fundamentalist people in our country having no scientific understanding of the biological life cycle of cattle or any other living being.
The first cow protection move was initiated at the national level by the founder of Arya Samaj Swami Dayanda Sarswati 1882. Being a great social reformer he was against idol worship, animal sacrifice, pilgrimages, priest craft, offerings made to temples, the caste system, child marriages, meat eating and discrimination against women. His preference for vegetarianism crystallized in his mind into “anti-cow-slaughter move” and the network Arya Samaj was used to promote this idea in a large scale. A vast majority of people of that time was sympathetic to this idea and cashing on that sympathy wave inadvertently included the last clause in the Article 48 of the constitution of India. That last clause reads “take steps for preserving and improving the breeds and prohibiting the slaughter of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle.” Human involvement in preserving and improving of cattle or any other domestic animals necessarily involves culling and killing of animals to be used for food and other processed body parts like leather, bones, hoofs and horns. It is reported that 5000 million rupees per year are spent by government on the maintenance of goushalas yielding no useful result in the preservation and improvement of cattle in our country. At the same time as I have explained in one of my previous articles “Reasons for Poor Animal Improvement in India” practically no improvement of cattle took place in our country due to poor research and development which again is due to inadequate financial backing and insufficient infra-structure development. The first and foremost way of improving the cattle population is to cull unproductive or uneconomical ones and to transform them into useful food and nonfood items. In that way we can save millions of rupees spent on goushalas and invest the same for the preservation and improvement of cattle breeds in our country.
Dayananda Sarswati was against animal sacrifices and was promoting vegetarianism. His campaign against cow slaughter should be seen in that context. But like Gandhiji he was tolerant to people who were eating meat and even slaughtering cattle for food and nonfood items. The present anti-cow-slaughter movement is a distorted understanding of the “Prevention of Cruelty to Animals promoted in 1960 and all the subsequent acts and amendments promulgated are proof to the same. Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act is much more strongly active in many other countries than India and yet they slaughter them for food and financially useful products. Whereas in our country under the garb of implementing “Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act” the present Hindutua government is blocking the livelihood of millions of scheduled and backward casts and other religious groups who were depending on cattle beef for food (source of protein) and for the much needed financial sources through leather and other byproducts industries. It is in a way is the slow slaughtering of all people who are not abiding by the Hindutua ideologies: Invisible injustice.
To kill a cattle or an animal as an offering is an age-old practice in the human history; so too to share the meat of the offered animal as food among the people took part in the ceremony of animal offering. Though animal sacrifices are obsolete cattle and other animals are transformed / killed on the altar of humanity for food, medical experiment and useful products in the people’s lives. This human altar is supremely sacred as it is a place from where real nourishment for billions of people is obtained. Cattle meat is a common food offering to billions of people in the world and millions even in India. Banning the slaughter of cattle is slaughtering of millions of people but slowly and steadily.
(The writer is Retired Professor, Environment & Natural Resource Management with Justice at XIM, Bhubaneswar. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)#(Published on 12th June 2017, Volume XXIX, Issue 24)