The holy cow: Unravelling the mystery of its holiness

Khanna, Vandita (2017) The holy cow: Unravelling the mystery of its holiness. Millennial Asia, 8 (2). pp. 217-233. ISSN 9763996

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This article aims at debunking the sanctity of the cow that has gained ground as a political vehicle in contemporary times, and exposing the selective reading of texts employed otherwise to further particular religious leanings. Through the course of this article, a wide array of evidence from religious scriptures, legal texts, archaeological materials, epics, commentaries, edicts, foreign travellers’ accounts, debates, statutes and judicial decisions have been resorted to, in order to enable a comprehensive understanding of the trajectory of the cow from sacrificial slaughter to prohibitory injunctions on beef consumption. This article, to begin with, traces the treatment of the cow to the earliest Vedic texts through an academic survey to demystify popular misconceptions regarding religious injunctions against cow slaughter and the inherent sacredness of the cow. It then explores an amalgamation of theories put forth to explicate the transition from cow killing to the present inviolability of the cow. Finally, this article examines the legal and juridical discourse on sanctifying the cow, by tracing Constituent Assembly debates and a series of judgements on cow slaughter under the colonial administration and post-Independence, to conclude that judicial intervention has failed to engage with the religious debate satisfactorily and has made a mockery of constitutional secularism in promoting and normalizing a single dominantcaste Hindu narrative.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Hinduism | Slaughter | Saffronization | Sacred Objects |Secularism
Subjects: Social Sciences and humanities > Social Sciences > Social Sciences (General)
JGU School/Centre: Jindal Global Law School
Depositing User: Amees Mohammad
Date Deposited: 27 Jan 2022 09:33
Last Modified: 27 Jan 2022 09:33
Official URL:


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