Ram Puniyani


The BJP ruled Uttarakhand Government’s decision to procure cow’s urine, refine it and sell it to Ayurvedic pharmacies is an affirmation of the central place of the cow in the political symbolism of RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh). Since Muslims, Christians, Adivasis, and some Dalits do not have any prohibitions against eating beef, this decision is expected to arouse Hindu sentiments against minorities.


Recently the BJP ruled Uttarakhand Government (Feb 2008) has announced that it will procure cow’s urine, on the pattern similar to the procurement of milk by dairies, refine it and sell it to Ayurvedic pharmacies. Other BJP ruled Governments are also working on similar lines.


Cow has been having a central place in the political symbolism of RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh) combine. The place of this symbolism may be only next to Lord Ram. On these premises, so far cow has been projected as mother. In its major campaign against minorities’ rights since the1950s, BJP’s predecessor Bharatiya Jan Sangh, had undertaken a nationwide, “Desh Dharm ka nata Hai Gau Hamari mata hai” (Cow is related to us through our religion and nation as mother) and also “Janm Janm Ka Nata hai Gau hamari Mata hai”  (Cow is our mother in our every birth). Since Muslims, one does not know why Christians were not targeted for it, are not prohibited from eating beef and since many butchers belong to the Kasai (butchers) occupation, this fact has been used to demonize the Muslim community. We worship cows, they eat, they butcher cows! This has been used to rouse the sentiments of the majority community time and over again.


With Uma Bharati becoming the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh (2005) for a brief while, she introduced cow based economy, funds for Goshalas (cow sheds) were given from Government treasury, and her official residence became the first such Goshala. Cow based economy aimed at promoting cow products as the core of economy. The present effort now transcends the earlier efforts as faith is being transformed into blind faith. The Government’s move to collect urine, to procure it, refine it and sell it as a medicine defies all the logic of science and medicine. It is converting the political symbolism into health related prescription which is fraught with dangers.


As such urine is a product excreted through kidneys and contains the waste metabolites. It can also contain the bacteria, bovine tuberculosis for example, and other harmful germs and metabolic products. The biochemical studies of urine have clearly shown its composition. There are some who claim magic healing powers of drinking one’s own urine, called Shivambhu, the most famous consumer of the same was (former Prime Minister, Ed.) Morarji Desai. Some claim that it contains antibodies [antibodies are proteins; even if present in cow’s urine, they will be destroyed in the intestine after oral ingestion. Ed.), which act against the harmful diseases affecting our body, but analytically and biochemical it has not been proven so far. Physiologically, kidneys do not let the antibodies pass out of the body as the molecular weight of antibodies is much more than the pore of the kidney membrane. Of course when kidney is damaged, these antibodies can pass out, not when the cow is healthy.


Murali Manohar Joshi, who as MHRD minister initiated the introduction of faith based disciplines like Astrology, Paurohuitya (Ritualism) also diverted some of the funds for doing cow research. One CSIR lab went to the extent of obtaining a patent on a pharmaceutical composition containing cow urine distillate and an antibiotic (indeed consumption of antibiotic in the absence of an infection is harmful; it will result in resistance and allergy, noted in the western countries where cattle receive antibiotic supplements, Ed.). Another CSIR lab, in collaboration with a NGO undertook a study to see the effectiveness of cow urine in cancer treatment. Our own Ayurveda does not mention any medicinal use of cow urine. Ayurveda as such has a lot of valuable empirical observations which can be deepened by rooting them on firmer rational grounds but that is shrouded in mystery and faith and any questioning of it meets angry protesters, who claim their faith is under threat. Baba Ramdeo does claim that his ‘Ramdeosim’ is scientific but forgets that the basic premise of science is peer review, facing the questions and a constant transcendence of inadequacies in our knowledge system. The faith based enterprise of Ramdeo is too individualistic, too much dipped in faith and has too little to offer on rational grounds. The same is the method of cow medicine, too much faith, and that too of blind variety, too much assertion and zero scientific research.


One will like to explore the veterinary sciences to see if there is something drastically right in cow’s excreta in contrast to the excreta of bullock or buffalo or a dog for that matter. Also one does recall the claims of the section that cow dung has purifying effect. Impurity brought in by the shudras touching of water was undone by mixing cow dung with the water touched by a dalit.


The basic difference between medical sciences, empiricism, and grandma’s medicine needs to be understood before state Government investing and promoting cow excreta, urine, for human consumption and application. Mercifully one has not heard so far of such efforts to promote cow dung. The present effort by the BJP government is an extension of RSS combine’s cow politics. It is totally against the understanding of modern medicinal sciences and also has no mention in the traditional wisdom gained over a period of time. In a way it is the translation of RSS combine’s political understanding in to the arena of application to human society. In some Islamic countries, on similar lines, state sponsored research to undertake the study on djinns to solve the energy problem. As per mythology djinns are supposed to be infinite source of energy so why bother about oil and electricity when these blessed beings can solve our problems for good. Surely these will also prevent the wars which are taking place in the globe for controlling the energy reserves. And not on a very different track, Christian right is asserting creation science to oppose the theory of evolution.


These efforts have no rational and scientific basis, something which our constitution ordains us to follow in the public domain. Social auditing of efforts, which affect human health are mandatory, control by bodies sanctioning the drugs and other medicinal means are an absolute must for public safety, all the claims of politics notwithstanding.


As such enough of politics has been woven around cow. Just a few years ago, one of the eminent historians of Ancient India, Prof. D.N. Jha, came out with a book on the dietary habits in ancient India, which showed that beef was one of the major items consumed in Ancient India. The move to project Cow as holy animal, mother, was a response to the non-violence propounded by Lord Gautam Buddha. With the rise of agricultural society the cattle wealth was to be preserved. As people started embracing Buddhism, the aggressive reaction of Brahmanism came up at theological, social and political level. Cow was projected as the symbol of rising Brahmanism, as a counter to the non-violence of Buddha, and has remained so through centuries. Many Mughal kings in deference to these sentiments, to respect the feeling of the section of society, advised against cow slaughter. Babar in his will writes to his son Humayun to avoid the slaughter of cows.


In Hindutva politics also there are many streams. While Savarkar called cow as a useful animal, the other sections ignited the emotions against Muslims around the cow. Irrespective of that many poor Hindus and Adivasi did consume beef. Incidentally it is amongst the cheapest source of protein for the poor. Many surveys showed that a vast number of Indian communities consume beef. RSS combine’s propaganda went on to assert that Muslims are violent and one of the reasons is that they consume beef. This is so much against the psycho-sociological understanding of the human mind and the violence. While one knows that beef is a staple diet in major parts of the World, one also knows and modern psychological theories demonstrate that violence does not emerge from diet but from social and political situations. Beef can surely build muscle power in conjunction with proper exercises, but violence is in the mind.


Undoubtedly one should respect those who regard cow as their mother. RSS combines’ many followers devote their lives organizing fodder and other supports for Goshalas. Some of them, the upholders of Cow as mother, who claim to be non violent, go to the extent of justifying violence against dalits on the ground that they were skinning a dead cow as happened in the killings of dalits in Gohana. This cow urine in the pharmacy shops defies all the logic and faith and is directly a threat to health of people of the society. That Faith can take such dangerous turns is to be seen to be believed.

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