Monday, September 12, 2016

Religious, Political and Social Reasons for Cow Protection Movement in India

In recent times we have seen a spurt in incidents involving cow protection. Such trends can be traced back to pre independence era. For a pastoral and agricultural economy like India, cow protection has always been important. However, the same never took a communal turn through the centuries including under the Mughal rule. It took a communal turn when Hindu religious symbols started being used for political mobilization through Arya Samaj and cow protection movements.

The motivation for the same are many 

a) Religious reason – The Hindu revivalist movement including cow protection movement was a response to the proselytizing activities of the Muslims and Christians. Hindus traditionally lacked organizational integration and Hindu mobilization took place around the issue of cow

b) Political reason

a. At a time when constitutional reforms were happening and British where pitting one community against the other, each community was concerned with having a bigger share in the pie. Naturally community mobilization was important and emotive issues such as cow protection, Hindi Urdu divide etc were used as tools for community mobilization

b. Cow protection was also used as a tool to mobilize the lethargic Hindus

c) Social reason – Various social groups took an active part in gaurakshani sabhas to achieve their social ambitions a. Zamindars participated to ensure that their social status remains maintained. Peasant communities particularly the Ahir group were socially mobile and participated to display their Hinduness and gain legitimacy in the eyes of Hindus Thus is becomes apparent that while cow protection in ancient and medieval times was more for protection of cow itself, from 19th century onwards the issue gained utilitarian significance.

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