By Anjali Bablani, Faculty Of Law, Delhi University.

Maharashtra, India’s third largest state in terms of area, second largest in terms of population and home to the nation’s financial capital, imposed a five-year jail sentence and Rs 10,000 fine for sale or possession of beef. Dr. Pranab Mukherjee, the President of India, finally gave his assent on Monday to Maharashtra animal preservation bill which was pending since the past 20 years. However, water buffaloes, which are considered to be of inferior quality, can still be legally slaughtered. Thus, the future for all producers and consumers of beef will have to be water buffalo meat (also known as carabeef). 

If there is no ban on eating pork, fish, eggs, rabbit, chicken, then why beef has been targeted, which is full of iron, zinc, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, and one of the healthiest meat?

This is not the first time slaughter of cows has been banned in any state in India. 26 states in India have laws which either regulate or ban cow slaughter. While butchery of cows was always banned in Maharashtra, there was no such ban on slaughter of bulls, bullocks and water buffaloes.

Why beef-ban is a good step?

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Cow became important in India, first in the Vedic period (1500 – 900 BCE), but only as a symbol of wealth.

Cow to Hinduism is similar to what sheep is to Christianity. Cow is considered to be one of the most useful gifts to mankind as it provides us milk, ghee (also known as clarified butter), curd, cheese, butter, ice-cream, buttermilk, etc. Even the waste of cow, both cow-dung and cow urine, are useful. Cow-dung is used for many purposes such as fuel, fertilizer, etc and some Indians even drink cow urine (also known as Gomutra), which is believed to assist in weight loss, curing mental and physical diseases, etc.

As per Srimad Bhagavad-Gita: chapter 10, verse 28 “A cow should not be owned by one who is a killer of cows or a seller to killers of cows, by one who is unrighteous, by one who is sinful, by one who is untruthful in speech, and by one who is outside of the Vedic culture nor should cows ever be given to one such as these.”

In Mahabharata, Bhishma observes that the cow acts as a surrogate mother by providing milk to human beings for the whole life. So, cow is truly the mother of the world. For Hindus, eating beef is considered to be of grave wrong as a cow provides us milk and thus, she is our mother, and we have no right to kill the one who provides us food.

Why banning beef is not a good step?

According to Manusmriti (Chapter 5 / Verse 30), “It is not sinful to eat meat of eatable animals, for Brahma has created both the eaters and the eatables.”

Rigveda (6/17/1) stated that “Indra used to eat meat of cow, calf, horse and buffalo.”  

Swami Vivekanand said: “You will be surprised to know that according to ancient Hindu rites and rituals, a man cannot be a good Hindu who does not eat beef.” ( The Complete Works of Swami Vivekanand, vol.3, p. 536)

A scholar of scriptures Dr. Pandurang Vaman Kane says, “Bajsancyi Samhita sanctifies beef-eating because of its purity”. (Dharmashastra Vichar Marathi, page 180)

Maharishi Yagyavalkya says in Shatpath Brahmin (3/1/2/21) that, “I eat meat because it is very soft and delicious.”

In fact, Lord Indra and Agni are described as having special preferences for different types of flesh, then why are we imposed with such restrictions.

All in all…

If eating beef is a sin due to religious sentiments, and therefore banned, then why isn’t killing rats (Lord Ganesha’s vehicle), killing and consuming fish (matsya avatar of Lord Vishnu), tortoise (kurma avatar of Lord Vishnu), pig (varaha avatar of Lord Vishnu) also banned.

Moreover, if beef is banned and also the possession of it will attract a ban then why are we allowed to wear a leather jacket and shoes which is made out of their skin?

And because of this ban, lakhs of people will become jobless, which mostly includes dalits and muslims. So should the government think about the religious sentiments of few people and well-being of an animal or well-being of lakhs of people losing their job?

Just by putting a ban will not change the situation in our country. We see cows wandering and eating garbage. They are kicked by people when seen entering a residential area or standing in front of a shop.

To eat or not to eat, is a personal choice and we have a right to decide what we want to eat.  Government should not interfere with what must be served in our plates and what must not. There must be a freedom of choice. If you don’t want to eat beef, then don’t. However, imposing a BAN claiming frivolous reasons is totally uncalled for.

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