Sacred Symbols

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The Sacred Cow
As Americans, we eat beef more than any other type of meat. On every corner one can find a McDonalds, or a Burger King and it is considered a luxury to eat steak. In India, the Hindus believe that cows are sacred and it is considered taboo to kill one. The Hindus in India would be appalled by the way we treat cows in America. According to the Hindus, one should respect all life forms, and should thus treat them fairly, especially cows. For them, killing a cow is similar, if not equal, to killing a Brahmin. “Since the faith first evolved near Asia's Indus River more than 3,000 years ago, respect for animal life has been a central theme in Hindu life” (Hinduism Sacred Animal). And even when eating meat was permitted, the Vedic Scriptures promoted vegetarianism, "There is no sin in eating meat... but abstention brings great rewards." (The Laws of Manu, V/56). Currently, within the Hinduism traditions, cows are considered to be a symbol of life thus killing one would be taboo. This theory began in ancient India where they would sacrifice many oxen and hulls to the gods and then eat their meat, although at the time, killing milk producing cows was forbidden. Eventually, Hindus stopped eating beef and killing cows because it was costly to “slaughter an animal for religious rituals or for a guest, and the cow provided an abundance of important products, including milk, browned butter for lamps, and fuel from dried dung” (The Cow in Hinduism). The cow was then deemed as a suitable gift to the Brahmans, who are part of the highest caste system and typically priests. “It was soon said that to kill a cow is equal to killing a Brahman” (The Cow in Hinduism). Because the cow is a suitable gift to the Brahman, it is considered sacred, though not just the cow itself, but also everything that comes out of it. “Milk, urine, curds, dung and butter from cows, Hindus believe, will cleanse the body and purify the soul” and even, “the dust of footprints of cows has...
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