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Sanjay Sahay’s ‘Hans’ editorial pricks cow devotees

I am writing this piece because I have been told that in Jodhpur, the Hindutvavadis have filed an FIR against Sanjay Sahay, the editor of 'Hans', for his views on cow worship contained in his editorial titled Uvach-e-Mitthu in the October 2021 issue of 'Hans', writes Kanwal Bharti

The cow is entirely oblivious of the fact that a government has been formed in her name. She doesn’t know that the Hindus have declared her their mother. The poor thing is still going around, eating plastic and dirt. 

People rear cows for milk. When she stops producing milk, they abandon her. They are no longer concerned about her. They don’t care where she goes, what she eats and whether she lives or dies. Earlier, people used to sell off their unproductive cows to the butcher. Now, thanks to the terror of the saffron brigade, no one will dare do that. So, the cow just roams around. Former judge Markandey Katju may keep wondering how an animal can be our mother. You may keep pointing out that neither the Vedas, nor the Upanishads, Smritis, even the Manusmriti, which the Brahmins consider as their sacred law, speak of the cow as mother. But that doesn’t bother the Hindutvavadis. For them, the cow is their mother, take it or leave it. That’s not all. Wielding sticks, they make everyone agree that the cow is their mother, too. And if you don’t, well, you have to face the music. There are FIRs and if even those don’t work, you can always be given a sound thrashing. 

I am writing this because I have been told that in Jodhpur, the Hindutvavadis have filed an FIR against Sanjay Sahay, the editor of Hans, for writing on this topic. He had written an editorial titled ‘Uvach-e-Mitthu’ in the October 2021 issue of Hans. In a satirical style, the edit counters the unscientific and laughable claims being made by the Hindutvavadis regarding the cow. The piece begins thus: “From the innards of Prayagraj has emerged an essay of great merit. It throws ample new light on a wide canvas of topics ranging from science to spiritualism, economics, religion, philosophy and culture. The piece contains enough knowledge to enlighten seven generations of ignoramuses like us. With the little brains we have, we will try and study this singular piece of writing.” 

And then, Sahay goes on to deploy his logical and scientific faculties to introduce his readers to hitherto unknown facts revealed by the writer of the article. The learned essayist tells us that Gau Mata (cow mother) is the source of sunlight. Sahay writes, “Where are the luminaries of quantum mechanics hiding? Why don’t they contradict this claim? Isn’t it absurd to say that the sun, which illuminates the entire world, draws its light from the cow?” 

Sanjay Sahay, editor, Hindi literary monthly ‘Hans’

I was reminded of an incident. It was more than 20 years ago. I was in government service and was posted at Jaunpur. I lived in a rented house. My landlord was Mata Prasad, who, at the time, was the Governor of Arunachal Pradesh. A gentleman, sporting a thick choti, had come to meet Mata Prasad’s son, Karmaveer Bharti, who was a lawyer. I asked the visitor to take a seat in my room. After some time, Bharti, too, arrived. I asked the guest whether he would like to have a cup of tea. He said, “I don’t drink milk. How can I drink tea?” I asked him what the reason was. “It is non-vegetarian. It is white blood. You should also not drink it,” he declared. I replied, “We are non-vegetarians, so we have no problem with milk.” It was Sahay’s witty comment which triggered this memory – “Like beef, an immediate ban should be imposed on this third-class drink, too. When cow meat is banned, why should anyone be allowed to drink Gauras?”

If we were to believe the Hindutvavadis, the cow is the panacea for all ills. Worshipping a cow will be credited to your “good deeds” account by an equivalent of worshipping 33 crore gods and goddesses. Sanjay Sahay gives a befitting reply to the Hindutvavadis by describing the animal scene at his home. In his house, besides other animals and birds, they also had a cow. His mother used to look after the cow with great diligence and dedication. One day, the cow fell ill. “The one whose urine and dung could cure all the clean and not-so-clean ailments in the world, the one who could send the scientists of NASA to the moon and Mars, the one who could protect the world from atomic radiation, that great soul, could not save itself despite all the treatment.” 

There must have been some reason why the Hindu sages never included the cow among the incarnations of Vishnu. They even made Vishnu to be born as Varaha (boar) but never as a cow. But how did the Sanghi Hindutvavadis commit this blunder? When they could see all the 33 crore deities in a cow, they could well have declared Gau Mata as one of the incarnations of Vishnu. Sahay rightly asks, “What role does the great Varaha play in the welfare of humanity, except becoming food for humans. Even now, they are slaughtered and eaten every day.”  

The essayist from Prayagraj wants the cow to be declared India’s national animal. Sahay’s comment on this demand deserves mention: “Some practical difficulties may arise in making the cow share the exalted status of the national animal with the tiger. You turn away for a second and the cow may go missing. Evidently, it would be better to seek the resignation of the tiger.” Every scheme of the Hindutavadis basically targets the Dalits and the Muslims. Whether it is the anti-conversion laws, love jihad, ghar wapsi or the demand to declare the cow as the national animal – the basic objective is the same. Now, once the cow is designated as the national animal, it will be easier for them to make any Dalit or Muslim rot in jail on the charge of treason for having harmed the cow. 

What the Prayagraj essay, which is the subject of Sahay’s editorial, says is not anything new. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has been saying the same thing for ages. They also formed a part of the “Rashtra Jagran Abhiyan Yugabda 5102” launched by the RSS. I would request those who haven’t read my book RSS Aur Bahujan Chintan to do so. I have done a thorough post-mortem of the campaign. As part of the sixth phase of the campaign, a booklet titled “Govansh, Rakshan, Paalan Tatha Samvardhan” was published. On reading the “scientific” claims about the cow made in the book, any scientist worth his salt would bang his head against a wall. The book’s writer, one Dr Premchand Jain, has allowed his imagination to run riot. The Prayagraj essay may also be based on this book. The book says, “Cow milk is most effective in protecting humans from atomic radiation, says Russian scientist Shirovich”. Some RSS leader settled in Russia may have taken on the name Sirovich. And if indeed there was a scientist called Sirovich, who had made this revolutionary discovery, why didn’t the booklet cite his full name and the title of his book which contains the above claim? But how could Dr Jain have done that! Sirovich doesn’t exist.    

Yet another “scientific” claim made in the booklet is that the houses, the walls and the floor of which are plastered with cow dung, are protected from electromagnetic radiation. This is also an absurd claim and is not backed by any scientific study. I don’t think Mohan Bhagwat of the RSS and Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) get the floor and walls of their homes plastered with cow dung. Brahmins and Thakurs, of course, don’t even touch cow dung. Houses plastered with cow dung are in fact home to many diseases and the people living there fall ill more often. 

It has also been claimed that “the mooing of the cow and her calves relieve humans of mental problems.” Clearly, we don’t need mental hospitals. All we need to do is to gather people suffering from mental diseases in one place, tether cows and calves nearby and keep them hungry so that they moo the whole day. By evening, all the patients would have become hale and hearty. 

The booklet also claims, “If TB patients stay in a gaushala or in a cattle-shed where cows are kept, the odour of cow dung and cow urine will cure them of their disease.” So, we can very well rename all cow sheds as TB hospitals. We will neither need doctors nor medicines. Why aren’t the believers in this theory arranging for shifting all TB patients to gaushalas?      

It is also claimed that “performing a yagna using one tola of ghee made from cow’s milk produces one ton of oxygen”. Had this been so, Baba Ramdev would have launched plants long ago to produce oxygen from ghee. And the ashrams of all sants and mahatmas would have become oxygen-producing centres. By the way, when the worthies of the Sangh Parivar knew this technique, why didn’t they use it during the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic? Why were people allowed to die for want of oxygen? Why did the government have to spend crores of rupees on setting up oxygen plants? 

Incidentally, despite making ridiculous claims about the miraculous capabilities of the cow, the Sangh Parivar hasn’t succeeded in making the cow an object of reverence. Let a survey be conducted to find out how many senior RSS leaders raise cows in their homes. I can bet none of them does. But they are at the forefront of politicking in the name of the cow. They consider the cow their mother, but once their “mother” dies they won’t touch her body. Is this really devotion to the cow or cow-centred deception?  

(Translation: Amrish Herdenia; copy-editing: Anil)


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About The Author

Kanwal bharti

Kanwal Bharti (born February 1953) is a progressive Ambedkarite thinker and one of the most talked-about and active contemporary writers. Dalit Sahitya Kee Avdharna and Swami Achootanand Harihar Sanchayita are his key books. He was conferred with Dr Ambedkar Rashtriya Award in 1996 and Bhimratna Puraskar in 2001

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