Hindus protest at foot-and-mouth slaughter
The cow is not worshipped by Hindus, and neither is it ‘sacred’ in the sense that ‘holiness’ is understood by Christians; it is Aghanya - literally, that which may not be slaughtered. The reasons for this are a point of contention, and not all Hindus agree. For some, the cow is a ‘mother’ figure, because it produces life-giving milk; for others, it is representative of all animals, and its meat is symbolic of the era in which the Jains and Buddhists appeared and objected to the flesh-eating Hindus. The most likely, however, is down to a scriptural misunderstanding of an ancient Vedic Sanskrit term. There is etymological commonality in the Sanskrit terms for ‘light’ and ‘cow’: ‘go-’ may mean ‘of cows’ and also ‘light’, and since light and fire are intrinsic to Hindu puja, symbolic of cleansing and purity, it is a short step to bestowing upon the cow the same attributes.
Thus, as is ever so frequent, a religious practice developed out of misunderstanding and misinterpretation. That which was originally concerned with ‘guarding the light’ has developed into ‘guarding the cow’, and Hindus so became.
However, the development of this belief is irrelevant as far as the present debate is concerned; it is of no more importance than the origins of the refusal of Jews and Mohammedans to eat pork; it simply is. And with another outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, the Hindus are witnessing an offensive slaughter nightly on their television screens, and they wish to see an end to it.
And Cranmer agrees with them. Not because he believes the cow is the light of the world, but because of the human suffering endured by each farmer, with the manifold others who are profoundly and traumatically affected. Farming is enormously stressful at the best of times, such that it even has its own stress network to help reduce the numbers of suicides among the farming community. But Cranmer also joins with the Hindus because there is a vaccine for this illness, which is of little more significance and certainly no more serious than a bout of bovine influenza. But since the UK joined the EEC and agreed to abide by all the rules and regulations of the CAP, the Government is powerless, and now the EU dictates what may and may not be done to Britain’s cattle.
Mr Brown may be doing a very good job of appearing to be in charge, but, rest assured that he is taking his orders from this woman – Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel – who is actually in charge of the United Kingdom’s agriculture policy. She is a Danish modern language graduate with a background in Belgian economics, who apparently knows everything there is to know about cows. So that’s alright then.
But this illness is of no danger to the general public, so why not stop the senseless slaughter if it offends Hindus? We appear to have banned Piglet (and the ‘three little pigs’) to avoid offending Muslims. And having observed the Mohammedan tactics of aggression, recently emulated by the Sikhs, one might understand if the Hindus are feeling more than a little left out, and have therefore decided to acquired a bit of attitude.
It is not the cow-god that concerns Cranmer, but the relativism-god, and the pluralism-god. It is the worship of these that has brought us to our plight: firebombs, floods and disease are simply the price we pay.