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More about cow-slaughter

I got it from SCI. Thought it might be of interest to some
netters here. The original contributor of these two interesting
pieces from Alberuni's (an Arab travellor) travellogue is
Arun Gupta (gupta@jolt.mt.att.com).


The following, from Alberuni, may be of interest.

First, Alberuni gives no indication that in his time, Hindus had
a death penalty for cow-slaughter.

Second, in speculating on the origins on the ban on beef, Alberuni
writes :

As for the economical reason, we must keep in mind that the cow is
the animal which serves man in travelling by carrying his loads, in
agriculture in the works of ploughing and sowing, in the household
by the milk and the product thereof.  Further, man makes use of its
dung, and in winter-time even of its breath.  Therefore, it was
forbidden to eat cows' meat; as also Alhajjaj forbade it, when 
people complained to him that Babylonia became more and more desert.

[The economic reason for not slaughtering the cow would be more of
the farmers' influence than that of the Brahmins, as alleged by

Third, in comparing the Hindu notion of yugas with the Greek ideas,
(Alberuni of course, had no idea of the Indo-European theory ),
he quotes the "Painomena" (convert to Greek letters to get the
correct Greek spelling ) of the Greek Aratus, about the ages :  
(In the golden age when Justice lived among men) 
None of its inhabitants knew pernicious hypocrisy in deed or word.....
They lived a quiet life, and did not yet navigate the sea in ships.  
The cows afforded the necessary sustenance.

Afterwards, when the golden race had expired and ... and the silver
race expired and a bronze race came up.  People invented the sword,
the doer of evil; they tasted the meat of cows, the first who did it.
By all this, their neighborhood became odious to Justice, and she
flew away to the sphere".

Seems to indicate that the prohibition of the slaughter of cows is
very very ancient indeed.

-arun gupta
Quoting Alberuni further :

A famous idol of their was that of Multan, dedicated to the sun and
therefore called Aditya. ....When Muhammad Ibn Alkasim Ibn Almunabbih
conquered Multan, he inquired how the town had become so very 
flourishing and so many treasures had there been accumulated, and
then he found out that this idol was the cause, for there came pilgrims
from all sides to visit it.  Therefore he thought it best to have the
idol where it was, but he hung a piece of cow's flesh on its neck by
way of mockery.  On the same place a mosque was built. When then the
Karmatians occupied Multan, Jalam ibn Shaiban, the usurper, broke the
idol in pieces and killed its priests ... {and built another mosque
on another site. He ordered the old mosque shut } "from hatred against
anything that had been done under the dynasty of the Caliphs of the
house of Umayya.  When afterwards the blessed Prince Mahmud [Ghaznavi]
swept away their rule from those countries, he made again the old
mosque the place of Friday worship, and the second one was left to
decay.  At present it is only a barn-floor, where bunches of henna
are bound together.

-arun gupta

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