Animal Kingdom (Tiryak) in Epics

by Saranya P.S | 2019 | 51,616 words | ISBN-10: 8190396315 | ISBN-13: 9788190396318

An English study the Animal Kingdom (Tiryak) in Epics.—The present thesis is based entirely on Ramayana and Mahabharata although an attempt is made to analytically compare the Animal kingdom with Mriga-pakshi-shastra—‘The ancient Indian science of of Animals and Birds’....

Chapter 6.15 - Godana In Mahabharata

In ancient India, the gifting of cows was considered a highly virtuous act. The word “gov” can mean a cow, earth and Sarasvati. If you give gift a cow you will immediately get the benefit. Cows which give all kinds of joy are mothers to all. Those who expect prosperity should ritually go round the cow every day. They should not be kicked or go into their midst.[1] Cows are goddesses that live in an auspicious manner. They reserve to be worshipped every day. When cows are grazing they should not be disturbed or harmed. The thirsty cows must be given water. If one does not give thirsty cow water or puts some obstacles on its way to drink water, she will curse and ruin him along with his relatives. Paternal homes and abodes of deities and all holy temples are cleansed by smearing cow dung. Never gift a cow to an evil person, a sinner, a miser, a cheat and one without proper manners. Those who give ten cows to the ones with many children, the bhikshu, and those who deserve them, will gain material benefits in the world. The giver of the alms gets a part of the benefit of the good deed performed by the alms. The one who recognizes the deserving person and gifts him a cow will receive much holiness. An equal amount of sin will befall anyone who steals Brahmasva.[2]

As he stole Brahmasva, the king named Nriga had become a chameleon although he had gifted a hundred thousand cows. A Brahmin's cow entered the herd of the king by mistake. Nriga did not know it. Hoping to get heaven he gave that cow to another Brahmin. Nriga died and because of his sin he became a chameleon. Only after he was touched by Lord Krishna, Nriga got into heaven.[3]

A wise man should never steal Brahmasva. If one does that he will have the same fate like that of King Nriga who sinned by gifting the cow of Vipra to a Brahmin. The mingling of good people with other good people will never be useless. Because of contact with the virtuous, King Nriga could get out of hell. Just like good deeds bring good results evil deeds bring bad results. Therefore never harm cows.[4]

Bhishma tells Yudhishthira how the food results of gifting cows are described in the conversation between rishi Uddalaka and Naciketas. This is what is said about that.[5]

Naciketas had died and then he came to life again. He had heard what Yama said when he was in the Yamaloka. He tells his father Uddalaka what he had heard when he was in Yamaloka.

By just gifting a cow in itself will not make it a bit deed. The one giving the gift should ensure that the one getting it deserves it. The giver must also ensure that the gift is made at the right time. The cow given in gift should be healthy. It should not be old, handicapped in any way or sick. It should be a cow giving milk and it should have its calf with it. The gift must be properly done. Before the gift is given proper examination should be made to see that the receiver deserves and the gift is a worthy one. Never gift a cow to somebody living in a place where there is a fire hazard or to one living in a desert like place.[6]

The deserving person to get a gift of a cow is a Brahmin who is knowledgeable with Vedas and who does Yaga rituals. Cows that are rescued from difficult circumstances, and also those who have been taken from poor people who can't afford to look after them are good for gifting. There are certain conditions that the giver and the receiver have to fulfil. The one who makes the gift should fast for 3 days and drink only water. The one who gives the cow and the one who gets it should . satisfy themselves that it is a good one.[7]

The cow to be gifted should be of good breed. When gift is given “dakshina” also must be given. It should be in a proper ritualistic manner. The one who gets the cow should live in the house of the giver for 3 days with fasting after getting the cow. On those days only the milk that cow should be drunk. After 3 days he can finish his fasting and then go away with the gift he got.[8]

If the giver gifts the cow after properly fasting and with the brass container for milking it and if the cow is of a good breed, giving birth to calves at the right times, is very tame and does not run away, gives a good quantity of milk, then the giver will enjoy heavenly bliss for as many years as the cow has hair on its body. Similarly, if a deserving Brahmin is given a young bull of good breed, the giver will get the same amount of blessing as the one who gave the cow gets and will get heavenly bliss. Those who treat the cows in a gentle manner, those who depend on the cows for their livelihood, those are grateful, those who have lost their property, etc. are deserving people to get the gift of cows.[9]

If an old man is sick, if a famine or drought comes, if a Brahmin is getting ready of yajna, if one is ready to farm, if a householder is ready to do a 'homa' for getting a child, if a disciple is planning to give a reward to his guru, if a child does not get break milk to feed upon, a 'godana' can be made. Then no need to look at the place or time.

The cow given in 'godana' can be bought for money; it can be one received as a reward; it can be one that was got in exchange for another bull, cow, or goat; it can be one got by hunting or it can be one got was dowry. There are gifts equal to 'godana' where there is no cow involved. In the absence of a cow, after the necessary fasting, the giver can take some butter and imagining it to be a cow can gift it to the receiver with this oath: “Here, I am giving you this cow.” In the absence of a cow 'tiladhenu' or 'ambudhenu' can be gifted.[10]

The Brahmins are justified in getting 'godana'. Alms should be given looking at the bowl. After giving the gift, there should be appropriate fasting. The fasting here means living by taking only the milk, curd, ghee, urine and dung of the cow. Gifting a bull of is equal to such a divine fasting. If two cows are given, the giver will get the reward equal to the knowledge of the Vedas. If the cows are given by tying them to a chariot, the result will be equal taking a dip in the holy water. If Kapila cows are gifted all the sins of the giver will be forgiven, Even if one Kapila cow is gifted, he will be free from all his sins. There is no material above a cow. Godana is the noblest gift.[11]

If one gives away a thousand, hundred, ten or even five cows with goodwill, all his desires will be fulfilled. Even if one cow that delivers in due times is given to an upright Brahmin all his desires will be granted. Cows, like sunlight, help in one's prosperity, growth and protection. The very name 'gov' is equal to sunlight and also cow. One who makes godana will become the lord of extensive areas and the giver of pleasures. Therefore the giver of the cow shines like the sun.[12]

Through the story of Naciketas, Bhishma told Yudhishthira the nobility of godana and the significance of the cow. He further explains to Yudhishthira about the glory of the world of the cows and the world destined for those who have made godana as contained in the conversation between Indra and Brahma.

Footnotes and references:


V. Mahabharata . 69, p. 689


Ibid., p. 691


Ibid., p. 692


Ibid., p. 693


Ibid., 71. P. 694


Ibid., p. 696


Ibid., p. 697






Ibid., p. 698


Ibid., p. 699


Ibid., p. 700

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