The sacred status of the cow is so widespread, so institutionalized, so deeply entrenched in Hindu culture, that it is actually quite a central question about the whole notion of Hinduism identity and cows. - Yamini Narayanan
Episode 3 of Series 7: Animals and the Divine Transcript
In this amazing episode we talk about the place of cows -or more pertinently, dairy - in the Hindu religion. It raises the question: what does it mean to treat an animal as sacred versus treating an animal humanely? Yamini discusses the consequences of the cow being amplified as the mother of human life, and how this actually more deeply entrenches the cow into the practice of dairy farming. We hear the story of Krishna and his love for milk as a child raised in a dairy farm, and think about how ideas of kinship with animals can be exploited. Importantly though, we also go back to the origin stories of Hinduism to ask whether there is a place in the Hindu religion to help animals.
Guest: Yamini Narayanan is an Associate Professor of International and Community Development at Deakin University, Melbourne. Her work explores the ways in which (other) animals are instrumentalised in sectarian, casteist and fascist ideologies in India, and how animals are also actors and architects of informal urbanisms. Yamini’s research is supported by two Australian Research Council grants. Her newest book Mother Cow, Mother India (2023) is published by Stanford University Press. In 2019, Yamini was awarded the Vice Chancellor’s Award for Mid-Career Research Excellence. In recognition of her work, she was made Fellow of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics (FOCAE), a distinguished honour that is conferred through nomination or invitation only.
Book Recommendation: The Cow with Ear Tag #1389 by Kathryn Gillespie
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