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Gandhi and the Cow: The Ethics of Human/Animal Relationships

By Mark Juergensmeyer

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The cow is a poem of pity... the mother to millions of Indian mankind...Cow protection to me is one of the most wonderful phenomena in human evolution. [1]
It is a source of puzzled embarrassment to many Gandhian admirers, who otherwise find in his thoughts a happy marriage of the more sensible of Hindu concepts and the more progressive of western values, that Gandhi was not more modest in his affection for the Cow. Yet, it may also be argued, as I intend to do, that Gandhi's bovine peculiarities are integral, perhaps' seminal, to the whole of his ethical stance; and that a richer understanding of the Gandhian symbol of the Cow will lead to a model of human/animal ethics which may be useful in the west, where the present confusion on that issue is despaired by the supporters of animal liberation and exacerbated by the sociobiologists. 


Katie Carroll

Date 1985
Publication Title Between the Species
Volume 1
Issue 1
Pages 11-17
Publisher Cal Poly
Location of Publication San Luis Obispo, CA
DOI 10.15368/bts.1985v1n1.3
Language English
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal roles
  2. Animals in culture
  3. Cattle
  4. Human-animal relationships
  5. India
  6. Mammals
  7. Religions