Appendix to the Article on Gandhian Cow Protection – Additional Quotes

Appendix (Additional Quotes)

How cow protection relates to Hinduism in Gandhi’s world view ?

  1. “Cow protection is an article of faith in Hinduism. Apart from its religious sanctity, it is an ennobling creed.’’ 04/08/1920, [43]

  2. “If someone were to ask me what the most important outward manifestation of Hinduism was, I would suggest that it was the idea of cow protection…. Our supreme duty is to lay down our lives for saving the cow.’’ 08/08/1920, [44]

  3. “Anyone who is not ready to sacrifice his life to save the cow is not a Hindu.’’ , 24/04/1921, [46]

  4. “On the question of cow-killing, I say that with the Hindus it is their dharma to protect the cow. The Hindus have many differences amongst them as regards religious belief, and religious and social customs and practices; but on the matter of the protection of the cow all Hindus are united. And I go so far as to say, that the cow question is the central and common fact in Hinduism, which differentiates it from all other religions of the world… The Hindus reverence the cow as they reverence the Brahmin.’’ , 08/09/1921, [47]

  5. “Hinduism does not consist in eating and non-eating. Its kernel consists in right-conduct, in correct observance of truth and non-violence. Many a man eating meat, but observing the cardinal virtues of compassion and truth, and living in the fear of God, is a better Hindu than a hypocrite who abstains from meat.’’ Hinduism of Today, Young India, 08/04/1926, p. 448, [48] (Note that it is only in this one instance that Gandhi has suggested that food habits do not determine how good a Hindu one is, but he has negated the same throughout, otherwise, both before and after this opinion)

  6. “All that I wish to say is that it is our supreme dharma to protect the cow.’’ 28/07/1929, [49]

  7. I think the distinguishing features of Hinduism are cow protection and varnashrama.’’, 08/04/1932, [50].

  8. “A cow is looked upon as a mother because, like a mother, she gives milk. Moreover, a woman feeds her own children till they are one year of age, whereas the cow gives milk to all of us, and that is why she is our mother too. A mother receives much service from her children. But who does anything for a cow? Hence a cow is more of a mother. ‘’ 22/04/1932, [51]

  9. “Failure to serve the cow is an instance of conduct contrary to religion. Every Hindu believes that it is his special dharma to serve the cow.’’ 17/01/1937, [53]

Hindus are not allowed to bargain with Muslims on banning cow-slaughter

  1. “The lesson I want to draw for the reader from this letter is that, if we would protect cows, we could do so only through service of our Muslim brethren. A gentleman sent me a message to the effect that we should help the Muslims on the Khilafat issue only on condition that they stop killing cows. The letter referred to above gives a reply to that gentleman. There can be no zest or point in giving help in expectation of a return. Our Muslim brethren have not sought our help on the issue of Khilafat. If, however, we want their friendship, if we regard them as our brethren, it is our duty to help them. If, as a result, they stop cow-slaughter, it will be a different matter. That will not be surprising. But we cannot offer them our help on condition that they stop cow-slaughter. Duty seeks no reward. But it is the obvious duty of those who are eager to protect cows to give all possible help to the Muslims on the Khilafat issue.’’ , 23/11/1919, [54]

  1. “I shall now address myself to my Hindu brothers who are present here. Today our friend, Mr. Asaf Ali, addressed me two letters in which he said that he hoped it would be possible for the Khilafat Committee to be instrumental in solving the question of preservation of the cows. But I should like to affirm that, if one brother is in trouble, it is the duty of the other to render him all possible help. When Hindus are in trouble, Moslems should help them and, if Moslems are in trouble, Hindus should come to their rescue. We want no return for our assistance and sympathy. If you Moslems are in the right, we shall offer you unconditional help. This is a hereditary privilege of the Hindus. If the Moslems themselves voluntarily conceded anything it would be welcome, but we would not care to play the role of mercenary soldiers. Whatever we give we give for duty and ask its reward of God only. Let me tell my Hindu brothers that I hold the cows as dear as any of you do, but we cannot save the cows by quarrelling with Moslems. You can save the cows only by following my example, by doing your duty.’’ 24/11/1919, [55]

  1. “A joint meeting was held on the following day to which pressmen were invited. …The Secretary of the Conference, Mr. Asaf Ali, had intimated in the papers circulated by him that the issues of cow-protection and the Punjab would also be considered at this meeting. Many had looked forward to their being discussed. My ideas on both had been already formed. If I allowed the issue of cow-protection to be discussed, the cause would be harmed. If I threw open the Punjab issue for debate, both the Punjab and the Khilafat causes would suffer. I could not let this happen….I wish also to say that whatever help the Hindus and others have rendered in connection with the Khilafat is no more than their duty. Duty is a kind of debt. There can be no return for its payment. Mr. Asaf Ali has, in the notices he sent about this meeting, mentioned the subject of cow-protection. My humble opinion is that the issue of cow-protection may not be raised on this occasion by the Hindus. If we are one people, if we regard one another as brothers, then Hindus, Parsis, Christians and Jews born in India have the clear duty of helping the Muslims, their fellow-countrymen, in their suffering. That help which demands a return is mercenary and can never be a symbol of brotherhood. Just as adulterated cement cannot hold bricks together, so mercenary help cannot make for brotherhood. The noble traditions of the Hindus require that they help their Muslim brethren. If the Muslims feel themselves bound in honour to spare the feelings of Hindus, then, whether we help in the matter of the Khilafat or not, they may stop the slaughter of cows. Though, therefore, I yield to none in my reverence for the cow, I do not wish to make my help in the Khilafat conditional on anything. On the contrary, I feel that there is greater protection for cows in help given unconditionally. Only if we serve one another without laying down conditions can affection and fraternal love grow amongst us and the path to cow-protection be cleared. I, therefore, hope that all Hindus will make the Khilafat cause their own without insisting on any conditions.’’ About 01/12/1919], [56]

  1. “He [Gandhi] wished to protect the cows by appealing to and increasing love between Hindus and Muslims, and not as a return for support of the khilafat’’ 17/07/1920, [57].

  2. “We may not make Mussulmans or anybody respect our feelings religious or otherwise by force. We can really do so only by exciting their fellow-feeling. Hence it is that I have declined, and I am sure quite wisely, to enter into any bargain on the khilafat question. I consider myself to be among the staunchest of Hindus. I am as eager to save the cow from the Mussulman’s knife as any Hindu. But on that very account I refuse to make my support of the Mussulman claim on the khilafat conditional upon his saving the cow. The Mussulman is my neighbour. He is in distress. His grievance is legitimate and it is my bounden duty to help him to secure redress by every legitimate means in my power even to the extent of losing my life and property. That is the way I can win permanent friendship with Mussulmans. I refuse to suspect human nature. It will, is bound to, respond to any noble and friendly action. The nobility of the help will be rendered nugatory if it was rendered conditionally. That the result will be the saving of the cow is a certainty. But should it turn out to be otherwise, my view will not be affected in any manner whatsoever. The test of friendship is a spirit of love and sacrifice independent of expectation of any return…..We must hold it a crime for any Hindu to talk to them about cow protection or any other help in our religious matters whilst the khilafat struggle is going on.’’  04/08/1920, [58]

  3. “A great misfortune has befallen the Muslims, their religion has been slighted. At such a time, we should help them unconditionally, without asking for anything in return. It is our duty as neighbours to do this…. Friendship which asks for a reward is no friendship; it is bargaining.’’ 08/08/1920, [59]

  4. “I am with Shaukat Ali day and night but I do not say to him a word about cow-protection, for at present our duty is only to help the Muslims. For this, I am ready today to sacrifice my sons, my wife and my friends.’’ 08/12/1920, [60]

  5. “I have never forgotten Hume’s frank confession that the British Government was sustained by the policy of “Divide and Rule”. Therefore it is that I have laid stress upon Hindu-Muslim unity as one of the most important essentials for the success of non-co-operation. But it should be no lip unity, nor bania unity; it should be a unity broad-based on a recognition of the heart. If we want to save Hinduism, I say, for God’s sake do not seek to bargain with the Mussulmans. I have been going about with Maulana Shaukat Ali all these months, but I have not so much as whispered anything about the protection of the cow. My alliance with the Ali brothers is one of honour. I feel that I am on my honour, the whole of Hinduism is on its honour, and if it will not be found wanting, it will do its duty towards the Mussulmans of India. Any bargaining would be degrading to us. Light brings light, not darkness, and nobility done with a noble purpose will be twice rewarded. It will be God alone who can protect the cow. Ask me not today, ‘What about the cow?’ Ask me after Islam is vindicated through India. Ask the Rajas what they do to entertain their English guests. Do they not provide beef and champagne for their guests? Persuade them first to stop cow-killing and then think of bargaining with Mussulmans. And how are we Hindus behaving ourselves towards the cow and her progeny? Do we treat her as our religion requires us? Not till we have set our own house in order and saved the cow from the Englishmen have we the right to plead on her behalf with the Mussulmans. And the best way of saving the cow from them is to give them unconditional help in their hour of trouble.’’ 13/12/1920, [61]  

  6. “Mahatmaji addressed a gathering of Mussulmans and described to them the Khilafat wrongs and the means to redress them….He did not want to make a bargain with the Mussulmans with respect to cow-killing. He wanted to keep the honour of Islam, Hinduism and India, and asked the Mussulmans not to be satisfied until the Khilafat question was satisfactorily decided. Referring to the Khilafat delegation and Chhotani’s work, he assured the Mussulmans that Hindus must continue to be the friends and brothers to Mussulmans till the final solution of the problem and he himself was ready to die. He appealed for funds on the spot.’’  24/03/1921, [62]

  7. “I do not wish to bargain with the Muslims and so I do not raise the issue of cow-slaughter.’’ 24/04/1921, [63]

  8. “He (Gandhi) again reverted to the essential necessity of casting off distrust from their hearts by the Hindus and Mohammedans and spoke on the second essential, HinduMuslim unity. The entente between them was never entered into in a bargaining spirit. The Hindus espoused the Muslims’ cause, because they knew it was their duty and because they knew that nobility could only be answered by nobility. It was fatal, therefore, to compel the Mussulmans to give up cow-killing. They were not the only culprits in the matter and the question of cow-protection was never going to be decided by the arbitrament of force. Implicit trust of and hearty co-operation with the Mussalmans would gain in the end everything. Islam was broad-based on nobility, and it would not endure if it gave up its nobility.’’ 15/05/1921, [64]

  9. “We have throughout all these many years put up with cow-slaughter either without a murmur or under ineffective and violent protest. We have never tried to deserve self-imposed restraint on the part of our Mussulman countrymen by going out of our way to cultivate friendly relations with them. We have more or less gratuitously assumed the impossibility of the task. But we are now making a deliberate and conscious attempt in standing by their side in the hour of their need. Let us not spoil the good effect by making our free offering a matter of bargain. Friendship can never be a contract. It is a status carrying no consideration with it. Service is a duty, and duty is a debt which it is a sin not to discharge. If we would prove our friendship, we must help our brethren whether they save the cow or not. We throw the responsibility for their conduct towards us on their own shoulders. We dare not dictate it to them as consideration for our help. Such help will be hired service, which the Mussulmans cannot be blamed if they summarily reject.’’ 28/07/1921, [65]

Hindus could only supplicate and plead with the Muslims to stop cow slaughter:

  1. The philosophy of cow-protection therefore is, in my opinion, sublime. It immediately puts the animal creation on the same level with man so far as the right to live is concerned. But it is no part of Hinduism to prevent by force cow-slaughter by those who do not believe in cow-protection. Hindus will bring the Mussalmans and the rest of the world to their way of thinking only by living the religion of ahimsa as fully as it is humanly possible. They must rely upon the working of the great principle in their own lives and making its effective appeal to the outer world. They will not convert the latter by force of arms. They certainly can by force of ahimsa. We little realize the matchless potency of ahimsa when it is thoroughly put into active operation. ‘’ 11/11/1926, [1]

  2. “To nurse enmity against the Mussalman, for the sake of saving the cow, is a sure way to kill the cow, and doubly sinful. Hinduism will not be destroyed by a non-Hindu killing a cow. The Hindu’s religion consists in saving the cow, but it can never be his religion to save the cow by a resort to force towards a non-Hindu.’’ 14/09/1924, [52]

Gandhi’s support for restriction on profession, inter-dining, inter-marriage by birth

“But that which distinguishes Hinduism from every other religion is its cow-protection, more than its varnashrama. Varnashrama is, in my opinion, inherent in human nature, and Hinduism has simply reduced it to a science. It does attach to birth. A man cannot change his varna by choice. Not to abide by one’s varna is to disregard the law of heredity. …..The four divisions define a man’s calling, they do not restrict or regulate social intercourse. The divisions define duties, they confer no privileges. It is, I hold, against the genius of Hinduism to arrogate to oneself a higher status or assign to another a lower. All are born to serve God’s creation, a Brahmin with his knowledge, a Kshatriya with his power of protection, a Vaisya with his commercial ability and a Sudra with his bodily labour. This however does not mean that a Brahmin for instance is absolved from bodily labour, or the duty of protecting himself and others. His birth makes a Brahmin predominantly a man of knowledge, the fittest by heredity and training to impart it to others. There nothing, again, to prevent the Sudra from acquiring all the knowledge he wishes. Only, he will best serve with his body and need not envy others their special qualities for service. …..Varnashrama is self-restraint and conservation and economy of energy. Though therefore varnashrama is not affected by inter-dining or inter-marriage, Hinduism does most emphatically discourage inter-dining and inter-marriage between divisions. Hinduism reached the highest limit of self-restraint. It is undoubtedly a religion of renunciation of tile flesh so that the spirit may be set free. It is no part of a Hindu’s duty to dine with his son. And by restricting his choice of a bride to a particular group, he exercises rare self-restraint. Hinduism does not regard a married state as by any means essential for salvation. Marriage is a “fall” even as birth is a “fall”. Salvation is freedom from birth and hence death also. Prohibition against inter-marriage and inter-dining is essential for a rapid evolution of the soul.’’ 06/10/1921, [45]


[43] “Cow Protection’’, Young India, 04/08/1920, p. 118

[44] “Cow Protection’’ Navajivan, 08/08/1920, pp. 128-129,

[45] “Hinduism’’, Young India, 6/10/1921, pp. 371-372,

[46] “Some Doubts’’, Navajivan, 24/04/1921, p. 85

[47] “The Way to Save the Cow’’, Young India, 08/09/1921, p. 192,

[48] “Hinduism of Today’’, Young India, 08/04/1926, p. 448,

[49] “Speech at Public Meeting’’, Kadi. Reported in Prajabandhu [Gujarati], 28/07/1929, p. 305,

[50] “Letter to Premabehn Kantak’’, 08/04/1932, p. 212,

[51] “Letter to a Girl’’, 22/04/1932, p.282,

[52] “Hindu-Muslim Unity’’, 14/09/1924, Reported in Young India, 18/09/1924, pp. 143-144,

[53] “Cow Protection or Cow Slaughter’’, Harijanbandhu, 17/01/1937, p. 300,

[54] “How to Protect the Cow’’, Navajivan, 23/11/1919, p. 135,

[55] “Speech at Khilafat Conference’’, Delhi, 24/11/1919, p. 138,

[56] “Punjab Letter, My Speech’’ About 01/12/1919, Reported in Navjivan [Gujarati], 07/12/1919, pp. 150-151,

[57] “Speech on Khilafat and Non-Co-operation’’, Lahore, 17/07/1929, Reported in The Tribune, 20/07/1920  p. 56,

[58] “Cow Protection’’, Young India, 04/08/1920 pp. 118-120,

[59] “Cow Protection’’, Navajivan, 08/08/1920, p. 130,

[60] “Speech at Bettiah Goshala’’, Bettiah, 08/12/1920, p. 75, [from Mahadevbhaini Diary, Gujarati]

[61] “Speech on Non-Co-operation’’, Calcutta, 13/12/1920, Reported in Young India, 22/12/1920, pp. 87-88,

[62] “Speech at meeting of Musliims’’, Cuttack 24/03/1921 Amrita Bazar Patrika, 31/03/1921, p. 460,

[63] “Some Doubts’’, Navajivan, 24/04/1921, p. 85,

[64] “Speech at Public Meeting’’, Simla 15/05/1921, Reported in Navajivan, 29/05/1921, p. 153,

[65] “Hindu-Muslim Unity’’, Young India, 28/07/1921, p. 19,