Kamadhenu & Nandini

Kamadhenu and her daughter Nandini are the magic cows in our lives. Many of you will not have read about them and so you have not been able to understand their importance in the turn of events. Here are their stories for your children: Kamadhenu, also known as Surabhi, is a divine cow-goddess described in Hindu mythology as the mother of all cows. She is a miraculous "cow of plenty" who provides people whatever they desire. She is shown as white with various deities within her body. She is supposed to be venerated not through temples but through venerating her children as her earthly embodiment. How was she born?

Once the gods and demons decided to churn the ocean of milk to extract heavenly nectar, amrit, which would free them from death, In the course of the churning, first poison came out which threatened to destroy everything. Lord Shiva drank the poison. After that came Surabhi the wishful filling cow. Vasishta was the chief of the seven first sages (Saptarish) born of Brahma the Creator. Kamadhenu, the divine cow and her daughter Nandini could grant any wish. They lived with Sage Vasishta and supplied him with all the essentials needed for his rituals to the gods. The Vasus were eight attendants of Indra. When they visited Vashishta's ashram with their wives, one of the wives demanded Kamadhenu. The Vasus then prepared to steal the cow from Vashishta. They were caught and cursed by Vashishta that since they had the traits of men they should be born in the world of men. Vashishta later softened his curse on the intervention of Kamadhenu herself and pronounced that they would be liberated from their human birth as soon as they were born. The Vasus met Ganga and said Mother Ganga, we are doomed to be born as human beings.

Please take human form and become our mother and liberate us. Ganga took human form and met King Shantanu who fell in love with the goddess of the river immediately. Ganga married him on condition that he ask her no questions or interfere with her actions. She said she would leave as soon as he did. She had seven children and drowned each one as soon as he was born. All seven were the Vasus. When she was about to drown the eighth, Shantanu could not resist trying to save the baby. Ganga went back to her celestial home after explaining to the king that she had in fact liberated the Vasus and now, because of his interference, the eighth Vasu, Prabhasa, was destined to live on earth.

The baby was Bhishma and he became the main player of the epic war known as the Mahabharata. So, the desire for the cow Kamadhenu resulted in a stream of events that Vishnu himself had to take part in as Krishna. When King Kaushika visited Vashishta's ashram with his army, the sage fed the entire army with seemingly unlimited food. Kaushika asked the sage how he could have fed an entire army since his hermitage was so bare. Vashishta replied, "O king, this feast that you have partaken with your kinsmen, has been provided by my calf Nandini, who was gifted to me by Indra. You must know that she is the daughter of Indra's cow Kamadhenu. She provides me with everything I need". Kaushika immediately wanted the cow. After all, he thought, feeding an army everyday was very difficult and Nandini would solve that problem. He asked Vashishta if he could buy or take the cow. Vashishta was polite, but steadfast in his refusal. He would not be tempted by the offer of wealth made by Kaushika, for after all who can set a price on a cow, which yields all the riches in the world. Kaushika attacked the ashram with his army. Nandini created warriors for Vashishta’s defence and Kaushika was defeated. Kaushika then decided to acquire the powers of the gods through penance. After severe penances he obtained power and weapons from the God Shiva. Once again he attacked Vashishta’s ashram. Again he was repelled by Nandini’s magic. Kaushika then decided to become a rishi himself, and he renounced all his possessions and in time became Vishvamitra, one of the most venerated sages of Hinduism. He was also the father of Shakuntala who was the mother of Bharat after whom India is named. And all this goes back to Nandini King Dileepa and his wife Sudakshina of the Raghuvansha dynasty had no children. They visited the sage Vashishta in his ashram, and asked what they should do to have a child. Vashishta replied that they should serve the cow Nandini, daughter of Kamadhenu, and if Nandini was happy with their devotion, she would grant them with a child. Dileepa attended to Nandini for twenty-one days. On the twenty-first day, a lion attacked Nandini. Dileepa immediately drew his bow to shoot the lion but found his arm paralysed. The lion growled “You have no chance of saving a cow from a lion, mortal, so get out of my way”. Dileepa replied by asking if the lion would let Nandini go if he offered himself in her place. The lion agreed and Dileepa sat in front of the lion with his head bowed awaiting death. But the lion disappeared. Nandini explained that the lion was just an illusion to test Dileepa. Nandini granted him a son. Dileepa’s son Bhagiratha was the king who brought the Ganges to earth with his meditation and prayers – and all because of the cow Nandini. The Puranas state that it is forbidden to kill cows under any circumstances. Those who fail to give cows reverence and protection and choose to sell a cow for slaughter or kill her himself or permit the slaughter of cows will all rot in the darkest regions of hell for as many thousands of years as there are hairs on the body of each cow slain. There is no atonement for the killing of a cow. The cow is a goddess with her own personal heaven like all the other major gods. It is called Goloka. Think of that when you see the next truck at night carrying cows to slaughter. Have you done anything to stop the trade?

Maneka Gandhi

*Proper wildlife rehabilitation is an extremely biologically and ecologically responsible attitude toward all living things.*