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Importance of Gaus and Gaushalas in Hinduism and Hindu Civilization

Cow is considered as the most sacred animal for Hindus. It is worshiped and treated as a mother to all. In ancient Hindu / Indian civilization, (even in the present days) agricultural system was pre-dominant in the society and a majority of population was dependent on agriculture for its livelihood.
Cattle played a vital role in the smooth running of the system from the ancient times. If we look into the etymology of the word 'cow', the roots are from the Sanskrit word 'gau'. The shelters of cattle or cow sheds are known as 'gaushalas' and the word later got transformed to 'goshala'. 

Goshala at Pragatinagar in Kukatpally, Hyderabad
Cows are backbone of the Indian agricultural system. In the olden days, each household used to domesticate cow/s and its milk was used by the family. Those days people used to milk the cows only after the calf had its share of milk from its mother. Cows even form an integral part of Hindu temples. Cow's milk was / is extensively used by the Indians. Cows and calves were taken out to the fields for grazing. Thus these dumb animals were enjoying their freedom in the open air and were growing healthily. In turn, these were giving sumptuous milk to their owners. Thus, there was a happy / healthyb communion between the two.

Milk and Various Milk Products

Calf at Goshala

Scientifically, cow's milk is proven to be a wholesome / complete food which is rich in all the essential nutrients. Cow's milk is considered as a miraculous food that helps in sharpening the brain and helps in improving memory retention power. Besides directly consuming milk, it used in making various recipes like varieties of kheer which is mostly offered as naivedyam to god. Various milk products include yogurt i.e curd, butter, melted butter i.e ghee, paneer i.e Indian cottage cheese etc. Milk is used for making a wide variety of sweets like khoya, rosagulla, chum chum, rasmalai etc. 

Cow is considered as mother and is popularly known as gomatha. In Hinduism it is believed that mother is the epitome of love, sacrifice and selfless service. So also, these sacred mammals i.e cows too are known for their selfless service to the mankind. These animals consume just grass / plant products and in return give all riches to its owner. Hence these are considered as gomatha.

Various Products That We Get From Cow 

Cow dung cakes
Besides milk and milk products, even cow's excreta i.e cow dung is very useful. In the olden days bsefore the invention of LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas) stoves, people were using dried cow dung cakes as fuel for cooking. This is a highly eco-friendly product and do not pollute the environment. The smoke producing by burning cow dung cakes is an effective mosquito-repellent. And the white residue (i.e ash) makes a wonderful cleaning agent particularly used for cleaning utensils in the household. 
Dried cow dung not only is used as a fuel for cooking but it also makes a wonderful manure. Organic farming and organic foods are give much importance these days. Such a farming was in practice until recently in the Indian farming system and natural / green manure was used extensively for farming without the use of chemical fertilizers.

Once upon a time, there were healthy eco-friendly practices in India and the ecological balance was well maintained. But unfortunately, there is a drastic change in the lifestyle of the people which resulted in environmental pollution and ecological imbalance.

Sri Krishna - the darling of Brindavan is also known by the name Gopala. He used to herd the cows. It is believed that while Gopala was engrossed in playing his favorite wind instrument -flute i.e Murali - the cows got mesmerized by the music.

Gau Mutram / Go Mutram i.e cow's urine has great importance in Ayurveda. It has great healing properties and is  used in curing many disorders.

There is a mention of gavah pancha pavitrani which states that the five products delivered by a cow are sacred. These include the milk, ghee, yogurt, cow dung and cow's urine i.e gomutram. In almost all Vedic rituals panchc gavya i.e these five products of cow are essentially required.

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