I have been told so many things about why cows are holy is Hinduism growing up, but I thought I would investigate more… The Jai Jais way.
The cow is known as a scared animal and, worshipped by many Hindus. It has been considered holy and like a mother figure for providing life sustaining milk. It symbolises the divine bounty of the Earth. They take so little grass and water yet give us so much more. Throughout the Vedic scriptures there are versus with emphasise that cows should be protected and cared for (Yajur-veda 23.48). Known as Gautama, the cow is seen as maternal figure in the Vedas. We should love and respect them how they look after us. Cows provide with more than just milk and in India used for farming, their dung is used for many things. Cow urine has also been used for its medicinal properties.
Cows even play a central role in these fire yagnas. Scientific research has found that the ritual of burning cow dung and ghee as fuel for these sacred fires, actually purifies the air, and has anti-pollutant and anti-radiation qualities in the environment.
The holy cow again offers its gifts by providing the ingredients in the Panchamrit, or blessed drink, that is distributed after the pooja. Panchamrit translates as, “nectar of the gods” and is made up of five items – milk, yogurt, ghee, honey and sugar.
It was said that the first cow appeared during the Samudra Manthan, churning of the sea in the Bhagavata Purana in the Mahabharata and in the Vishnu Purana. Lord Krishna grew up herding cows, and playing his flute to the Gopis (milkmaids). His names “Govinda” and “Gopala” means, friend and protector of cows. Even Lord Shiva’s Bull Nandi is the sacred bull. Nandi is worshipped in his own right as the bearer of truth and righteousness.