Opinion: We Don't Worship Cows!

July 5, 2007

Author: Gautam Rama Varma Pathial

Source: Hinduism Today


I am a Indian Hindu living in the state of Oregon, on the west coast of the United States. There are only 11,000 Indians in this state. I am the only one in my school district, and there are none in the two neighboring districts. My nearest Indian neighbor lives 45 minutes away.

While I was attending public school, a lot of kids asked me questions about Hinduism. Some of these queries--like "Why do you worship cows?"--are easier to answer than others. Especially challenging are the sarcastically nettling questions like: "You want a bite of beef?" or "Are you going to sacrifice me to your Goddess?" Usually, I am able to keep a level head. When I get asked the tough questions, I find myself thanking God for the chance to answer, but also praying that my responses are suitable.

That question about sacrificing people was almost certainly inspired by the film, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, in which a Kali cult is depicted as bloodthirsty murderers who sacrifice people. Movie director Steven Spielberg and story-writer George Lucas surely meant no harm in their movie, but their presentation innocently reflected an all-too-common ignorance among the non-Hindu public in their perception of Hinduism.