Idiom question

Beverly Flanigan flanigan at OAK.CATS.OHIOU.EDU
Fri Jan 21 22:25:27 UTC 2000

At 04:54 PM 1/21/00 -0500, you wrote:
>"sacred Hindu bovines" is a purely Western perception of the "Hindu"
>treatment of cows.
>The premise (scriptural references available on request) is that a culture
>can in large measure be judged to be either civilised or uncivilised based
>on its treatment of cows.
>The reasoning is that from the cow you get so many good things like milk,
>cheese, butter, yogurt, ice cream, etc..
>That which provides milk to Man must be considered as Mother.
>Therefore, how "uncivilized" the culture that insists on killing same, and
>of course "ahimsa", non-violence, is another tenet of the Hindu and
>Buddhist (who draw heavily on Hindu scripture).
>Therefore "cow protection" is highly esteemed and "slaughterhouses" seen
>as an indication of a not-really-civilised culture,
>and the cow is seen to be emblematic and symbolic of this value set.

As a dairy farmer's daughter, I grew up thinking (maybe erroneously) that
cows were never slaughtered for meat; only bulls and steers (castrated
bulls) were.  The idea seemed to be that cows were too valuable to
slaughter, precisely because they were needed (and valued) for milk,
cheese, etc. as well as for calf-bearing--i.e., as Mothers.  (Bulls were
valued too, for fathering, though their term of "service" was shorter.)  I
don't know whether Hindus distinguish between male and female bovines in
terms of slaughterability?  The basic problem in this country, of course,
is that non-rural people no longer know the difference between cows,
heifers, bulls, and steers!

>So many Western perceptions of India are based on India as seen through
>the eyes of the British colonials, including even the city names, which is
>why "Bombay" within the last ten years has reverted to its true name of
>"Mumbai", "Bombay" being an erroneous British mutilation of the name.

Myanmar being another obvious example--the /m/-->/b/ pattern is evident,
here and elsewhere?

>    Chuck Grandgent
>Kathleen Miller wrote:
> >
> > Interesting tidbit from Laurence Urdang's Picturesque Expressions says that
> > holy cow (similar to holy mackerel and a no-meat-eating-catholic-Friday's
> > origin) has something to do with sacred Hindu bovines.

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