Cow protection in Vedic Culture

vaiśya-karma svabhāva-jam
paricaryātmakaṁ karma
śūdrasyāpi svabhāva-jam
Bhagavad Gita (18.44)
Farming, cow protection and business are the natural work for the vaiśyas, and for the śūdras there is labor and service to others.
Lord Kṛṣṇa as Govinda is more inclined to the brāhmaṇas and the cows, indicating thereby that human prosperity depends more on these two items, namely brahminical culture and cow protection. Lord Kṛṣṇa is never satisfied where these are lacking. (Teachings of Queen Kunti Ch. 4)
The vaiśyas, the members of the mercantile communities, are especially advised to protect the cows. Cow protection means increasing the milk productions, namely curd and butter. (Srila Prabhupada in Srimad Bhagavatam 1.9.26 Purport)
A society devoid of cow protection and brahminical culture is not under the direct protection of the Lord, just as the prisoners in the jails are not under the protection of the king but under the protection of a severe agent of the king. Without cow protection and cultivation of the brahminical qualities in human society, at least for a section of the members of society, no human civilization can prosper at any length. (Srila Prabhupada in Srimad Bhagavatam 1.14.34 Purport)
Thus as soon as Mahārāja Parīkṣhit saw that a lower-class man in the dress of a king was hurting the legs of a cow and a bull, at once he arrested and punished him. The king cannot tolerate insults to the most important animal, the cow, nor can he tolerate disrespect for the most important man, the brāhmaṇa. Human civilization means to advance the cause of brahminical culture, and to maintain it, cow protection is essential. There is a miracle in milk, for it contains all the necessary vitamins to sustain human physiological conditions for higher achievements. (Srila Prabhupada in Srimad Bhagavatam 1.16.4 Purport)
Where wealth and strength are not engaged in the advancement of brahminical culture, God consciousness and cow protection, the state and home are surely doomed by Providence. If we want peace and prosperity in the world, we should take lessons from this verse; every state and every home must endeavour to advance the cause of brahminical culture for self-purification, God consciousness for self-realization and cow protection for getting sufficient milk and the best food to continue a perfect civilization. (Srila Prabhupada in Srimad Bhagavatam 1.19.3 Purport)
The miserable conditions of this material world can be corrected by a sufficient supply of milk, yogurt, honey, ghee, molasses, food grains, ornaments, bedding, sitting places and so on. This is human civilization. Ample food grains can be produced through agricultural enterprises, and profuse supplies of milk, yogurt and ghee can be arranged through cow protection. (Srila Prabhupada in Srimad Bhagavatam 5.16.25 Purport)
If one is trained to honor and worship the cows and brāhmaṇas, he is actually civilized. The worship of the Supreme Lord is recommended, and the Lord is very fond of the cows and brāhmaṇas (namo brahmaṇya-devāya go-brāhmaṇa-hitāya ca). In other words, a civilization in which there is no respect for the cows and brāhmaṇas is condemned. One cannot become spiritually advanced without acquiring the brahminical qualifications and giving protection to cows. Cow protection insures sufficient food prepared with milk, which is needed for an advanced civilization. One should not pollute civilization by eating the flesh of cows. A civilization must do something progressive, and then it is an Āryan civilization. Instead of killing the cow to eat flesh, civilized men must prepare various milk products that will enhance the condition of society. If one follows the brahminical culture, he will become competent in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. (Srila Prabhupada in Srimad Bhagavatam 6.18.52 Purport)
Agriculture and cow protection are the way to become sinless and thus be attracted to devotional service. Those who are sinful cannot be attracted by devotional service. (Srila Prabhupada in Srimad Bhagavatam 8.6.12 Purport)
We are advocating cow protection and encouraging people to drink more milk and eat palatable preparations made of milk, but the demons, just to protest such proposals, are claiming that they are advanced in scientific knowledge, as described here by the words svādhyāya-śruta-sampannāḥ. They say that according to their scientific way, they have discovered that milk is dangerous and that the beef obtained by killing cows is very nutritious. (Srila Prabhupada in Srimad Bhagavatam 8.7.3 Purport)
In the matter of protecting the cows, the meat-eaters will protest, but in answer to them we may say that since Kṛṣṇa gives stress to cow protection, those who are inclined to eat meat may eat the flesh of unimportant animals like hogs, dogs, goats and sheep, but they should not touch the life of the cows, for this is destructive to the Spiritual advancement of human society. (Srila Prabhupada in Srimad Bhagavatam 9.15.25 Purport)
For performing yajña, clarified butter is essential, and for clarified butter, cow protection is essential. Therefore, if we neglect the Vedic way of civilization, we shall certainly suffer. So-called scholars and philosophers do not know the secret of success in life, and therefore they suffer in the hands of prakṛti, nature (Srila Prabhupada in Srimad Bhagavatam 9.15.26 Purport)
When we consider the past condition of the agriculturalist in the village, we can see how opulent he was, simply because of agricultural produce and protection of cows. At the present, however, agriculture having been neglected and cow protection given up, the agriculturalist is suffering pitiably and is dressed in a niggardly torn cloth. This is the distinction between the India of history and the India of the present day. By the atrocious activities of ugra-karma, how we are killing the opportunity of human civilization! (Srila Prabhupada in Srimad Bhagavatam 10.5.8 Purport)
There are so many facilities afforded by cow protection, but people have forgotten these arts. The importance of protecting cows is therefore stressed by Kṛṣṇa in Bhagavad-gītā (kṛni-go-raknya-vāṇijyaṁ vaiśya-karma svabhāvajam [Bg. 18.44]). Even now in the Indian villages surrounding Vṛndāvana, the villagers live happily simply by giving protection to the cow. They keep cow dung very carefully and dry it to use as fuel. They keep a sufficient stock of grains, and because of giving protection to the cows, they have sufficient milk and milk products to solve all economic problems. Simply by giving protection to the cow, the villagers live so peacefully. Even the urine and stool of cows have medicinal value.(Srila Prabhupada in Srimad Bhagavatam 10.6.20 Purport)
Killing the cows and spoiling the land will not solve the problem of food. This is not civilization. Uncivilized men living in the jungle and being unqualified to produce food by agriculture and cow protection may eat animals, but a perfect human society advanced in knowledge must learn how to produce first-class food simply by agriculture and protection of cows. (Srila Prabhupada in Srimad Bhagavatam 10.7.13-15 Purport)
Why is cow protection so much advocated? Because the cow is the most important animal. There is no injunction that one should not eat the flesh of tigers or other such animals. In the Vedic culture those who are meat-eaters are recommended to eat the flesh of goats, dogs, hogs, or other lower animals, but never the flesh of cows, the most important animals. While living, the cows give important service by giving milk, and even after death they give service by making available their skin, hooves, and horns, which may be used in many ways. Nonetheless, the present human society is so ungrateful that they needlessly kill these innocent cows. Therefore Kṛṣṇa comes to punish them.
Kṛṣṇa is worshiped with this prayer:
namo brahmaṇya-devāya
go-brāhmaṇa-hitāya ca
jagad-dhitāya kṛnṇāya
govindāya namo namaḥ
“My Lord, You are the well-wisher of the cows and the brāhmaṇas, and You are the well-wisher of the entire human society and world.” For perfect human society there must be protection of go-dvija—the cows and the brāhmaṇas. The word dvija refers to the brāhmaṇa, or one who knows Brahman (God). When the demoniac give too much trouble to the brāhmaṇas and the cows, Kṛṣṇa descends to reestablish religious principles. As the Lord says in Bhagavad-gītā (4.7) (Srila Prabhupada in Teachings of Queen Kunti Purport to verse 43)
Protection and grazing ground for the cows are among the essential needs for society and the welfare of people in general. The animal fat required for the human body can be well derived from cow’s milk. Cow’s milk is very important for human energy, and the economic development of society depends on sufficient food grains, sufficient milk, and sufficient transportation and distribution of these products. Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, by His personal example, taught us the importance of cow protection, which is meant not only for the Indian climate but for all human beings all over the universe.
Less intelligent people underestimate the value of cow’s milk. Cow’s milk is also called gorasa, or the juice from the body of the cow. Milk is the most valuable form of gorasa, and from milk we can prepare many important and valuable foodstuffs for the upkeep of the human body. The killing of cows by human society is one of the grossest suicidal policies, and those who are anxious to cultivate the human spirit must turn their attention first toward the question of cow protection. (Srila Prabhupada in Light of the Bhagavat Purport to verse 27)
In this verse the first things taken into consideration are the cows and the brāhmaṇas (go-brāhmaṇa). Why are they stressed? Because a society with no brahminical culture and no cow protection is not a human society but a chaotic, animalistic society. And any business you do in a chaotic condition will never be perfect. business can be done nicely only in a society following a proper cultural system. (Srila Prabhupada in Journey of Self-Discovery 6.3 spiritual Advice to Businessmen)
Another purpose is to demonstrate the principle of cow protection, as we are strict vegetarians and do not believe in slaughtering cows. Our herd of cows is Brown Swiss, and they are rated amongst the top one percent of dairy cow herds in the United States. All of the cows are pedigreed. Our farm holds fifty milk cows and fifty young cows, heifers. The milk cows milk an average of 40 kilos of milk per day in their first month of lactation and average 25 kilos per day over the whole year. We have 140 acres of crop land and 30 acres of pasture, the balance being woods, primarily hardwood, which is excellent for fuel. On our land we grow not only all the food for the residents but also for the cows. The following is the yield for 1976: corn—200 tons, soybeans—10 tons, barley—10 tons, oats—10 tons…” (Tamala Krishna Goswami ISKCON farm report: Port Royal, Pennsylvania, report for year 1976.)
Vaiśya, they should engage themselves in agricultural production and giving protection to the cows, espcially mentioned, go-raknya. Go-raknya, cow protection, is one of the items of state affairs. And now there is no cow protection. Poor cows, they deliver milk, and later on they become slaughtered. How much sinful the modern society is, and they still want peace and prosperity. That is not possible. (Srila Prabhupada Lecture on Bhagavad Gita 1.12 London July 13, 1973)
Vaiśya means they should take care of the cows, cow protection, go-raknya. Why go-raknya? Why not other animal raknya? Kṛṣṇa has not said “animal raknya” or “janawar raknya.” Go-raknya. The cow is very, very important animal. If you want to advance your spiritual consciousness, then you must have sufficient milk and sufficient grains. That is civilization. Therefore it is the duty of the vaiśyas to produce food grain. (Srila Prabhupada Lecture on Bhagavad Gita 2.1-11 JohanneSrimad Bhagavatamurg on October 17,1975)
Cow protection is the most important business of the human society (Srila Prabhupada Lecture in los Angeles on December 4, 1968)