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The “Kamadhenu” Way!

The “Kamadhenu” Way!

By- Aditi Maheshwari


We often categorise folk-tales as our traditional or cultural heritage and practice it only as rituals. Well, if we keep a flexible perspective, we can see the great learnings such incredible stories offer. One such story is of the sacred cow- “Kamadhenu” – a bovine goddess (in Hinduism) – mother of all cows. If we see her story in business context, we can understand the dynamics of creation and sustenance of life.

“Kamadhenu” is known for her magical abilities to provide her owner of all their needs. She is depicted as a white cow with a female head and breasts, the wings of a bird and tail of a peafowl and as a residence for various deities within her body. Cows are regarded as “Kamadhenu’s” earthly embodiments. She is also called “Homadhenu” – the cow from whom the first fruits were drawn. Well, now if you consider the fact – the reasons behind why we individuals engage in any trade, business, job or profession? The answer is simple to satisfy our basic needs as well as our desires of luxury and comfort.

Hindu scriptures provide various accounts of the birth of “Kamadhenu”; the most famous belief is that she emerged from the churning of the cosmic ocean. If we relate this in today’s context it shall represent our hunger for more. We are all involved in our professional life simply to fulfil our needs for achieving more in life and satisfying our ego of feeling superior to others. Another belief is that she is the daughter of the creator god Daksha (Manasputra, mind created son of the creator god Brahma) and the wife of the sage Kashyapa (One of the seven ancient sages of Rigveda). We can relate this to the combination of knowledge, wisdom and wealth which equals true richness. A combination of material as well as spiritual world and its embodiments.

Another story highlights that Kamadhenu was in the possession of either Jamadagni (father of Parashurama – sixth incarnation of Lord Vishnu) or Vashista (In Ramayana, he was the family priest of the Raghu dynasty and teacher of Rama and his brothers) and the kings who tried to steel her from the sage ultimately faced dire consequences for their actions. This refers to the need of corporate governance so as to build a transparent work culture that respects honesty and hard-work and punishes ill will and wrong doings.

In terms of direct correlation; “Kamadhenu” plays an important role of providing milk, cow dung and urine. Milk can be used to create various dairy products, cow dung is used as a rich fertilizer, fuel and biogas producer, building material, raw material for making paper, insect repellent, etc. Cow Urine is used for various medicinal purposes such as to treat arthritis, cardiac disease, hypertension, cancer, HIV Aids, obesity, etc. It is also used in cosmetics, for treating various skin diseases like psoriasis, leprosy, acne, pimples, sunburns, eczema, freckles, etc. Cow urine has many other uses too. So, we see “Kamadhenu” offering all her treasures to her sage-masters. Now when we translate this in business context, we see that all our trades, occupations, job profiles, etc. are offering us an opportunity to offer something in exchange of which we earn in cash or kind. It gives us unique identity and a sense of self. It makes us feel valuable.

It is obvious that the sacred cow “Kamadhenu” is regarded as a source of prosperity, making us self-reliant. The sacred cow also signifies purity and non-erotic fertility, sacrificing, motherly nature and sustenance of life.  

In the current context, the ideal example would be of India’s Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant) initiative by the government of India, The virtues of the sacred cow “Kamadhenu” can be co-related with goal in the same direction. The five pillars of Atmanirbhar Bharat are Economy, Infrastructure, Technology driven system, Vibrant demography and Demand. “Kamadhenu” - the sacred cow, helps us to realise our dream of becoming self-sufficient first so that then we can help others through our offerings. The Make in India drive using tagline like “Vocal for Local” highlights the “Kamadhenu” principal which makes us more aware of what we have as well as help us appreciate the good and compensate for the weaknesses. However, at the same time being self-reliant does not mean cutting off from the rest of the world.

“Kamadhenu” is a form of Devi (The Hindu Divine Mother) and is closely related to the fertile Mother Earth (Prithvi) who is often described as a cow in Sanskrit.

“Kamadhenu” is known to reside all gods in her body, as an epitome for leadership. Her four legs are considered to be the scriptural Vedas, her thorns are the triune gods- Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, her eyes are the sun and moon gods, her shoulders the fire god- Agni and the wind god- Vayu and her legs the Himalayas. This signifies the powerful potential a physical body possess. It’s how we use our energy that distinguishes us from the crowd. Another representation of “Kamadhenu” shows her with the body of a white Zebu cow (Humped cattle), crowned woman’s head, colourful eagle wings and a peacock’s tail. In current context, it can be seen as a more challenging role for women in society, who have been dumped with huge burdens, yet women manage them efficiently and elegantly. It highlights women power.

It is also believed that “Kamadhenu” dwells in the sage’s hermitage but in addition it is believed to dwell in “Goloka” – the realm of the cows and Patala – the netherworld. This makes sense if we perceive it in the context that though we practice any trade, business or work on earth but the impact of our actions is carried forward to other realms of heaven or hell as the case may be. “Kamadhenu” also called “Surabhi”- the fragrant one. Our actions give our name the fragrance of beauty or malodour. “Kamadhenu’s” another name is “Sabala”- the spotted one. We can understand this simply- we as individuals are spotted through our talents. Eg; - Motilal Oswal Financial Services (MOFSL) has coined a term for its long-term performing employees – “compounding contributors”. Talents when compounded consistently helps outshine competition. MOFSL has rewarded over 240 such compounding contributors out of total strength of 10,000 employees with gold coins. Another name by which “Kamadhenu” is called is “Kapila”- the red one. Meaning that greed is never rewarded.

“Kamadhenu” identified also as accompanying the god Dattatreya. She denotes the Brahminical aspect and Vaishnava connection of the deity contrasting with the accompanying dogs- symbolising a non-Brahminical aspect. She also symbolises the Panch Bhuta (the five classical elements) in the icon. This represents the concept of time and energy. There are various folk tales associated with the sacred cow “Kamadhenu”. The sacred cow offers the Brahmin who is prohibited to fight, protection against abusive kings who try to harm them. As a goddess she becomes a warrior, creating armies to protect her master and herself. This refers to the corporate and professional laws that act as protectors and the rule of laws act as ethical behavioural standard set-in order to maintain freedom with responsibility. Not taking personal responsibility lies at the heart of many corporate ethics since their main focus is profit and not humanity. In order to eliminate corporate ethics scandals, embezzling and acting frauds relating to worker safety from the system and maintaining eco-friendly choices these laws are necessary. So that individuals don’t absolve themselves from taking responsibility of governance and ethical behaviours.

Since demand of our time is increasingly exceeding because of over competitiveness in work place, we are not able to bring our skills and talents fully to life. The rise of digital technology is perhaps the greatest influence to this unbalanced approach. Overflow of information and requests compel us to read and respond at all times whether day or night leaving no space to just be. Leading to mental chaos and imbalance. As such even the Vaastu Shastra encourages keeping an idol of the sacred cow at home as to attract prosperity and happiness.