Where's the beef?

Navayana's next is a reissue of D N Jha's The Myth of the Holy Cow.

"In this book, historian Dwijendra Narayan Jha argues that the ‘holiness’ of the cow is a myth and its flesh played an important part in the cuisine of ancient India. Citing Hindu, Buddhist and Jaina religious scriptures, he underlines the fact that beef-eating was not Islam’s ‘baneful bequeathal’ to India. Nor can abstention from it be a mark of ‘Hindu’ identity, notwithstanding the averments of Hindutva forces who have tried to foster the false consciousness of the ‘otherness’ on the followers of Islam.

This new Navayana edition features an excerpt from Dr B. R. Ambedkar’s 1948 work on the connections between untouchability and beef-eating. Ambedkar marshals evidence to argue that in the Vedic period, ‘for the Brahmin every day was a beef-steak day."

The book has been widely praised for any number of reasons. While cow veneration and vegetarianism may be the hallmarks of Hinduism today, Jha compiles copious evidence that this has hardly always been the case says the New York Times. Jha draws on an amazingly wide range of material … an enlightening endeavour, demonstrating a critical understanding of a popular misconception- Journal of Asian Studies. The TLS says Jha traces the history of the doctrine forbidding the eating of cows… soundly and thoroughly covering both the classic texts and cutting-edge scholarship, Indian and European, while the Socialist Review calls this a little gem of a book [that] provides a wealth of evidence exposing myth creation and the way symbols are used politically to divide people.

Soon to be in our Religion and Dalit Studies sections. Paperback, 207 pages, Rs 200. ISBN 9788189059163

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