Cow Care in Hindu Animal Ethics – New book available for free download

November 8th, 2019 | Posted by ww-seva2 in news | writing


This open access book provides both a broad perspective and a focused examination of cow care as a subject of widespread ethical concern in India, and increasingly in other parts of the world. In the face of what has persisted as a highly charged political issue over cow protection in India, intellectual space must be made to bring the wealth of Indian traditional ethical discourse to bear on the realities of current human-animal relationships, particularly those of humans with cows. Dharma, yoga, and bhakti paradigms serve as starting points for bringing Hindu—particularly Vaishnava Hindu—animal ethics into conversation with contemporary Western animal ethics. The author argues that a culture of bhakti—the inclusive, empathetic practice of spirituality centered in Krishna as the beloved cowherd of Vraja—can complement recently developed ethics-of-care thinking to create a solid basis for sustaining all kinds of cow care communities.

Many of you have contributed to make this Palgrave McMillan book open access.

Now the Open Access copy is already available for one and all. This is an academic book which is part of the publisher’s series on Animal Ethics.

If you are a researcher on the field or even a cow care or animal ethics enthusiast, we’re sure you will relish the fruits of the author’s thorough research


“A thoroughly researched and most timely book analyzing the placement of the cow throughout Hindu culture, and its potential role in human well-being more broadly. While the growing Western animal rights movement is primarily based in human-centric concerns, and the protection of animals objectified and valued in terms of benefits to human health, diet, ecology and environment, Valpey introduces us to the notion of the cow as subject and as citizen in its own right. Using traditional as well as modern theoretical frames of references, Valpey leads us to the inexorable conclusion that the welfare of human civilization and cow protection are inextricably linked.” (Edwin Bryant, Professor of Hinduism, Rutgers University, USA)

“It takes special scholarship, sensitivity and courage for understanding the cow, a unique bovine creature. To call the cow merely an animal is considered heresy for Hindus, when the cow is not only mother, but also a refuge for all the Hindu gods and goddesses. The cow embodies Mother Earth and the bull embodies dharma. The cow is a grand stage on which economy and spirituality, rituals and aesthetics, life and death all play out their truths. In this comprehensive study, Dr. Kenneth Valpey lucidly reveals this complex phenomenon, covering textual traditions to contemporary practices and issues.” (Acharya Shrivatsa Goswami, Director, Caitanya Prem Samsthana, Vrindavan, India)

“There has been growing academic interest in the more-than-human these days, and this certainly includes nonhuman animals. The cow within Hinduism has been either regarded as the most special of animals, or even as the representative of all animals. Kenneth Valpey has produced a wonderful book that invites us to look at cows as “subjects,” and explores the special nature of them from a wide variety of sources within India. In so doing, he offers a very thoughtful ethical perspective for our consideration. Those interested in the larger field of animal ethics will find much of value in this book.” (David L. Haberman, Professor of Religious Studies, Indiana University, USA, author of People Trees: Worship of Trees in Northern India)

“An extensive and nuanced meditation on the relationship between human and animal kingdoms in India and the world at large: this volume examines the philosophical underpinnings of the ethics of cow care and protection in India and goes on to make a credible environmental case for their contemporary implementation. It offers a very rich blend of cultural studies, intellectual history, and environmental awareness and will clearly develop and deepen the discourse on inter-species dharma.” (E. H. Rick Jarow, Associate Professor of Religion and Asian Studies, Vassar College, USA)

“The cow is integral to the economic, cultural and spiritual wellbeing of Hindus and is central to the natural, human and divine spheres of life, which interrelate for mutual benefit. Kenneth Valpey’s book ‘Cow Care in Hindu Animal Ethics’ discusses the historical and current issues that surround the cow as a sacred animal in Indian culture. It highlights how both dharma and bhakti are balanced in the daily care of cows, requiring the long term well-being of all animals, with the human – cow relationship as a starting point. The book is well researched on Hindu animal ethics from the Vedic to the contemporary and is an important contribution to our knowledge of the co-operation between human beings and the animal world.” (Dr. Nanditha Krishna, President, C. P. Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation, Chennai, India)

“This is a path-breaking book that deserves to be widely read. Valpey expands our understanding of animal ethics and complexifies our notion of devotion. Original and thought-provoking, this book will open up new venues for discussion and reflection regarding cow care.” (Mary Evelyn Tucker, Yale Forum for Religion and Ecology, USA)


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