Kamadhenu (Surabhi) (Nandini) cow information, importance, facts, significance, details, story
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Just before going to “Kamadhenu (Surabhi) (Nandini) cow information, importance, facts, significance, details, story“, let us know a brief, basic and very important information.
Kamadhenu background : Kamadhenu (कामधेनु ), also known as Surabhi (सुरभि), is a divine bovine-goddess described in Hindu Shastras (Texts) as the mother of all the cows.
Kamadhenu or Surabhi is a divine and miraculous cow which “satisfies all the desires” and also called as “cow of plenty”, that is, who provides her owner whatever he desires.
Also Kamadhenu or Surabhi is often depicted as the mother of other cattle as well as the eleven Rudras.
Symbolically, Kamadhenu or Surabhi is generally showcased as a whitish colored cow with a female head and breasts and also as well as a white cow containing various deities within her body.
In Hinduism, all the cows are venerated as the earthly embodiment of the Kamadhenu or Surabhi.
Hindu Shastras (Texts) gives information about the diverse accounts of the birth of Kamadhenu or Surabhi.
Few Texts explains that Kamadhenu or Surabhi emerged from the Samudra Manthan (Churning of the cosmic ocean).
While others describe Kamadhenu or Surabhi as the daughter of Daksha Prajapati, and as the consort of the Maharishi (Sage) Kashyapa.
Similarly, other Texts give information that Kamadhenu or Surabhi was in the possession of either Maharishi Jamadagni or Maharishi Vasishtha.
And few kings tried to steal Kamadhenu or Surabhi from the sage (Jamadagni or Vasishtha) ultimately faced dire consequences for their actions.
Kamadhenu or Surabhi plays a vital role of providing milk and dairy products to be used in her master’s naivedya (oblations) as offering to Lord Sri Vishnu.
Kamadhenu or Surabhi is also capable of producing fierce warriors to protect her master from his enemies.
In addition to dwelling in the master (sage) ashrama (hermitage), Kamadhenu or Surabhi is also explained as dwelling in Goloka (The realm of the cows) and Patala (The Netherland).
Why the name Surabhi to Kamadhenu : Kamadhenu is also known as Surabhi because she is been originated from the divine smell of cows.
Surabhi means divine fragrant, divine charming, divinely pleasing, as well as cow of earth and other places.
Kamadhenu or Surabhi is also described as a Matrika (“The Mother”).
Other proper names attributed to Kamadhenu or Surabhi are Sabala (“The spotted one”) and Kapila (“The Red colored”).
The epithets कामधेनु (Kamadhenu), कामदुह् (Kamaduh) and कामदुहा (Kamaduha) literally mean the cow
“from whom all that is desired is drawn” or ”the cow of plenty”.
In the Mahabharata and also in the Devi Bhagavata Purana, in the context of the birth of Bhishma (Shantanu and Ganga Devi son), the cow Nandini is given the divine designation Kamadhenu.
In few other Texts, Nandini is described as the cow-daughter of Kamadhenu or Surabhi.
कामधेनु (Kamadhenu) or कामदुह् (Kamaduh) is the generic name of the sacred cow, who is regarded as the source of all prosperity in Hindu Sanatana Dharma.
Kamadhenu is regarded as a form of Goddess (The Hindu Divine Mother / Devi) and is very closely related to the fertile Prithvi (Mother Earth), who is often expressed as a cow in Sanskrit language.
The holy cow Kamdhenu denotes “purity and non-erotic fertility, sacrificing and motherly nature, sustenance of human life, etc.”
All the Devatas (Demigods) including Lord Sri Vishnu and Goddess Sri Lakshmi Devi reside in the body of Kamadhenu.
Information about the body parts explanation of Kamadhenu is as given below:
Kamadhenu’s four legs are the scriptural ‘Four Vedas’.
Kamadhenu’s horns are the ‘Tridevas’ (Trinity) Gods Lord Sri Brahma Deva (tip), Lord Sri Vishnu (middle) and Lord Shiva (base).
Kamadhenu’s eyes are the Lord Sri Surya Deva (The Sun God) and Lord Sri Chandra Deva (The Moon Gods).
Kamadhenu’s shoulders are Lord Sri Agni Deva (The Fire God) and Lord Sri Vayu Deva (The Wind God).
Kamadhenu’s her legs are the Himalayas.
Kamadhenu is often depicted in this form in poster art.
While, an another form of Kamadhenu shows her with the body of a white Cow, crowned with woman’s head, colorful eagle wings and a peacock’s tail.
A cow, identified with Kamadhenu, is often depicted accompanying Lord Sri Dattatreya, an avatar of Lord Sri Vishnu.
In relation to the deity’s symbol, Kamadhenu indicates the Brahminical aspect and Vaishnava connection of the deity contrasting with the accompanying dogs symbolizing a non-Brahminical aspect.
Kamadhenu also illustrates the Pancha Bhuta (The five elements) in the icon.
Lord Sri Dattatreya (An avatar of Lord Sri Vishnu) is sometimes depicted holding the divine cow Kamadhenu in one of his hands.
The birth of Kamadhenu has variety of stories among which are considered as authentic is:
Kamadhenu depicted in a scene of Samudra Manthan (Churning of the cosmic ocean) by the Devatas (Demigods) and Rakshasas (Demons) to acquire Amrita (ambrosia).
For this reason also, Kamadhenu is regarded the offspring of the Devatas (Demiods) and Rakshasas (Demons).
After the Churning of the cosmic ocean, Devatas (Demigods) and Rakshasas (Demons) gave the Kamadhenu to Saptarishi (The seven Sages).
Kamadhenu was ordered by Lord Sri Brahma Deva to provide milk and it’s byproducts and supply it for various Yagnas (Sacrifices).
In Anushasana Parva of Mahabharata, it explains that Kamadhenu or Surabhi was born from –
the belch of Daksha Prajapati after he drank the Amrita that rose from the Samudra Manthan (Churning of the cosmic ocean).
Further, Surabhi gave birth to many golden cows called Kapila cows, who were called the various mothers of the world.
Information about the Satapatha Brahmana telling story about Surabhi (Kamadhenu) is as given below:
Daksha Prajapati created Surabhi from his breath. The Udyoga Parva of Mahabharata gives information about –
Lord Sri Brahma Deva drinking huge quantity of Amrita (Ambrosia) and then later he vomited some of it, from which emerged the divine cow Surabhi (Kamadhenu).
Information about Ramayana giving information about Kamadhenu (Surabhi) is as given below:
According to the divine epic Ramayana, Surabhi or Kamadhenu is the daughter of Maharishi (Sage) Kashyapa and his wife Krodhavasa, the daughter of Daksha Prajapati.
Surabhi or Kamadhenu daughters Rohini and Gandharvi are the mothers of cattle and horses respectively.
In addition, it is Surabhi (Kamadhenu) who is described as the mother of all cows in the text.
Information about Puranas providing information about Kamadhenu (Surabhi) is as given below:
In the Puranas like Vishnu Purana and Srimad Bhagavatam, Surabhi or Kamadhenu is explained as the daughter of Daksha Prajapati and the wife of Maharishi (Sage) Kashyapa, as the mother of cows and buffaloes.
The Matsya Purana gives two conflicting descriptions of Surabhi or Kamadhenu.
In one chapter, Matsya Purana narrates Surabhi as the consort of Lord Sri Brahma Deva and from them they produced the cow Yogishvari, the eleven Rudras, lower animals, goats, swans and medicines.
Kamadhenu or Surabhi is then explained as the mother of cows and other four legged beings.
In one more situation, Kamadhenu or Surabhi is explained as a daughter of Daksha, wife of Maharishi (Sage) Kashyapa as the mother of cows.
The Harivamsa, an appendix of the Mahabharata, calls Surabhi or Kamadhenu the mother of Amrita (ambrosia), Brahmins, cows and Rudras.
The Devi Bhagavata Purana gives information that Lord Sri Krishna and his lover Radha Devi were enjoying dalliance, when they thirsted for milk.
Thus, Lord Sri Krishna created a cow called Surabhi (Kamadhenu) and a calf called Manoratha (ambition fulfilling) from the left side of his body, and milked the cow.
When drinking the milk, the milk pot fell on the ground and broke, spilling the milk, which
became the Kshira Sagara (The cosmic milk ocean).
Numerous cows then appeared from the pores of Surabhi’s (Kamadhenu) skin and were presented to the Gopalakas (cowherds) of Lord Sri Krishna by him.
Then Lord Sri Krishna worshipped Surabhi (Kamadhenu) and adjudged that she will be the giver of milk and prosperity and also be worshipped at Diwali (Deepavali) on Bali Padyami day.
Numerous other texts references explains that Surabhi (Kamadhenu) as the mother of the Rudras, including Nirrti (Maharishi Kashyapa being the father), another divine cow Nandini and even the serpent lineage called nāgas.
The Mahabharata gives brief idea about the Surabhi (Kamadhenu) as the mother of Nandini in the context of the birth of Bhishma, an avatar of a Devata (Demigod) called Vasu.
(Note : In Sanskrit Nandini literally means a daughter.)
Nandini, like her mother, is a “cow of plenty” or Kamadhenu (provideing the desired things), and resides with Maharishi (Sage) Vasishtha.
Nandini is stolen by the divine Vasus and thus cursed by the Maharishi (Sage) Vasishtha to be born on the earth.
The Raghuvamsa of Kalidasa mentions that King Dilipa (Dilip) a forefather Lord Sri Rama once passed by Kamadhenu-Surabhi, but failed to pay respects to her.
Thus King Dilipa incurring the wrath of the divine cow, who cursed the King to go childless.
So, since Kamadhenu had gone to Patala, the Guru of Dilipa (Dilip), Maharishi (Sage) Vasishtha advised the King to serve Nandini, Kamadhenu’s daughter who was in the ashrama (hermitage).
The King and his wife appeased Nandini, who neutralized her mother’s (Surabhi) curse and blessed the King Dilipa (Dilip) to have a son, who was named Raghu.
In both Ramayana and Vana Parva of Mahbharata, Surabhi cow is explained to be distressed by the treatment of her sons, the oxen in fields.
Surabhi’s tears are considered a bad omen for the Devatas (Demigods) by Lord Sri Indra Deva, the King of the Svarga Loka (Heaven).
Surabhi cries about the plight of her son, a bullock, who is overworked and beaten by his peasant-master.
Lord Sri Indra Deva, moved by Surabhi’s tears, rains to stop the ploughing of the tormented bullock.
In Hindu Sanatana Dharma, Kamadhenu is often linked with the Brahmins (Brahmanas), whose wealth she symbolizes.
Cow’s milk and its byproducts such as ghee are integral parts of Yagnas (Vedic Sacrifices), which are conducted by Rishis (Brahmin).
So, the ancient Kamadhenu is sometimes also referred to the Homadhenu (The cow from whom oblations are drawn).
Moreover, the Kamadhenu also offers the Brahmin who is prohibited to fight, protection against abusive kings who try to harm them.
As a Goddess, Kamadhenu becomes a warrior, creating armies to protect her master and herself.
Information about Jamadagni’s Kamadhenu (cow) is as given below:
Lord Sri Parashurama slaying Kartavirya Arjuna as Kamadhenu and her calf flee.
A legendary story explains that the sacrificial cow Kamadhenu is resided with Maharishi (Sage) Jamadagni.
The earliest version of the legend, which appears in the epic Mahabharata, describes that the thousand armed Haihaya King called Kartavirya Arjuna, destroyed Maharishi (Sage) Jamadagni’s ashrama (hermitage).
And also, Kartavirya Arjuna captured the calf of Kamadhenu.
To regain the calf, Jamadagni’s son Lord Sri Parashurama slew the King, whose sons in turn killed Maharishi (Sage) Jamadagni.
Lord Sri Parashurama then destroyed the ill Kshatriyas by going around the earth for 21 times and his father is resurrected by divine grace.
Similar stories of the abduction of the divine cow or her calf, the killing of Maharishi (Sage) Jamadagni by Kartavirya Arjuna,
and the revenge of Lord Sri Parashurama resulting in the death of Kartavirya Arjuna is narrated other scriptures.
As said in the Brahmanda Purana, Kamadhenu creates a great city by her power to accommodate Kartavirya Arjuna’s army, when they visit Maharishi (Sage) Jamadagni’s hermitage.
On returning to his Kingdom, Kartavirya Arjuna orders Chandragupta (a minster) to capture the divine cow.
The minister returns to the hermitage and tries to persuage Maharishi (Sage) Jamadagni to give away the cow, but to no avail.
Thus, Chandragupata tries to snatch Kamadhenu by force.
In the ensuing fight, Maharishi (Sage) Jamadagni is killed, but Kamadhenu escapes to the sky and Chandragupta takes her calf with him instead.
The Brahmanda Purana explains this Kamadhenu called Sushila was given to Jamadagni by the Kamadhenu-Surabhi, who governs in Goloka (A higher planet).
The Brahma Vaivarta Purana describes that the divine cow called Kapila produces various weapons and an
army to aid Maharishi (Sage) Jamadagni to defeat the king’s army, who had come to seize her.
When the king himself challenged Maharishi (Sage) Jamadagni for battle, Kapila instructed her master in martial arts.
Maharishi (Sage) Jamadagni led the army created by Kapila and defeated the king and his army several times, each time sparing the life of the King.
Finally, with the support of a heavenly spear granted to Kartavirya Arjuna by Lord Sri Dattatreya, the King kills Maharishi (Sage) Jamadagni.
Information about Maharishi Vasishtha’s Kamadhenu (cow) is as given below:
The divine epic Ramayana shows a similar story about Kamadhenu, however, here the Maharishi (Sage) is Maharishi (Sage) Vasishtta and the King is Kaushika (later became Vishwamitra).
Once, the King Kaushika (Vishwamitra) with his army arrived at the ashrama (hermitage) of Maharishi (Sage) Vasishtha.
Maharishi (Sage) Vasishtha welcomed King Kaushika (Vishwamitra) and offered him and his army a great hospitality along with the food which was produced by Sabala, a Kamadhenu cow.
The dumbfound King Kaushika (Vishwamitra) asked Maharishi (Sage) Vasishtha to part with Sabala and instead offered thousand of ordinary cows and other materialistic things in return.
However, Maharishi (Sage) refused to part with Sabala (cow), who was necessary for the performance of the sacred rituals and charity by the sage.
Ruffled King Kaushika (Vishwamitra) seized the cow Sabala by force, but she returned to her master, fighting the King’s huge army.
Sabala the cow hinted Maharishi (Sage) Vasishtha to order her to destroy the King Kaushika’s (Vishwamitra) army and the sage followed her wish.
Continuously Sabala (cow) produced Pahlava warriors, who were slain by King Kaushika’s (Vishwamita) army.
Thus, Sabala (cow) produced warriors of Shaka-Yavana lineage.
From Sabala’s (cow) mouth emerged the Kambhojas, from her udder emerged Barvaras, from her hind emerged Yavanas and Shakas.
Similarly from Sabala’s (cow) skin, Haritas, Kiratas and other foreign warriors emerged.
Together, the army of Sabala (cow) killed King Kaushika’s (Vishwamitra) army and all his sons.
This incident started the great rivalry between Maharishi (Sage) Vasishtha and King Kaushika (Vishwamitra),
who renounced his kingdom and became a great Rishi (Sage) to defeat Maharishi (Sage) Vasishtha by gaining similarly powers.
Information about abodes of Kamadhenu is as given below:
Kamadhenu (Surabhi) residence varies depending on different Hindu Shastras (Texts).
The Anushasana Parva from Mahabharata tells how Kamadhenu was given the ownership of Goloka, the highly planet for cows located above the three worlds, that is, Svarga Loka, Earth and Netherworld.
The daughter of Daksha Prajapati, that is, Surabhi (cow) went to Mount Kailash and worshipped Lord Sri Brahma for 10,000 years.
Pleased by the penance of Surabhi (cow) Lord Sri Brahma Deva conferred Goddess-hood to Surabhi (cow).
And also, adjudged that all people would worship her and her children (cows).
Lord Sri Brahma Deva also gave Surabhi (cow) a world called Goloka, while her daughters would reside on earth among humans.
As said in Ramayana, Surabhi (cow) is narrated to live in the city of Lord Sri Varuna Deva (The Ocean God).
This place is located below the earth in Patala (Netherworld).
Surabhi’s flowing sweet milk is said to form Kshiroda or the Kshira Sagara, (The Cosmic milk ocean).
As per the Udyoga Parva from Mahabharata, this milk is said to be of six flavors and has the essence of all the divine best things of the earth.
The Udyoga Parva clarifies that Surabhi (cow) inhabits the lowest realm of Patala, known as Rasatala, has for daughters, that is, for the Dikpalis, the guardian cow goddesses of Heaven.
Saurabhi (cow) in the east, Harhsika in the south, Subhadra in the west and Dhenu in the north.
Information about other scriptural references of Kamadhenu is as given below:
Kamadhenu with a Rishi (Sage) : Bhagavad Gita twice refers to Kamadhenu as कामधुक् (Kamadhuk).
In chapter 3.10, Lord Sri Krishna makes a reference to कामधुक् (Kamadhuk) while conveying that for doing one’s duty, one would get the milk of one’s desires.
सहयज्ञा: प्रजा: सृष्ट्वा पुरोवाच प्रजापति: |
अनेन प्रसविष्यध्वमेष वोऽस्त्विष्ट कामधुक् || 3.10 ||
ಸಹಾಯಜ್ಞಾ: ಪ್ರಜಾ: ಸೃಷ್ಟ್ವಾ ಪುರೋವಾಚ ಪ್ರಜಾಪತಿ: |
ಅನೇನ ಪ್ರಸವಿಷ್ಯಧ್ವಮೇಷ ವೋऽಸ್ತ್ವಿಷ್ಟ ಕಾಮಧುಕ್ || 3.10 ||
sahāyajñā: prajā: sr̥ṣṭvā purōvāca prajāpati: |
anēna prasaviṣyadhvamēṣa vō̕stviṣṭa kāmadhuk || 3.10 ||
Meaning of the above shloka (hymn) : In the beginning of creation, Lord Sri Brahma created humankind along with duties, and said:
“Prosper in the performance of these yajñas (sacrifices), for they shall bestow upon you all you wish to achieve.”
In chapter 10.28, when Lord Sri Krishna declares to the source of the universe, he proclaims that among cows, he is Kamadhuk.
आयुधानामहं वज्रं धेनूनामस्मि कामधुक् |
प्रजनश्चास्मि कन्दर्प: सर्पाणामस्मि वासुकि: || 10.28 ||
ಆಯುಧಾನಮಹಂ ವಜ್ರಂ ಧೇನೂನಾಮಸ್ಮಿ ಕಾಮಧುಕ್ |
ಪ್ರಜನಶ್ಚಾಸ್ಮಿ ಕನ್ದರ್ಪ: ಸರ್ಪಾಣಾಮಸ್ಮಿ ವಾಸುಕಿ: || 10.28 ||
āyudhānamahaṁ vajraṁ dhēnūnāmasmi kāmadhuk |
prajanaścāsmi kandarpa: sarpāṇāmasmi vāsuki: || 10.28 ||
Meaning of the above shloka (hymn) : I am the Vajra (thunderbolt) amongst weapons and Kamadhenu amongst the cows.
I am Kaamdev, the god of love, amongst all causes for procreation; and amongst serpents, I am Vasuki.
From the Anushasana Parva of Mahabharata, Lord Shiva is narrated as having cast a curse on Surabhi (cow).
Kamadhenu, Lord Shiva, Lord Sri Brahma Deva and Lord Sri Vishnu story:
Once, when Lord Sri Brahma Deva and Lord Sri Vishnu were fighting over who was superior, a fiery Linga (pillar like) emerged before them.
It was that decided whoever found the start (top) and end of this pillar was superior.
Lord Sri Brahma Deva flew to the skies to try to find the top of the pillar, but failed.
Thus, Lord Sri Brahma Deva forced Surabhi to falsely testify to Lord Sri Vishnu that Lord Sri Brahma Deva had seen the top of the Linga.
Lord Shiva punished Surabhi by putting a curse on her so that her bovine offspring would have to eat unholy substances. This story is as given in the Skanda Purana.
Information about Maharishi (Sage) Vasishtha, King Dileepa (Dilip) and cow Kamadhenu & cow Nandini story is as given below:
In Sanskrit Dileepa is written as दिलीप (also pronunced as Dilipa or Dilip) was a King of the Raghuvansh (Rahuvamsha) (Solar) dynasty.
Kind Dileepa had a wife named Sudakshina, but they had no children even after many years of marriage.
For this reason, King Dileepa visited Maharishi (Sage) Vasishtha’s ashram (hermitage), and pleaded him for his advice.
Maharishi (Sage) Vasishtha replied that, they should serve the cow Nandini (daughter of divine cow Kamadhenu), and if Nandini cow was happy with their service, she would bless them with a child.
Thus, according to Maharishi (Sage) Vasishtha advice, King Dileepa served cow Nandini every day, and attended to her every need for twenty-one days.
On the twenty-first day, a lion attacks the cow Nandini.
King Dileepa immediately draws his bow and tries to shoot an arrow at the lion.
But King Dileepa finds that his arm is immediately paralyzed and cannot move at all.
King Dileepa reasons that the lion must have some sort of divine power in it or the lion may be a Devata (Demigod).
Thus to confirm this, the lion started to speak to King Dileepa.
It said that King Dileepa had no chance of saving the cow, because the cow was the lion’s chosen meal.
The lion tells King Dileepa to return to Vasishtha’s ashram (hermitage) and let him (lion) have the cow Nandini as it’s food.
King Dileepa replies by asking if the lion would let cow Nandini go if he offered his own body in cow Nandini’s place.
The lion agreed and King Dileepa sacrificed his life for the cow. But mysteriously, the lion disappeared from the spot.
Nandini cow explained that the lion was just an illusion to test King Dileepa devotion.
Because King Dileepa was truly selfless, cow Nandini granted him a son after this devotion test.
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