Part of the reason that cattle have always had such a sacred place in the heart of Indian traditions is the wide array of ways in which they sustain human life. In Western society we rape cows for their milk and treat bulls as walking beef steaks. However, in other societies we see a more holistic view of the cow as an animal with many life giving properties. Cows give milk, bulls work the land, and both give us manure and urine, which can be beneficial to human health and lifestyle in more ways than you might imagine.
Cow dung is rich in minerals and is used primarily as a fertilizer. It can also be used to generate electricity and heat. The gas is a rich source of methane and is used in rural areas of India to provide a renewable, stable and environment friendly source of electricity. Caked cow dung is also used as a fuel to cook food in many parts of Asia and Africa.
In hot, dry countries such as India, cow dung dries hard like cement and can be used in building and insulating. It is particularly suitable for lining walls because of its excellent insect repellent properties. Its power to repel mosquitoes has also been utilised by many companies which produce commercial repellents.
Cow dung and urine have also long been regarded as having powerful medicinal properties. Even in recent times, in the city of Ahmadabad, Gujarat, a research unit has been set up wherein studies are being undertaken to come up with medicines made from cow dung and urine to cure a wide range of diseases. The raw materials are, of course, generated on site. Over 300 cows are maintained on the grounds of the research unit. The head of research, Mr. Kesari Gumat, claims that they have come up with a range of medicines that can cure bad breath and even cancer. Balancing the spiritual tradition with modern scientific methods, derivative products are also being manufactured – shampoos, soaps, toothpaste and mosquito repellent are only a few of those.