While cows are generally venerated by observant Hindus, the bovine of plenty, Kamadhenu is often approbated as the mother of all cows and even of the eleven Rudras. All cows are treated as the earthly embodiment of Kamadhenu.  Kamadhenu means the bestower of all desires, for she has the competence to provide the owner anything he fancies. According to the Vedic texts, she is said to have come into existence during the ‘churning of the ocean’ episode.

The fair complexioned divine bovine is often depicted with the head of a goddess, having a peacock’s tail and wings with fair complexion. She is the epitome of patience as she is often collated to Bhudevi.

Puranas recount that Sage Jamadagni, the father of Parashurama had once fostered the celestial cow. This was when Kartivirya Arjuna, a thousand armed Haihayas king tried to heist the cow for the betterment of his subjects. When the sage denied, the king severed his head. When Parashurama came to know all these, enraged by this outrageous act he vowed to destroy the entire Kshatriya clan.

Another lore recapitulates a similar event of king Kaushika being defeated by the army that emerged from the sacred cow owned by Vasishta. The king then meditated on Lord Shiva attaining the Brahmarishi title and then came to be known as Vishwamitra.

Her daughter is Nandhini and she is no less than her mother in endowing one with gifts. All gods are symbolized to dwell in her body. Her four legs symbolize the Vedas; her horns represent the Triune Gods: Brahma at the tip, Vishnu in the middle and Shiva at the base. The Sun and the moon inhabit her eyes. Agni and Vayu reside in her shoulders. Ganesha and Yama dwell in her nose and heart respectively. Lakshmi lives in her hind while the sages stay in her hair.


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