The Vedic word for 'war' translates as 'desire for cows.'  During the lifetime of the Buddha, it was common practice for Brahmans to officiate at animal sacrifices and to consume enormous amounts of beef.  The majority of peasants who needed their animals for plowing could not afford this on a regular basis. Combined with the influence of the Buddha's teachings, the ethics of vegetarianism developed and the issue of beef-eating became a wedge dividing society until the Brahmans were forced to radically reverse their position. Almost nine hundred years after the Buddha, the slaughter of cows was made illegal (4th c.). Today, the cow is worshipped and nearly 200 million wander freely throughout the country.

Above the bathing ghats in the holy city of Varanasi, the Charandpaduka is yet another place where Lord Vishnu is said to have touched his feet to earth. This is symbolized by a pair of small feet carved out of the rock and anointed daily with offerings such as ghee. This cow, sporting vermillion powder on his forehead, is enjoying the Lord's prasad.