Prabhupada: Vaisya means the mercantile community. They are meant for giving protection to the animals, for producing grain and trading. That's all. Because formerly there was no industry, people generally depended on agricultural work. Therefore the duty of the mercantile community was to produce food grains, distributing them, and giving protection to the cows. As the king was entrusted to protect the lives of the citizens, similarly the vaisya class, or the mercantile class, were entrusted to protect the lives of the cows. Why particularly cows are protected? Because milk is a very essential food for the human society. Therefore cow protection is the duty of the human society. That is the conception of the Vedic literature.
Protecting the cows and providing them grass for grazing are among the essential needs of human society and for the welfare of people in general. Animal fat required for the human body can be also derived from cow's milk. Cow's milk is very important for the human body and the economic development of society depends on sufficient food grains, sufficient milk and sufficient transportation and distribution of these products. Lord Sri Krsna, by His personal example, taught us the importance of cow protection. This is not only meant for India but for all human beings all over the universe.
Less intelligent people underestimate the value of cow's milk which is also called "gorasa", or juice from the cow's body. Milk is the most valuable form of "gorasa" and from milk we can prepare many important and valuable foodstuffs for the upkeep of the human body. The killing of cows by human society is one of the grossest suicidal policies, and those who are anxious to cultivate the human spirit must turn their attention first toward the issue of cow protection.
As written in Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.16.1, and similarly the vaisyas, krsi-go-raksya-vanijyam vaisya-karma svabhava-jam [Bg. 18.44], they should be trained in three things:
That is essential, agriculture and cow protection. And vanijyam. Vanijyam means trade. If there is excess milk product, if there is excess grain product, then you can sell them to others. Nowadays the trade is that you take as much milk as you can, and then kill the animal and sell the flesh to other countries. That is going on. No. Go-raksya. Cow protection is very, very essential in human society because it gives milk, the miracle food. You can make hundreds and thousands of preparations, all not only delicious, but they nourish the brain. You can get good brain. Therefore go-raksya, cow protection is especially recommended.
As written in the purport to Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.18.52, if one is trained to honor and worship the cows and brahmanas, he is actually civilized. The worship of the Supreme Lord is recommended, and the Lord is very fond of the cows and brahmanas (namo brahmanya-devaya go-brahmana-hitaya ca). In other words, a civilization in which there is no respect for the cows and brahmanas is condemned. One cannot become spiritually advanced without acquiring the brahminical qualifications and giving protection to cows. Cow protection insures sufficient food prepared with milk, which is needed for an advanced civilization. One should not pollute civilization by eating the flesh of cows. A civilization must do something progressive, and then it is an Aryan civilization. Instead of killing the cow to eat flesh, civilized men must prepare various milk products that will enhance the condition of society. If one follows the brahminical culture, he will become competent in Krsna consciousness.
Here we see Maharaja Pariksit, as soon as he saw that a cow was being attempted to be killed, immediately he took his sword and inquired "What nonsense are you doing? You are killing my citizen." This is a good government. Why the cow is not a national? She was also born in the land, so she's an important national as you are. Krsna has given her grass to eat. She's not interfering with your food. What right you have got to kill her? You have got your own food. The cow has got the grass as her food. You have got food grains and the cow is giving you milk. Just give her protection. The cow is saying, "Don't spill my blood, yet drink my milk. Please do not kill me." So why are these things happening? It is because there is a 'rascal' government. Kalina upasrstan. Rascal government. So one should lament that, "We are under this rascal government, under the rascal guru, rascal father. They, who are meant for giving protection, are all rascals. This is our position."
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