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sacred cow

in Hinduism, the belief that the cow is representative of divine and natural beneficence and should therefore be protected and venerated. The cow has also been associated with various deities, notably Shiva (whose steed is a bull), Indra (closely associated with Kamadhenu, the wish-granting cow), Krishna (a cowherd in his youth), and goddesses in general (because of the maternal attributes of many of them).

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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