Not long ago, my husband and I visited Varanasi. It was his first time, whilst I was there once before.

The energy there is so special – even he felt it, not being interested in spirituality. He didn’t even want to leave.

That’s the place where many Hindu people come to die – because it’s considered the most spiritual place in India.

Almost every inch of that city has some spiritual history. For example, I stayed 100 meters away from the samadhi place of Sri Lahiri Mahasaya, a man who has won over the world, and learnt how to dematerialize. Only one picture of him was taken, and that was done with his permission – all the other pictures taken of him turned out blank!

Needless to say, we stayed in Varanasi as long as possible, basking in the spiritual rays of the city.

We would usually go to eat in one local cafe – a place owned by a religious man who took great care to keep his cafe clean. The one problem with Varanasi is that it’s dirty – people sell uncovered food on the streets, when cows, stray dogs and exhaust fumes from cars and motorbikes are all over the place. My husband even got a stomach bug at the end of our stay, as he ate too many of the street snacks.

I knew how dangerous it was, as I got sick in several Indian cities in my past travels, so I stuck with the places that were very clean compared to the rest of the cafes in Varanasi.

The mentioned cafe owner would make tasty homely meals, and I was in resonance with his energy so I would really take my time to eat the food there.

One day, I came for my regular meal, and whilst I was waiting for my order, a huge black cow was slowly coming towards his cafe, in a super narrow alley that is very common in Varanasi.

I saw much distress in her eyes. She as though was looking for help. I soon noticed that she was also limping.

I asked the owner what’s wrong with the cow.

He said that the people at night took some meat from her leg, and just left her bleeding. He already put medicine on her wound, hoping it would heal.

I couldn’t believe it. I thought that cows were not harmed in spiritual places in India, especially Varanasi, the most spiritual place of all.

It seems that because it’s illegal to kill cows in many places in India, they just mutilate them to take some meat.

I was in shock. My appetite was gone. I took my meal and gave it to that cow. I wanted to stroke her, but she instinctively moved her head away, full of fear. It took some talking to that cow to convince her I’m not a threat.

The owner put some more medicine, as the blood was still leaking a little.

The cow couldn’t stay in that narrow alleyway. People were getting impatient with the cow, trying to shoo her away as she was causing shop owners nearby to lose business, as walkers-by were dissatisfied with the presence of a cow that was leaking blood.

When I turned my sight away from her, the business owner nearby used the opportunity to shoo it with a stick, and she started limping through the alleyway slowly, whilst other shop owners tried to speed her up by hitting her body with sticks and anything they had on hand.

I couldn’t believe the cruelty of the people. The only human was the cafe owner. He thanked me for giving my food to the cow.

I went to the hotel to process what had just happened. I was still in shock. My husband asked why I looked distraught. I told the entire story. Tears started rolling down my face, and they wouldn’t stop. I was so saddened by what happened to the cow, but I was probably more saddened by the heartless human behavior.

I went to eat the meal there in the evening. The cow came back. She knew where she was welcome. She recognized me – I could see that. I came to stroke her head, and she lowered her head, enjoying the love.

I asked the owner what cows like eating. He said they really like bread, so I bought four breads for her, if I remember the number right. She was so happily munching them away.

Once she finished eating, the owner put the medicine on again. It looked like the cow was so grateful. The blood was no longer leaking, and the cafe owner said she would be fine now. I was relieved.

From that day, I can’t eat beef anymore. Cows are such beautiful, harmless, emotional beings. They are huge, but their hearts are bigger. And though it’s likely that cows in India are sacred for material things that they give (milk, curd, poor people use cow dung to build houses and heat their homes), the cow is so much more than that.

I saw how intelligent and good-natured that cow was. I even told my mom that I got a new friend – that’s how I really felt about this incredible being.

I prayed a lot for the healing of this beautiful animal, so I’m hoping now she’s okay. It’s so much easier to love these creatures than it is humans.

I understand there is much poverty in India. I took a cycle rickshaw through Varanasi streets and I saw naked children sleeping on streets. But it’s better to just kill the animal for meat (a swift kill gives them almost no pain) than to cut out the meat from animals and leave them bleeding.

I know vegans won’t like this conclusion, but even plants feel pain and are conscious. We live in a universe where life preys on life, and I understand that starving people really don’t care about anything but just to fill their bellies.

This is such a huge issue, which cannot be solved by a single article. But what I feel would solve this is opening the heart of humanity. Then the poverty wouldn’t exist in the first place, and issues such as animal mutilation would disappear.

Hi, I'm Simona Rich, the author of this site.

I'm from Lithuania, though most of the time you'll find me somewhere in Asia.

I write about spirituality and self-improvement, and consult on those topics.

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