go गो

Definition: ‘ox’ or ‘cow.’ These were among the chief sources of wealth to the Vedic Indian, and are repeatedly referred to from the Rigveda onwards. The milk (Ksīra) was either drunk fresh or made into butter (Ghrta) or curds (Dadhi), or was mixed with Soma or used for cooking with grain (Ksīraudana).The cows were milked thrice a day, early (prātar-doha), in the forenoon (Samgava), and in the evening (.sāyam-doha). Thrice a day they were driven out to graze, according to the Taittirīya Brāhmana (prātah, saφgave, say am). The first milking was productive, the last two scanty. According to the Aitareya Brāhmana, among the Bharatas the herds in the evening are in the Gostha, at midday in the Samgavinī. This passage Sāyana expands by saying that the herds go home to the Sālā, or house for animals, at night so far as they consist of animals giving milk, while the others stayed out in the Gostha, or open pasturage; but both were together in the cattle-shed during the heat of the day. The time before the Samgava, when the cows were grazing freely on the pastureland, was called Svasara. When the cows were out feeding they were separated from the calves, which were, how¬ever, allowed to join them at the Samgava, and sometimes in the evening. While grazing the cattle were under the care of a herdsman (Gopā, Gopāla) armed with a goad, but they were liable to all sorts of dangers, such as being lost, falling into pits, breaking limbs, and being stolen. The marking of the ears of cattle was repeatedly adopted, no doubt, to indicate ownership. Large herds of cattle were well-known, as is shown by the Dānastutis, or ‘ praises of gifts,’ in the Rigveda, even when allowances are made for the exaggeration of priestly gratitude. The importance attached to the possession of cattle is shown by the numerous passages in which the gods are asked to prosper them, and by the repeated prayers for wealth in kine. Hence, too, forays for cattle (Gavisti) were well known; the Bharata host is called the ‘ horde desiring cows ’ (gavyan grāmak) in the Rigveda j and a verbal root gup, ‘ to protect,’ was evolved as early as the Rigveda from the denominative go-pāya, ‘ to guard cows.’ The Vedic poets do not hesitate to compare their songs with the lowing of cows, or to liken the choir of the singing Apsarases to cows. The cattle of the Vedic period were of many colours: red (:rohita), light (śakra), dappled (prśni), even black (krsna). Zimmer sees a reference to cows with blazes on the face in one passage of the Rigveda, but this is uncertain. Oxen were regularly used for ploughing or for drawing wágons (anadvāh), in which case they were, it seems, usually castrated. Cows were not properly used for drawing carts, though they at times did so. The flesh of both cows and bulls was sometimes eaten (Māmsa). Cattle were certainly the objects of individual ownership, and they formed one of the standards of exchange and valuation (see Kraya). The term Go is often applied to express the products of the cow. It frequently means the milk, but rarely the flesh of the animal. In many passages it designates leather used as the material of various objects, as a bowstring, or a sling, or thongs to fasten part of the chariot, or reins,or the lash of a whip. See also Carman, with which Go is sometimes synonymous.

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