BANGALORE: GovindaHaadu (Cow’s song) is in news again in Karnataka.
During the BJP government, the poem had been changed, to suit the ‘Hindutva ideology’ and convey that cow slaughter was bad. The critics termed it ”anxiety of Indianness”.
Now, with the change in government, the secularists feel its time to teach the children a different version, which they feel upholds the order of nature. In place of ‘Govina Haadu’, it’s called ‘Huliya Haadu.’
During the BJP government, Govina Haadu, the tale of Punyakoti, a cow, was prescribed in the 8th standard Hindi textbook (2012). The conclusion had been twisted to give a different meaning. The secularists had opposed the move by saying that it was to propagate the idea that consumption of beef is immoral. It put the beefeaters in the position of tiger, which consumes cow meat. In fact, Committee For Resisting Saffronization of Text Books” had brought out a book ‘A Right Wing Ideology in the textbooks of Karnataka – A critical appraisal.’
The present version of the poem penned by poet and playwright K Y Narayanaswamy is different from both the original and what was prescribed during the Saffron regime. The poet says the poem, which is from the perspective of the tiger raises several questions. It speaks of order in the nature, culture politics, human intervention and food culture. Even the tigress is a mother. If it fails to get a prey or dies, the cubs suffer. How can the tiger’s suffering be different from that of a cow?” asks Narayanaswamy.
Former backward classes commission chairperson C S Dwarakanath strongly feels that the perspective and understanding of the poem should change. For decades, we have heard one version. We should break the myth. The poem by Narayanaswamy is good, for it expands the theme and gives a different perspective,” he said.
Punyakoti, a cow, is accosted by a tiger in the forest. The cow promises the tiger that she would return to become his prey after feeding her calf. The tiger lets her go. The cow feeds her calf, tells him that he is an orphan in future, and returns to the tiger. The tiger leaves the cow without eating as the latter displays extraordinary honesty and truth. The tiger feels God wouldn’t forgive him if he killed the truthful cow. The tiger jumps off from the hill and sacrifices his life.
DURING BJP RULE:
The conclusive lines of the poem had been changed. As per the changed version, the tiger says, “Using cow as food is a wicked thought. So I pledge that I will not eat any cows here after…”
The tigress’s cub asks the mother to let the cow go to feed her calf. When the cow returns, the tigress changes her mind and says: both of us are mothers. You go back.” The tigress moves towards the top of the hill with its cub. Cowherd Kalinga wants to end the tiger menace and save his cows. So, he shoots the tigress down. Seeing the tigress fall, the cow thinks that she had sacrificed her life out of guilt. Before breathing her last, the tigress advises its cub not to show any mercy when it comes to hunting. The cub seeks answers: is the death justified? Didn’t I become an orphan? If meat-eating is wrong, then let God create grass-eating tigers.”