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The story of Kamadenu - the Divine Cow

Every Tanjore Painting has a story to tell. And so is this painting of Kamadenu and the sage Jamadagni.


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Kamadenu, the divine Cow emerged when Asuras and Devas churned the Ocean of milk - Kshira Sagar. The churning itself is an interesting story wherein the snake ‘Vasuki’ was used for churning. There was a battle between the Gods (devas or suras) and Demons (asuras). However, the devas and the asuras managed to work together, churning the oceans to obtain the milk of immortality.

All sorts of surprising elements (both good and evil- representing the duality of nature) appeared from that churning, not only the nectar, but also different goddesses, trees, magical objects, poisons and Kamadhenu, the cow. The Devas decided to give Kamadhenu to the Saptarishis, the seven great sages. For them, the sacred cow would supply milk and ghee for sacred Yagnas, rituals. Over the time, it was said that sage Jamadagni retained Kamadenu at his hermitage. 

The thousand-armed Haihaya king, Kartavirya Arjuna happned to visit sage Jamadagni’s hermitage. On his visit, the sage was able to provide the King whatever he needed. The King astounded by the prosperity of the sage became suspicious that the sage was not disclosing something. He then realizes that it was Kamadenu, the divine bovine which is capable of bestowing anything the master asks it. Kartavirya Arjuna destroyed Jamadagni's hermitage and captured the calf of Kamadhenu.

To retrieve the calf, Jamadagni's son Parashurama (avatar of Lord Vishnu) slew the king, whose sons in turn killed Jamadagni. Parashurama then destroyed the kshatriya race 21 times. Jamadagni was later resurrected with the help of divine grace. On seeing all this, Kamadenu flew away and disappeard. It is said that all the cows are direct descendants of Kamadenu and hence cows are worshipped as Gods in India and Nepal 

Bhagavad Gita, twice refers to Kamadhenu as Kamadhuk. In verse 3.10, Krishna makes a reference to Kamadhuk while conveying that for doing one's duty, one would get the milk of one's desires. In verse 10.28, when Krishna declares to the source of the universe, he proclaims that among cows, he is Kamadhuk.

Pooja Rituals: 

Performing pooja and praying to Kamadenu is said to have amazing effects on one's life. The person who wholeheartedly offers prayers to Kamadenu is believed to receive all that he desires. On Tuesdays and Fridays, one needs to make oil lamp using half cut lemon (Squeeze the juice out and flip the lemon on the reverse side making a cup with the skin on the inside and pour gingelly oil in it). One has to take bath before performing the pooja.

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