Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Urine or You're Out

Ever wonder how far you’d go to be healed? I started thinking about this after reading about a Hindu group promoting the drinking of cow urine as a way to cure what ails you. The cow is sacred to many Hindus, symbolizing as it does the forces of life and fertility, so it is not such a stretch to imagine that the urine of a cow might be life-giving.

I have two problems with drinking cow urine. First, I’m a vegetarian. I haven’t eaten a cow in decades, and I am concerned that drinking the urine of a cow might be a violation of my vow of vegetarian abstinence similar to my hypocritical choice to eat eggs while refraining from eating chickens. This problem is, however, of lesser import than my second problem, which in fact renders my first problem mute. My second problem is this: Drink cow urine? Are you out of your frackin’ mind?

You can see how my second problem trumps my first. Yet perhaps my response is simply an expression of ignorance and cultural bias. After all I am not a specialist in cows or urine (though my sister collects ceramic cows and I do pee), and my limited training in Hinduism never covered urine drinking. (I know Gandhi drank urine, but who knows what you might drink after fasting for weeks on end?) So maybe there is something more to it than meets the eye.

To find out I placed a call to India to ask some Hindu scholars about drinking cow urine. Unfortunately I don’t know anyone in India, let alone scholars of Hinduism, so I didn’t deliberately call a specific person. No, I dialed the call centers of several credit card companies whose cards I own, and kept calling until I found a very lovely Indian woman named Tiffany. When I asked Tiffany if she drank cow urine she reminded me that “this call may be monitored for training purposes.” She then hung up on me.

I took up a second credit card and within minutes was taking to another Hindu, a fellow named was Devin, who told me he lived with his parents, was finishing college, and planned to come to the States for graduate school.

“Do you drink cow urine?” I asked.

“No!” he said with genuine shock. “Is that required for study in America?”

“No, no, “ I assured him. “But I thought Hindus drank the urine of cows and I wanted to know if you found it soothing and healing because I don’t want to try it unless it really works.”

Devin was silent for a moment and the call was taken over by a man who identified himself as Mr. Prahadamananda, whose name sounded so unlike authentic Hindu names like Tiffany and Devin that I’m pretty sure he wasn’t a Hindu and maybe wasn’t even speaking to me from India. In any case Mr. P. insisted that I was wasting the time of his employees, insulting his faith, and in need of an identity theft protection service that my credit card company was offering at a special introductory rate.

I explained to him that as a Hindu he should know that my identity was entirely fictional and illusory in the first place, and that there is no protection from maya. Mr. Prahadamananda said nothing, and continued to say nothing for such a long time that I finally realized he was no longer on the line.

I gave up calling after that, so if you’re interested in drinking cow urine you will have to call your own credit card company.


rachel_eliza said...

thank you. laughing out loud, CZ

Lauren B. Davis said...

Well, that started my day with a good laugh. "Tiffany?" Hilarious.

Grégoire said...

I remember calling some customer service number and getting someone with a very heavy accent. I had to laugh when he called himself

It was the poor guy's first day. To his credit, he solved my problem quickly and thoroughly. In return, I convinced him to name himself Jonathan.

Patti said...

Yup...had to check it out for myself. There is even a company that is going to bottle cow urine and market it in competition to Coke..maybe they will call it Peepsi. I am hilarious. ;0)


Peter M. Schogol said...

Cows are sacred in one form or another in Indo-Aryan religion. In Zarathushtra's Gathas, "cow" is used to convey "the good vision" – the vision of a world governed by truth and good thinking.

For Parsis (Indian Zoroastrians) entering the priesthood, the diaconal initiation involves both the sipping of and bathing in bovine urine.

I'm not suggesting that because something is hoary it is ipso facto healthy. You wouldn't catch me dead drinking urine (although I have had Calpis). But, as with the brit milah (male circumcision), which many people (including, interestingly, Jews) find unhealthy at various levels if not downright barbaric, one man's Mede is another man's Persian.