It sounded like a tacky fib from the nib of Mrs Funnybones at first. After all, who in their right mind would believe that Akshay Kumar consumes cow urine every day? But give it some time to churn your mind and you will recollect just how much Kumar has toed the present government’s line on various subjects, be it his ‘social’ films or his ‘interview’ with PM Modi just before the elections.
None of those stunts matched the cringe level of Kumar declaring on an Instagram Live session with his Bell Bottom co-star Huma Qureishi and Bear Grylls that he had no problem trying elephant poop tea because he’s been drinking his own piss every day. This was after Grylls urged him to try some during their adventure on ‘Into The Wild with Bear Grylls and Akshay Kumar’, that was filmed across Bandipur Tiger Reserve in Karnataka.
A Brief Background
Which takes me back to 2007. As a feature writer with The Times of India, I flew to Bhopal to cover one of the most interesting stories I’ve ever had the privilege to do. I had gone to cover a beauty contest that featured cows instead of humans and my job was to track down and interview the top three winners. You can read the story here. The main takeaway for me from the article was just how the then-BJP government was sponsoring such events and the proud declarations of how gaumutra (cow urine) would cure the world of all its ills.
It was a future that has now come to pass. From cancer to psoriasis and even coronavirus, gaumutra has been a constant reminder of our collective ridicule for science. In fact, just 10 days before India went into lockdown, members of Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha, a defunct political party, led by a litigant in the Ayodhya title suit, organised a “gaumutra party” where the most popular product was panchkavya — a cocktail of cow urine, dung extract and milk products. So confident were the organisers of their ‘neutralizing power’ of coronavirus that they even spelt out plans to send their cocktail to US President Donald Trump, who enjoys enormous support from right-wing groups in the country.
The Akshay Kumar Problem
Leaving all the political gimmicking and one-off gaumutra parties aside, the trouble with Akshay Kumar’s open declaration of drinking cow urine every day simply gives additional impetus for more right-wing fringe groups to openly declare the virtues of gaumutra without providing any scientific proof. Already, searches for cow urine have spiked up on the Internet since the Instagram Live.
The legitimacy of science and scientists also goes on the backfoot. Already, five hundred scientists have sent a letter to the Modi government asking it to withdraw a government call “for research proposals on the ‘uniqueness’ of indigenous cows and the curative properties of cow urine, dung, and milk, including potential cancer treatments”.
Ayurvedic practitioners agree that simply drinking cow urine offers no real benefit. A mixture of cow milk, clarified butter from cow milk, cow urine, curd from cow milk, and cow dung, called Panchagavya, has been mentioned in Charak Samhita, Aurveda’s foundational text. Nowhere is cow urine mentioned in isolation throughout Charak Samhita.
Instead of blindly following Akshay Kumar, it’d be great to see educated Indians advocating the truth about cow urine. But that seems like an unlikely thing. In the meantime, if you feel like trying cow urine, feel free to knock yourself out with a range of products available online. We won’t be responsible for any side-effects, including any desire to try elephant poop tea later on.
Cover image from Unsplash by Lyndsey Abel
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Loves to travel and taste drinks around the world Favourite drink - Vietnamese Coffee Favourite spirit - Turkish Raki