How do you respond to the cultural and commercial hegemony perpetrated by multi-national cola corporations? You decide to produce a new beverage brewed from cow urine and market it as a religious-clense, at least if you’re the leader of the nationalist Hindu organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
The RSS, founded in 1925 to promote the Hindutva ideology, has a long standing tradition of attempting to keep the people of India on the path of enlightenment. They mobilized national boycotts against various companies operating or marketing in India, such as Pepsi and Coca Cola in the 90’s and are probably behind allegations that those drinks contain unsafe amounts of pesticides. Any McDonald’s that was blessed with a brick through the window can probably thank members of the RSS for their thoughtfulness. More recently nationalistic Hindus made their religious fervor known to the world by engaging in forced conversions and massacres and rapes of Christians in the eastern Indian state of Orissa.
The RSS has a department of Cow Protection, sensible for a country which has bans on the slaughter of cattle in most states. Om Prakash leads this department and is acting as spokesman for the future launch of the product which will be called Gau Jal which means cow water in Sanskrit. The beverage is in laboratory tests and Prakash assures us that it won’t smell or taste like piss. They seem to be gearing up to market Gau Jal as a health drink of sorts, blending the urine with medicinal herbs. Not ludicrous for a collection of people who have been extolling the miracles of cow dung and urine in science and spiritual cleansing. Better still is that it will be a drink of the people, Prakash saying it will be “cheap”. Competition from more established and better funded rivals doesn’t bother him– his drink is good for mankind. Which, perhaps, is why he suggests they will explore the possibilities of exporting the final product once they’ve unleashed it on the Indian people.
I’m not sure if other major religions have taken the step of bottling concoctions to spread their ideology. There’s Christian stores which sell everything from Bibles to rosaries to Christian rock CDs but do they have bottled drinks? Can you order a quart of Eau de Pope bearing a picture of the pontiff, blessed by his Holiness and guaranteed to alleviate sin? It sounds more like a recent pop culture phenomena to me, such as the bizarre world of famous rappers releasing lines of sugar water. When I saw George Jones play Oakland’s Paramount a couple years ago he announced from the stage that there was official water available in the lobby. I figured it was a joke aimed at the crass commercialization of the music industry until I saw bottles and bottles of water for sale all decorated with Jones’ likeness. It was expensive and I decided to just keep walking.
Image of the cow taken by Sasa Kralj/AP appropriated from the Times Online UK article cited. Mucho gracias to io9 and their keen sense of taste.