Cow & Horse as Vedic Symbols

on the occasion of the birth of CAROSELLE - The Gourmand’s Cheese

[Thea wrote this article upon the establishment/birth of Caroselle – The Gourmand’s Cheese in December 1990. On 8 April 2017 The Hindu published an article titled ‘The fromagerie on Palani hills’  featuring  Caroselle. ACC found this article in Thea’s archives, and we present it to help readers understand more about the story of ACC’s cheese business.]

Caroselle - The Gourmand's Cheese (Logo)

The following is a hymn to Sri Aurobindo’s very wise dictum


That I have given the head of a horse for the label of our cheese and not a cow, may be perplexing; the latter would be the more common choice. The explanation can be found in an old, ancient Vedic perception which, to my knowledge, has now been lost. At the same time, I will give the reason for the name CAROSELLE and its cosmic background.

The Cow is the Light—‘go’ in Sanskrit, or ray (of sunlight). But this cow/light is unformed, spread out, unmaterialised, so to speak. In other words, it is the primordial Energy out of which or with which the material universe and all things therein are made. The agent for this action is the Divine Maya, the Vedic formative power of the Absolute.

On the other hand, the Horse is precisely that formed product. For this reason these symbols—Cow and Horse—go hand in hand. They can never really be separated in the language of symbols for the true Knowledge. But in India they have been separated for all practical purposes. The emasculated condition of the ancient Dharma is reflected in the fact that only the Cow is actively worshipped. The Horse (and by consequence the vir energy) is relegated to a secondary position, if at all it is given any consideration. The reason for this lies in the distortion of the spiritual experience in ages gone by. Today it claims to be ‘vedic’, but in name only: the essence of the experience has been lost, for only the dematerialised Energy, or the Spirit, is sacred. The rest, all the things of this material universe are now ‘maya’, or illusion. Not the divine Maya of the ancient Veda, but Shankara’s undivine, veiled and murky interfering substance. Simultaneously, with the increasing chasm between Cow and Horse reaching a culmination in our times, the Horse lost all connection with the Cow. In other words, the Cow ‘up there’ was fine; down here it was all too unruly, wild and unredeemable: Matter was something to shun, that materialised Energy lost its sacredness and fell into the realm of the profane.

I do believe there is no one in India today, or anyone anywhere else versed in Indian culture, who can clarify this important point and draw these sacred connections. At the same time, this severance, I repeat, describes the loss of the dharma—or at least its power to remake itself and imprint its truth upon the human psyche. In this task the energy of the Hero (Horse) is demanded.

However, we do not have to go far afield for confirmation of these facts I am presenting because this same truth is preserved in the Brihad Aranyaka Upanishad. This Upanishad begins with the description of the universe in the form of a horse. It may be pointed out that this particular Upanishad is one of the oldest, hence closer to the ancient Vedic spirit wherein Agni, that supreme symbol-godhead, was often described as a white Horse; and in this form he was the divine Usha’s vahana as she ushered in the Dawn—of the day, of the year, of the age.

It may also be pointed out that these introductory ‘horse verses’ are often left out of translations and commentaries. It became rather difficult and embarrassing when those old chaps got so explicitly ‘pagan’.

Mention of Usha, the divine Dawn, brings us to another formidable truth of the Brihad Aranyaka. Time is mentioned therein as ‘the breath of the Horse sacrificial’. The divine Measure (or Maya) of the Earth is the year. Thus Cow and Horse in their combined symbolism represent the sacrificial Year. Time gestates that Energy (Cow/Light) and forms are thereby evolved, imbued with prana (the ‘breath’ of the Horse). The destiny of all living things hinges on this cosmic process. Thus Cow and Horse are EVERYWHERE, in the macrocosm and in the microcosm. The only problem is that in our times the connection between the two has been lost—hence the prevalence of a very divisive, separative consciousness throughout—even in the Godmen who themselves have lost this connection and continue repeating what are now just vacant phrases, though hallowed they may be. They must be instilled with that ‘breath’ once more.

The Festival of Light—which the true tradition accurately locates between 22 December and 5 January, with particular emphasis on the first five days of the year as the seed time—is an homage to the above process: the primordial Energy (Cow/Light) is given the vahana of the year (Horse/Time) to materialise itself in the creative formative process, bearing great respect for the gestation period of 9 months (both cow and human). Thus it is that Usha inaugurates the year (or the day) by entering on the white Steed, Agni. She brings in those sacred Rays for material formation. And thus it is that Agni is the divine Will working in the world. The essence of all material creation—its very soul—is Will. Destiny is the motor of that Will, or its ‘intent’.

Now on to CAROSELLE and cheese. The apparently lowly and simple carousel, or merry-go-round, was an inspired vision by some creature obviously obsessed with the cosmic Machine. Thus the movements of the horses in the merry-go-round are all descriptive of motions in our solar system: the horse turns around its pole (like the Earth spinning on its axis in 24 hours); it moves up and down (like the Earth’s top-like motion marking off the cosmic Age of 25,920 years and also connected to the Moon’s 27 day cycle); the horse moves around the centre of the carousel—just like the Earth does around the central Sun (in the year of 365 days). These movements can also be enlarged to describe galactic movements, as well as the entire universal dance around a single ‘centre’.

All of this deals with movement—hence the symbol is the Horse, renowned for swiftness, speed and forward motion. So, a carousel of horses is a very apt description of the universal harmony, just like the Brihad Aranyaka Upanishad: the essence of the cosmic manifestation is movement, ergo the Horse.

I had named our dairy Swati Panth, a Sanskrit term for the Galaxy, the Milky or ‘Pearly’ Way—the legend being that a drop of rain falling into an oyster during the month of ‘Swati’ would develop into a pearl. This name was given to the dairy in honour of my first white horse whom I had named Swati, in keeping with his pearly whiteness (as well as the fact—though unknown at the time of naming—that he reached me during the Swati nakshatra). And his appearance was exactly linked to our cow, Deepa, conceived on Deepavali of 1981. Together this Cow and Horse marked off the measure of the year from 1981 to 1982.

This should clarify why the logo bears the head of a white Horse, and a carousel horse at that.

The process of cheese-making is in itself a sacred operation. One is creating a cosmos. One takes the milk of the cow in its ‘unformed’ state and one creates thereof a form—from this primordial energy. When it hardens (usually in a round mould like the universal bodies), it is then the Horse—for the Horse is that prana/time-breath without which the process goes nowhere, the symbol par excellence of movement, hence Time. In the cheese-making process movement is initiated, brought into being, accelerated. One is creating a cosmos (the cheese). One is taking that light-energy from the Cow and by the help of Time’s breath (‘of the Horse sacrificial’)—out comes the CHEESE!

Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet (Thea)
Written on [the] auspicious
entry into the FESTIVAL OF LIGHT 23.12.1990,
Swati Panth Dairy at ‘Skambha’

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