It is not easy to specify as to when man began using the milk of animals as his food. Domestication of cow for this purpose must have taken place very early in his civilization. Buffaloes, goats and the camels were the few more animals that became added to this list, also quite soon but in some restricted regions of human society. However, cows and then buffaloes constitute the most prevalent animals utilised for this purpose.
Though there is uncertainty like this as regards the age of this original discovery, there is no doubt as to the role that milk and its products have been playing ever since the earliest record of the Vedas in India’s history. These have been integral and almost invariable articles of food and rituals in India since then. The number of the cows that an individual man possessed was considered a real measure of his wealth. Offering a milching cow was the highest of the gifts or dona one could think of.
It is a well known story that Emperor Janaka had kept thousands of decorated milk cows as the Prize for the competent for answering the questions he intended to ask of the learned sages in his assembly and the sage Yaganyavalkya just ordered his disciples to drive them all away immediately to his own Ashrama. So sure was this great sage of his own prowess here and none could challenge him at all. The “daughter” in English is often traced to be cognate to the Sanskrit term “dogdhru”, meaning one who milks, the milking of the COW and taking the milk dugdha this way being the important work to be carried out by the daughter or rather the daughter-in-law of the family.
The abundance of the availability of nillk has always been regarded in -India as a sign of prosperity of the country. Even In Independent India, White Revolution—meaning the success of the measures taken to increase the availability of milk in the whole country following the experimental trials in Anand in Gujarat State has been hailed by all as the next significant step after the earlier Green Revolution on the agricultural front. The role that milk and its several products are playing in our daily life as well as the whole national economy is and has always been very Important.
The products that have been developed from milk are also many. They include milk, curds, butter, buttermilk, clarified butter or ghee, khova, cheese, whey and so on. The specific food preparations made from these several articles, both savoury and sweet, are too numerous to be mentioned.
We use milk and its products as a major food, as a necessary diet, as an article of luxury-milk sweets being generally the costliest of the food items and also as medicine by itself or as vehicle of other medicines in our ailments.