The Mahabharata (Adi Parva Book) records that Kamadhenu-Surabhi rose from the churning of the cosmic ocean (Samudra manthan) by the gods and demons to acquire Amrita (ambrosia, elixir of life). As such she is regarded the offspring of the gods and demons, created when they churned the cosmic milk ocean and then gifted to the Saptarishi, the seven great seers. She was ordered by the creator-god Brahma to give milk, and supply it and ghee ("clarified butter") for ritual fire-sacrifices.
The Anushasana Parva Book of the epic narrates that Surabhi was born from the belch of "the creator" (Prajapati) Daksha after he drank the Amrita that rose from the Samudra manthan. Further, Surabhi gave birth to many golden cows called Kapila cows, who were called the mothers of the world. The Satapatha Brahmana also tells a similar tale: Prajapati created Surabhi from his breath. The Udyoga Parva Book of the Mahabharata narrates that the creator-god Brahma drank so much Amrita that he vomited some of it, from which emerged Surabhi.
According to the Ramayana, Surabhi is the daughter of sage Kashyapa and his wife Krodhavasa, the daughter of Daksha. Her daughters Rohini and Gandharvi are the mothers of cattle and horses respectively. Still, it is Surabhi who is described as the mother of all cows in the text. However in the Puranas like Vishnu Purana and Bhagavata Purana, Surabhi is described as the daughter of Daksha and the wife of Kashyapa as well as the mother of cows and buffaloes.
The Matsya Purana notes two conflicting descriptions of Surabhi. In one chapter, it describes Surabhi as the consort of Brahma and their union produced the cow Yogishvari, the eleven Rudras, "lower animals", goats, swans and "high class drugs". She is then described as the mother of cows and quadrupeds. In another instance, she is described as a daughter of Daksha, wife of Kashyapa and the mother of cows. The Harivamsa, an appendix of the Mahabharata, calls Surabhi the mother of Amrita (ambrosia), Brahmins, cows and Rudras.
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