This paper examines the ritual and everyday practices of a family of buffalo-keeping Yadavs in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. Water buffalo and indigenous Indian cattle are described as biologically and socially distinct beings: buffalo are economic animals, favoured for milk production, but ritually devalued and legally killable; cattle are sacred, protected from slaughter. Cows have historically been the animals central to public imaginations of Hindu belonging in scholarship and popular politics. But buffalo, not cows, are the animals central to Yadav self-making. This paper shows how heterodox bovine beliefs and everyday practices knit buffalo into a capacious Hindu interspecies world that subverts contemporary cow politics. © 2019, © 2019 South Asian Studies Association of Australia.