ISKCON Goshala Land for Krsna's Cows
Posted April 30, 2011
For so many years the bulk of over 11 acres (4.5 hectares) of land meant for ISKCON Vrindaban's cows has lain fallow or has been used as playing fields for students, while the cows have been jammed into a quarter of their rightful space because the GBC of Vrndavan has earmarked that land for either the Gurukula or the Temple to develop at the expense of the cows.
Following is indisputable proof that the land being called the Goshala Land was purchased by ISKCON for the sole use of the cows. The cows have been squeezed into three acres of the 11-acre-plus plot, a management decision which contravenes not only the cows' rights and the original purpose of the land but also goes against Srila Prabhupada's desire to have Lord Krsna and Lord Balaram's cows living in Sri Vrindavan Dham and not in some goshala-cum-property-development land outside of Vrndavan.
Opening up the full 11 acres for the cows' use is way overdue. The Temple/Gurukula, or any individual who covets the cow's land, must desist in their attempts to develop it for other purposes. The property-development mentality in Vrndavan must stop. Vrndavan is for those who desire spiritual sanctuary and growth, not for making money.
There is no doubt that the ISKCON community in the Dham needs both community and infrastructural development. But this must be done in accordance with the desires of Srila Prabhupada and through consultation with the Vaisnavas.
The temple authorities and the GBC must seek to right the wrong that has been done to the cows for all these years and give their full blessing and full financial support to make sure that the cows are well looked after and loved in our Goshala, so dear to Srila Prabhupada.
In late 2007 Sanaka Sanatana das, who had then for two years headed Vrindavan's Bhaktivedanta Swami Goshala, sought clarification on the issue of land allocation, after learning that some devotees harboured doubts as to whether the land had actually been meant for the cows: "Due to the unfortunate situation of having 350 animals in the same space as 20 years ago, we wanted to utilize more area for the grazing of our cows." Accordingly, he wrote to several devotees who had been directly involved in the original land purchase, including Daivi Sakti dasi, Dhananjaya das and Gunarnava das prabhus.
Following are three testimonies from devotees who were actually involved in the purchase and purpose of the Goshala Land.
Gunarnava das, who had been temple president at the time of the land acquisition, responded: " 'Philosophical' and 'common sense' are the key words to note. It's disturbing to contemplate the discomfort the cows are experiencing, being cooped up in that small space that was even too small for 100 cows, 20 years ago, what to speak of 350 cows now. Please inform whoever is responsible and utilize the land immediately.
"Srila Prabhupad desired to please their Lordships Krishna Balaram by constructing a beautiful temple. It's also Their home, and for us to serve Them eternally. At Their Lotus Feet sit the beautiful Surabhi cows, (we can see them every time we go into the temple to worship) offering their service. Our position is to serve in assisting the cows to serve Krishna Balaram, das-anudas.
"When Krishna and Balaram were living in Vrindaban They would daily look after 100,000 cows that belonged to Krishna's father, Nanda Maharaj. Vrindaban is all about Krishna's cows, their service and protection.
"I was extremely fortunate to have the physical association of Srila Prabhupad and receive so much instruction from him in regards to the go-seva in Vrindaban. Two months before Srila Prabhupad left his body, he instructed me to purchase a pure black cow and arrange for the cow to be kept outside his house. Srila Prabhupad told me that the milk from such a cow would be the only foodstuff to nourish and maintain his life, so as to be with us all for as long as possible.
"Dhananjaya has been someone whom I have always looked up to, and remains today a very close and respected friend. Daiva Sakti will always have my utmost respect; her dedication to Srila Prabhupad's service in Vrindaban is for all to see. I am confident they will support my comments in this regard.
"The land was purchased due to its availability, especially being next to Taporia House. It's not rocket science. Let common sense prevail; use every square inch to assist the cows in their service to Krishna Balaram. Please inform whoever is responsible that they should make a beautiful goshala on that land. It would be a wonderful project to develop. Krishna and Balaram would be so pleased they would bestow all mercy and facility.
"In 1976 I made a humble attempt while engaged in all the other responsibilities Srila Prabhupad had given me at that time. Too much time has passed and too little has been done to further our very important service to the cows of Vrindaban. It's obvious to me; I pray it becomes so to the movers and shakers, the devotees there in Vrindaban."
Daivisakti dasi, another Prabhupada disciple and a long-term resident of the Dham, was also a witness to the original purpose of the Goshala land. In a letter to Jayadeva das, she wrote: "I was involved in securing that land, so here is a brief history as I remember it:
"1979 – The baba who lived on the land was attacked by dacoits. He approached the temple and asked us to purchase the land. I will not go into the legalities of how the land was purchased, but it was a challenge, to say the least. Throughout, the lesson I learned was that because we were getting the land for the cows, it would be successful. And it was! At that time there was only the Taparia House for the goshala, nothing else, and the property was even then too small for the herd. The purpose for acquiring the new land was to give the cows space to roam, and to plant crops to feed them.
"As soon as the land was acquired, we arranged with the Dept. of Forestry to have trees planted on the property that would yield cow fodder. This was carried out, but because of water shortage the crop did not flourish. The cows/bulls were allowed to move around on the land, and we put up a wire fence around the boundary. Then in early 1980s a great effort was made to build the present roadways through the land, design an irrigation system, commence agriculture and herd the cows to fertilize the land. This was begun by Nandarani Mataji, and carried on by other devotees after she left Vrindavan.
"With numerous changes in management, the land has since been sectioned off for other purposes. But the original purpose for purchasing the land was for the cows. That purpose has not been fulfilled; thus, the cows continue to suffer in confined quarters, nearly 30 years later."
Bhaktisiddhanta das, a third Prabhupada disciple, was the first devotee to take up residence on the newly purchased land for the cows at the Goshala. In the article "Abhiram Das Answers", Bhaktisiddhanta das says:
"Years ago my wife and I plus Rupa Vilasa and his wife lived in the building now occupied by the VIHE on the land which was newly purchased for the Goshala. The purchase arrangements were made by Gunarnava and Bhagaji. The old sadhus living there previously had their Deities stolen one night and, being disgusted, they wanted to sell the land at a low price. The land was meant for the cows only; otherwise, Bhagaji wouldn't have gotten involved. I was personally present for some of their talks, and the cows were the main interest. Bhagaji was acting on the wishes of Srila Prabhupada.
"Now I see the land fallow and not used for any reason; even the gurukula kids rarely use the land. Gobar (manure) is being piled up on one corner, not being spread, so the land is being intentionally rendered useless for all practical purposes. If that land turns into another concrete jungle, I will make trouble for sure. The land was meant for the cows and no other reason. Why has the gurukula taken what belongs to the goshala? I will start talking to our present leaders to straighten out this mess."
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