In the News:
One, Two, Three, Bull

by Ramesh Kallidai, Weekly Column: Screaming Hot Bhajiyas, Asian Voice (UK)

Posted January 23, 2006

The only cow-protection programme in the UK runs at ISKCON Bhaktivedanta Manor Temple, Watford. They have over 35 cows, bulls and calves that graze sedatedly in the serene meadows surrounding the temple.

"We use the milk from the cows to make sweets for our Deities, Sri Sri Radha-Gokulananda," explained Gauri Dasa, President of the temple. "And we use the bull to plough the land for all our organic farming."

"You mean, you don't use tractors at all?" I asked, thinking of the traditional way by which Indian farmers had always used bull-power to plough the fertile land.

"No - this is the Vedic way of living off the land. Cows provide milk - a wholesome nutrient - and bulls till the land and provide food.

Lord Krishna the Eternal Cowherd taught us by His own example how to protect cows and live in harmony with the land. That's why He is called Gopala, the protector of cows and Govinda, one who gives pleasure to cows.

I spotted Gaura Purusha Dasa, a devotee who lives at the Manor, and looks after the farm and the cows.

Gaura Purusha is from Georgia , but lives and worships at the Manor like a Hindu. He has a busy day cultivating and ploughing the land and tilling it with the help of bulls.

"We even use the bulls for transporting fertiliser and manure, bullock cart rides for visiting school children, and even for cutting grass," he explained. "I supervise the milking of the cows and look after them when they are ill too."

Gaura Purusha has been looking after the cows for four years. "What I really enjoy about this service is that is very natural and pure. And cows are very special - whatever they give - milk, yoghurt, butter, ghee - is auspicious and revered."

After Gaura Purusha started serving the cows four years ago, he liked it so much, he even called his father over from Georgia. Now, both father and son tend to the cows every day and enjoy it very much.

"Make sure you visit the barn," he shouted after me as I was leaving. "We have just had a new calf and you can come and have a look."

Why is Cow protection important for Hindus?

Lord Krishna, as the Supreme teacher of human society, personally showed by His acts that the mercantile community, or the vaishyas, should herd cows and bulls and thus give protection to the valuable animals. In the Vedic tradition, the cow of course is worshipped like a mother and the bull like a father. This is because the cow provides milk like one's mother and the bull provides food like one's father would do, by tilling the land.

A C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the Founder of ISKCON says in his writings, "Everyone can understand that we drink the milk of cows and take the help of bulls in producing agricultural products. Therefore, since our real father gives us food grains and our mother gives us milk with which to live, the cow and bull are considered our father and mother. According to Vedic civilization, there are seven mothers, of which the cow is one."

Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita a medieval book on the pastimes of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu who appeared in the 15th Century describes how he challenged a Muslim ruler, Chand Kazi and asked him, "What kind of religious principle do you follow by killing your father and mother to eat them?"

A C Bhaktivedanta Swami continues, "In any civilized human society, no one would dare kill his father and mother for the purpose of eating them. Therefore Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu challenged this system (of eating cows and bulls) as patricide and matricide. In the Christian religion also, a principal commandment is "Thou shalt not kill." Our first provision is that no one should be allowed to eat any kind of flesh. It does not matter whether it is cows' flesh or goats' flesh, but we especially stress the prohibition against cows' flesh because according to shastra the cow is our mother."