Let It Begin #9-“You’re a Cow Herder Now, Young Skywalker.”


by Bhakta-Chris

A Sunday or so back Jaya Prabhupada innocently asked me to make sure the gate was open above our Goshalla barn, so that the cows grazing in the field near the Palace could get back into said barn.

I took this simple instruction and made it much more complicated. I decided it was time for me to try my hand at herding cows.

I love cows, so I strapped on my all-purpose dung-caked blue shoes and headed up behind the barn.

The mud was thick and deep, and as I approached the already open gate, I beheld a sight I had never seen before. Cows running. Running very fast. Jaya Prabhupada had said this would happen, but still, as our dear bull Vrisham stormed in my direction, I very humbly panicked a bit and pleaded for my life.

Vrisham stopped and stormed at me again. I thought I was about to become a hoofprint, but polite as polite can be, Vrisham then slowed into a walk, moseying into the barn area with a great, regal stride.

I swear I saw his facial expression change from one of rage to the usual inborn bovine sense of self-satisfaction, but that was just a trick of my mind.

Mental note: I’m such a city boy.

Mother Tulasi followed him in, but way up on the hill Mother Ganga continued to graze, her behind defiantly moving away from my simple plans for the day. I went up the hill to see what was up, and made mistake #1: I didn’t close the gate behind me.

Up on the hill, Mother Ganga continued to pleasantly graze, showing no interest in returning to the confines of our Goshalla.

I, being very simple and straightforward, first asked nicely…”Dear Mata….why do you not want to go to the barn? Please, Mata, follow me to the barn…” Chomp chomp chomp. Nothing. Small smacks on the behind have no effect. Looks like I won’t be playing basketball today.

I look up and Vrisham has now come back up to the hill. He now wears an expression like he understands my situation and wants to help……after he gets done grazing up the rest of this grass. I go back down to the gate again, thinking they might get the picture that I am trying to paint, but no dice.

Up and down the hill, shoes gets stuck deep in the mud, now Kesava is up on the hill, drinking all of Ma’s milk.

“Dear Mata….Dear Mr. Very Large Bull…please give me a break.” Ouch! The electric fence does indeed shock when you duck under it and don’t quite make it.

I huff and puff back into the temple for Feast. I sit down next to Madhava Gosh and tell him my plight.

He laughs at me, and then doles out the wisdom. One, I need some help to do this, being so hideously inexperienced.

Two, there are methods to actually herd cows besides mild pleading. I need to let out a guttural “Huh!” to move them forward. I need to position myself in relation to their movements so that I force them in the proper direction. I also need a big stick as a sign of my authority.

Now totally inspired again, I go out and grab Caitanya das, who has done this before and head back up to the hill.

I put my lunchtime lessons to good use, as Caitanya helps me guide our wayward herd back into the Goshalla. This excites young Kesava greatly, as he begins to do his great bull-riding hip-and-hop “let’s exchange headbutts!” pastime.

I was too tired to offer my skull in play, but I promise him a raincheck as he trots back into the Goshalla.

Prabhupada writes in the NOD that “Disappointment gives rise to the greatest satisfaction. In other words, when one’s sentiment or ambition becomes too great and is not fulfilled until after seemingly hopeless tribulation, that is taken as the greatest satisfaction.”

Life is for learning. Life in Krsna consciousness is for serious, sometimes difficult learning. The lessons I took on this day on what to most of you is actually a simple task will hopefully last me the rest of eternity, in all kinds of practical ways.

At the very least, now I know that when a devotee asks me to do a service for him/her, I should make clear what is expected of me, and also make sure to ask what happens when I screw it up.


P.S The cows are still my best friends. As the weather warmed, I took to going barefoot with careless abandon. The result was a nice dry crack under my big toe. Solution, and maybe even a sign of some advancement, was to apply a little fresh steaming cow dung as a disinfectant. It worked like a charm. I hope this picture causes my family and friends to scratch their head even more at what I’m doing with my life.

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Reader Comments

Dear Bhakta Chris,
I am writing from Mauritius,a small island in Indian Ocean,where there are 2 centres,a small gosala with 4 cows and 5 bulls.The general population ignore all about cow protection,and we have to import all powdered milk from Australia!
The whole country is covered with sugar cane,as the colons used slaves to plant such poisonous stuffl.We are no.1 for diabetes in the world!Karma?
If the country has a new policy re agriculture,we can be nearly self-sufficient for food.
I would like to know if you have a list of articles concerning cow protection,so as to publish on a blog or publish.
Have you heard of varnasram.org?
It’s about time Iskcon makes farming communities a priority,as only such examples will prove to the world that it is the solution for society.

All the best,
Nitai das.

Dear Nitai Das

We have a wonderful site devoted entirely to our loving practice of cow protection. It is the International Society for Cow Protection (ISCOWP), and their website is http://www.iscowp.org.

Thank you so much for your comments, and please let me know any other way I can serve you.

your humble servant

[…] Outside of my recent difficulty in just trying to move one cow, (Let It Begin #9) I have never ever been involved in any kind of organized exodus of a group of holy heifers. It didn’t begin well. Our first two initial efforts to get the guys and gals out of the Govardhana Goshalla grazing ground was met with indifference and a lot of insolence. Three times I pretty much fell knee-deep in the cold mud-dung combination that posed as solid ground. […]