Philosophy in the Barn


by Raghunatha das from the April 1979 Issue of the Brijabasi Spirit

So, before I begin, let me offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of my spiritual master, His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada, and then unto his perfect servant Srila Kirtanananda Swami, and thirdly unto all the great souls and Vaisnavas who have taken shelter of the holy dhama of New Vrindaban.
Taru asked me to write something for the Spirit, and since I work primarily with the cows, it seemed proper that I write a bit along that line.
Caring for the cows is essentially the activity which is ascribed to the vaisya or mercantile class, yet as we are primarily Vaisnava devotees of the Lord, the activity is performed in a trans¬cendental light to please the Supreme Lord by such service.
Yet, as the activity is carried out within the scope of material affairs, it is invariably touched by the qualities of the material energy. Most notably, in working with cows, one sees the birth, the growth, the flourishing, the producing of offspring, the dwindling, and at last, the inevitable death— which characterize the existence of the conditioned living soul.
Of course, in essence, New Vrindaban’s cow protection resembles the spiritual atmosphere of the supreme realm, Goloka Vrndabana, and one who is spiritually advanced will see it in that way. Still, the birth, death, disease, old age which constantly confront us, cannot be ignored, for they contain very valuable lessons of life for those of us who reside in this material world.
Recently in the main bam at Bahulaban, we lost a mother cow—Chitralekha, and her newborn calf just moments after her birth. Of course, I could go into great detail, but essentially Chitralekha had been quite ill prior to her calving, and she passed on shortly after giving birth. But the calf, a beautiful, and quite large heifer, lived at least for a while. Shortly after birth, she was having serious trouble breathing. So we all gathered around her, chanting, massaging her, and cleaning her throat. But finally, she too passed on.

It was quite a traumatic affair. The one thing I keep remembering is seeing the calf alive, looking around, kicking, appearing so beautiful, then I remember seeing her eyes open wide, and then, as she moved no more. And we all watched—there she was and then she wasn’t,
I remembered the verse in Bhagavad-gita where Krsna tells Arjuna, “For the soul, there Is never birth, nor death, nor having once been does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, he is undying, he is eternal, and he is not slain when the body is slain.”
And so we prayed that somehow these two souls had gone back to Godhead, their eternal spiritual home. Or, had they not been so fortunate, that they may have been able to take birth in the families of devotees of the Lord—for there is nothing so rare and auspicious within this world.
And yet we knew that really it was all up to Krsna, for we were completely powerless. Neither could we save them from impending death, nor could we determine their destination. It was completely in Krsna’s hands.
We chanted Hare Krsna constantly, which is, of course, the best thing to do in all circumstances. But even when we say, “Hare Krsna” we are simply recognizing that which had be¬come so obvious to us—that “My dear Lord Krsna, I am very small and powerless, yet You are the Supreme Lord of all that be* So please be kind upon me, and engage me always in Your loving service,”
Actually, it is natural that when a person sees death he becomes somewhat philosophical, and we were certainly no exceptions. Yet I long for the day when such clear perception of the temporality of this life will remain constantly in my mind.
And I suppose, most of all, I pray for that day when my service will become free from imperfections and offenses; for then, perhaps, I may be able to please my spiritual master, if only slightly, and somehow begin to repay my debt to him for his unlimited kindness upon me.
So, in ending let me offer my respectful obeisances to Amburish prabhu, who is an unlimited ocean of steadiness and selfless devotional service, in caring for the mother cows of New Vrindaban.
Thank you very much. Hare Krsna.
Your servant, Raghunatha dasa

Information and Links

Join the fray by commenting, tracking what others have to say, or linking to it from your blog.

Write a Comment

Take a moment to comment and tell us what you think. Some basic HTML is allowed for formatting.

You must be logged in to post a comment. Click here to login.

Reader Comments

Be the first to leave a comment!