New Vrindaban Istagosthi, Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Topic: Krsna’s Cows

At this Istagosthi, 3 main gopas (Balabhadra, Ranaka and Jaya Prabhupada) attended, as well as two temple board members, Varsana Maharaj and 22 other devotees.

*Disclaimer: Although I attempted to take notes to the best of my ability, please forgive me for any mistakes or omissions in correctly replicating what was said. If there is anything that is specifically incorrect, please bring it to my attention.

Two quotations were written on the board and read:

In a letter from Srila Prabhupada to Hayagriva, June 14, 1968, SP said: “Krsna by His practical example taught us to give all protection to the cows and that should be the main business of New Vrindaban.”

“Without protection of cows, braminical culture cannot be maintained.
SB 1.19.3 purport.

Dev: We can give so many reasons why we are not taking care of the cows, we can point fingers and blame this one or that one for not taking care of the cows, but the bottom line is that if Cow Protection is minimized, we are essentially trying to fix the braminical culture without addressing the underlying cause.

Dev: What is Cow Protection??

Dev: Giriraj Maharaj just stated when he was here that the “comfort of the cows should be ahead of the comfort of the Brahmins.”

Dev: Our society needs to organize itself economically in taking care of the cows.

Dev: We can’t just look at the cows as dollars and cents. The four pillars of religious life are represented by the four legs of the cow: 1) Truthfulness, 2) Cleanliness, 3) Mercy, and 4) Austerity. The main focus is to protect these elements of society.

In Kali Yuga, only the last led is standing. If we are not protecting these aspects, the cows and the Brahmins, then the culture becomes corrupt. The cows comfort comes before our comfort.

People will see the four qualities focused around the cow. The social structure we represent will also have those 4 qualities. And then Krsna will send everything when we have that mentality.

Dev: Quotation from SP: GO bramana hitaya cha. Lord Krsna purposefully came as a cowherd boy. This is one of the Lord’s personal activities. When the cows are protected, then there is protection of Vedic knowledge. If the cows and braminical culture cannot be maintained, then the aim of life cannot be fulfilled. “Then everything is in a precarious condition.” (quote from SP purport)

When the cows are happy, their milk is coming. When they are stressed, they hold back and we don’t get the liquid religiosity.

We serve these 4 principles, these 4 legs, not for some economic gain. The gain will come by our hearts being cleansed. The main purposes are for:

Breeding – cows were breed, not for their milk, but for the bulls that were produced that would then plow the fields.
Manure – for fuel and fertilizer
Urine for medicine
The milk is the last reason and is not even a reason, but simply a by-product.

This show the use of the bulls is the most important. If we are not working the bulls then you really only have 50 % cow protection.

When we ignore the bulls, we are not even addressing the father – Dharma.

By utilizing the bulls, we show others that the bulls are more useful alive than dead.

There is one Muslim area in some foreign country that came to this realization. They saw that it was economically more productive to have their cows and bulls alive than dead and even in this area which is Muslim, there is no cow slaughtering.

Dev: It seems you are really describing a simple economy based on cow protection. So, although it’s not about dollars and cents, it is economically sound.

Dev: I suggest that we stop buying outside milk for the Deities and have no outside milk for any of the offerings, even the Feast, at least just for the Deities.

Dev: All the offerings for the Deities are with our cow’s milk, Generally the big feast preparations are prepared after the arotik and offered to Srila Prabhupada (it gives them 2 more hours to prepare the feast).

Dev: The solution is for the devotees to become the servants of the cows – by giving back to them.

Dev: The solution is given by Srila Prabhupada. For me it is about farmers having land and cows and living in this way; to come back to Srila Prabhupada’s vision of farmers and rural society. At least to prepare to give support to those who want to be farmers. Currently there is no option to be a farmer. There is no structure to support framers. Just like you have a structure for the Deity worship – you need a structure for the cows. You don’t have any relationship with the cows, you are busy. The cow’s are not a part of anyone else’ life. We need to transform this community.

Dev: It seems that we have bought into society’s structure with all it’s complexities. We have now become addicted to that system. So we do need a transformation and it might takes a number of steps to cut off from that system. It doesn’t seem like we can do it cold turkey.

Dev: The temple won’t give any land to anyone.

Dev: We are dealing with a global situation. Hundreds and thousands of persons have left their farms and moved to the cities. If you want to talk about a conspiracy theory – refrigeration has killed farming. AS a society farming is pretty much de-valued.

New Vrindaban is a reflection of that society. To make living on the land, we may have to take vows of poverty.

It is difficult because we are fighting the oil system. To run a tractor on your farm is a lot easier. Most people don’t want to do the hard work that is required. Most people don’t want to have a lower standard of living.

The cow is the personification of the Land. ‘GO’ means cow / land / senses. Cow protection means you are producing your own food.

It really takes money to subsidize the farming. If we had money in a trust fund. . .

Dev: How to figure out all the material (economic) aspects. If we take care of the cows nicely and spend time with them, Go Seva, then Krsna will shower His blessings down. Krsna can open up so many doors.

Dev: You are trying to fulfill the spiritual aspect versus looking at the economic reality. In our biggest year of production, what did we produce – 5 tons of potatoes. You can give to the temple, or you can recoup your investment or go out and find a market.

Srila Prabhupada said to first produce enough for yourselves. Everything has to make economical sense too. Srila Prabhupada was the most practical minded. When he printed all the books, he didn’t just give away his books. In fact, he sold a book to the captain of the Jaladuta.

We have to find a plan that makes economic sense. In regards to cow protection and REAL milk (from the cow), it costs about four times more than milk bought from the store.

Dev: It is simple to follow the order of Srila Prabhuada, but also complex on a functional level.

ISCOWP is a place to train young people to do ox training. Yet, how many persons are knocking down your door?? Is this a reflection of the lack of preaching, the lack of example or is it the reflection of the entire society??

If we continually subsidize, that is not the economic solution. How to make it work for New Vrindaban. It takes time to figure it out.

Dev: When I hear economics and money, I hear that people need security. We all need security, food and shelter, a way to support our families. When we can address the needs of the individual and the needs of the organization together, from that platform we might be able to come up with different options.

Dev: Why aren’t we talking about the cows right now, about the cows here across from the temple. I thought that is what this meeting was about.

Dev: We can address the immediate problems by taking up service by starting to have some attachment to that seva to the cows. You have a little land around your house – you can grow a little garden and make food for your family. Each on e of us has to take that leap of faith and take a stand to be that example. Make that plea to get back to village life.

Today I will take 1 hour towards that goal and you will see that you will become attaché to that service and little by little things will change. Each and every one of us – if we are not involved in those activities – we will not get a taste for that way of life.

Dev: I became a worker instead of a farmer.

Dev: This is a start example of what I am talking about. It has to be a solution. You are competing with the oil fueled production and then you have a devotee who can’t make it economically.

Cow protection has to be subsidized. How are we running the temple. The entire temple project is subsidized. We are spending money for this and that, but the cows are supposed to be our main business – why wouldn’t you need to subsidize the cow program also?

The gurukulis have grown up and have voiced their opinions. Even the women have gotten together and have expressed their voices. But the cows have NO voice. We could care for the cows if we had the funding.

Dev: How to fulfill the vision of being self-sufficient. Just start doing it in a small way and it can grow. Self-sufficiency helps us individually. To start cow protection, it can also begin in this way. We need some personalism to take it on in an individual way.

Dev: My realization is that maybe we could consider just serving Prasad that just comes from our garden. If we are willing to Commit ourselves to live more simply that might help.

Dev: The cows are receiving a lot of subsidy – but do we have good ideas and proposals. We also subsidize the agriculture. It has to be subsidized to do that.

Currently we don’t have the infrastructure to support self-sufficiency. Are we prepared to store the food all winter. That means raising money from somewhere.

Dev: I would like to acknowledge what has shifted in the last week since we first mentioned the cows. Devotees have taken an interest and are visiting the barn, brushing the cows and cleaning them up. Just the fact that so many devotees have showed up for this meeting shows that we are interested in cow protection.

Dev: When we take on the mentality that this is our project, then the community can flourish. When we call the cows – Jaya Prabhupada’s cows, or Ranaka’s cows, we separate ourselves from the cows.
Dev: It would be great to take on one project per year. Like doing a root cellar – we could have that be this year’s project. We used to have these community programs. We used to have all kinds of marathons – the brick marathon – all the roads around the lake and around the temple were built in those brick marathons. It’s fun to hang out together and a lot gets done.

We could build a root cellar from rammed earth tires. You can get the tires free and devotees can spend their time ramming them. If we would just take on one project that we can knock off this year.

Dev: If a devotee wants to come over and help at the barn, what time are you there, Jaya Prabhupada?

From 7 to 9 am Monday thru Friday and 8 to 10 am on Sat and Sunday and then in the evening from 5 – 6 p.m.

Dev: It would be good to have those hours posted somewhere.

Dev: If you already know what to do you can come anytime, you don’t need me to be there.

Dev: Sometimes I have free time and want to spend time with the cows but I don’t know where to find them or how to get access to them. Like when they are out to pasture.

Dev: We could do a little project by making a “Squeeze” – a little space where people and guests can get access to see the cows without having to open the gates. In the summer they are up on the hills. It is on our projects list to build a structure outside this little barn here where we could keep one or 2 cows all day with a tent so that people and guests could come see them and also circumambulate the cows.

Dev: This barn situation up here is not tourist friendly.

Dev: We could make a list of the things that need to be done on a daily basis could be drawn up and devotees could sign up for what they wanted. Caitanya Bhagavat could be the person to coordinate. He could take the manpower and help to direct them.

Dev: If you have an idea to increase the job, then please look to me and give me more hours. Are you going to get paid for doing that??

Dev: I was hoping I might, but I am not in it for the pay. I will do this service whether I get paid or not. In fact, I won’t take any money for this because I don’t want to cause any upset.

Dev: We all have to do this – money or no money.

Dev: We could organize different marathons – planting marathons. This could be a community building exercise. If we think we can just keep throwing money at problems to solve them – there is a limit. Can we thinking of another way to do it?? Caitanya Bhagavat offered to paint the whole barn without pay.

Dev: If you do have community marathons it would be great to announce them in advance and possibly have them at at regular time or day so devotees could fit it into their schedule and then they would show up.

Dev: Or we could have different time slots available.

Dev: In trying to help all the devotees have the task of serving the cows and the land. At the farm in Hungary, the devotees have been trained and they have the consciousness that everything is owned by the Deities. They are simply serving different aspects of The Proprietors: Radhe Shyam.

In Hungary they have built their root cellars. Sixteen (16) years ago they took a vow to work towards self-sufficiency. They are focused that everything belongs to Radhe Shyam and they are currently self-sufficient 8 to 9 months of the year.

Hungary – New Vraja Dham – is a dynamic center. They are coming to the Festival of Inspiration to give presentations. In NewTalaban no one gets paid. And they have almost 100 cows (more than us), with less devotees.

If we could see everything as serving Radha Vrindaban Candra and all their different.

In New Vraja Dham – no one gets paid but everyone is looked after and everyone gets taken care of.

They are subsidized in a few ways, but the government and by college educational programs. But they utilize it in leaps and bounds.

Dev: What are the schedules when we can come to the barn and serve. Let us know because we want to come.

Dev: Also, in regards to guest tours – the hours of the bard don’t coincide with when the guests want to wals around. They are willing to serve the cows also. If we can expand the opportunity for the guests to bet involved. Maybe right after breakfast , especially on the week ends would be a good time for the guests. We can also get the guests interacting with the cows.

Dev: We need to get the cows more visible – where the pine trees are.

Dev: If we move the greenhouse and shed out of the way. Right now there visibility is blocked. What about if we had the cows right by the road.

Dev: There should at least be some signs with a logo on then that starts in front of the temple and leads them to the barn. I’d like to see a map in the lobby – one that says you are here.

Varsana Maharaj: The whole collection of the most crucial issues is the devotees relationship with the cows and the land. Historically speaking, the things we achieve are those things that we prioritize. Make a list of the priorities.

When you achieve one step, that step becomes the teacher that leads you to the next step. Prioritize and evaluate – what step needs to be taken now and how that leads us to the next step.

Prosperity comes from cow protection and braminical culture. Then everyone prospers on all levels, when we have that faith.

Dev: What I would like to see would be:

1. A root cellar this year
2. Signs with cow (logo) that leads to the barn.
3. Some system for coordinating volunteers.

Dev: If the temple sees that something is a priority, they could schedule devotees to do that. To the extent we don’t take it as a priority it doesn’t happen.

Dev: I really feel the temple would benefit by having a clear understanding of where they are and what they are doing. A system for all the temples.

Dev: We need an immediate list by Jaya Prabhupada.

Dev: Madhava Gosh and Ranaka are working on a maha list.

Dev: Before the Festival of Inspiration we need to address a few things tonight.

Dev: Jaya Prabhupada shouldn’t feel shaky about his job security. Caitanya Bhagavat won’t be taking any pay.

Dev: We can readjust what Ranaka writes down. Devotees can go to Caitanya Bhagavat to find out what needs to be done and how they can do it and he will give the supplies to do it.

Dev: The devotees from Hungary, Radha Krsna Das and Manoram have natural living and cow protection in their community. They are going to stay for 2 days after the FOI. They are staying to share with us. They are subsidized from the government and from universities and their plan is very well thought out. It is off the theoretical stage.

Also Bhakti Raghava Maharaj and our own Varsana Maharaj will be giving classes on the similar topics.

Dev: Our cow protection people should be meeting with these devotees from Hungary. The Santee Farm project already ahs some recognition. This can be expanded if we put energy here. We can build on the Santee program and make it for the larger community.

Dev: The more you serve the cows and land, many dynamic things come from this. You can enter into the physical and spiritual aspects of Vrindavan when you travel to India. This is what catches my attention in India, the internal potency. It is a lifestyle: Putting Simple Living and High Thinking into practice – as a Priority. This requires an actual lifestyle change.

Dev: In Hungary they create their own menus with whatever is growing freely. And when they don’t have a certain ingredient, they don’t go to Whole Foods.

They have made the commitment to Radhe Shyam and Srila Prabhupada to do this.

Dev: When we grow our own food, we also have to feed the guests. How can we have this paradigm shift? When the guests learn they are eating food from our own property, they are very excited.

Dev: This gives us the wonderful opportunity to touch and be with the Mothers (cows).

Ranaka: I feel we are on the right track. I also feel that a root cellar would be the best place to start.

Dev: In self-sufficiency the first question is to where to have your storage, where to store your grains and also your potatoes, carrots and apples.

Dev: You might need 2 or 3 root cellars as certain things cannot be stored together. Apples can rot and cause other things to rot.

Dev: In Hungary they have a root cellar with 3 different chambers. We could have them speak at the Istagosthi just after the FOI which is in 2 weeks – May 12th.

Dev: What is next week’s meeting about. Let’s talk about what we are doing, what is happening already in the positive light. Please come and share, May 5th.

In Hungary they also planted 20,000 trees and now birds that had left are coming back to stay and the whole eco system is changing. Hungary farm has a lot of tourism. They are coming to see the ECO system – they get 20 to 30,000 a year. They come and are captured by the ambience.

Before the Festival of Inspiration, Caitanya Bhagavat needs volunteers to help:

Power wash all the walls of the barn (inside walls).
Fix the hinges on the gates that are broken.
Clean up all the cows
Clean up the field that is behind the palace (there are metal pieces that the cows are stepping on.
Please post the hours that Caitanya Bhagavat is available.

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