By Dusyanta dasa
Cow protection is a Universal principle; it is not limited to a particular culture nor to this material world. Cow protection extends from the highest spiritual planet; Goloka Vrindavana in Madhurya Dharma which overflows with the ambrosia of unrequited love. From the scriptural references from Bhagavad-gita As It Is by Srila Prabhupada there are numerous instructions on cow protection. Cow protection is akin to Sanatana Dharma in as much as it is an eternal inter-twined principle and for devotees of Lord Krishna this is a very important point pertaining to unification.
I had always thought, naively, that Cow protection was an activity that Srila Prabhupada had introduced and it functioned within a certain scope, but my vision and understanding was a limiting factor. The cows that just wander around India did not come within that scope of cow protection, rather the cow was a symbol of religion and mother earth so the cows were left to wander around India to remind the people of the higher principles of life. A constant mobile reminder always available to the senses.
All people can protect cows; it is not just the domain of devotees of Lord Krishna. And the lessons that we learn from the practical side of protecting cows, milking cows and working oxen is a very big picture, so much so that it takes a community or society to fully support this project. Srila Prabhupada even said that cow protection is the centre of Varnashrama Dharma, that’s how big cow protection is and how important a project it is. It is so big that as a community of devotees we still have not achieved the goals.
One of the points about cow protection that we may consider and meditate on is the path that cow protection takes us to. When we follow conventional society of materialistic capitalism we have to conform to a certain strategy for it to work for ourselves. We are lead to and have to submit to dictatorial criteria and influences and by interaction and association with these dynamics, the lower modes of nature; it’s an inherent nature of its existence. Mostly the dynamics are based on exploitation, artificial money markets, slaughtering innocent animals, the petro-chemical industries worldwide, labour abuse, and a whole host of anti-social principles. Just by avoiding the project of cow protection, self-sufficient food production and the mode of goodness simple living, we support fully the whole exploitative capitalistic violent dynamic, what other option is available?
The concept of cow protection is the antithesis of capitalism because it is a socially acceptable principle of living in harmony with, and respecting the earth. In cow protection the whole issue of the first economic questions are answered easily. Just a small piece of land is easily enough for sustenance. We don’t need to grow food to feed to animals because we are vegetarians. We don’t need to grow food for alcohol because we don’t take intoxications and don’t drink tea and coffee. We don’t need to grow food for ethanol for internal combustion engines because we live the simple mode of goodness life style, we don’t need to export food around the world because we are not greedy traders trying to make food production into a business to make profits. We are not handicapped, as is capitalism, so our farming, our growing of foods is based on the mode of goodness, which is easily achieved.
Bringing to bear the concept of cow protection is the answer to what actually underpins a society of devotees, it’s the economic basis so that the influences we feel, that we have to plug into, that we have to support and work with are all influences that push us towards a consciousness of harmony with Krishna’s nature. Because cow protection is the social dimension of a devotee’s lifestyle it puts in place a culture that the voidness of capitalism creates. Capitalism only creates impersonalism and voidism, which for a personal devotee of Lord Krishna, is another stumbling block for progressiveness along the path of devotional service. Cow protection as a social interactive principle avoids that trap and influence, so that the mode of goodness predominates the devotee’s life thus raising the association for each and every devotee.
The whole point of cow protection is varied and exists on many levels. Cow protection is not based on what diet we pursue, rather it dictates our diet and lifestyle, its not based on what religion we follow, rather it illustrates our faith and vision, its based on a progressive culture, that is all inclusive, that by-passes all the exploitative influences of the modern world. Cow protection is a timeless commodity; it does not come into fashion and does not go out of fashion. It answers all questions. Because cow protection is independent of all other external inputs, then communities that follow cow protection are a self-sufficient and self-determining dynamic. What cow protection can offer to community and society that no other project can is the ability to operate successfully as an independent faction. Cow protection fully generates its own wealth, its own healthy participants, its own spiritual culture, and its own happy and honest community
There is nothing that can compare to cow protection culture for a fully comprehensive list of positive attributes. Cow protection only functions in the mode of goodness so all its participants gain that association. All the products of cow protection are in the mode of goodness so it is ecologically sound. There is no exploitation in cow protection because community does not depend on capitalistic money to support it. There is no inequality. Capitalism breeds inequality especially through the use of money to exchange for goods. Cow protection is not a business to make money but conversely it generates wealth equally for the community members.
What devotees lack is the actual social infrastructure for them to interact through, besides following a spiritual sadhana for all their advancement in devotional service, a spiritual social system is intrinsically absent. Another benefit of cow protection is establishing this mode of goodness social system. Through the achievement of work that satisfies the first economic problems of life then a whole network of activities are established that function in the mode of goodness. By working together to fulfil this basic simple need a whole social system is established. The benefits of this type of social system are unlimited for devotees of all calibres. Because the pressures of capitalism are not felt by the members of this social system, because they have by-passed it, then each member is situated peacefully and the gender questions become less topical. The risks of passionate relationships in this type of social system are reduced significantly because the members are symbiotically related with each other, not a sexual threat for intimacy. When we view each other in a different light by working together and fully supporting each other emotionally, economically and socially despite our ashrama commitments then a more nourishing and supportive ambience is achieved. The “butter” and “fire” situations are vastly reduced because our survival principle of reproduction, attraction and actions all dissipate.
The cow protection culture functions on all these levels.
And one of the biggest qualities of cow protection is that it produces unity. Because cow protection exists within the highest possible attainment of civilisation then automatically unity exists. Its not that unity is a quality that we have to find, or seek or work for, unity exists naturally in civilisation. All we have to do is turn on the cow protection project and tune into it rather like tuning into a television or radio station. Unity exists already; it’s just a matter of tuning into it. The highest possible attainment of civilisation can only be achieved through the mode of goodness. The mode of goodness projects are like the television set or the radio itself, but what comes out of the television and radio is what we have to tune into. Its like the hardware and software on a computer. Without the hardware the software does not exist but the software is objectively more important than the hardware. The computers hardware is all around us and the screen is manifesting the output of the operator’s desires so the focus is fixed on what the screen displays. Without the hardware of cow protection the software is not available for the community to pursue and enjoy and focus on to gain unity. In other words the hardware provides the facility for the user to access this article, otherwise how can you access it? Unity has to be accessed through a facility that functions like hardware and that is what cow protection provides on every level of social existence. There is no other project like cow protection that can offer that facility to community.
That is where unity exists but if we don’t attain the highest possible civilisation then it’s not possible to take that final step to unity. Cow protection fulfils all the requirements to step to the highest possible attainment of civilisation because it is in the mode of goodness. Once a cow protection project functions comprehensively and exclusively in the mode of goodness then the community or society that is related and dependent on that mode of goodness cow protection project can take the next step by tuning in to unity. Unless the concorde exists in agreement and harmony there is no possibility of achieving unity with the diversity that exists.
Cow protection culture provides the step-by-step progression upwards to establishing the topmost attainment of civilisation. In establishing society there is a four step progressive path of conscious decision making to pursue. Accepting that we begin at the bottom most platform of civilisation, which is punctuated by anti-social behaviour and chaos and can be called pseudocommunity, the next progressive step upwards is punctuated by formality and institutionalisation. These two platforms are readily available without making too much conscious effort and society rebounds between these two platforms in the lower modes of nature, namely ignorance and lower passion.
But for society to progressively pass on to the next step it requires a monumental conscious struggle. One that is not such an obvious step. It can be called emptiness and is punctuated by individualism and dictionary defined scepticism, which essentially frees up the power struggle that exists in the lower two platforms of community. Who want s to give up power? But the power issue is exactly the issue that prevents community from emerging and progressing upwards.
Community is communal by definition and power is then devolved. That’s why it is such a hard step for society to take. And for religious institutions even more hard to take. But this platform is the only stepping stone to gain the last and final step to full-blown society, which is called community, which is punctuated by mysticism and commune with God Himself. That’s why there are so few societies that exhibit the full-blown manifestation of the highest attainment of civilisation. Commune with God. Vedic civilisation. These societies and communities that have actually attained this highest attainment of civilisation are identified by their use of discrimination, that is they discriminate against the implicative dynamics of mechanistic lifestyles that need the two lower modes of nature to function. By using the highest mode of goodness available all the social, economic and spiritual practices are harmonious, sustainable and ecological.
One simple example of community is the way it deals with conflict amongst members. In pseudocommunity there is conflict avoidance as every member assumes they are all equal in every way; spiritually, economically and socially. But in commune community, conflicts are openly dealt with by solving the conflicts through communication that embraces the differences of individuality and rejoices in them.
Unity is simple. Our best example is above us. In Goloka Vrindavana in Madhurya Dharma, unity is displayed simply and easily. There is no endeavour or search for unity because the society in Goloka is based on cow protection. Cow protection is found in every particle of dust there, its in every activity of Krishna’s desires, even Krishna’s names relate to cow protection, Goverdhana, Gopiswara, Govinda, Gokulananda,Gopinatha, Gopal. Krishna’s daily activities are based on Him looking after His cows. His relationships, His rasa’s, His family connections, His love for His devotees, His playing in the groves around the Yamuna and His flute, are all based on cow protection. Its who He is, Krishna is a cowherd boy. And Lord Balarama is alongside Krishna, and He carries His plough.
Krishna is the origin, the source of all incarnations, Krishna is the Supersoul of all, Krishna is the source of the material world and the unlimited spiritual world, Krishna is the killer of all the demons, Krishna is the Supreme Personality, Krishna is the Summon Bonum, Krishna is the primeval Lord, Krishna is the cause of all causes, Krishna is the Supreme Controller, Krishna is eternal, Krishna is everything, but Krishna chooses to be a cowherd boy.
Unity is easy to execute for us by mirroring and following in the footsteps of Lord Krishna. There are many activities that we have all followed for many years, and they have not unified the diversity of devotees, to date. We have established Deity worship magnificently but this has not unified the devotees, we have practiced distribution of Books, the Holy name and Prasadam since the beginning and this also has not unified the diversity. We have many festivals all throughout the year and this has not unified the diversity. We have walked around the planet, we have talked to so many peoples, we have danced down so many streets of world cities, we have pulled Ratha Yatra carts for miles, we have put on festivals, theatres and mimes, sat on huge seats, adorned ourselves with Tilak, Saris and Dhotis, we have married thousands of people, accepted huge donations of money, sat quietly and chanted together for hours and days and nights, we have many celebrities who have had good words to say about the Hare Krishna’s, we rise early, follow 4 regulative principles, we are clean and we include everyone in our temples but none of these have unified us. And the Guru issue has divided us like no other.
What have we not done as a community, as a society, as a group who have common goals, as a symbiotic social organisation? What does not exist in our society that unifies us together, that’s what we want to unify us because it has not worked yet. Why have the diversity of devotees not found that one unique, unifying, universal principle that brings us all together under that one umbrella?
The answer my friends is blowing in the wind, it’s the one project that we just have not been able to get our heads around. It’s the one project that has caused perplexity on how to establish because we try and try and it just never seems to work out properly. Why does it cause so much dilemma, why does it appear to be so superficial, why do we all read so much about cows in Srila Prabhupada’s books, about Krishna’s planet right in the centre of the unlimited spiritual sky, right on that unlimited spiritual planet in that wonderful culture of unrequited love, where all the topmost devotees engage in their relationships with Krishna. Where there are Kalpa Vriksha trees that yield anything for the devotee to devote to Krishna, where the cows are Surabhi cows that yield unlimited milk for the devotees, where the fabric is Touchstone, Chintamani, where there is just village life next to the river with outstandingly beautiful groves of trees for sporting in. Simple opulence of village life with cows and the dust they kick up when Krishna holds onto their tails for fun. This is unity. Unity means Krishna’s life, what He likes, what He wants, that’s where unity lives.
Diversity exists in Goloka and Unity exists in Goloka and all we have to do is to simply tune into that station and receive those sweet ambrosial blessings, how simple could it be. We mirror that life here on earth by protecting Krishna’s Cows and by culturing that concorde of feeling of love and faith and dependency on those special cows of Krishna, and we will get it. We will get the unity, nothing else has worked to date has it, lets focus on the real nectar of life by protecting Krishna’s cows properly with our hearts in the project to make it work how its described to work in the Scriptures. What we have not done, what we have not achieved is devotee lifestyle and it is only ever based on what Krishna does in His village where the main occupation of love is centred on Krishna’s cows.
That’s why we love Krishna, its what love of Krishna is, which is what is worshippable about Krishna, that is the super most opulence of Krishna, that’s exactly how our relationships exist eternally with Krishna, that’s what we expect to see in Goloka Vrindavana; it’s a simple village set up based on cow protection. Our most humble meditation of our relationships with the inhabitants of the spiritual gem in Goloka is to serve that Cowherd boy who appears bluish black like a freshly appearing rain cloud. Vaisnava’s are humble; the most humble of Krishna’s servitors, humility accompanies devotees hand in hand because of the simplest lifestyle that devotees command, the most humble Vaisnava devotees of Lord Krishna. This is exactly how cow protection culture works and why it’s the most significant and magnificent project still to be set up, and it measures up to at least what has gone on already, what devotees have achieved so far is but half of what there is to achieve, and the balance that is left to achieve is exclusively cow protection, that’s how hard it is to achieve. That’s what unity means. It’s monumentally difficult to achieve.
But for the simple, humble devotee it’s the easiest thing in the world.
Excerpt from letter to Rupanuga, Bombay, 18 December 1974.
Our farm projects are an extremely important part of our movement. We must become self-sufficient by growing our own grains and producing our own milk, and then there will be no question of poverty. So develop these farm communities as far as possible. They should be developed as an ideal society depending on natural products not industry. Industry has simply created godlessness, because they think they can manufacture everything that they need. Our Bhagavad-gita philosophy explains that men and animals must have food in order to maintain their bodies. And the production of food is dependent on the rain and the rain of course is dependent on chanting Hare Krishna. Therefore let everyone chant Hare Krishna, eat nicely and keep their bodies fit and healthy. This is ideal life style. We do not condemn modern civilization but we don’t like to get it at the cost of God Consciousness, that is suicide. Your farm in Pennsylvania sounds very nice.
Srila Prabhupada ki jaya.