UNITY IN DIVERSITY – THANKS TO KALINDI THE COW
By Janananda Das
NEW GOKULA FARM – N.S.W. AUSTRALIA
Two hour’s drive from bustling Sydney, nestled in the hills above the Hunter Valley – Australia’s most famous wine growing area. Our farm is situated above what was previously a thriving coal mine. The area became depressed – land prices fell. In the late 80’s ISKCON bought 550 acres of land in this area. Many devotees moved there with big ideas. Like many of our farms, when push comes to shove, there aren’t many around to do the needful. Over the years the numbers dwindled. The cow population initially rocketed but even that is now slowly reducing. However the small band of devotees still there are confident and enthusiastic about the future.
We will now turn the clock back about 10 years in time to around 1996.
New Gokula farm was quite busy but the effects of unsteadiness were creeping in. It was a Sunday and I was visiting Sydney. Atmarama prabhu the Temple president of Sydney asked me to go to the farm for the Sunday programme.
A small crowd of maybe 50 turned up for the programme. At the end we were just about to serve prasadam when suddenly there was a loud intrusion as the assistant cow boy burst into the Temple room. “Help, Emergency. One of the cows has fallen into the dam and desperately needs help? I don’t know what to do, can anyone help?
I thought is this a surprise drama or is it real?
Seeing little response he makes his urgent appeal with even more conviction. What to do – prasadam is being served can’t it wait?
“No it’s real urgent. Can anyone come and help me try to get her out? Looks like she’s been there for hours.”
Okay – this is an emergency. A few of us down the spoons and trek up the hill to the muddy dam. Sure enough there she is up to her neck, groaning in the chilly water. She looks at us with pitiful forlorn eyes – “Please help me – I’m stuck frozen and dying in pain. You could practically read her eyes. A wave of emotion and compassion floods our consciousness to see her like this. She is only two years old – it’s Kalindi a very friendly young cow.
We plunge in forgetting entirely about ourselves. Save her at all costs. Half a dozen devotees soaked and covered in mud. Pull! Push! Shove!. No avail. Quickly send a messenger quick to the temple. 10 minutes later dozens of devotees and guests appear. Ropes, arms and all our efforts and of course the holy names and gradually she moves out of the mud. We get her ashore where she collapses on the straw piled up there for her. It’s getting dark – the chill evening air is blowing in. She seems half frozen.
Then the shock of our lives. She was pregnant for the first time and the shock of it all caused her to have a miscarriage. The calf is hanging out still born. Oh God! Someone had the sense to call the vet who fortunately came out of his way on that Sunday evening to help out. He separated the calf and then turns to Kalindi.
Shaking his head he didn’t seem hopeful. Her temperature is so low it’s a miracle she’s still alive. Most probably even if she survives she’ll get pneumonia or something. He gives her some jabs and then tells us if we don’t get her inside and get her temperature up pretty quick she’s a goner.
We cover her with blankets, the vet leaves and we start wondering how are we going to get her in the barn which is about 300 metres down a bumpy hill terrain. Mandana prabhu the farm head is out. No-one knows where the tractor keys are. How on earth are we going to move her?
Somehow we get a hold of him and after a while the tractor turns up. Now what? A big tarpaulin goes down which we hook to the back of the tractor and then we gently roll her onto it. All the devotees grab the edge of the tarpaulin and try to lift it, with Kalindi on top, off the ground hoping to protect her from the bumps. We hold our breathes as it rises slightly and doesn’t break. Okay let’s go. Slowly the tractor pulls away and Kalindi begins her descent. It seemed like hours passed although it was only minutes before we reached the barn. Mattresses, hay and blankets are ready for her. We place her as comfortable as we can and rap her up. The vet had told us to massage her constantly so we better begin. It’s about 8pm. It’s dark. It’s getting cold and we haven’t eaten. Guests have to go home, devotees are tired. Alright, let’s see if we can have a shift system. Agreed! Four or so at a time, for one hour each, throughout the night. Everyone stays for the first shift. Then the second – dozens of devotees, hands moving vigorously back and forth. Sores, scratches, cold, exhaustion, hunger – who cares. We must save Kalindi at all costs. No one goes. Forget the shift – the only shift that’s required here is one of consciousness. When will we realize. Midnight – her temperature seems to be rising. She’s still alive. Some of us knock off – honour a little prasadam and rest for a few hours. The morning comes – the all night vigil has paid off. The vet comes and happily announces her temperature is back to normal – it’s a miracle. She survived and didn’t even come down with any further illness. What the real miracle was however was something else. Men, women, old, young, initiates, those not following principles, everyone there. Arms moving selflessly back and forth crossing each other – you don’t care who’s they are – they all belong to Krishna and are meant for His pleasure.
Chanting Hare Krishna with a completely fixed goal. No consideration of who’s who – off the bodily platform. One goal – Save Kalindi! No material thoughts or motives. It felt like Samadhi – deep Krishna consciousness.
A memorable event – an eternal lesson. If only we could feel like this at every moment. Prabhupada did. When we realize it’s an emergency then we may feel the urgency. Spending our lives quibbling over bodies and things is not gonna help us in the long run.. We have got the greatest service in the world, all of us – to get the temperature back to normal. We have the medicine, take it give it to others and work together despite all the differences. While massaging the body of the spiritual master let us not fight over it. Let’s do things the way Prabhupada would be happy. He is standing next to us at every moment. If only we could realize it.
Today Kalindi is about 13 years old and still on the farm – one of the oldest cows there. She is perhaps the sweetest and friendliest and even gave birth to a calf after that.
I wish I had a camera that day, but the picture is indelibly imprinted on my heart. I pray that the lesson will one day manifest in my every activity and thought.
Thank you Kalindi mataji. Thank you Srila Prabhupada. All glories to Kalindi.