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Cow protection – economy – community

Wednesday, 27 May 2009 / Published in Articles, Cow protection / 3,598 views

By Dusyanta dasa UK

Many devotees have posted articles raising the question about cow protection and economy. In all seriousness this is a relevant question. Many cow protection programmes have not only not been able to generate any wealth but have actually cost a lot of money to pay for. As we all know the idea behind cow protection is to base our economy on cows and land in an agrarian lifestyle. There are many advantages to this system. But first we need to know why has it all gone so badly wrong.

My impression after being involved in cow protection for some 10 years is that firstly its not taken seriously in Iskcon and secondly there has hardly been a farmer in the devotees. Cow protection has many features, component parts, but the most important one has never really been focused on.

Its a bit like an equation. Even if you have most of the equation correct but one bit wrong then the answer will be wrong. So devotees have focused their attention on all the refinements of cow protection but failed to recognise the main point-economic development. Unless there is economic development in cow protection then its just a game we are playing. If we are to demonstrate a world alternative to animal slaughter type farming with cow protection then we have to show that it works. We have a huge advantage over the vegans because we have cows providing all fertiliser requirements. They dont have that so veganism is not an alternative without animals,it does not work globally. But with animals farming works. Usually the animals in farming are slaughtered but in cow protection they are not. So why does it not work and why have iskcon devotees been unable to demonstrate the example.

The answer is simple – its because we dont have any or just a few devotees who are capable and qualified to farm. Farming is an intense occupation which needs long term planning especially in cow protection. Also the idea of cows just wandering around being “protected” appeals to the sentimental devotees. Farming is not like that. For cow protection to work there has to be several components in place simultaneously.

1 Cows and land.
2 Qualified farmers.
3 Community based lifestyle.
4 Economy based on cows and land.
5 Symbiotic relationship with the cows.
6 Ability to demonstrate the working alternative to animal exploitation.
7 Artisans and village industries based on cows and land and proper community dynamics.
8 Iskcon branded products for wholesale and retail markets.
9 Garden Centres.
10. Pick your own fruit and vegetables.

Starting at the beginning there needs to be many of these componenets in place, it does not take years to get this going. Even with just a small workforce of 10-20 most of this is possible. As the project grows organically, attracting more devotees then more is achievable. But it has to be based on a symbiotic relationship with cows in a community based dynamic, cow protection works well with community. Everything that the community needs comes from itself in a self-sustainable way. Cows produce milk and this is transformed into many products by the community for the community and eventually the surplus is marketed under the iskcon brand name to wholesalers and retailers and through the Garden Centre to the public. The Bullocks are used for all the draught power for the community and the farming and hauling needs.

But the real pay off comes in the form of Cow Manure. This is all profit. So no animals can just wander around passing dung willy nilly, this part has to be managed properly, even to the retired cows, especially for the retired cows. Cow manure is made into methane gas for ALL our energy requirements. It can be converted to electricity and/or left as methane gas. This energy can be used in inumerable ways, locally and further afield. But thats not all the byproduct after the digestion is complete is composted cow manure which by natures arrangement is perfect for field, greenhouse and gardens. This can also be sold under Iskcon brand name wholesale, retail and Garden Centres. By this time we have wealth coming out of our ears. We grow all our vegetables, fruit and flowers for our own requirements for the Deities first and then the devotees and so forth. The Maha-Prasad is sold under our brand name for visitors and offered flowers can be pot-pourried and sold to visitors. And the vegetables and fruit can also be used for pick-your-own. Potted plants can be sold at the Garden Centres and eventually all Cow products can also be sold to the public. We are all millionaires by now but we dont need the money because we are self-sustaining in our community-based symbiotic relationship with cows. Simple living out weighs all the money in the world because it is satisfying in itself and even more so when done for Srila Prabhupada and Krishna.

If we dont see that cow protection and community is as important as putting your hand in your bead-bag and rising early then have we really understood what we are doing in Iskcon?Iskcon is not just a huge institutional organisation of rules and regulations but is meant to be a pragmatic and practical answer to the world as an alternative to animal slaughter. Just being a theoretical vegetarian is not good enough because somewhere along the line an animal is being slaughtered for you. All milk products depend on animal slaughter therefore Srila Prabhupadas Cow protection programmes are an integral part of His instructions and mission. Surely its time to face up to our responsibilities to our animal friends and protect them all. If we dont do it who will?


  1. 0
    manasaganga ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Hare Krsna!

    So nicely prabhu has shown us how an agrarian based community is the real answer to all problems, material and spiritual. I think the time has come to finally fulfill the desire of Srila Prabhupada, to establish the system of Varnasrama. By following Varnasrama or simply getting back to villages we will not only be self reliant but most importantly we will have a condusive environment for developing krsna conciousness, which is very hard to find in the hellish city life.

    More and more devotees should now take up this way of life and as prabhu says, we should set an example to the rest of the community.

    Manasaganga dd

  2. 0
    Dr Vrinda Baxi ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Hare Krishna,

    This very thoughtfully written article clearly brings out why Srila Prabhupada attached so much of significance to Varnasrama dharma; why Srila Prabhupada considered the other three movements of ISKCON- sankirtan, deity worship, and spiritual initiation together constituting just half his mission, while establishment of Varnashrama dharma alone was accorded the weightage of 50 percent of his mission! But He mercifully left it for other devotees so that they could in some way render their service to the Lord.
    Since establishment of Varnasrama dharma was the desire of a true Vaishnava like Srila Prabhupada, so dear to the Lord it HAS TO manifest itself, sooner or later. If we are able to associate ourselves with that we are glorified, otherwise we are digging our own spiritual grave. No wonder ISKCON has also now recognized the urgency of establishing varnasrama and has formed a varnasrama ministry (Varnasrama based Rural Development Commitee) under the leadership of HH Bhakti Raghava Swami Maharaj and have begun their efforts with India. Once we have the rural based community with agriculture as the primary profession (dharma), cow protection will be but a natural product. A living and economy dependent on land, cow and Krishna!
    Varnasrama dharma ki jai !
    Vrndavanlila dd

  3. 0
    Hrimati dasi ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Hare Krishna!
    Thank you very much for this article, Prabhu. For the Economy based on cows and land to work, we first of all need enough land to rear all the cows that we are protecting.
    I have been keeping cows for almost 10 years now. We started with the simple reason for wanting always enough milk for our children. The extra milk we sell to devotees.
    There are many benefits in keeping cows not just the milk. It teaches us first of all responsibility. Abhay , my youngest son, is 19 years old now and is taking very nice care of our Animals. First thing in the morning he cleans the cow dung and goes out to cut grass. He milks both of our milkers and keeps records and does the milk distribution. In the afternoon he takes them out to graze until the sun goes down.
    My son likes to work hard. To take care of cows is very rewarding for him. It is actually that the cows are taking care of us. We also have two oxen. One of them has been trained to haul goods with a single animal cart. The other one is also pulling the cart and plows.
    We are planing to construct a tourist bullock cart to get more engagement for our bullocks.
    I like your idea of community being involved in cow protection. The only thing my son is regretting, is, that only a few of his friends are into cow protection. If the whole community would get involved and understand to support the protected cows, rather than buying milk from cows that are destined to go for slaughter, it will help the protected cows.

    The example of the milkless cow is significant. A gentleman never kills a cow, and therefore when a cow becomes sterile and no longer gives milk, one must engage in the laborious task of protecting her, since no one will purchase a useless cow. For some time, the greedy owner of a sterile cow may continue thinking, “I have already invested so much money in taking care of this cow, and certainly in the near future she will again become pregnant and give milk.” But when this hope is proven futile, he becomes neglectful and indifferent to the health and safety of the animal. Because of such sinful neglect, he must suffer in the next life, after having already suffered because of the sterile cow in the present life. Srila Prabhupada: S.B. 11.11.19
    Cows will supply milk, and man will work hard…
    your servant, Hrimati dasi

  4. 0
    panamagaur ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Hare Krishna…Finally some “common” sense on the real advantages of cow protection…rather than the pat two liners on “our mother” the cow…blah…blah…blah…donate…blah… blah …blah…
    Consider for a moment that the good Lord incarnated as Lord Buddha,in order to destroy the remnants of the vedic culture that had become so fallen, the “Brahmans” were using the “Sacred” fire to chuck on a cow or two…then enjoying the “fruits” of their ‘sacrifice”…by eating the cows …
    He completely blasted himself , and the whole Veda,…as a bunch of utter rubbish…then created a whole Atheistic system of “Voidism” in order to give protection back to the cows,and other animals…
    Now think about that for a moment…Krishna is willing to deride Millions of years of vedic protect HIS COWS…Bas…
    GO-vinda..GO–Pal…GO-Loka…Go-Brahmanya…the list is endless…the point is the same..
    COWS before people…Cows are the TOP of a sane society…NOT…Brahmins…Gurus…Temple worship…etc…COWS are the LEADERS…follow the COWS…they are already situated in the mode of GOODNESS…sent from Goloka by Sri Krishna Himself…to help us find our way out of this dark hole we call reality…
    ” Simple Living and High Thinking” is not just another “Political” slogan dragged out as the need arises…It is the ESSENCE of our need to find shelter in this Age of Kali…There is no other practical solution to our economic and spiritual existence…Cows are the very BASIS of our worldly existence…and our guiding light to the very mode of Goodness that will assure us a shot at transcendence…
    ‘Nuff said…Haribolo..GN Das.

  5. 0
    vedicclub ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Hare Krishna,

    Practical solution for the implementation of posted article can be easily possible through the KALPAVRIKSHA VEDIC CLUB Project. (Vedic Networking)

    Please visit for LEARNING, EARNING, DEVOTION.
    Project is can easily protect our cows and make the goshalas self sufficient, as per worlds current situation.

    Your servant,
    Vaisnava caran das

  6. 0
    Akruranatha ( User Karma: -11 ) says:

    “The inhabitants of Vrndavana assembled together, decorated their cows and gave them grass. *Keeping the cows in front,* they began to circumambulate Govardhana Hill. The gopis dressed themselves very luxuriantly and sat in *bull-driven carts,* chanting the glories of Krishna’s pastimes.”

    In the 19th century, some wandering sailors became millionaires by discovering uninhabited islands covered in thick deposits of bird droppings. They collected this “guano” and sold it at a good price to European farmers as first-class fertilizer.

    I do not know enough about modern agronomy to be sure it would really work, but the picture painted by Dusyanta Prabhu is a very attractive one. ISKCON should be famous for nice, well-managed farm communities near enough to the cities that people would be enticed to visit and take advantage of the “U-Pick” organic fruits and vegetables, to buy violence-free dairy products, and to let their kids get a chance to see some farming and farm animals up close (as well as the interesting, Krishna commune lifestyle).

    Even if they do not become “cow manure millionaires,” the devotees living in such ISKCON villages ought to be able to earn enough wealth to live simple, productive, happy lives, to be able to dress themselves “luxuriantly” on occasion, and to pass on some peace and security to their children.

    To transfer this vision from theory to practice will predictably take skill, determination, shrewd judgments, superior planning and organization, as well as labor of responsible devotees and capital to invest in the purchase of land and equipment, but if it can be done what a tremendous service to Srila Prabhupada it would be.

    It sounds like a different model from the complete self-sufficiency ideal of some of our less-successful attempts. Such villages as Dusyanta proposes should be located near enough to urban centers of population to attract visitors and customers. There should be a symbiotic relationship with urban visitors bringing money to buy agricultural products (as well as prasadam and books), and devotees showing a superior, peaceful, sustainable and spiritual way of life, by keeping the cows in front and chanting the glories of Krishna.

    Devotee vaisyas might purchase the land and cooperate in developing a kind of collective village enterprise, dividing their profits. Devotee sudras could be maintained in exchange for labor (in accordance with local labor laws), and brahmanas could lead worship and preach.

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