Vraja…where are you?
By Balabhadra das
This morning was quite unusual as the herd was fragmented into several small groups. Vraja, Gita, Shyam, and Surabhi were in the big barn. Yamuna was all the way back by the end of the pasture by herself. The rest of the cows/oxen were in small groups spread out over a 10-acre pasture. Quite unusual. All right, I thought, I’ve counted 23, which is the number of cows/oxen that we currently have under our care at the ISCOWP Farm.
It’s not that hot of a day so far and it’s only forecast to be in the mid eighties for the high temperature.
I have to go to town today as the errands have accumulated and taking the truck to town and burning the gas can be justified.
The errands take longer than usual and by the time I get back, it’s past 2pm. A quick lunch and a little quite time follows and now its time for the evening herd check.
I go to the barn as the cows are still in and are just getting ready to head out to pasture for their evening meal. Once, twice, thrice I count the cows/oxen and the number is the same each time……………..22. Who is missing, who is missing? Vraja is missing!
Vraja is 15 years old and the twin brother of Gita. They are my personal team of oxen. When we lived in North Carolina, we saved them from going to the SALE BARN when they were 2 1/2 months old. We have spent a lifetime together, working side by side to plow, plant, cultivate, and harvest the crops. We have hauled in firewood to keep many families warm for the winter. We have pulled in numerous fence posts to numerous fencing projects. We have traveled across the United States 3 times participating in numerous fairs and Rathayatra festivals.
Side by side, we have led Rathayatras in front of the ever-merciful Lord Jagannatha, the Lord of the Universe: Vraja and Gita as the representatives of DHARMA, and I walking at their side as their servant.
Vraja is suffering from severe arthritis and has a hard time getting up from a sitting position.
Vraja is never separated from the herd. He is the herd patriarch, the headman, the boss; in short, he is the head of the herd. Sometimes just Vraja and Gita are together, but today all are present and accounted for except Vraja………..?
Vraja, where are you? Have you gone down and can not get up? Are you in the hot sun? Vraja, where are you?
When doing a pasture check I usually go on the top of the hill as I can see two pastures from that vantage point. But today Krsna, as Supersoul, the Lord in the heart is telling me to go to the lower pasture first. I’m in a panic state in my heart and mind. Vraja, where are you my dear old friend and companion?
I go around the first bend and no Vraja; then through the first pasture and no Vraja. My mind is going crazy and my heart is pounding. Vraja where are you? This is so unlike you.
Around the trees at the edge of the field and there you are standing in the shade of an apple tree, chewing your cud. I am over whelmed with tears of happiness to see my old friend STANDING in the shade and not down and disabled in the hot sun.
There you are Vraja. You are safe. Thank you Krishna!
My realizations on this episode are that I need to become more grateful of the service rendered by other living entities in their service to God. To take their association for granted and not to relish their association until death has taken them away is a great disservice to their very existence.
For now, Lord Krishna is letting you stay with us but one day He will take you to be with Him. Vraja, head of the herd, you are a great soul. I offer repeated obeisances unto you, the representative of Dharma and devotee of Lord Krishna. It has been an honor being in your association, working, and serving side by side with you.
Thank you for your association and the many lessons you have taught me.
“Nanda Maharaja was a big protector of cows, and Lord Sri Krishna, as the most beloved son of
Nanda Maharaja, used to tend His father’s animals in the neighboring forest. By His
personal example Lord Krishna wanted to teach us the value of protecting cows. Nanda Maharaja is said to have possessed nine hundred thousand cows, and at the time of Lord Sri Krishna (about five thousand years ago) the tract of land known as Vrndavana was flooded with milk and butter. Therefore God’s gifted professions for mankind are agriculture and cow protection.”
-Light of the Bhagavata, Preface