Why Cow Protection does not work in Iskcon

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By Dusyanta dasa

I loved reading the article “For those who love Cows,” which i do very much.The report was complete and comprehensive.It looked as if the article was well presented and covered just about all the components about Cow protection.So for me the question still stands ,
“Why doesnt Cow protection work in Iskcon?”
Perhaps you may not agree with the premise that the question alludes to.Perhaps you think Cow protection is alive and well and living in Iskcon.
My answer is that you would be wrong. Cow protection in Iskcon is more akin to a Cow protection show or Cow protection zoo.In Iskcon the Cows are looked after well.They have all facility and in some places great Cow sheds where they live.Great amounts of attention is assigned to looking after them and there are many viewing visitors,so why do i think it does not work.
Cow protection like many other subjects can not exist on its own.Lets say we built a really fantastic Aeroplane or Train.The plane is superb,magnificent,excellent,inside there are really comfortable seats with loads of room for each passenger.There is first class Prasadam served throughout the plane ,its got enough room to stretch your legs,and there is a choice of Videos to watch about Srila Prabhupada,Iskcon,Temples etc.The engines are quiet,what more do we want?
How does an Aeroplane exist and function as a plane /Before it can get into the air it has to take off down the runway controlled by the pilots.
This is why Cow protection does not work in Iskcon.
There is no runway and no pilots for the plane so it is stationary,it cant move,so even though it looks like a plane it cant function as a plane.
In Iskcon even though the Cow protection programmes look like Cow protection they cant function like Cow protection because they are not integrated into a bigger organism.
All the points in the article “For those who love Cows” were correct.Just like the example of the aeroplane but the missing point was how does Cow protection function.In what dynamics does Cow protection need to function as an integrated component of the whole picture.Thats what has always been missing in Iskcon.
Where are the dependants and infrastructure of Cow protection in Iskcon?
They dont exist.
Unless we start getting to grips with the definition of what Cow protection is in its most practical and pragmatic form,and unless we understand how Cow protection is just an integrated part of a bigger,holistic,picture then our Cow protection programme will never be anymore than descriptive words on a page and a well maintained and loved Cow protection show/zoo.
Its no good to us having really amazing facilities of Cow sheds and milking parlours and draught machines for Bullocks unless we marry them up to what they are for.Its like having a plane with no runway and no pilots.
When we start to understand how cow protection works,what dynamics it has to be surrounded by and used for then we can engage Cow protection in a practical way to illustrate how to Farm and produce Food without killing the animals.If we just get donators to pay for the Cows upkeep then we have demonstrated nothing but Cow protection zoos.
What do we need for Cow protection to work properly.
1. Community dynamics.
2 Symbiosis of that Community on Cows and Land.
3 Cows and Bulls and Land.
4 Economy based on all these .
Then there is a hope that Cow protection and Community will exist as an integrated economy based on symbiosis.This is where Cow protection exists in its most manifest form,because the Cows also want to be part of the Community.To make it work the humans have to change their lifestyles to depend on the Cows and land in economic symbiosis with each other otherwise how do you depend on the Cow?
Its up to the managers of Iskcon Cow protection programmes to get to grips with this most important programme of Iskcon’s so there is enough Milk and produce for all of Iskcon not just a select few members of Iskcon that reside in the Institutions of Iskcon. Iskcon members also exist outside of the Temples and who is catering for their needs.This is where Iskcon can bring ALL the members of Iskcon together by creating the proper Community dynamics to facilitate Cow protection.With this seed planted then the internal economy of Iskcon is assured and the Iskcon branded products can be marketed world wide. Gokula’s Non-Violent Dairy Products-implementing service,jobs and opportunity for all the devotees working together in the mode of goodness.Retail outlets,Garden Centres,On line sales etc.Made by devotees from Non-Violent Dairy produce for devotees,the ever expanding dynamic of business based on Cows and Land secures the future economically,socially medically,politically and spiritually for ALL the members of Iskcon.This is what our goal is all about.This is what Cow protection is all about.
your servant ,Dusyanta dasa.UK.

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1 Madhavagosh

It is true, cow protection isn’t integrated into most ISKCON members lives. Cow protection programs are seen as some Williamsburgesque tourist attraction rather than the fundamental base of varna-ashram.

Milk isn’t seen as an opulence, it is viewed as a commodity and an entitlement so the cheap price of industrial milk trumps what the true cost of protecting cows really is. The devotees consume milk and milk products but aren’t willing to pay the full cost not only of the milk production but the lifetime care of a the cow and its calf.

“Without protection of cows, brahminical culture cannot be maintained; and without brahminical culture, the aim of life cannot be fulfilled.”

Srimad Bhagavatam 8.24.5

Comment posted by Madhavagosh on October 7th, 2010
2 Unregistered

Hare Krishna Dusyanta Prabhu,

It seems like I have read several articles by you about cow protection and you appear to have experience in the field and good ideas about how to go forward. I am curious to know, do you have a working farm? And if so, what do you have going on right now? Since I dabble in the field of cow protection, I am interested to hear how other devotees go about this service. We have a couple of milk cows and provide milk products to the local temple and to the temple devotees and to devotees that live outside the temple. I know of several other families in the US who also engage in cow protection and suspect there may be more. Are you hoping for ISKCON temples to take up cow protection more seriously? I guess I don’t really understand what the problem is. As far as I can tell, if devotees want to take care of cows and show a practical example of utilizing cows and oxen, there is not really anything to stop them from doing so.

Hare Krishna,

Krsna Caitanya dasa

Comment posted by Krsna Caitanya dasa on October 7th, 2010
3 Unregistered

Dusyanta prabhu, the gist of your article is what I have observed for the last several years.
Protection of cows and bulls does not mean what we practice prominently in ISKCON. Your analogy of the zoo is quite appropriate.

We need to get the bulls to work and the cows to produce milk, abundance of milk. To what extent are we doing that in ISKCON? No one knows, or no one seems to know. The Cow Protection office is silent on this issue. Where are the stats that indicate to us, how many bulls, cows, and calves that ISKCON have? Where is the info from the CPO about the economic output from bulls and cows? …. Food for thought…

Your servant,
Yugala Kishor dasa

Comment posted by Yugal Kishor Dasa on October 9th, 2010
4 Puskaraksa das

Dear Dusyanta Prabhu

Thank you for your article and concern to promote not only cow protection in ISKCON but also a Vedic based model of society.

Despite the fact that the premises of your article may sound initially somewhat shocking, I would say “for your defense” (if need be) that positive and constructive criticism is always welcome when it is done in a spirit of improving the state of things and all the more making progress in spreading Krishna consciousness as well as promoting a feasible Krishna conscious model of society…

Not being a specialist of cow protection, I will not get into further details in that respect and rely upon the expertise of the specialists…

However, I would strongly support your conclusion. In that respect, if this may help, I would provide you with the example of Christian monks who have joined forces to launch the brand “Monastic” ( www.monastic-euro.org ) meant to market the products of over 200 monasteries from different orders. This concept originated in France, as one may acknowledge as per their website, has now spread during the last 20 years throughout 8 different European countries. Surprisingly enough, amongst the large variety of items manufactured by the monks in the monasteries, a large amount of their production is composed by eatables, which features a number of dairy products, which are of course sold within the monasteries but are also distributed through a variety of stores, including some department stores…

Being practical and thinking in terms of economics will not only support communities but will contribute to solving the financial problems of many a temple. It will also provide some Krishna conscious employment opportunities for devotees, so that they may support their families while still benefiting from the association of devotees, without having to work for karmis, at the risk of becoming sudras again and become contaminated by lust and greed…

So, thinking to market ISKCON manufactured products within the community of devotees, but also within society at large, will not only set up further grounds to spread Krishna consciousness, but will also gain us growing respect from our fellow citizens for our valuable contribution to society, in all respects, as per the monks doctrin:
“Ora et Labora” “Pray and Work”…

Yours in service

Puskaraksa das

Comment posted by Puskaraksa das on October 10th, 2010
5 tulasi-priya

I think you make very good points, prabhu. Cow protection is not something that can go on in isolation from the rest of our lives, but if we don’t develop an economy based on the resources and functions of cows and bulls, there’s no real impetus for cow protection.

The problem, I feel, is one of consciousness, of our desires and needs at their most basic. We must NEED cows for our very survival, and right now what we (think) we need are cars and the petroleum to run them. In response to Krishna Caitanya prabhu’s comments, Srila Prabhupada emphasized that cow protection without protection of bulls is not really cow protection at all. To engage the bull means to use him for transportation, heavy moving, and food cultivation.

Cow protection, ultimately, is not the goal. The goal is devotional service. But the ideal conditions in this material world to achieve that are health and a natural, decent standard of living. A cow-and-land centered economy is the means by which we achieve those conditions. Cow protection is the safeguard against cow exploitation, which describes the current spiritual, social, and economic wreck of contemporary society. Devotees are as invested in the status quo as much as anyone.

And if the goal of our movement is to bring others to the platform of devotional service, it would seem to imply that we advocate this way of life to society at large, to avail them of the means by which we achieve devotional service in the most congenial way. In other words, to slowly dismantle the machine of Western industrialism.

The reason it isn’t happening in ISKCON is that we think that how we obtain our livelihoods is something almost entirely separate and unrelated to our Krishna consciousness when, I would argue, that it determines to a great extent how successful we are at it, both individually, and collectively as a society. We pay lip service to the idea of go-raksa, but we are terrified at the implications of actually living it. Devotees are still reeling from the aftershocks of the austerities of ISKCON’s early days, and its effects on the children. Not many are eager to impose that on subsequent generations, opting instead for a more “normal” life within the mainstream of society.

Cow protection, in the fullest sense of the word, is utterly practical. It just requires a radical change in what we think is a practical lifestyle. When we’re truly willing to make that change, the means by which can achieve it will become evident.

Comment posted by tulasi-priya on October 12th, 2010
6 Unregistered

Hare Krishna,

I guess I was not really clear in my previous comment. I also believe that bulls and oxen are part of cow protection. I have a bull for procreation purposes, and have trained oxen and trained people to use oxen. And those that I mentioned previously who have cows also have working oxen or are working towards that ideal. While I am not completely dependent on the oxen, I have used them over the years to get firewood, pull wagons, cultivate gardens, etc. But that is all beside the point. My main point is if someone sees the importance of cow protection and ox power, he or she would do well to take it up. Or do something to help those who you think are not doing a good job of protecting cows. I think that will go a lot farther than complaining about others not taking up cow protection or finding fault with the current attempts at cow protection.

I also agree that cow protection is not the ultimate goal. There are many different services that are important to the spreading of Love of Krishna and they all seem to be short-handed right now: book distribution, scientific preaching, food distribution, congregational development, deity worship, college preaching, temple management, bhakta programs, varnasrama, social development, vegetarian restaurants, cow protection, Hari-Nam Sankirtana, etc. and the list goes on. There are definitely many imperfect attempts at all of these services, but I think the best thing someone could do is take a leading position in one of these or help someone who is trying to do one of these services. If you can’t lead or help then I think it is better to leave those who are trying to do something alone.

It is certainly not my intent to offend anybody and I hope that I have not.

Hare Krishna,

Krsna Caitanya dasa

Comment posted by Krsna Caitanya dasa on October 13th, 2010
7 tulasi-priya

Krishna Caitanya prabhu, my remark on your comment was only meant to point out what most people think of when they think of cow protection, not to pass judgment on your perspective or activities. More power to you!

All I meant was that those of us who are not directly engaged in any kind of cow protection forget too easily the other half of the equation, namely, bulls and what they’re for. We all want ahimsa milk, but how many of us are willing to give up our cars for a slow ride on an ox-cart? That’s the deciding factor as to whether cow protection will manifest in society, I think.

I agree that it’s more important to do something than to merely talk about it, or to at least support those who are doing something. I try to live my life in that way, and am working towards increasing my support and participation. Still, if we attempt cow protection without understanding why it has failed before, we may make the same mistakes, suffer the same burnout, and come to the same conclusion, namely, that it “can’t be done in Kali-yuga,” or whatever we tell ourselves to take the sting out of our failure.

Comment posted by tulasi-priya on October 23rd, 2010
8 Unregistered

Hare Krsna.
Many thanks for the replies.Very interesting points made and we are someway off from implementing the real purport on Cow protection.
Yes we have to engage the Bulls in our transport.Cow protection means Cows,Bulls and Land.But more importantly than just defining it and understanding its nature we must also recognise cow protection to know what it is.
We have so many Cows in big sheds that are viewed by so many guests as if it is a zoo or cow sanctuary but no-one has a relationship with them and no-one depends on them so its a one way street.There is no symbiosis and thats a sad state of affairs because as we cow lovers know there needs to be a relationship with the cows.Cows are very friendly and love us to bits but they dont get to be part of the community,just stared at by thousands of guests.The whole point of Cow protection has been missed in this way.
Cows are the mode of goodness but we dont treat them in that way.They just become objects of impersonalism and a background activity.
Cow protection in its personal manifestation are an integrated component of Community where they are part of a proper living community just like family members.There has to be reciprocation with them just as we would with our children.Its the relationship that is missing.
It does not matter having really expensive grandiose Goshallas for the Cows where viewing of them is made easy through walkways like zoos.The Cow sheds are supposed to reflect the relationship with them.The Goshallas can be built with integrity with relationship in mind and how the community work with the Cows not in a way that is convienient for viewing them,the whole point is lost then.
Cow protection is integrated with community and this definition,nature and recognition of the complete whole is what is missing in Iskcon.Even the steps towards this understanding and setup are hardly in place at the cow protection farms that exist in Iskcon today.The establishment of Community is a far off achievment because the Institutional model has not been replaced even after so many years have passed by.Of course we cant establish Community in our current climate of Institutional Iskcon.We havent moved the goalposts of Iskcon definiton since the saffron dominated days which makes it impossible to progress and move on to the much needed community type Iskcon where cow protection can function as an integrated component of the whole community.
your servant Dusyanta dasa

Comment posted by ananda dd on October 24th, 2010
9 Unregistered

Hare Krishna,

It was written:

“We have so many Cows in big sheds that are viewed by so many guests as if it is a zoo or cow sanctuary but no-one has a relationship with them and no-one depends on them so its a one way street.”

I understand that may be the case at some farms but it is not the case at our farm. Nor at several devotee family farms that I know of. Maybe you are talking about ISKCON temple cow protection programs. It seems to me that it may be more difficult to have a community that you talk about in such a situation. But if a family decides to get a cow you may find that it ends up being a different thing. One cow produces so much milk that the surrounding community must get involved to utilize all of the milk. So devotees will pay for or trade goods and services for such milk. And if you get a bull calf, you train him as an ox. You use him to cultivate your garden and pull in firewood to keep you family warm. What to speak of all the manure that you’ll get from the cows, bulls, and oxen. This is simple living. It is not that complicated. If you want to have a little time off, you train one of your friends how to milk the cow. And soon enough you find that your friends want to help with fencing, milking, hay, etc. You will also have friends offering use of their land for pasture. And thus the beginning of community. This has been my personal experience.

I find it disappointing to read articles like this one because it is somewhat negative. The devotee community already thinks that cow protection is a very difficult activity and most articles on the subject matter focus on how hard it is to protect cows and how it is that no one is doing it properly and how the cow protection lifestyle is so far removed from our modern lifestyle. But I have found in my life that it is not that difficult to realize the things that the author has called for. A milk cow and an ox provide so much for a household and automatically do a lot to forming a community. I think it might be a mistake to be so concerned about what ISKCON may or may not be doing in regards to cow protection. Rather, let us see what we can do for cow protection. Get a cow and/or ox and utilize them for Krishna’s service. Then make friends with the surrounding devotees and try to reciprocate with them. I think you will find that it is not as difficult or impossible as it seems.

Your servant,

Krsna Caitanya dasa

Comment posted by Krsna Caitanya dasa on October 26th, 2010

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