By Daiva dasa (ACBSP) Om Sri Surabhi Campaign Coordinator for USA
On the auspicious occasion of Gaura Purnima, March 12, 2017, Iskcon Silicon Valley (ISV) leadership, Om Sri Surabhi Campaign (OMSriSC) and SEA, Sustainable Eco- Alliance team members and well wishers gathered to perform a Bhumi puja ceremony to lay the foundation for the Mira Cow Sanctuary, a goshala to promote dharma and protection of indigenous cows and bulls as our universal mother and father. The Bhumi puja ceremony was skillfully performed with great devotion by His Grace Balimardana Prabhu, ISV board member, who hails from Orissa, the land of Lord Jagannatha.
HH Bhakti Ragahva Swami, Chairman of the OM Sri Surabhi Campaign was out of the country, but kindly sent a personal message:
OM SRI SURABHYAI NAMAH!
OM SRI GURAVE NAMAH!
I am delighted to hear about the opening of the Mira Goshala and the Bhumi Puja being performed on the auspicious day of Gaura Purnima. We must know that without solidly establishing Cow Care and Cow Protection there is no question of establishing our Dharma culture. Mother Surabhi is the origin and the very foundation of Sanatan Dharma. May Lord Krishna crown your endeavors with success.
Our pre-eminent Founder-Acharya His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, pushed his followers without limit to inundate the world with his books, or as he often stated, “Krishna’s books”. One place on the planet that has certainly taken up this order to heart as their life and soul and as their main “family business”, is Silicon Valley USA, under the expert guidance and military-like genius of His Grace Vaisesika Prabhu and the fearless ISV community of dedicated transcendental sankirtan soldiers. Undoubtedly, daily book distribution and strong sadhana practice of hearing and chanting, in depth study, Deity worship and sadhu sanga has and always will be the foundation for the amazing results and the ever-expanding growth that ISV yatra has achieved.
This matchless success is absolutely enough to please Lord Chaitanya and His senapati general, Srila Prabhupada and guarantee ISV members first class reserved passage on the Goloka Express back to Godhead. But planting the seeds of bhakti by distributing books and then carefully cultivating the tender creeper of devotional service in everyone’s hearts is now expanding even further at ISV, to include Lord Chaitanya’s brilliant sankirtan strategy centered around cow culture, cow protection, and introducing the Vrindavan’s self-sufficient village model, which is predicted to fully inundate the world in love of Krsna, love of cows and love of the planet.
The evolution of this gomata/gopita sanctuary began when a pious Hindu couple, Ajaya and Mira Shingal, who had a dream to utilize their sprawling ranchland for protecting cows. Set atop one of the highest hillsides overlooking the now rain-blessed fertile green pastures of Northern California, this property is ideal for impacting and eventually transforming this vast farm community by practically demonstrating the enormous benefits of caring for cows and bulls just as nature intended. The Shingal’s have also left an endowment to the University of Berkeley, through the GTU, Graduate Theological Union for the Mira and Ajaya Shingal Center for Dharma Studies. Coincidentally, His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada spoke at GTU and gave the idea to start a Department of Vaishnava studies. The bull is representative of Dharma and the Mira Cow Sanctuary and the Shingal Center for Dharma Studies will be perfect vehicles for disseminating knowledge and in-the-field, practical hands- on connection to the land, the cows and bulls, and Vedic culture.
Having been fully involved in running their successful business ventures in the West, the Shingal’s had not experienced much interaction with the Indian village lifestyle that reveres highly the cow and bull. So by Krishna and guru’s intervention, upon hearing their dream for acquiring cows on their land, a close friend knew immediately who Mira and Ajaya needed to speak to, the ‘perfect person’ who could help them in fulfilling their cherished dream. That led them to contacting His Grace Sri Krishna Purusottama Prabhu, ISV Co-Sankirtan leader, Cow Committee leader, Director of Sustainable Eco Alliance, and OM Sri Surabhi Campaign Continental Coordinator for North America. In their first discussion, Ajaya proposed to Sri Krishna Purusottama that he wanted to acquire 300 cows and bulls. With the thoughtful guidance of Sri Krishna and his team of knowledgeable cow caretakers, the more practical number of starting with 5 indigenous Indian breed cows and bulls was decided as a more manageable number, with the potential for 40 or so in the future.
Then Sri Krishna Purusottama made arrangements to have the Shingal’s visit a goshala operation in Tirupati, India, where his brother, His Grace Sriramadasa Prabhu, OMSriSC Continental Coordinator for Asia, provided them first hand experience and interaction with the cows. The Shingal’s hearts melted, overwhelmed by the beauty and purity of the gentle and happy cows at the goshala, and they knew without any doubt that this was their calling, to do this in the West, no matter what it would take.
Upon returning to their ranch, further discussions were held and planning began with the SEA team, His Grace Daiva dasa (ACBSP), OMSriSC National Coordinator for USA, Her Grace Bhagavati devi dasi (HHBRS), President of SEA, and OMSriSC Research Team members, Nikhil Prabhu and Ganesh Prabhu. The auspicious date and time were set to perform the Bhumi puja, and His Grace Balabhadra Prabhu, (founder of ISCOWP, International Society for Cow Protection), a long time cowherd since 1980, was brought in to do a land site assessment to determine the best location for constructing the goshala barn and grazing areas, and to share his expertise as a cow and bull care consultant. Other SEA team members discussed in detail with the Shingal’s all the steps needed to manifest their vision.
From the beginning, Vaisesika Prabhu has encouraged and fully supported this inevitable wave of sankirtan, by stating that the ‘temples should be connected to farms’ and vice versa. His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada similarly echoed, “Yes, this supplying of milk to the temple is wanted. Thank you. In the way that Atlanta is doing, every center must have a farm so we can get all milk and if possible vegetable, even fruit, flowers and milk.”
Vaisesika Prabhu and ISV management deserve high praise for their support of this new goshala project! The importance of Iskcon leadership worldwide to seriously and actively take up the mandate of Krishna and our acharyas to protect Mother Surabhi cannot be underestimated. As stated by His Holiness Bhakti Raghava Swami, Chairman of the OM Sri Surabhi Campaign, “Our OM Sri Surabhi Campaign, we should understand, is not just another campaign to save neglected cows. It is an educational outreach program to save our entire Vedic Culture by re-establishing the principles of material and spiritual sva dharma. We are doing this by bringing awareness to two of the most fundamental components that are intimately connected but shamelessly neglected: 1) the protection and re-establishment of our villages (agrarian lifestyle) and 2) the protection of cows essential to maintain the brahminical culture. These two mothers, Mother Cow and Mother Earth, are being severely exploited, the result of which is causing massive destruction to the physical, mental, social and spiritual lives of every citizen on this planet, what to speak of the planet itself. Our slogan therefore should be: “Save our Cows, Save our Villages, Save our Culture”.
ISV has a most solid reputation for taking wholeheartedly the order of guru and Gauranga, with ‘books are the basis’, as their battle cry. There is no doubt that this community of hard-working, humble and empowered Vaishnavas, will manifest amazing results with this latest venture into cow culture, knowing that all the books that have been distributed, all the seeds of bhakti that have been planted will one day result in millions of people wanting to take up the life of bhakti. Then we will be sufficiently ready on the farms, where the ‘cows and bulls create the oasis’, for all to take up ‘simple living, high thinking’, living as Krishna Himself lives surrounded by cows and bees in the land of milk and honey.
If your temple is in need of any assistance how to establish a goshala or Vedic village model, or to expand your farm project, please contact us at: http://www.sustainableeco.org/get-involved/#
We will be most happy to assist you according to your particular project needs in any phase of planning, development and implementation Om Sri Surabhyai Namah!
For More Pictures, please follow the link : https://www.flickr.com/photos/srisurabhi/sets/72157678199920153/