- HG Vrndavanlila Devi Dasi
The first of January is a historical day in the history of ISKCON Daiva Varnasrama Ministry (India). Three years ago, on this day the IDVM Minister, HH Bhakti Raghava Swami launched the global OM (Our Mother) Sri Surabhi Campaign in different countries and continents to protect Mother Cow. It aims at bringing awareness about the spiritual and material significance of Mother Cow in our lives and thus protect her- dharmo rakshati rakshataha.
Mother Cow who forms the backbone of Vedic culture, in Kaliyuga happens to be one of the most exploited entities. The modern civilization has put itself in suicidal mode by ignoring the welfare of cows and villages (the supporting ground for cows). This global campaign intends to awaken the people from their slumber and make them think of Mother Cow, Mother Bhumi and villages for sustainable development. Therefore, the first of January is marked by pujagau-puja across all the goshalas and people supporting the campaign of love to Mother Cow. In the same spirit, every year on the very first day of the New Year, all the New Govardhan (Secunderabad) devotees choose to go to their farm, Narsimhapally Vedic Village and perform gau-puja to their cows.
The devotees of New Govardhan congregation always have a long week-end, beginning right from Friday itself with weekly village preaching in Janagaon. However, this time it was even longer and even tighter. The schedule was back-to-back with one sankirtan program in the day time and the second one in the evening and began right from Thursday itself. A real testing one, especially when one is expected to navigate the unfriendly city traffic.
The opening of the New Year 2018 was planned to be at our farm, Narsimhapally Vedic Village. HH Bhakti Raghava Swami had inaugurated IDVM-India’s OM Sri Surabhi Campaign, a global campaign to protect Mother Cow on this very day in 2015. Every year, the day is marked with sacred prayers and puja to Mother Cow.
All the Govardhan congregation devotees including HG Gour Gopal prabhu, HG Vrndavanlila dd, Bhaktin Radhika, Bhakta Deepak, Bhaktin Aishwarya, Bhaktin Devaki, HG Shyam Sunder prabhu, HG NityaTripta dd, Bhaktin Ananya Bhakti, HG Campakalata dd, HG Satya Madhava prabhu, HG Manimanjari dd, Bhakta Anup, HG Jananivas prabhu, Bhaktin Swapna, Bhakta Partha, Bhaktin Sanskriti, HG Sri Nandanandan prabhu, HG Haridas prabhu, HG Bharati dd, HG Dinadhatri dd, HG Vishnutattva prabhu, HG Jyotirmayi dd, HG SriRupa prabhu, HG Rasamandal Das, HG Vedagamini dd and Bhakta Varun left around 8:30 am towards the Narasimhapally farm in five different cars. The devotees were to arrange the farm for the gau–puja to be performed by HH Bhakti Raghava Swami in the later part of the day. The devotees like HG NityaTripta dd and HG Manimanjari dd had been making garlands on the way to the farm. A few were chanting, while others were singing kirtans all the way, finally the devotees reached the farm in about two hours.
It was a soothing sight to see all the cows grazing in the green fields. They looked like soft sailing clouds against the blue backdrop of the sky. A few of them leapt high with high raised tails and running around happily, the lovely calves jumped about where water had been released for irrigating the paddy fields. In the process, their legs had turned muddy brown from down, giving the appearance of they wearing brown socks on their feet! As they saw us come, their ears perked up, realizing us to be known faces they continued grazing without any concern.
After taking little breakfast prasadam, the devotees immediately set to work like arranging the garlands around the shed, HG NityaTripta dd, HG Vrndavanlila dd and HG Campakalata along with kids began putting handprints with turmeric paste all over the cows’ bodies. While it is auspicious, it also functions as tick-repellant, antiseptic and anti-allergen for them. A few of the kids were enjoying in putting the garlands around the cows’ necks, while others were putting vermilion marks atop the turmeric on all their four hooves, the tail and the forehead. The cows looked beautiful like demigoddesses who had come down from higher planets. NityaTripta dd had brought very bright coloured richly embroidered dresses for the cows. While other cows refused to wear it, gentle Nandini happily cooperated in accepting the service by agreeing to wear it. She is one of the cows who was rescued a few years ago and has been on the farm. Her love and gentleness is simply overwhelming and capable of winning anyone’s heart.
As everybody was busy with their activities, the Janagaon devotees (about 15 of them who have been religiously attending the weekly programs conducted by HG Gour Gopal prabhu and HG Jananivas prabhu joined the group. They being nearer to the farm had arranged prasadam for the Govardhan devotees. The kids, women and men devotees met each other as naturally as two river waters would. With double enthusiasm, everyone got busy in something or the other, be it arranging the altar, spreading the mat, clearing the pathway for Maharaj’s arrival, decorating the cows or flower arrangement. The kids were freely running behind the calves, around the trees or simply playing with water.
In a couple of hours, HH Bhakti Raghava Swami maharaj joined the group. His very presence sent ripple of joy in the devotees. They welcomed his holiness with enthusiastic kirtan while a few devotees showered flower petals on him all the way to the cow shed. While most of the cows preferred to graze in the open grassland, a few of them had been brought for the puja. They looked graceful and embodiment of elegance and love. Soon the gau-puja began, with maharaj performing the puja and HG Gour Gopal prabhu leading the kirtan. The air was resonant with Om Sri Surabhyai Namaha and the Holy Name. Maharaj began with prayers to Mother Nandini and Mother Surabhi. They seemed to be relishing everything that His Holiness offered. Mother Nandini seemed to behave mysteriously, as she shed tears of joy on seeing Maharaj. She was so satisfied that she peed immediately after the lamp offering. Maharaj offered them spinach, carrot and many more goodies of their liking. They seemed to be savoring every bit of attention and love from Maharaj. Happy cows are the building blocks of happy farm. While all the devotees followed the prayers and watched Maharaj intently, in their heart they prayed to Mother Cow for the future growth of the farm.
In the meantime, HG Rameshwar prabhu arranged for maharaj’s cooking. It was being cooked on instantly made cow dung chulha with cow dung patties and abundantly available wood.
After Gau-puja, Maharaj performed Guru puja to the ISKCON Founder-Acarya HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada. It was his desire to see devotees live a simple life in a village in association with devotees, Mother Cow and Mother Bhumi. It is always a different feeling to do HariNam in a farm set up amidst cows. Everyone danced as the cows watched. In the middle, a few cows who had been grazing freely called out to their friends who had been taken aside for puja and were thus tied up. They mooed and called; here they also mooed and replied – a jugalbandi of sorts began and the tied cows showed their eagerness to join the rest of the group of free cows. As Jananivas prabhu opened their ropes one by one, they waited restlessly for their friends also to be freed. The moment all of them were opened, they sprinted with tails upraised gleefully.
After the Guru puja, maharaja gave a short lecture on the importance of devotees living in a rural set up with Mother Cow and Mother Bhumi for our spiritual security and progress. He emphasized on the significance of following Lord Krishna’s own creation of varnasrama system for gradual and safe spiritual progress. However, the passionate city life does not allow this. Therefore, the Secunderabad-Hyderabad city dwellers should take benefit of Narasimhapally Vedic Village farm and try to learn and practice sva-dharma. He referred how city life is just contrary to Vedic injunctions. Even at the time of marriage, the Vedic hymns bless the newlywed couple with several qualified children. But in city the concept is of having just a single child or none. In contrast is the life at farm, for example Gita Nagari, Baru where there are about 150+ inhabitants, of which more than 70 are children! There is no demoniac system of modern family planning. A grihasta is expected to produce qualified population – Krishna Conscious children.
He was repeating the words of Srila Prabhupada, how it was his desire to see devotees follow daiva-varnasrama dharma, producing our own food, guided by the principles of “produce what you need, use what you produce.” He highlighted the auspiciousness of beginning our new year 2018 in the association of Mother Cow, who is so much dear to the Supreme Lord Krishna – Govinda, Gopala. He also emphasized how every devotee from Bharatavarsha has more responsibility to lead the world to Krishna Consciousness owing to its rich cultural heritage. In the context his holiness referred to Mother’s Farm in Ukarine, which has about 45 cows and follows the Vedic tradition of giving a cow in charity to a brahmana. They therefore offer a cow to every visiting sannyasi!
The cowboy Lingam had also had a great day, receiving a flower garland right from Maharaj’s hand for his selfless service for the pleasure of Mother Cow. Under his care, in these three years there had been no need for even a single visit by the Vet doctor. He had himself kept the vigil, personally taking the cows for grazing, staying in their middle as they grazed around and taking care of them when they needed. Their rapport was visible as every cow was comfortable in his company and licked him when around.
The devotees quickly finished their prasadam in a desire to participate in the traditional kite flying festival (which marks Vedic New Year and sankranthi). While kids formed a separate group of kite flying, the grown-ups formed another one with three players (HG Rasamandal prabhu, HG Haridas prabhu and HG Shyamsundar prabhu) at the center. Their kites were special, with yellow, blue and red kites designed like Jagannath, Baladeva and Subhadra’s faces. They had gone so high in the sky that they almost appeared like different coloured dots. Other devotees encouraged the players, a few held on to the string spools and yet another one maneuvered the direction and height. After a short friendly kite flying sessions, HG Gour Gopal prabhu egged the players to engage in cutting the strings. Amidst lot of sighing and hooraying finally HG Haridas prabhu won, cutting all other kites, establishing the supremacy of the yellow kite- Jagannath kite! Overwhelmed the devotees cheered – Jai Jagannath!! Haribol!!!
When one is in the lap of mother, time flies. In close association of Mother Cow and Mother Bhumi devi, no one realized how it was already getting time to wind up. It was time for the sun to set. This is called go-dhuli bela (go=cows; dhuli=the dust and bela=time; thus refers to dusk time when the grazing herd of cows returns home from the pastures, raising clouds of dust with their hooves as they run back). It is considered a very auspicious hour. Even the godhuli, if it happens to settle on anyone is considered to augur happiness. So, at this time even as the cows slowly planned to retire to return to their respective places in the shed, the devotees too decided to go back, planning to soon start with the construction of houses on the farm itself. This would allow them to be continuously under the auspicious dust of Mother Cow- godhuli!
Om Sri Surabhyai Namaha!
All Glories to Lord Govinda, the ideal cow boy who gives joy to Mother Cow!!