WHILE GOING through some old photos recently, I found a picture of myself at age four, wearing a cowgirl outfit. To a kid growing up in the U.S. in the early 1950s, cowboys and cowgirls were the embodiment of heroic qualities. I wanted to be a cowgirl.
I gradually forgot that dream, but I kept looking for a champion to save people from injustice and violence. The champion, it turned out, was Srila Prabhupada, who, unlike Western cowboys, started farms around the world where devotees could protect cows and advance spiritually in a peaceful environment. At his Gita Nagari Farm in Pennsylvania, for a number of years I had the good fortune to live and take care of Krsna's cows.
One sunny day as I herded the cows to pasture after milking, I realized, "This is it! Krsna fulfilled my desire! I'm a cowgirl!"
But Krsna had fulfilled my desire in a way much better than I could have imagined.
By Krsna's arrangement I had learned that cows have personalities and killing a cow is just as wrong as killing a human being. I had also learned one can fight injustice by setting an example of peaceful living and God consciousness. Many visitors to Gita Nagari decided to give up meat-eating after seeing the cows giving milk and the oxen working in the field, after petting them and seeing how loving and gentle they are.
Finally, I had learned from Prabhupada that having a world with peace and justice requires training people to take pride and satisfaction in offering their work to Krsna. And one important type of work is farming and protecting cows.
I eventually had to leave Gita Nagari, but I've had the opportunity to write about the importance of cow protection and farming in a Krsna conscious society. Since 1992, part of that writing has been for this column. Now Back to Godhead is formulating a fresh presentation, leaving aside the columns. I've been invited to keep submitting articles, so I'm happy about that. But this column, which I share with you, is coming to an end. I wanted to note the occasion by saying thanks so much for your response and encouragement over the years and for letting me spread the word about just how wonderful it is to be a cowgirl (or cowboy) for Krsna.
Hare Krsna Devi Dasi is compiling a five-volume series of Srila Prabhupada's teachings on varnasrama and farm community development.