The world's economy and ecology are in danger, victims of the modern way of life. The situation demands a return to the natural life, based on cows, bulls, and the land.
LAST JANUARY I visited ISKCON's Saranagati community in British Columbia. Jambavan Dasa, who lives there, had recently participated in the Pacific National Exhibition in Vancouver.
The organizers of the event, the largest annual fair in western Canada, had invited the community to bring two oxen. During the opening parade, the oxen pulled a covered wagon like those used by the early settlers in North America.
Afterwards, many visitors came to the community's exhibition, especially to see the oxen. The question most often asked was, How do you get them to grow so big?
And Jambavan would tell them the secret to raising big oxen.
"Really?" said one visitor. "That's all there is to it?"
"I can't believe it," said another. "It's too simple."
"You're kidding," said another.
What was Jambavan's secret? It's easy: The oxen grow big because we don't eat them.
I couldn't understand the problem. "What's so strange about a big ox?" I asked. Then Jambavan explained that almost all the bulls in North America are butchered before they are two years old.
I thought about the words of the Vedic sage: "My dear butcher, do not live and do not die. Your life is hell, and your death will be hell."
Modern man could turn his hellish life toward a bright future if he would try to understand and adopt the way of life given in the Vedas. In this issue of Back to Godhead the editors want to focus on one aspect of that way of life: protection of the bull.
The bull is one of the greatest assets of the Vedic varnasrama society. Srimad-Bhagavatam calls him the symbol of religion and the father of mankind because he pulls the plow and works the land, producing grains for sacrifice and nourishment.
And Father Bull's consort, the cow, is the mother of mankind because she supplies milk, the most perfect of all foods. Human beings who mistreat these important animals degrade and eventually destroy human culture.
People in the machine age have forgotten the value of the bull and placed their affection in machines. People depend on and love their cars, their tractors, and their computers, but dependence on machines is artificial and dangerous.
Instead of living simply and using their intelligence for spiritual development, humans have dedicated themselves to a pursuit of technological advancement, the utopian dream of a perfect material world. The machine age has unbridled the greed of the human being with the promise of newer and better machines to make life more comfortable and to help him exploit the material world for more enjoyment.
The machine age takes away the finer qualities of the human being. Everything and everyone in the world becomes an object of exploitation.
Pushed by greed, humans become insensitive and cruel toward each other, toward other living beings, and toward Mother Earth. But the karmic reactions will soon catch up with humanity, and we can expect to see the end of the machine age, thank God.
If enough people understand and begin now to practice simple living and high thinking, humanity can hope to see the revival of a natural lifestyle and higher consciousness.
In the articles that follow, the authors will show that when human beings are satisfied with simple living and high thinking, the bull can do wonderful things for them. Father Bull becomes dear to his human children when he is allowed to play his natural role. To those who engage him properly, he becomes a cherished member of the family and a helpmate on the path of Krsna consciousness.
ISKCON Governing Body Commissioner
Ox Power's Economic Imperatives
by Hare Krsna Devi Dasi
"ACCORDING TO VEDIC economics, one is considered to be a rich man by the strength of his store of grains and cows. With only these two things, cows and grain, humanity can solve its eating problem. Human society needs only sufficient grain and sufficient cows to solve its economic problems. All other things but these two are artificial necessities created by man to kill his valuable life at the human level and waste his time on things that are not needed" (Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.2.29, Purport).
Instead of basing its economy on the cow and the land, as prescribed by Krsna, modern society bases its economy on industry and commerce, that is, on the slavelike labor of the working class and the speculative investment of the mercantile class. The results are wasteful and destructive.
Experts warn that this artificial economic system is not sustainable: "It is only a question of which will collapse first, the global economy or its ecological support system." ** (Christopher Flavin and Alan Durning, State of the World 1988 (Worldwatch Institute), p. 61.) Global problems of hunger, homelessness, unemployment, and international debt highlight the precarious state of the world's economy. Beyond this, the problems in the Middle East are threatening supplies of oil, constantly referred to as the "lifeblood of the economy."
Opponents of international involvement in the Middle East advocate shifting to other energy sources to eliminate dependence on petroleum. But neither side can answer crucial questions now facing an oil-dependent economy. For example, How will farmers be able to produce crops? In the United States, agriculture relies on petroleum more than any other industry. More than 90 percent of its energy comes from petroleum. ** (A. B. Lovins, et al., "Energy and Agriculture" in Wes Jackson, et al. Meeting the Expectation of the Land.)
How will it be possible to maintain road systems without petroleum products and petroleum-fueled equipment? Can a centralized economy survive without good roads and cheap transportation? How will it be economically feasible to ship food to food processors and consumers? The transportation sector relies on petroleum for most of its fuel. ** ("Petroleum Products Supplied by Sector," Annual Energy Review, 1989, Energy Information Administration, U.S. Department of Energy, p. 136.)
In other words, how will it be possible to feed people without petroleum? The agriculture and dairy industries in industrialized countries already face serious problems. The Department of Agriculture of the state of Maine estimates that the average dairy farmer pays more to produce a gallon of milk than he receives for it. ** (Clark Canfield, "Dairy Farmers Face Falling Milk Prices," Portland Press Herald, Nov. 10, 1990, p. 1.)
And the oil crisis threatens to make the farmer's troubles even worse. Hoard's Dairyman, the leading trade publication of the U.S. dairy industry, predicts that due to the crisis in the Persian Gulf, "farmers throughout the U.S. will pay from 25 to 35 percent more to plant crops" in 1991. ** ("Farmers Face Budget Crunch from Gulf Crisis," Hoard's Dairyman, Nov. 1990, p. 929.)
But suppose the Middle East crisis is somehow resolved. Then what? "If the cumulative consumption of oil and gas continues to double every fifteen to twenty years, … the initial stock will be eighty percent depleted in another thirty to forty years. ** (John Holdren, "Energy in Transition," Scientific American, Sept. 1990.) (6)
There is a solution, but it does not lie in hoping for more oil to prop up an overcentralized, exploitative economic system. It lies in developing a localized village economic system that depends on the labor of the bull to produce, process, and transport foodstuffs most significantly, grains. ** (cf. Mark Lutz and Romesh Diwan, ed., Essays in Gandhian Economics, (Intermediate Technology Group, 1987).)
Even today, trained oxen provide Third World countries with a high degree of insurance against the impact of the oil crisis because they free these countries from dependence on oil. According to N.S. Ramaswamy of the Indian Institute of Management, "DAP [draft animal power] provides energy for the cultivation of nearly fifty percent of the world's cultivated area as well as for hauling over 25 million carts."
According to Mr. Ramaswamy, replacement of draft animal power by petroleum-based power would require 30 million tractor and tiller units costing between $200 and $300 billion, plus $5 billion annually for petroleum fuel (in 1985 prices). ** (N. S. Ramaswamy, Draught Animal Power-Socioeconomic Factors. J. W. Copeland, ed., Draught Animal Power for Production: Proceedings of an international workshop held at James Cook University, Townsville, Qld, Australia, 10-16 July 1985 (Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research). pp. 20-25.) Thus the productive oxen even in today's economic system are worth hundreds of billions of dollars and provide the means of feeding millions of people without petroleum.
Industrialized countries need to reintroduce ox power in order to feed the people as petroleum becomes scarce. Right now there are millions of young bulls that could be trained to produce grain. The danger is that as increasing petroleum prices force up the price of grains, cows and bulls will be the first targets of massive slaughter because they require the most feed.
Although cow slaughter is always present in modern economics, it increases sharply during times of economic stress. In the United States, cow slaughter increased during the depression of the 1930's, during the 1973 oil crisis, and during the 1988 drought.
What will dairy farmers and ranchers do as escalating petroleum prices make it impossible for them to maintain their herds? We cannot wait to find out. It may be too late.
Somehow the followers of Srila Prabhupada's Krsna consciousness movement must quickly and effectively demonstrate that protecting the cow and the bull is not a waste of petroleum but a miraculous replacement for it.
We should become the leaders in appropriate technology and sustainable agriculture and show that labor-intensive, ox-powered agriculture is not an anachronism but the answer to unemployment and crime.
We must show that simple village life is not torturous boredom but the ideal setting for fulfilling the real purpose of human life: chanting Hare Krsna and serving the Lord in a life rich in spiritual culture. For the sake of fulfilling Srila Prabhupada's desire, we must take up this mission immediately.
Hare Krsna Devi Dasi has been involved in Krsna consciousness since 1978. She moved to Gita Nagari in 1985 and was initiated by Paramananda Dasa in 1986. She now lives in Maine, where she is the research secretary for the Ox Power Alternative Energy Club (OPAEC), which distributes literature on the technical, socio-economic, and spiritual aspects of cow protection and ox power. You can write to her c/o OPAEC, 9B Stetson St., Brunswick, Maine 04011.
WHEN I MILKED THE COWS at Gita Nagari, I had to leave for the barn halfway through the morning class, long before breakfast. After milking, I would clean up the barn. It was wonderful work, more physically demanding than anything I had ever done in my life, but it was great.
I would finish at about 10:30 or 11:00, dirty and exhausted. I'd take off my barn boots on the shoe porch and still have alfalfa leaves all over my socks.
Then I would go into the temple and pay obeisances to the sweet and peaceful Deities of Sri Sri Radha-Damodara. They were always ready to offer Their blessings. Krsna would be leaning on a stick, playing His flute. Sometimes He carried a buffalo horn to call the cows, and sometimes He carried a rope to tie their legs.
I began to understand that these items were not merely decorations. They were things Krsna uses to take care of the cows. Cows need music to be pacified. Sometimes they kick when you milk them, so you have to be prepared. You have to call them in to milk them, and you need a good stick for herding them. By taking care of the cows, I had obtained what was for me an intimate view of the Lord.
But that wasn't all. My Godsister Linda would always save breakfast for me. It was a coarse, cooked cereal made from wheat grown with the help of Krsna's oxen.
Linda would add some warm ksira, a kind of homemade condensed milk offered to the Deities at mangala-arati, the first ceremony of the day. She called it a "ksira float."
My ksira float was always cold by the time I ate it, but it was wonderful. And I enjoyed it even more because it was provided by the very cows I was milking and by our own bulls. Breakfast time was when I most appreciated the cow as my mother and the bull as my father. I felt as if they were reciprocating with me, encouraging me in devotional service.
The combination of seeing the Deities and then taking Their prasadam as wheat cereal coming from Father Bull and ksira from Mother Cow made me feel overwhelmingly thankful and protected, and it made we want to share that feeling with everyone else. That's why I write about ox power. I want everyone to gain this kind of access to Radha and Krsna.
Hare Krsna Devi Dasi
Living Within The Ecosystem
Compiled by Umapati Swami from articles by Kamra Devi Dasi and Vyapaka Dasa
MANY FARMERS are beginning to wonder whether it makes any sense to farm at all. With the price of inputs fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides going up continually and market forces pushing the price of crops lower and lower, year after year, it seems that profit can only be found in government subsidy programs.
But nature has been offering a solution all along, and ox power plays an important part in it.
The solution? Farming within nature's own ecosystems.
An ecosystem is a grouping of plants, animals, and microbes interacting with each other and their environment in such a way that the grouping perpetuates itself.
An ecosystem is by definition self-sufficient. It is a kind of circle turning on energy provided by the sun: each living entity in the system acquires food and produces waste, which becomes food for the next living entity along the ecological feeding trail. In this way the nutrients move through a large, diverse population of mammals, insects, bacteria, plants, and others until they return to their point of origin and start again.
The industrial farmer finds himself dependent on a constant supply of agricultural inputs. His nitrogen fertility, for example, comes at great expense from a distant petrochemical plant that ships its wares across the country by an energy-intensive transport system.
The same nitrogen could be produced effortlessly and economically by bacteria at the roots of a legume. Being a cash cropper, however, the farmer finds it financially difficult to leave any land fallow and planted to a grass legume.
In a cash-cropping operation, a monoculture or very limited rotation is generally the rule. Oxen, however, force the farmer to live within the ecosystem because they demand a more diverse crop rotation, including hay, pasture, and small grains a production more conservation-oriented than the extended back-to-back annual production of row crops.
Since the different kinds of plants do not share pests, the risk of pest populations building up is reduced because the pests' food source is restricted. The farmer can thus eliminate the use of pesticides and allow the reestablishment of balanced pest predator populations, providing further ecological balance.
As the rotation is established, the mixing of plant cultures, coupled with improved and timely tillage, checks the growth of weeds. The farmer can eliminate herbicides, another costly input.
The design and careful implementation of a well-balanced rotation, combined with the recycling of nutrients around the farm through the application of composted cow and ox manure, can reduce or abolish the import of inorganic fertilizers.
It is estimated that seventy-five percent of the nutrients found in the feed ends up in the animals' waste. Through the use of compost, the farmer can divert stocks of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium from pasture and hay fields onto grain fields, where they are more needed. The increased recycling potential of the farm results in lower costs through self-sufficiency.
When animal waste is returned to the soil, its high nitrogen content makes it a good fertilizer. If it is unreturned dumped into a water supply, for instance much of its nitrogen turns into ammonia and nitrates.
The dumping of animal waste into water a common practice among commercial dairies can pollute rural wells and even city water supplies with nitrates. Last year the Florida Department of Environmental Regulation found high nitrate levels in the ground water at nine dairies.
An excessive intake of nitrates can be dangerous, causing brain damage and death to infants and health problems in the elderly.
Cow manure is the best of natural fertilizers and stabilizers of soil structure. The Hoosefield experiment in Rothamsted, England, showed that applications of cow manure over a period of twenty years resulted in more soil humus and higher barley yields even fifty years after the applications had been discontinued.
In 1974 Bronner and Janick studied 154 Austrian farms growing sugar beets. On the sixty-five farms that had cows, the humus content of the soil was 20.2 percent higher than on the others, the humic acids were 21 percent higher, and the soil structure was more stable by 13 percent.
The farms with cows needed 53 percent less fertilizer application of nitrogen, 39 percent less of phosphorus, and 32 percent less of potassium.
Cow manure can also be put into tanks to generate methane gas for cooking and heating, and the residue can be used as fertilizer. Yet today's industrial society goes to great lengths to import petroleum-based fuel while running its local supplies of fuel into rivers and water supplies as a pollutant.
Draught Animal News #11, published in 1989 by the Center for Tropical Veterinary Medicine of the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, offers further evidence of the ecological and economic value of ox farming:
The bullock cart is not only the mascot of the Indian rural community, but also its very backbone. Eighty-four million draught animals supply the equivalent of 30kW, providing the energy to cultivate 100 million hectares and for hauling about 30,000 million tonne kms of freight in 15 million carts. These work animals save six million tonnes of petroleum a year, valued at Rs 24,000 million at imported prices.
Transporting goods by ox power also reduces the need for packing materials. Since the produce is transported only short distances, it arrives fresh, and thus does not require fungicides and other preservatives.
Ox-drawn equipment does not compact the soil and reduce aeration and drainage, as does modern heavy equipment. Ox equipment is simple, and does not require heavy industry for manufacture, repair, or replacement parts. And an ox team can be maintained for 1/6 the cost of a team of horses.
Safety on the farm has also suffered. Doyle Conner, the former commissioner of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, noted that in 1989 farming overtook mining as the most dangerous occupation in the United States. The accidental-death rate of 48 per 100,000 farm workers is five times the national average for industries. Farm equipment, toxic gases, chemicals, dust, and noise have made the farm a dangerous place. And since most farmers live on their farms, their family members are exposed to the same risks.
Ox-powered farming eliminates the heavy, dangerous farm machinery. It eliminates chemical pesticides and herbicides, as oxen cooperate with nature's ecosystem and ox-powered farms tend toward smaller plots, which allow this work to be done by hand or with small amounts of organic products. The ox-power farmer is spared the all-day fumes and roar of a diesel engine.
Devotees are not the only ones who know the value of animal power. There are thousands of animal-powered farms in the United States, and these farmers also scoff at the irony of our centralized system based on petroleum and large-scale production. But they, for the most part, raise animals for food and sell their old work horses and oxen at the market.
Only Srila Prabhupada has been able to give the spiritual solution for material problems. He has written:
Our farm projects are an extremely important part of our movement. We must become self-sufficient by growing our own grains and producing our own milk. Then there will be no question of poverty. They should be developed as an ideal society depending on natural products, not industry. Industry has simply created godlessness, because people think that they can manufacture everything that they need. Our Bhagavad-gita philosophy explains that men and animals must have food in order to maintain their bodies. And the production of food is dependent on the rain and the rain of course is dependent on chanting Hare Krishna. Therefore, let everyone chant Hare Krishna, eat nicely, and keep the body fit and healthy. This is ideal life style. letter to Rupanuga Dasa, December 18, 1974
Kamra Devi Dasi was initiated by Srila Prabhupada in 1975 and helped start ISKCON's Gita Nagari farm in Pennsylvania. She now lives at the New Ramana Reti farm in Alachua, Florida. She is the corresponding secretary of the newsletter for the Save the Cow program. Her husband, Brajendranandana Dasa, a disciple of Hridayananda Dasa Goswami, manages the farm's herd of cows and trains and works the oxen. You can write to Kamra and Brajendranandana c/o Save the Cow, Route 2, Box 24, Alachua, FL 32615.
Vyapaka Dasa (Robert Cope) joined ISKCON in Winnipeg and was initiated by Srila Prabhupada in 1975. He spent several years on an ISKCON farm in Ontario. In 1987 he completed a two-year course on organic farming and is currently employed as a farm inspector in the organic foods industry.
A Neglected Source of Wealth
A Preliminary Study And Practical Suggestion
by Narasimha Dasa
I SOMETIMES ASK the following question to devotees and other spiritually inclined people. One day Kuvera, the lord of wealth, appears before you, offering a choice of two benedictions: as much gold as you want, any time, any place, and as often as you want, or as much cow manure as you want, any time, any place, and as often as you want. Which would you choose?
I add that Lord Kuvera tells you to put aside considerations of purity, convenience, and religion and choose the benediction that will give the most wealth.
Stop here. Think about it for a minute or two. Answer the question yourself. Some devotees have suggested there is no right or wrong choice. The choice, they say, will simply indicate an individual's own inclination. I believe, however, that one choice is far superior to the other.
Most people I've talked to say they would take the gold and use it for good or transcendental purposes. With unlimited gold they could print billions of spiritual books and build many grand temples. After all, everything can be used in Krsna's service. Right?
Yes, but using so much gold in Krsna's service could be dangerous and difficult. The Srimad-Bhagavatam tells us that Kali, the personification of this degraded age, resides wherever gold is hoarded. We would need to spend all the gold immediately, yet gold circulating in such great amounts would gradually lose monetary value until at last it became as common and inexpensive as iron.
Gold is limited as a form of wealth as are all currencies.
With unlimited cow manure, however, the entire planet could be made as opulent as heaven in just a few years. Sound fantastic? The Mahabharata says that the dung and urine of the cow are residences of Sri Laksmi Devi, the goddess of fortune.
Cow manure could transform desert soils, such as those in the Middle East and northern India, into fertile, humus-rich soils that would retain moisture and support vegetation even with scarce rainfall.
As the ground-cover vegetation became more lush and trees started growing, moisture retention would increase the natural opulence of the land with beneficial microbes and plants and soil-building insects and animals.
Manure, in fact, makes cow protection highly profitable even if the milk production is low and the bulls are not fully engaged.
Cow protection and bull protection are one and the same, of course, but people usually think the monetary profit is found in milk. Manure can be more profitable, however, because it leads to greater milk and grain production.
ISKCON'S experiments with cow protection in the West have not always produced happy results. Part of the problem has been an overemphasis on milk production. Devotees have usually chosen temperamental, troublesome breeds because of their reputedly high milk production.
When bulls were born, everyone moaned and groaned and wondered what to do with another nonmilker because few devotees had come forward to train bulls and put them to work.
Nor have many of the farm leaders emphasized the necessity of working the bulls, although Srila Prabhupada said, "If you don't make a program to engage them [bulls], you'll make a program to kill them."
What to do, then, with all the bulls?
I suggest we use all extra bulls to prove that Goddess Laksmi does indeed reside in the dung of the cow and bull.
We should first engage bulls and oxen in grazing and in eating silage. Grains should not be fed to mature bulls who are not working hard. It is expensive and unnecessary, and makes them unruly. By Krsna's arrangement, bulls can live on grass and on the husks and stalks of corn, wheat, and rice, all of which are nutritionally valueless to man.
Grazing bulls should be rotated among various pastures, and the pastures should be raked often with chain-drag harrows to spread the manure around evenly and help it mix quickly with the upper soil. Soon the grass will become thick and green, and the same pasture will support more cows and bulls.
In two weeks, twenty-five medium-sized bulls will leave four thousand manure deposits some six tons fresh, or nine percent of the surface of a fifteen-acre pasture. After two weeks, the bulls should be moved and the pasture harrowed.
In one year these twenty-five bulls will produce 156 tons of fresh manure, enough to fully blanket thirty-five acres. (Statistics are based on research done by the University of Kentucky.)
After two or three years the rich pastures can be plowed and planted with row crops or grains or left as pasture, to become richer and richer almost without limit.
A bull, of course, may be used to pull the chain harrow, a simple, low-energy operation, but the point is that bulls are valuable even if we can't fully engage them immediately. The wealth is the manure itself.
With enough cow and bull manure, plowing and cultivation can be greatly minimized or even eliminated. In Vedic farming, the main purpose of plowing is to loosen the top layers of soils that have been compacted by rain and feet. Soils rich in manure are also rich in humus. They need little or no plowing because they resist compacting and retain a soft, pliable texture suitable for planting.
Smaller farms family farms of only a few acres can keep two, three, four, five, or even more bulls in a small barn or in the courtyard of the home and feed them hay, fresh grass, and silage. If there is a sufficient year-around supply of fresh grass, such as in Hawaii and South India, milking cows and bulls doing light work can live on grass alone.
The manure should be raked up, pitched out, or washed out daily, along with the straw bedding, if any, and collected in a pile. If the pile is covered with fine hay or leaves and not allowed to remain very wet, it will decompose quickly without producing foul odors.
The composted manure can then be dried, pulverized, and sifted to produce a fine, light powder that's easy to store and spread.
I have seen gardeners in India restore extremely deficient soils and transform already fertile soils into lush, rich, well-textured supersoils after just two or three years of applying cow manure.
As the world moves away from Krsna's perfect system of global economics based on cow protection, great industrial centers devour huge amounts of resources, filling the air and water with foul and poisonous by-products.
Brainwashed farmers pour chemicals and poisons on the earth, destroying valuable topsoils and creating contaminated drylands and deserts.
Future historians will surely reflect with astonishment on how effectively governments and big corporations tricked nations of farmers into believing that chemical fertilizers and pesticides were a blessing of progressive science.
Srila Prabhupada wanted devotees to create counterparts of Goloka Vrndavana in this world because only practical examples of Krsna consciousness can change the course of our misdirected civilization.
But first, the devotees themselves must realize the benefits of cow protection and understand the practical formula for engaging bulls. The first step is to understand that even their manure is a most valuable resource.
Narasimha Dasa was initiated by Srila Prabhupada in 1972. He spent several years in India and wrote a novel entitled The Way of the Vaisnava Sages, published in 1987. He is now practicing self-sufficiency on eight acres on the island of Hawaii. His address is P.O. Box 1041, Pepeeko, Hawaii 96783.
ACCORDING TO THE three modes of material nature and the work associated with them, the four divisions of society are created by Me" (Bhagavad-gita 4.13).
The four divisions of society brahmana, ksatriya, vaisya, and sudra are part of the social system known as varnasrama, Lord Krsna's own plan for a perfect society.
Every society has an economic base. In today's machine-age society, the base is the unstable, dwindling supply of petroleum. In Lord Krsna's spiritual society, the economic base is the cow, the bull, and the land.
At the head of the four orders are the brahmanas, the saintly teachers, priests, and intellectuals. Their duties are offering sacrifices to satisfy the transcendental senses of Lord Krsna and teaching for the spiritual progress of society in general: "The hunger of the Lord is to accept the fruits of sacrifice. The brahmanas, or intelligent class, must be very expert in performing such sacrifices, and the subordinate class must join in such sacrifices" (Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.5.37, Purport).
The protection of the cow and bull enables the brahmanas to fulfill both duties. They can educate society, and at the same time they can satisfy the Lord with the rarest and most opulent of sacrifices not jewels and gold but a daily offering of food to the Deities prepared with milk from protected cows and flour grown and ground by protected bulls.
Why is this a great sacrifice? Because the whole society has to work together to produce it. Lord Krsna is especially pleased when all the citizens, even the animals, are properly engaged in devotional service.
"Lord Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is the prime protector of brahminical culture and the cow," says Srila Prabhupada. "Without knowing and respecting these, one cannot realize the science of God, and without this knowledge, any welfare activities or humanitarian propaganda cannot be successful." (Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.21.38, Purport).
The brahmanas are the head of the social body, and if the brahminical influence is weak, then the whole society courts disaster, like a man without intelligence.
The status of cow protection in a society is an indicator of the brahminical strength. If the brahminical strength diminishes, the cow and the bull are mistreated. If it increases, cow protection also increases:
At the present moment in this age of Kali, both the bull and the cow are being slaughtered and eaten up as foodstuff by a class of men who do not know the brahminical culture. The bull and the cow can be protected for the good of all human society simply by spreading brahminical culture as the topmost perfection of all cultural affairs. By advancement of such culture, the morale of society is properly maintained, and so peace and prosperity are also attained without extraneous effort. When brahminical culture deteriorates, the cow and bull are mistreated…. Srimad-Bhagavatam, 1.16.18, Purport
The second order of society is the ksatriyas, the kings and administrators. Their duty is to protect all the citizens, including the animals: "O chaste one, the king's good name, duration of life, and good rebirth vanish when all kinds of living beings are terrified by miscreants in his kingdom. It is certainly the prime duty of the king to subdue first the sufferings of those who suffer (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.17.10-11).
Srila Prabhupada adds, "Praja means one who has taken birth in the state, and this includes both men and animals. Any living being who takes birth in a state has the primary right to live under the protection of the king. The jungle animals are also subject to the king, and they also have a right to live. So what to speak of domestic animals like the cows and bulls."
Five thousand years ago, the great king Pariksit drew his sword to punish a low-class man who was beating and torturing a cow and a bull: "You rogue, do you dare beat an innocent cow because Lord Krsna and Arjuna, the carrier of the Gandiva bow, are out of sight? Since you are beating the innocent in a secluded place, you are considered a culprit and deserve to be killed" (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.17.6).
Srila Prabhupada comments, "At least up to the time of Maharaja Pariksit, no one could imagine the wretched conditions of the cow and the bull. Maharaja Pariksit, therefore, was astonished to see such a horrible scene. He inquired whether the bull was not a demigod assuming such a wretched condition to indicate the future of the cow and the bull" (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.17.8, Purport).
Later, the faultless king Pariksit again emphasized the importance of the cow and bull when he blamed himself for the improper action of a brahmana boy: "I am uncivilized and sinful due to my neglect of brahminical culture, God consciousness, and cow protection. Therefore I wish that my kingdom, strength, and riches burn up immediately by the fire of the brahmana's wrath so that in the future I may not be guided by such inauspicious attitudes" (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.19.3).
The third order of society is the vaisyas: "The vaisyas are meant to protect the cows and bulls and utilize them to produce grains and milk" (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.17.1, Purport).
"Lord Krsna, as the teacher of human society, personally showed by His acts that the mercantile community, or the vaisyas, should herd cows and bulls and thus give protection to the valuable animals" (Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.2.29, Purport).
Lord Krsna Himself takes care of cows and bulls, in both the spiritual world and this world. He spent his childhood in the home of a vaisya family, and Srimad-Bhagavatam tells of Krsna's playing with calves and being transported by ox-cart.
By engaging in cow protection, devotees are learning how to live in the spiritual world by following Krsna's example. Whatever devotees are learning here, they can continue eternally singing to Krsna, bathing Him, dressing Him, feeding Him, and taking care of His cows and bulls.
The fourth order of society is the sudras, whose business is crafts and service to the other classes. If the rest of the society is engaged in working with the cow and bull, the sudras will naturally follow.
Here are the responses to a questionnaire we sent to all ISKCON farms.
New Caitanya Candrodaya Mandir
Address: ISKCON, Almviks Gard, 15300 Jarna, Sweden
Phone: (46) 755-52050 or -52073
Contact: Locana Dasa
Deities: Sri Sri Panca-tattva
Number of devotees and families: 41 adults, 18 children, 13 families
Size: 67 hectares (165 acres)
Distance from nearest city: 60 km from Stockholm
Accommodations: Guest room
Climate: Sub-arctic, below 0 degrees C (32 degrees F) for six months
Growing season: June-August
Land under cultivation: 22 hectares
Crops: Grass (hay), wheat, oats, rye, potatoes, carrots, beetroots, cabbage, fruit trees (apple, pear, plum, cherry), flowers
Herd: 5 milking cows, 6 oxen, 19 young or nonproductive cows
Special projects: 45-hectare forest, large sawmill for community's needs, bakery, gurukula, mustery (fruit juice) under development, hand looms, seeds, ox training
Comments: "Our aim is to give an example of Krsna conscious life and economic self-sufficiency."
Address: R.D. 1, Box 839, Port Royal, Pennsylvania 17082
Phone: (717) 527-4101
Contact: Bhakta Steve
Deities: Sri Sri Radha-Damodara
Number of devotees and families: 21 devotees on the farm, 20 more nearby
Size: 325 acres
Distance from nearest city: 50 miles from Harrisburg
Accommodations: Property near the farm for sale
Climate: Hot summers, cold winters
Growing season: Late April to early October
Land under cultivation: 150 acres cultivated for animal feed and a 5-acre organic garden
Crops: Corn, oats, and a variety of grasses used for hay and pasture. The garden provides a wide variety of vegetables.
Herd: 2 milk cows, 67 other cows, either dry heifers or retired, 1 bull calf, and 61 oxen
Special projects: A small dried-flower business with some basket-making and arranging
Needs: Manager and means of financial support
Comments: "We are working towards Prabhupada's goal of simple living and high thinking based on cow protection and working the oxen. By Krsna's arrangement we are being forced to move away from mechanized ways of farming and learn to depend more on the oxen. We hope to establish some type of self-sufficiency in the future."
ISKCON of Tirilund
Address: Gl. Kirikevej 3, Tirilund, 6650 Broerup, Denmark
Phone: 75-392921 or 75-393761
Contact: Panca Mukha Dasa
Deities: None installed
Number of devotees and families: 1 couple
Size: 31 hectares (77 acres)
Distance from nearest city: midway between Kolding and Erlijeng, 250 km from Copenhagen
Accommodations: Guest room
Growing season: April-October
Land under cultivation: 25 hectares (62 acres)
Crops: Grains, beans, and vegetables
Needs: Money and manpower
Comments: "Small farm with buildings in good shape but no accommodations yet."
Address: Box 99, Ashcroft, B.C. V0K 1A0, Canada
Phone: (604) 378-2358
Contact: Vaisnava Dasa
Deities: Not installed
Number of devotees and families: 7 families as residents, 30 more as shareholders, a few brahmacaris
Size: 1,700 acres
Distance from nearest city: 20 miles from Ashcroft (pop. 3,000), 65 miles from Kamloops (pop. 63,000)
Accommodations: Lifetime 5-acre shareholder leases transferable to children's lifetime. Grants for free land available to qualified brahmanas.
Growing season: 80-120 days, greenhouses required for long-season crops
Land under cultivation: 5 acres hay, 200 acres pasture, 2 acres organic gardens
Crops: Alfalfa hay, pasture, vegetables, and greens
Herd: 2 milking cows, 4 oxen, 1 retired cow
Special projects: Sawmill, backhoe, community water system, homes being built
Needs: Qualified brahmanas and sannyasis to enliven the devotees and develop Deity worship, book distribution, and preaching. Vaisyas for economic base to provide employment for members and sponsor community projects.
Comments: "Very initial stage. Farm is paid off. Facilities are being developed to aid in self-sufficiency programs and Krsna conscious programs for all, especially householders, to live peacefully and execute sanatana-dharma. Some devotees aim to farm without machines; others incorporate machinery but on a small scale. Many members are financially independent."
Address: P.O. Box 687, Murwillumbah 2484, Australia
Phone: (06) 672-1903 or (06) 672-4448
Contact: Temple president
Deities: Radha-Govardhanadhari, Gaura-Nitai, Krsna-Balarama
Number of devotees and families: 54 devotees
Size: 1,000 acres
Distance from nearest city: 12 km from Murwillumbah, 150 km from Brisbane
Accommodations: Guest house 8 families rent from farm
Growing season: 9 months
Land under cultivation: 100 acres
Crops: Vegetables, flowers, oats, cowpeas, wheat
Herd: 28 milking, 1 bull, 12 working oxen, 40 nonworking
Special projects: Large gurukula.
Needs: Qualified brahmanas.
Comments: "Very strongly aiming at self-sufficiency water, vegetables, grains, milk, butter, honey. We also receive many visitors. Bus tour groups come regularly."
Address: 31492 Anner Rd., Carriere, Mississippi 39426
Phone: (601) 798-8533
Contact: Yogindra Vandana Dasa Adhikari
Deities: Sri Sri Radha-Radhakanta and Gaura-Nitai
Number of devotees and families: 21 families and a few single people
Size: 1,300 acres
Distance from nearest city: 60 miles from New Orleans
Accommodations: Free: small housing for students or austere brahmanas. Lease, rent, or own: trailers and trailer spaces. Own: land for building.
Climate: 55 degrees average winter, 90 degrees average summer; spring and fall are pleasant.
Growing season: March-July, September-January
Land under cultivation: All 1,300 acres are used for timber, pasture, or crops.
Crops: Sugar cane, vegetables, greens, nut and fruit trees or vines
Herd: 10 milkers, 4 bulls, 4 oxen, 10 calves, 125 retired cows and oxen
Special projects: Cow program, Deity program, gurukula, business opportunities
Needs: Good, serious devotees specializing in any varna or asrama who are ready to settle down for some time and offer their love to Their Lordships.
Comments: "We are encouraging any devotee to develop his or her service to the Personality of Godhead, His devotees, and people in general by living in Krsna consciousness. We're hoping a thriving community of Vaisnavas will develop and set an example of mature Krsna consciousness. At present our community is small but growing and desiring association of committed individuals who can support themselves, their families, and other asramas, and who love the association of good, honest, hard-working bhaktas."
Address: Murari Project, Rt. No. 1, Box 146-A, Mulberry, Tennessee 37359
Phone: (615) 759-7331
Contact: Parampara Dasa
Deities: Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai
Number of devotees and families: 4 families, 1 brahmacari
Size: 250 acres
Distance from nearest city: 75 miles from Nashville, Tennessee
Accommodations: 6 two-room cabins available for residents or guests
Climate: Mild, occasional hard winter, 4 distinct seasons
Growing season: March-November
Land under cultivation: 40 acres hay, 2 acres garden
Crops: Hay, vegetables, apples
Herd: 30 retired cows and oxen
Needs: Devotees with their own income who can serve on the farm
Comments: "We are trying to establish varnasrama as Srila Prabhupada envisioned it."
New Ramana Reti
Address: P.O. Box 819, Alachua, Florida 32615
Phone: (904) 462-2017
Contact: Hamsa Rupa Dasa
Number of devotees and families: 10 families on the farm, 50 families in the area
Size: 127 acres, many devotees own land around the farm
Distance from nearest city: 11 miles from Alachua
Accommodations: Brahmacari asrama and guesthouse being built; soon to be 2 rooms for ISKCON Life Members.
Climate: 69¡ average annual temperature, 49 inches of rain yearly, no severe winter, not very hot
Growing season: Year-round with protection
Land under cultivation: 15 acres certified organic, 1-acre garden at temple, householders have their own gardens
Crops: All varieties of vegetables and fruits except tropical
Herd: 1 brahma bull, 5 milking cows, 5 teams of oxen in training (one team is with Padayatra), 4 retired cows, 2 retired oxen
Special projects: Strong ties with Gainesville college preaching and prasadam distribution. Potential for tourists because of nearby interstate highway.
Comments: "We are trying to operate the farm using Planned Unit Development (P.U.D.). We hope to become self-sufficient."
Address: Rt. 6, Box 701, Hillsborough, North Carolina 27278
Phone: (919) 732-8033
Contact: Bir Krishna Dasa Goswami
Deities: Sri Sri Radha-Golokananda
Number of devotees and families:
9 devotees in temple, 40 initiated and congregational devotees in the area
Size: Temple: 16 acres; householder subdivision: 125 acres
Distance from nearest city: 20 miles from Durham, North Carolina
Accommodations: Guest room at temple, land for sale
Growing season: February-November
Land under cultivation: 3 acres
Crops: Vegetables, flowers
Herd: 1 cow, 2 oxen
Special projects: Ox power
Needs: Construction people