Hare Krsna Devi Dasi

Hare Krsna Devi Dasi

ACCORDING TO the East Asian calendar, 1997 is the Year of the Ox. And as one devotee has put it, "Ox power is fifty percent of cow protection, because bulls are fifty percent of the herd."

Our friends the vegans may hope to escape the sin of animal slaughter by avoiding commercial milk products. But eating tractor-produced grains implicates all of us in the slaughter of bulls, because tractors deny bulls their God-given work of tilling the field. Hardly one bull calf can be saved from the slaughterhouse even by a thousand vegans. If there is no use for the bull calf, the farmer must kill him.

The real way to save the bull is to engage him in productive work. When you work with a trained ox, you see how he enjoys working. The ox has big muscles, and like an athlete he gets pleasure from using them. The ox likes working as an intimate partner to a human being who shows gratitude for the ox's power and loyalty. And the ox can help us toward a simple life conducive to spiritual advancement.

In this Year of the Ox, let's think about the advantages of letting Father Bull do his part in building a peaceful, Krsna conscious society.

Hare Krsna Devi Dasi, an ISKCON devotee since 1978, is co-editor of the newsletter Hare Krsna Rural Life.

Tractor Ox Power vs. Tractor Power Ox
• 1 tractor with a 5-bottom plow: 20 acres a day.
• 1 super tractor with a 12-bottom plow: 80 acres a day.
• 1 team of 2 oxen pulling a single-bottom plow: 1 acre a day. 
• 3 ox teams pulling a double-bottom plow: 3 to 4 acres a day.
Gasoline Grains, legume, grasses
Pollutants, gas fumes, large hunks of junked equipment • While alive: manure, convertible into clean-burning biogas and top-quality organic fertilizer.
• After natural death: leather and horn for crafts.
• 1 tractor: $20,000 to $250,000.
• Equipment: thousands more.
• A team of 2 oxen: $200 (2 100-pound bull calves bought at "meat value," $1 a pound).
• Equipment: a few hundred dollars (less if homemade).
Expensive mechanical repairs. In third-world countries, parts sometimes impossible to obtain. Health care by the local farmer and vet. Tool-fixing by any blacksmith or handyman.
Capital-intensive, market-oriented. Grain farmer needs at least 400 acres to survive. Labor-intensive, subsistence-oriented. Farmer can feed his family well with 5 good acres.
One man can farm many acres, putting dozens of men out of work. One man can farm only a few acres. Nearly everyone in the village gets involved in growing food.
Well-being and comfort for a few, at the expense of many. Cash moves toward the corporation. The farmer lives in modest comfort, not much better or worse off than his neighbors. Cash stays in the community.
Born of a factory, spawned by mines, refineries, and oil wells, fed on petrol. Batters the soil. No factory needed, just mother cow. Fed by the earth. Treads benignly on the soil.
Makes grain hi-tech and costly. Pushes the poor into dependence on local charity and international handouts. Empowers the poor to grow their own food, securing their long-term welfare.
Makes oxen useless for plowing, dooming bull calves to slaughter. Drives farmers off their land and into joblessness, bringing land under the grip of a few. Works peacefully, in natural partnership with man.
Chains a man to a roaring, dangerous, bone-jarring machine. Drags farming into the world of commodities speculation and land grabbing. Drives farmers out of the fields and onto the streets of the city. Ruins spiritual development. Works with the farmer at quiet, wholesome labor. Upholds a life of dependence on God and thankfulness for the bounty of the land. Pulls toward a simple, honest life in a natural setting for spiritual advancement.
Ruins the soil. Destroys the social structure. Finished as soon as cheap petroleum runs out. Can't sustain itself where agribusiness is the norm and land prices are driven up by speculation. You can't farm with oxen on land that costs $6,000 an acre. But under spiritually enlightened leaders who protect the land and accept taxes in the form of grains and produce, ox-power farming can sustain itself, on and on and on.