Mandakini MatajiI have just spent 3 days in Tokyo (Feb 4-6) visiting my disciple Mandakini mataji who is in a hospital seriously ill with cancer. She has been sick for many months and the doctors are predicting only a short while to live. Mandakini is a wonderful devotee from the Philippines who is married to a very nice Japanese gentleman even though he is not a practicing devotee.
Each day I spend several hours with her. Her RBC (red blood count) rises. We chant together and I read to her. My Gaura Nitai Deities come to see her. I read dozens of letters written by her devotee friends from the Philippines and give her many gifts. Although in such a condition she insists on loud chanting. She struggles for breath but keeps going. She is so appreciative even though she is in such a miserable state. She keeps thanking Krsna and the devotees for their mercy and repeating how fortunate she is. I feel very inspired and grateful to have a disciple like this to render a little service to. Now I have left Tokyo on the way to Vrndavana and the local Japanese devotees assure me they will do all they can to help her back to Godhead. Please pray for her welfare and to have the Krsna conscious strength to endure the tests she faces.
Mandakini in a hospital in Tokyo
Care for CowsFor the cowherd men and the cows, Krsna is the supreme friend. Therefore He is worshiped by the prayer namo brahmanya-devaya go-brahmana-hitaya ca. His pastimes in Gokula, His dhama, are always favorable to the brahmanas and the cows. His first business is to give all comfort to the cows and the brahmanas. In fact, comfort for the brahmanas is secondary, and comfort for the cows is His first concern. (Purport SB 10.8.17)
If one is trained to honor and worship the cows and brahmanas, he is actually civilized. The worship of the Supreme Lord is recommended, and the Lord is very fond of the cows and brahmanas (namo brahmanya-devaya go-brahmana-hitaya ca). In other words, a civilization in which there is no respect for the cows and brahmanas is condemned. One cannot become spiritually advanced without acquiring the brahminical qualifications and giving protection to cows. Cow protection insures sufficient food prepared with milk, which is needed for an advanced civilization. One should not pollute civilization by eating the flesh of cows. A civilization must do something progressive, and then it is an Aryan civilization. Instead of killing the cow to eat flesh, civilized men must prepare various milk products that will enhance the condition of society. If one follows the brahminical culture, he will become competent in Krsna consciousness. (Purport to SB 6.18.53)
Calf at Gopuja
Cow patties ready for distribtuion
Protection of bulls and cows and all other animals can be possible only when there is a state ruled by an executive head like Maharaja Pariksit. Maharaja Pariksit addresses the cow as mother, for he is a cultured, twice-born, ksatriya king. Surabhi is the name of the cows which exist in the spiritual planets and are especially reared by Lord Sri Krsna Himself. As men are made after the form and features of the Supreme Lord, so also the cows are made after the form and features of the surabhi cows in the spiritual kingdom. In the material world the human society gives all protection to the human being, but there is no law to protect the descendants of Surabhi, who can give all protection to men by supplying the miracle food, milk. But Maharaja Pariksit and the Pandavas were fully conscious of the importance of the cow and bull, and they were prepared to punish the cow-killer with all chastisement, including death. There has sometimes been agitation for the protection of the cow, but for want of pious executive heads and suitable laws, the cow and the bull are not given protection. The human society should recognize the importance of the cow and the bull and thus give all protection to these important animals, following in the footsteps of Maharaja Pariksit. For protecting the cows and brahminical culture, the Lord, who is very kind to the cow and the brahmanas (go-brahmana-hitaya), will be pleased with us and will bestow upon us real peace. (Purport to SB 1.17.10-11
The Crying Bison(From a newspaper article in the Hong Kong)
“For one slaughterhouse in Hong Kong the day was quite ordinary until one bison who was destined for slaughter fell to his knees and started to cry. “People may think that animals don’t cry but this animal was crying like a baby,” said Billy Fong to reporters in Hong Kong. Ten slaughter housemen were standing around. They also started to cry. People were so touched that they decided to let the animal live and bought it amongst themselves. They then donated the bison to a local Buddhist Temple to live there in peace for the rest of its life.
The story began when the workers were bringing this animal into the slaughter house. Suddenly the bison fell down on the ground on his front legs. Tears began flowing from its eyes.
"When I saw the animal, how it was crying with sadness and fear in its eyes I started to shake.” Told the butcher. "I called others to come and they also became astonished like me. We started to pull and push the animal, but he didn’t want to move. He just sat on the ground crying. My skin was erect because the animal reacted like a human being. We looked at each other and we knew that none of us would be willing to kill it. What should we do? We could not move it till we promised not to kill it. Then he stood up and came with us".
Finally after some consultation they decided to collect some money and buy it. "Believe it or not this is the truth. It seemed that this animal understood every word we spoke" said Mr. Tat Nin. For some of the workers in the slaughter house this incident was too much. Mr Fong said three workers immediately gave up their jobs saying they will never kill animals again. "We will always remember this bison and the tears pouring from its big sad eyes".
Treat Other Living Entities As You Would Treat YourselfIn the summer of 2010 whilst visiting Brighton in the UK I had the privilege to take a trip into the country to meet Wenda – an extraordinary personality with the spirit of a lion (she was a bit of an activist when she was younger) and the heart of a lamb. Full of life she and Matt took us on a tour of their most amazing animal (specifically cow and bull) sanctuary. Let her tell the story for herself.
Love Thy Father And Mother(Wenda Shehata age 52. Matthew Sparey 48)
We protect 42 cows, in two self-structured herds, including a cow with no eyes and a hole in her heart (Radhe Priya) blind cow, (Naina) and handicapped cows, Syamala and Balarama. I have run the sanctuary since its inception in 1994 (17 years almost).
The cows’ ages range from two years to 29 years. All of whom were destined for slaughter (or to be shot by the fox hunt to be thrown to hounds), other than three who were born here and have known only kindness and respect.
Our philosophy is that by protecting cows we please the Lord and if Krsna is happy then our seva is not worthless. We also believe that we have a duty to protect and respect all creation because all creation is Krsna.
Everyone welcome down on the farm
Don't you come in or else
The goshalla is the heart of the farm which is based on the principle of AHIMSA – no harm in thought or deed to any living being; this includes the environment, the land and trees, wildlife and the residents both bovine and other who find their way to us. The dynamic of this principle is reflected in the way that all creatures here live in harmony with each other and through the relationship that the wild animals and birds forge with us, of their own volition. We offer each cow or ox who comes here a lifetime of care, be it that they have years ahead of them or just a few days. When the time comes for them to leave their bodies, we nurse them round-the-clock, chanting and giving medication. As the end approaches, we offer Tulasi leaf on their tongue, Tulasi mala around their neck and we apply tilak to their head. The body is bathed in Ganga water and covered with Harinam Chadar. Just as we work to serve them in life we serve them as they leave, making their transition peaceful and pain-free. We call it the Ultimate Seva because at the end of their physical lives they require so much more care. Life at the sanctuary is most simple with solar power and occasional wind power; grey water recycling; composting toilets, with virtually a zero Carbon Footprint. Land management, forestry, building, growing vegetables herbs and fruits, the gober product business and caring for the cows and other animals is carried out by the two of us with no outside help.
Every cow here has a tale to tell. Makhan Chor a Holstein bullock was brought here at a few weeks old, to leave his body but he survived, against all odds, having calcified lungs from untreated pneumonia. I slept with him in the barn for the best part of six months giving him homoeopathic remedies every few hours day and night. Today he is tall and strong and very mischievous. He has an eye for the ladies who visit him from time to time. They cluster round him with gifts of his favourite foods; juicy pears, bananas and organic dried cranberries and vie to be chosen to groom him. He is the Clarke Gable of oxen. Hari, is the dear ox, who was left for about 15 hours at birth, trying desperately to suckle from his mothers’ dead body. As a result he withdrew inside himself and could not be handled. The Visitor Centre where he was born was to kill him but he came to us. For almost a year we worked around him just allowing him to be, talking to him gently, until one day he licked my hand when I was mucking out in his barn. From then on he slowly became more approachable and although he cares little for visitors or strangers he is much more at peace with life.
In the middle of the herd
Nice to meet you big boy
Suki the oldest in the herd
Sweet Radha Priya - She has no eyes
Vrindavan Isvari, who as a three day old calf, witnessed her mother being shot having been declared dangerous for trying to stop her calf being taken from her. She was left completely traumatised and as a result proved too difficult to be handled. When we found her, standing staring at a wall, not eating or drinking, she was going to be shot by the fox hunt and thrown to the hounds but the farmer who owned her preferred to save himself the £20 it would have cost him to have her murdered and gave her to us instead. It took almost five years for her to get over her troubled start in life but these days she is gentle and docile and very affectionate. Syamala, the handicapped cow had lived at the farm of her birth for five years when the Government vets discovered her on a routine visit and declared that she should be euthanized on the grounds that she had no quality of life as she has a retracted front leg which she uses as a pendulum to propel herself along. An Englishman and a Hindu lady had maintained her since birth, at the farm, having nowhere of their own to keep her. Desperate for help they contacted Bhaktivedanta Manor who explained that they are not a cow sanctuary but a dairy and gave them our details. It took six months of battling with the authorities and calling on the help of an exceptionally knowledgeable vet, for the Government veterinarians to agree to her being moved here with her handicapped friend Balarama, (whom they wanted to send for slaughter as he was born with no tail and fused hips and is partially sighted and deaf). Even then the authorities didn’t give up and insisted that they had a representative present to watch Syamala being moved into the trailer to transport her. They said if she stumbled or required help they would euthanize her on the spot. Through Krsna’s mercy there was a change of plan and we had to move her on a Sunday when it wasn’t possible to contact anyone in that department and as a consequence both Syamala and Balarama were able to load at their own pace, in their own way and be brought home without incident. Burfi the Bull was for most of his adult life the breeding bull at the prestigious Harrow School Farm near London. The local Jain and Hindu community got to know him and when it was decided that he was unable to breed any longer and had to go to slaughter they tried to find a sanctuary to take him. No one wanted him as bulls are not as appealing as a lamb is to the public and far too expensive to feed. They also discovered that all sanctuaries in the UK will euthanize sick and old animals who require too much care or when the cost of care eats into the budget.
We were approached by the local Jain Community who asked if they could raise enough Lakshmi to equal the slaughter value of him, whether we would be willing to care for him for life and after much consideration we agreed to start a second herd because Burfi could not be introduced into the existing herd who had over the years created their own herd structure. Burfi being an entire male would upset the balance and it would be unfair to all concerned. He has been with us for three years now and has amassed six cows as companions.
All the cows here have their own personalities and character – they have the freedom to be themselves. Sometimes, as in the case of the baby of Burfi’s herd, little Padma Mukhi, they develop traits that we would rather they didn’t. Padma Mukhi is an adept pickpocket and she can lift wallets and cash out of the back pocket of a pair of pants without being noticed. She also has the knack of looking suitably ashamed when we apologise to the victim on her behalf and immeasurably delighted when, having tugged at their heart strings, she secures a donation for the cows. She is like a bovine Oliver!
The Blind and the Lame
The best of friends fly the dog who protects the herd and his feline friend who loves the cows
It seems I was born with an affinity with cows, becoming vegetarian at 3 years old when I realised that my parents were feeding me flesh and eggs and at 30, became vegan, unable to reconcile the suffering endured in commercial dairies organic or otherwise. I was raised in the Middle East, France and UK. Father a diplomat. I was born into a family of game hunters and flesh eaters, with whom I had no affinity and yet my parents taught me so much about Nature.
At seven, I stole some calves who I heard my uncle say were going to market to be sold. I ran away with them to a copse behind the farm and with a bucket of milk and little else kept them with me overnight while the whole village looked for us. By morning they were hungry and calling for milk and it was this that gave us away – my punishment was to be made to watch them being loaded to go away. That day I vowed, albeit I was not Krsna Conscious, that one day I would have a cow sanctuary where no cows were separated from their calves and no one would be killed. That dream never left me and my whole life was geared around getting into a position where that was possible.
I married very young and went to University to study Egyptology and Middle East Archaeology as a mature student as my son grew up. I held the position of Financial Director of a number of IT companies until in my 30’s, the dream became a reality and I took the first four calves destined for sale to be raised for beef, since then the numbers have grown. In 1999 I sold my home to buy Hugletts Wood, where we all live now and we came here with two sets of clothes, five books each, a plate a cup and a set of cutlery and three cooking pans, having consciously decided to start a new life away from the material world.
The Gausadan gives refuge to not only cows but the odd sheep or pig who comes our way en route to the slaughterhouse. Ex battery hens and table birds – ducks and geese also find sanctuary here. Eggs have never been a problem. The crows and magpies feast on them and the odd one or two we find laying around on the grass, we walk down to the woodland and the forest rats dine on them. Usually the birds who come here are in such a dreadful state when they arrive that they don’t ever lay eggs. We had a sheep named Shawn a few years back who was raised with the cows and he really believed he was one of them. He lived not with his sheep family but with the cows, doing everything they did. Ironically, it was one of the younger oxen who inadvertently pushed him at the hay feeder one day and Shawn went over on his back. The shock caused him to leave his body.
We have always felt that unless we can demonstrate that it is possible to provide for the cows in the main, through our own endeavours (and theirs) that protecting cows for any other reason than producing milk or draught would not be taken seriously and to this end we have over the years established a small business making gobar cakes for yajnya and a range of gobar products appreciated by Hindus and devotees alike; gobar soap; dhoop and garden products. Through this we can cover the basic costs of maintaining the cows. Donations help us to expand the project and provide better facilities for the cows. We encourage sponsorship of the cows because it brings people closer to the reality of Cow Protection and gives them some hands-on seva when they visit the sponsored cow.
Not believing in providing for our maintenance from donations to the cows we provide for ourselves separately, growing vegetables and herbs and fruits and by making a range of traditional woodland products such as artists charcoal, chestnut hurdles and gates; bean poles, pea sticks, faggots, logs. We offer training to those interested in Cow Protection, Self Sufficiency or forestry and the fees from these courses help feed the cows through winter when we have to buy in locally produced fodder and straw.
Together with Radha Priya
What a tongue
We don’t know what the future holds and we are always at the mercy of the Authorities especially at times when there is an outbreak of disease where they slaughter wholesale at a National level. Krsna’s cows merit no special consideration in Kali Yuga but if it is Krsna’s will, we will try to fund the purchase of more land adjacent to the 38 acre holding and the 18 acres of woodland in order to not only accommodate more cows and expand the gobar business but to create a Retreat for both devotees and non devotees alike, where they can take a range of treatments as well as detox on Krsna Consciousness and go-seva and which will generate funds to subsidize a teaching program for those who want to learn how to best care for cows from birth to the end of their physical lives, work oxen through voice command without recourse to the use of nose rings or to make gobar products.
We have reached the stage where, without being egotistical, we have amassed knowledge of cow care, especially of older cows and oxen, that even our veterinarians say they no longer have because they don’t get the opportunity to treat older cows. We want to put this knowledge to good use. I have been asked so often over the years to write books about relevant care and to this end “Homoeopathy for the Older Cow” will be published in May 2011 – an easy to use reference in booklet form covering the most useful remedies for the older cow and ox.
The new website which seems to have taken for ever will be up and running again soon www.huglettswoodfarm.net FB Hugletts Wood Farm Animal Sanctuary.
A different farm in Czech Republic - is this Indra and Family enjoying
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