In India, since the ancient times, cows have always been
revered. Worshipped by our Rishis, the cow symbolizes "Dharma
" itself! The life of Lord Krishna shows how important it
is to love, serve and protect cows. Precisely why, Krishna
is known as Gopala - Protector of the cows - or Govinda
-one who gives joy to the cows!
Kamadhenu, the sacred cow which grants all wishes and desires,
is an integral part of our Puranas. This divine cow emerged
from the ksheersagar – the ocean of milk -
at the time of ‘samudramanthan’ -the
great churning of the ocean by the gods and the asuras.
It was presented to the seven sages by the Gods, and in
course of time came into the possession of Sage Vasishta.
Kamadhenu's complexion is like the white clouds. Her four
legs symbolize the four Vedas, and her teats-the four Purusharthas.
Her horns represent the Gods, her face denote the sun and
the moon, her shoulders Agni and her body the Himalayas!
Kamadhenu is also well known through five other forms: Nanda,
Sunanda, Surabhi, Susheela and Sumana.
Agriculture being the main occupation in rural India, cows
and bulls play a major role in the lives of Indians.
Even a single cow in the household brings with her many
gifts! Apart from milk, go-mootra and cow-dung are
used in many a household. Go-mootra is known for its medicinal
properties. Every morning, the flooring of houses and the
kitchen area are cleaned with cow-dung paste. Many villages
in India follow this practice even today. The natural properties
of cow dung are believed make it an insect repellent and
anti bacterial substance. Significantly, cattle are worshipped
and protection of cows- “Go-Raksha ” has, at
all times, been a part of our culture.
Since the very beginning, Shri Chitrapur Math has always
had a place, a “ Goshala ” for these gentle
beings. Our Param Poojya Swamiji, Love Incarnate, makes
it a point to visit the Goshala every day when in Shirali,
and the cows call out with sheer joy!
It is a matter of immense pride to us that today our Math
has a modern Goshala, with cattle residing in great comfort.
Apart from the Goshala within the precincts of the Math,
in the Kembrey farm live an assortment of bulls that help
in agricultural operations and cows that have aged gracefully!
Taking care of the entire herd, a very dedicated veterinarian,
Dr Gourish Padukone, is a call away should any of these
gentle creatures need his help. He treats them regularly
and considers it as his ‘seva ’.
The Goshala at the Math has about seventy-five cattle. Along
with the local breed of cattle, are a few special ones –
the Gir and the Kankrej. During the severe drought period
that hit the Gir region a few years back, these cows were
given shelter by our Math and hence joined the local ones
in the goshala. It is interesting to note that the Gir cows
are amongst the hardiest of high-yielding cows in the world
and originate from the Gir hills and forests of Kathiawar.
They are famous for their tolerance to stress conditions
and resistance to various tropical diseases. Bullocks of
this breed are used to drag heavy loads on all kinds of
soil. The Kankrej cattle are highly prized as powerful and
good producers of milk and get its name from a territory
in North Gujarat and are believed to originate from the
southeast of the desert of Kutch, particularly along the
banks of the rivers Banas and Saraswati, which drain into
the desert of Kutch.
And thus from the banks of Saraswati and the Gir forests
added to the good old local variety, our goshala in the
precincts of the Shri Chitrapur Math, with cows, bulls and
calves is a sheer delight! The large milk and ghee requirement
of the Math are fulfilled by the goshala- making it almost
self sufficient. The Gobar Gas plant commissioned recently,
produces fuel to meet a good part of the kitchen requirement!
Isn’t this a matter of great pride?
Ram, the handsome white bull, walked his way into
the hearts of millions of devotees recently when he pulled
tirelessly the Rath (the cart) carrying the Holy Padukas
and Pratima of Param Poojya Parijnanashram Swamiji III and
the kalash with waters from all the sacred rivers of India
during the Guru-Jyoti Padyatra from Gokarn to Shirali!
Ram has been recently inducted into the Goshala for his