Seva becomes Sadhana

In this introspective essay veterinarian GAURISH PADUKONE describes how the loving Guidance of the Gurushakti has helped him discover that when  work is done in the spirit of worship

Photo credit - Anushravas Archive                                                                                            March 2019   

Since  August 1992, I  have been doing joyful seva for the welfare and care of  cattle at the goshala-s   of  Shri Chitrapur Math. In whatever manner possible, to the best of my capacity and professional experience, I  help the staff  at  the Math and  supervisors  of  the goshala-s,  to  look after  the buffaloes, bulls,  bullocks,  cows,  and  calves.

When I began visiting the  goshala  at the Math regularly, it  had  a variety of cattle  which included   buffaloes  of  Dharwadi / Pandharpuri  breeds  and  a  few cross- bred cows  and bulls. Like a typical goshala , the  animals  were  fed  with  all  leftovers   from the bhojanshala  with a mixture of cattle feed. Productivity was not a major issue, nor was the reproductive  performance.    My  focus  then,  was  to provide practical suggestions  to  correct   the  husbandry  of  animals —  care of animals, computing a  balanced  dairy ration  and  adopting correct breeding practices  to  maintain a   fair reproduction rate. Whenever the need arose, I  treated sick animals. and this continues to date.

From April 1997,  the seva that I was rendering at the goshala transformed into  something  different. By then, the goshala had become a feature of my daily  routine. I  was  already  having a dairy farm of my own at home so it was not always easy for me to adjust to this new  responsibility. But I ‘made’  time to visit the goshala and  check on the health of the cows. I started enjoying these visits even more when the discussions  regarding improving the herd’s reproductive health status became  very interactive. People at the administrative levels could understand  my inputs related to the goshala, but the hands-on staff would sometimes make mistakes while implementing the prescribed  treatments for the sick animals. I do not know how or exactly when everything changed for the better, for after 2001, I  somehow felt ‘empowered’ with a sense of belonging  to  offer this seva at the goshala !

In my profession I  have  to deal with many  illiterate  and  ignorant  animal owners, to  whom I  have to  explain the  disease, prognosis, and  treatment  to be followed. This  requires  quite  a lot  of  patience, which  I  know I have developed due to Pujya Swamiji’s influence. Unconsciously, I have been able to shed some of my unwelcome personal traits.  Controlling anger is  the first lesson I have learnt. Instead  of complaining about the inefficiency of fellow workers, I have  learnt  to   explore  various  possibilities  of tackling  problems  positively.Serving at the goshala  has made me  understand  the  higher purpose of my work. The final result of my  diagnosis / treatment is only an incidental, temporary   phenomenon. What  is more permanent is the  lesson that I  have learnt, to accept both success and failure with equal magnanimity. My views on life and dharma have also changed for the better.

As  a  veterinarian, I am on call for any medical emergency and consultations at all times. I cannot have a fixed time-table every day. I need to keep my routine flexible and adjustable. Therefore,   there are no fixed  timings  for  my meditation/japa/worship.  Instead, I offer every action as an  offering to God. My work is  not separate  from  worship for me.

For  me  every  animal  is  divine. Animals are a vital part of creation. As  a  young  vet, treatment  of different  breeds of buffaloes  in  dairy  farms in and around Mumbai kept me busy. There were  very  few  cows among the animals I treated and because these  animals  were part of commerce  or  the dairy  business, I treated them  as patients, period. No bonding was possible with them. Only upon  leaving  Mumbai  and  settling down  at Kodsul, did  cows  become  a  major species on  my  patient list.

Apart  from treating various  animals  as a profession, I  started  advising  farmers  on dairy farming. In spite of a  language  handicap, encouraging young dairy entrepreneurs in  Bhatkal  became  a passionate hobby. My  idea about  ideal dairy farms  had  to be modified  to suit  local factors. I had  to  first understand  the actual  need of the owner to maintain the animal,  suggest simple ways to improve  poor  housing  infrastructure in which the farmer kept his cows and buffaloes  and energize  the poor quality of cattle feed that was  fed to the animals.





Locally bred Malnad Gidda cows  and cross- bred  cows  became a  majority of  my patients. Whether  they are cross-breds  or  indigenous breeds,  cows  are  cows.... my heart  melts  just by  looking at them and  touching them. Treating  sick  cows takes me  to a different level all  together. The very  look  in  her  eyes is enough to tell me  that a cow  is  in  distress .  Thanks  to  a  ‘ Blessing’ from our Parama Guru Parijnanshrama Swamiji III , I am  able  to immediately single out  a  sick  cow from a  group.

Observing our beloved Mathadhipati -Parama Pujya Sadyojat Shanakarashram Swamiji’s  interest and concern about minute details of the functioning of every department in the Math,   gives  me  the   inspiration  to  put  in  that bit of ‘extra’ in  my seva. It  is so  reassuring when Pujya Swamiji ensures that any worthy suggestion  to  improve the care of the animals or the  day- to- day functioning of the goshala, is implemented immediately.

Visits  to the goshala with Pujya Swamiji to feed bananas/ fruits  to the cow may not be part of a daily  routine. But  it  is  a  treat  to  watch  and  hear  the  cows  mooing loudly at  the  sound  of  Swamiji’s khadava-s  approaching the goshala after  Jalabhisheka at the Math. How the cows  know  that   Swamiji  has  taken a turn  towards  the  goshala to  feed and  fondle  them, is something  that  I  simply cannot  explain. His  extremely  sharp  observations about certain  aspects in the  handling  of  animals  never cease to astonish  me.

Strong and repeated evidence indicates that the maintenance of an institution involved in regular spiritual practice has beneficial effects in nearly every aspect of social concern and policy.  I  believe  that having a  goshala  at the Math  reinforces  the laity’s  belief  in  certain  timeless values  that  our ancient scriptures endorse.Having  a  goshala at a Math which   provides many essential items  to its  residents and visitors, is  a soulful experience.  The Chitrapur Saraswat samaj  is  blessed  to  have  both at  its  main hub  at  Chitrapur,  Shirali  and at  Karla spacious, comfortable and  scientifically  built  goshala-s  to  house cows , bulls  and   calves. The biggest blessing for the goshala-s is the Presence and Love of Pujya  Swamiji.

My  job as  a  rural  vet  involves, to a  great extent, treating  patients  who  have  been  wrongly  treated   by the  local  quacks,  as well  as  the government appointed  para- veterinary staff and  doctors. Earlier, as  a  qualified and experienced vet ,  my ‘ego’ would naturally play  its part when called to  treat  such animals. Guru-aadesha  now reminds  me  that the knowledge  and  experience that I have  gained  is  all  because  of  His  krupaprasad  and I   should use  it for the  good of  the animal  - without bothering about the applause or accolades.

Frequently, when  I  have  been called to treat  a animal   I  have come across  situations  and  cases when these   question stare at me – Is it possible ?  Will I be able to solve this  case ? Whenever  I  have found myself facing such professionally challenging, tough situations, I  just  leave them at my  Guru’s feet.   I  tell  Him,  You have put me in this situation... so You are going to help me give  the  best treatment possible  and guide me  in the  surgery.  Invariably, when I  decide to treat difficult cases with this bent of  mind..  the patient makes  an uneventful recovery.

I  have  started  understanding the value of introspection and  I realize  it is  a great instrument for  self-improvement. Introspection has helped me correct my thinking and made  me realize the positive side of life. The calmness I feel  in  the  midst   of very  challenging  situations is because  of  the  suraksha kavach  provided  by  Pujya Swamiji. So how does one express gratitude to a Master who  makes  my entire life meaningful, who gives direction and purpose to all my activities ? I truly  cannot  imagine what  my life would have been without His Compassion and  Guidance.

As I become more and more sensitive to  life  and the various things it has to offer , I start seeing my Guru’s Grace behind  everything. This devotion is the shield that protects me and my family . My  connect with  the  Gurushakti is becoming  so strong,  that  no  matter how big  the obstacle,  I feel   assured  of  His  Support  whenever  I need  it....and   I   need  it all the time...

Jai Shankar!