Cow Protection

Cow Protection

“Holy Cow!” We’ve all heard that expletive enough times, but what on earth is holy about a cow? To find that out, we need to go to India.

In the Indian villager’s agrarian lifestyle, conserving natural resources is an integral part of daily existence. He uses nature’s gifts directly to manufacture all his necessities, from his mud hut dwelling to his home-spun clothes. But the most important feature of village conservation is protecting cows. Each homestead keeps at least one cow, and the animal is considered the most useful of all domestic beasts. In fact both cow and bull are seen as indispensable in rural India, in other words to 90% of the country’s population. Eating only grass, which costs nothing to produce, the cow in turn produces milk that provides nearly all the nutrients we need. One cow produces more milk than a whole family can drink in one day. What is not drunk is turned into yoghurt, cheese, butter and ghee (butterfat) – the latter being the basis for so many exquisite Indian sweetmeats and savouries.

Because cows supply milk, in Indian culture they are accepted as our mother, and therefore worthy of reverence. How many babies are raised on cows ‘milk?

In India it is well known that even the stool of the cow has antiseptic properties. Furthermore, in any Indian village you will see cow pats drying in the sun, ready to be used as fuel for cooking. Cow urine is prescribed in Ayurveda as a medicine, and when the cow finally dies she gives her skin for shoes and bags, and her horns for other implements.

The majestic bull can be seen in Indian fields, pulling the plough. Slower than tractors, but he does not compact the soil and reduce its productivity like other mechanical methods. Nor does such ploughing kill so many earth dwelling creatures. And of course, the more we use machinery in the place of working animals like the ox, then the more we become encumbered with the need for so many subsidiary industries to make and maintain those machines.

The bull is still used throughout rural India, and he is therefore seen as a father, working hard to produce man’s food. And as a father he too is considered worthy of reverence.

There is a symbiotic relationship between men and cows. If we take good care of them, ensuring they are sheltered, fed and protected, they happily produce more than enough milk for their calves, and we can take the excess without harming them in any way.

Principles

Principles
Hare Krishna devotees often say that religion without philosophy is sentimental and philosophy without religion is dry speculation. Religion expresses itself through culture: different codes of behavior that help us to become aware that we are not this temporary material body but an eternal spirit soul, servant of God.

Although our state of mind is seen through the nature of our activities (how we dress, eat, talk etc.), the type of activites we perform also affects our state of mind. This means we can elevate our consciousness by elevating the nature of our activities. All spiritual activities help us to purify our consciousness and direct it towards God.

Because of this, a vaishnava (devotee of Krishna) does not take the regulations of spiritual life as restrictions, but rather as ‘regulative principles of freedom’ – a tool for advancing personal character development & spiritual consciousness.

The four basic principles are as follows:

1. Cleanliness: Of body, mind and soul.
This means the daily washing of the body, but also refraining from illicit sex (only sex for procreation within marriage). Celibacy, recitation of God´s (Krishna´s) holy names and studying the holy Scriptures help us to keep the mind and soul clean and balanced.

2. Mercy: To help living entities (materially as well as spiritually).
True followers of the Vedic (or any other) Scriptures are strictly vegetarians. It is perfectly possible to live healthily and happily without needlessly killing innocent animals. To kill our fellow living entities instead of protecting them, is against the laws of God.

3. Austerity: To take only what we really need, without greed or violence.
Intoxications like alcohol, hard and soft drugs, tobacco, caffeine etc. make someones mercy and friendliness disappear. Addictions are not only unnecessary, but also very harmful (to body, mind and to others). The best alternative for addictions is an awakening of our eternal relationship with God (Krishna) by living in accordance with His laws.

4. Truthfulness: Means that we should not lie or gamble.
Gambling destroys truthfulness because it is an attempt to bypass the laws of nature and obtain material profit without honestly working for them.
An honest deed is the best gamble in the world and a sure winner.
There are many rules and regulations to follow in human life which help us to be healthy, happy and successful. The most important of all is:
Always remember Krishna (God) and never forget Him.

Yoga

Yoga

Yoga means to link oneself with God (Krishna) by concentrating the mind on Him and controlling the ever-disturbing senses. By the practice of yoga one gradually becomes free from materialistic attachments. This is the primary characteristic of the yoga process. When one is free of materialistic attachments one loses interest in the body and becomes interested in spiritual perfection.

By the perfect practice of yoga one becomes completely happy in this life and, after death, one reaches the state of eternal happiness called liberation. In the perfect stage of yoga one is liberated from the cycle of material suffering (see Karma and Reincarnation) and goes to the spiritual world to serve God in perfect purity.

Yoga includes different practices depending on ones level of spiritual advancement, and can be compared to a ladder for attaining the topmost spiritual realisation. The complete ladder is called yoga and may be divided into 3 main parts. 1) Karma, 2) Jnana, and 3) Bhakti.

1) Karma-yoga When a person knows the goal of life is Krishna (God), but is attached to working to get material comforts, then he is acting in karma-yoga.

2) Jnana-yoga When he knows the goal is Krishna, but takes pleasure in mental speculation, he is acting in jnana-yoga.

3) Bhakti-yoga When he knows the goal is Krishna and is not attached to any material thing, either gross or subtle, but simply desires to work for the pleasure of Krishna, then he is acting in bhakti-yoga. This is the highest perfection of the yoga system.

To make yoga practice really successful it requires self restraint (see Principles). The yoga process that the devotees of Krishna practice and endeavour to perfect is in the line of bhakti-yoga.

In the Bhagavad-gita Lord Krishna describes the process of yoga in Krishna consciousness:

“Always chanting my glories, endeavouring with great determination, bowing down before Me, these great souls perpetually worship Me with devotion.” (Bhagavad-gita 9.14)

Here it is said that in the practice of bhakti-yoga (Krishna consciousness) one should chant the glories of God.

Karma

Karma
“Karma” means “activity”, and the law of karma is the law that regulates the reactions to our activities. The law of karma is the natural law of action and reaction. In physics this is expressed by Newton’s law, “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”. Or, in Christian theology, “As ye sow so ye shall ye reap”.
From a practical point of view this means that good actions give good results and bad or destructive actions give bad or less fortunate results.

It should be noted here that all souls are essentially good. This means that just because someone gets a bad reaction it does not mean that they are a bad person. Another important point is that karma is temporary. This means that although we may be experiencing a particular set of circumstances right now those circumstances will change in the future. This could happen in this life or even future lives. Not only is karma temporary it is also possible to change one’s karma, or even get rid of it altogether by acting spiritually in the service of God.

Good reactions include things like wealth, beauty, intelligence and happiness. Bad reactions include things like poverty and disease. In order to fully understand how karma works the concept of reincarnation must also be looked into. See the page on Reincarnation for more information.

Karma (good or bad) creates a continuous cycle by which one is entangled in repeated actions and subsequent reactions. As long as one is in this cycle one will naturally experience both happiness and distress. The philosophy of the devotees of Krishna teaches how to break this cycle and achieve a state of eternal happiness known as liberation in a pure relationship with Krishna (God).

From the spiritual point of view, that of eternity, it doesn’t really matter if one has “good” or “bad” karma. This is because past material karma does not impede one from making spiritual advancement.