JAYA SRI-SRI GURU-GAURANGA!
Jaya Om Vishnupad Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda
ISSUE 1 -- June 2000
GO SEVA NEWSLETTER
By Haryyananda Das Adhikari
His Divine Grace Sri Acharyya-dev Srila Govinda Maharaj requested my lowly self to "give some nourishment to the cows" in 1996. During my visit to the Holy Dham that year I realized that all of my previous experience with cows may not help me much with this seva.
Srila Gurudev noticed one morning that I had just come in from morning go-seva, my mind trying to adjust to this service. I was about to report that the cows need to be supplied minerals. Knowing that my cow experiences in Hawaii were very different than what is happening in our Math's goshala, He commented, "Indian cows are living like Indians; western cows are living like Westerners," giving the "proper adjustment" for the situation. I asked His Divine Grace about His written request for me to give some nourishment to the cows; if that meant here in Nabadwip or from the West. He told, "both . . . ." The context was obviously more about affectionate seva than nutrition, though I couldn't ignore the mineral deficiency.
Many things could be done to improve the quality of their lives but mostly it will require a group devotional effort on several accounts. Money is but one factor. The food for our cows in Sri Nabadwip Dham alone costs about $150 US per week. This does not include medicine, supplementary minerals or any improvements.
This idea of beginning an on-line Go-Seva Newsletter, which could also be faxed and sent around to main centers, came to mind. Though unqualified, I received this service by the mercy of Srila Govinda Maharaj, so I must try. When in the end of 1998, I proposed to Srila Gurudev this idea of a Go Seva Newsletter, His first concern was for the health of the devotees. Mosquitoes can carry disease and they are quite numerous around the goshala, besides the annoyance. And of course Srila Govinda Maharaj always wants the "world devotees" to come to the Holy Dham and go home with as "positive and progressive" an experience as possible. So, their performance of one of the most austere, difficult and actually dangerous sevas at the Math is of concern to our beloved Guardian, similar to how Srila Guru Maharaj was concerned for Srila Govinda Maharaj's welfare.
Srila Govinda Maharaj has many times spoken about his pastimes with the cows at Sri Chaitanya Saraswata Math. Recently in an e-mail His Divine Grace mentioned; "Since my first days in the Math I have been involved with the cow seva and sometimes Srila Guru Maharaj would be worried because I would work so closely with the cows and bulls, without any fear." Actually it is a very rare and blessed devotee who has the infinitely fortunate destiny to personally serve the cows and bulls at Sri Chaitanya Saraswata Math with their own hands. Our own Srila Gurudev is of course (again) the perfect example. In '96 near Gaura-purnima time, in His room, with a few devotees present, Srila Govinda Maharaj said in a jovial mood: ". . . if a devotee wants to get Krsna's mercy actually he must serve the cow (pause) that is why I am still here, and in this position . . ." We all felt so blessed and joyful, bathed in His beautiful mood of pure blissful dedication.
Also many other Mahajans and great sadhus have spoken about the glories of serving cows. In Mahabharata Lord Shiva addressed an assembly saying many glorious things about cows. An excerpt: ". . . That man who every day gives food to cows, advances every day in religious merit . . . I always sport with cows. Hence cows should be worshipped by all. Cows are possessed of great power. They are givers of boons. That person who gives food to cows even for a single day receives from those beneficial creatures for that act a fourth part of the merits he may win by all the good acts of his life."
Knowing that a newsletter dedicated to the service of our Math's cows would remind us all of the exalted and glorious nature of serving cows and bulls, Srila Govinda Maharaj expressed that His other major concern was that He did not want devotees to leave their present seva to serve the cow. Thinking of serving Sri Govinda Sundar's cows may bring out a sentiment in some devotees so sweet that they may think they want that more than the seva they are presently doing. Srila Gurudev clearly said that if the devotees desire to add auspiciousness to their present practice by offering some seva to the cows, this will be good.
My thinking is that there may be hundreds of disciples out there who, like me, wish to perform some responsible seva every day, like so many devotees whom we look up to with great admiration. Sometimes limited money may delay or prevent our service donations, months pass by, but we could have afforded to give, say, 10 rupees (25 cents) every day to the Service of the cows...that would be $7.75 a month. Most could afford that. If one hundred of Srila Govinda Maharaj's disciples will give only eight dollars a month, that will pay for the basic maintenance of our cows in Nabadwip plus fund the improvement and development of their ever expanding home. Of course Sri Nabadwip Dham is not our only temple with cows, Sri Hapaniya and Sri Bamunpara Tirthas, Dum Dum Park etc.
If any respected Godbrother/sister out there would be interested in writing something for the next newsletter that would be great. Actually I was hoping to find at least a couple devotees to agree to participate with the creation of "Go-Seva" for three issues. That would mean a six month period of dedication to do some service in this way. That way after six months a new team of fresh service thoughts may enter, making it easier for many people who could not take on a long term commitment and encouraging more and more people to participate, keeping things in a dynamic flow. It would be nice to have someone who would be in India to report something personal about the cows from time to time. I wish to inquire about the cows in Sri Hapaniya, Bamunpara, Calcutta, and other situations that all of us could be more informed about. That will be an important part of this idea to manifest nicely, i.e.: To give some personal accounts of cow-service going on in our Maths, and the joys of feeling that we are pleasing Srila Gurudeva, Sri Govinda Sundar and the cows.
We hope to encourage western devotees to become active in go-seva (three possible ways). Either (1) directly, hands on, in the Holy Dham; (2) by way of donations that are directed towards a go-seva fund; or (3) by participating in the "Go-Seva" newsletter to inform devotees worldwide how they can also participate and experience the joy of serving Srila Govinda Maharaj's cows.
It is my viewpoint that our cows may have a better experience of their daily life if loving devotees could come to care for them every day. There are many things I could think of that would require the loving hands of devotees to provide for our beautiful cows, that would be even more pleasing to Sri Govinda Sundardev. Mahananda Prabhu gave his perspective in a letter early this year, "Main things I see as needed are green grass and exercise -- same need as my own, in fact." Mahananda also needs the loving hands (and hearts) of the devotees, by the way.
The practical side of this obviously goes back to the need for more western devotees who are doing service in India, and Srila Govinda Maharaj has much seva for qualified western devotees to perform in India (His Grace is always inviting everyone) and cow seva takes a special uncommon breed of bhakta (especially uncommon in the west).
My Dandavat Pranams to all the devotees.
In service to Srila Gurudev, Sri Govinda Sundar and the holy cows of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math,
Please make out service checks to:
Requested monthly donation: $11.00 U.S.**
**$7.75 is perfectly acceptable if cash
flow is low. More than $11.00 is also appreciated if it doesn't hurt too