Bhaktivedanta Swami Goshala Vrindavan: A Loving Home Like No Other

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“If cows are happy then the whole world becomes happy and prosperous because where there are cows, devotees of Krsna will live and where there are devotees, Lord Hari is personally present.”

– Padma Purana 5.45.144

All glories to Sri Krsna, the son of Mother Yasoda. He is the cowherd boy Gopala, or Govinda, He who gives pleasure tothe cows. All glories to the conqueror of Cupid, Sri Hari, who removes all inauspiciousness, who is unlimited, and who is the awarder of liberation!

(Gitavali, Sri Krishner Vimsottara-Sata-Nam, Song 6, Verse 1 Bhaktivinoda Thakura. Trans. Dasaratha-suta dasa. Nectar Books, 2002.)

Since time without beginning, cows have enjoyed a position of divinity and reverence in Vedic culture. The cow is deeply adored by Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself, who is lovingly known as Gopala or Govinda: the friend and protector of the cows. His abode is Goloka, the planet (loka) of the cows (go), and He is a gopa, a cowherd boy. Krsna’s dear mother cow symbolizes charity and generosity, as she selflessly provides milk and so forth for all living creatures. In fact, in ancient times, the prosperity of a household was measured by the number of cows in its care.  In modern times, this tradition is slowly lessening in  significance.

Our sastras have extensively sung the glories of cow worship and protection. They further propagate the necessity of having a loving and grateful disposition towards them. According to sastra, there are seven mothers: (1) atma-mata (one’s own mother), (2) guroh patni (the wife of one’s teacher), (3) brahmani (the wife of a brahmana), (4) raja-patnika (the wife of the king), (5) dhenu (the cow), (6) dhatri (the nurse), and (7) prithvi (the Earth). 

Gomata, or mother cow, is therefore the mother of all living creatures, as well as the mother of all demigods who undertake the task of maintaining and overseeing the material creation. Vedic texts guarantee the bestowal of benedictions that contain innumerable benefits to the jiva who  serves mother cow, such as performing elaborate yajnas. Brhat Parasara Smrti in 5.26-27 corroborates this: Whoever feeds the cow with grass and water every day derives a benefit equivalent to performing ashwamedha yajna. There is no doubt about this.”

Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada has also, on countless occasions, stressed the importance of serving and protecting mother cow. He once said that the barometer of a society’s spiritual condition is the happiness of its cows. 

Taking his vision forward, the ISKCON Bhaktivedanta Swami Goshala, Vrindavan, happily looks after what they call “a family of Krsna-Balaram’s four legged friends.” The goshalla was established in 1976 by Srila Prabhupada himself, and started with just 10 milking cows. Today, Goshala Vrindavan is a proud family of more than 400 cows, bulls and calves. Spread across approximately 12 acres of open land, Goshala Vrindavan offers such a sweet loving abode to Krsna-Balaram’s dearest cow (go) pals that it becomes an instant attraction for the visitors to the temple. 

The dedicated team of devotees at Goshala Vrindavan lovingly feed, bathe, maintain and milk these cows with the sole purpose of serving the temple deities and pleasing Krsna-Balaram. Local devotees and visitors to Goshala Vrindavan are often seen feeding tasty jaggery laddus to the cows or brushing their beautiful coats, all with the intent to please the lotus feet of Krsna-Balaram through pleasing their dear cow pals. One who takes a  quick walk around the goshala is instantly reminded of all the sweet pastimes of the Lord and His cows in Vraja. 

“When Lord Krishna plays the flute, the surabhi cows become completely enchanted. The cows then make many great rivers of fragrant milk flow from the great mountains of their udders, rivers that join to become an ocean, an ocean of milk like a great moat surrounding Goloka on all sides. These cows are kamadhenu cows, cows that fulfill all desires, for from them flows an ocean of milk.” 

(Gopala-Campu, First Champi, Text 59, Srila Jiva Goswami, translated by Kusakratha dasa.)

The Lord so kind, so generous, to all living entities, establishing a personal loving relationship with every jiva in this universe and beyond. This divine exchange between the Lord and His cows has within its corners a simple yet pertinent lesson for all: the only language comprehended by all creatures alike and that which can conquer all hearts, is verily the language of divine love.