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Reliant Cow Protection
By Madhava Gosh
read with interest Garuda's article on Self Sufficient Cow Protection. I
am happy seeing the topic discussed, even more so by someone making a
serious attempt to reconnect with the Earth. I am moved to respond and
will address aspects of 4 topics in this reply - cow protection, self
sufficiency, mules versus oxen from the perspective of draft animals, and
mules versus oxen from the perspective of cow protection. The hardest part
will be to restrain myself from voluminous quoting.
quote and I'll let it go at that:
VedaBase =SB 3.16.10
don't like and don't use the term self-sufficiency in the context of
farming projects. I prefer the term self reliant, but "self
sufficient" is so deeply ingrained in devotee speak I decided to see
how Srila Prabhupada used it. I read the 200+ quotes in VedaBase for
"self sufficiency" and "self sufficient" and offer the
the following samples. First I read the quotes in Srila Prabhupada's
books. The following is representative of the great majority of quotes:
Supreme Lord Krishna is described herein as atmarama. He is
self-sufficient, and there is no need for Him to seek happiness from
anything beyond Himself. He is self-sufficient because His very
transcendental existence is total bliss.
VedaBase =SB 1.11.4, SB 1.11.5, SB 1.11.4-5
are also a few uses as represented by:
from the aquatics to the highest form of human being -- from the ant up to
Brahma, the first creature of this universe -- is searching for peace.
That is the main objective. Lord Caitanya said that a person who is in
full Krishna consciousness is the only peaceful man because he has no
demands.. That is the special qualification of a person who is in Krishna
consciousness. He is akamah. Akamah refers to those who have no desire,
who are self-sufficient, who have nothing to ask and who are fully
peaceful. Who are they? They are the devotees who are situated in Krishna
VedaBase =TYS 9: The Real Peace Formula
use of self sufficiency here has to do with consciousness, not external
(and I am consciously skipping the quote about a demon being self
sufficient because I don't understand how it fits in) there are only a
couple quotes about those wanting to be self sufficient:
the grace of the Lord, each and every planet is created fully equipped. So
not only is this earth fully equipped with all the riches for the
maintenance of its inhabitants, but also when the Lord descends on the
earth the whole earth becomes so enriched with all kinds of opulences that
even the denizens of heaven worship it with all affection. But by the will
of the Lord, the whole earth can at once be changed. He can do and undo a
thing by His sweet will. Therefore no one should consider himself to be
self-sufficient or independent of the Lord.
the jugglery of science is gradually leading people to a godless
civilization at the cost of the goal of human life. Having missed the goal
of life, materialists run after self-sufficiency, not knowing that
material nature is already self-sufficient by the grace of God. Thus
creating a colossal hoax in the name of civilization, they create an
imbalance in the natural self-sufficiency of material nature.
VedaBase =Adi 5.51
reading the books, one could easily come to the conclusion that use of
"self sufficiency" is not appropriate when talking about
socio-economic arrangements. However, I read on, into the more time and
circumstance oriented letters and talks. As would be expected, there are
again numerous references to Krishna as being self sufficient, and to what
true self sufficiency is for individuals:
[break] ...isn't self-sufficiency... Prabhupada: Self-suff... There is no
self-sufficiency. Self-insufficiency. Always remember that. Unless you
become perfect in Krishna consciousness, there is no self-sufficiency. All
self-insufficiency. Hare Krishna.
VedaBase =Morning Walk - September 3, 1975, Vrndavana
how does the term enter devoteespeak? When Srila Prabhupada was in
America, the alternative culture movement was strong, with an emphasis on
independence from the mainstream military/industrial complex, and this was
in the minds of many devotees joining the movement.. Frequently it is the
devotee who first mentions self sufficiency and Srila Prabhupada then
responds to that usage:
Actually there is.... There is two factions in the Chinese schools now.
One is saying to.... They're both materialistically based, but one is
trying to stay on a position of self-sufficiency economically and not take
from other countries or even trade, and the other school is to
industrialize. And they're always fighting with their... Prabhupada: Oh,
there are two schools? Siddha-svarupa: Yes. Prabhupada: Yes.
Siddha-svarupa: And the school who is more for self-sufficiency in
agriculture, they also have brought out the.... In the last eight years or
so they've brought to the surface more spiritual ideas. Prabhupada: Hm. So
there is a section who'll support. Siddha-svarupa: Yes. Prabhupada: Who
can support our movement. Siddha-svarupa: Yes. Prabhupada: So we have to
VedaBase =Morning Walk - March 15, 1976, Mayapura
a good idea. Where once alternative culture movements were fueled by anti
Vietnam War sentiment, today they are spearheaded by environmentalists,
many of whom see the struggle as being one against globalization.
Self-reliant localized devotee communities could be centers of spiritual
and material inspiration for this growing movement. Even Al Gore is
positioning himself as the environmental candidate. Using "self
reliant" here, I am not disputing that Srila Prabhupada used
"self sufficient" to describe agrarian based societal
organization. He does, as in the following quotes, one of which also warns
against the danger of ISKCON rural communities becoming merely suburban in
I can understand the financial position of New Vrindaban so the best thing
will be to stop any more influx in New Vrindaban until the place is
self-dependent. The whole idea of New Vrindaban is that men who are living
there should produce their own food, of which milk is the principal thing.
Unless that position is achieved it will not be advisable to ask anybody
to go there. Better to ask them to go there if they are willing to work
and produce their own food. Otherwise, nobody should be advised to go
VedaBase =Letter to: Kirtanananda - Los Angeles 31 July, 1969
Yes. (break) ...encouraging in our society to take to agriculture to
support this center. I am purchasing land in Vrndavana and Mayapura to
become self-sufficient. Whatever production you make, you be satisfied.
Little vegetable, little grain and little milk. That is sufficient.
VedaBase =Highlights: Perform sacrifice and become self-sufficient...king
grants land, taxes are in-kind and based on production...
only it ended there. Read on:
your points about taxation, corporate status, etc., I have heard from
Jayatirtha you want to make big plan for centralization of management,
taxes, monies, corporate status, bookkeeping, credit, like that. I do not
at all approve of such plan. Do not centralize anything. Each temple must
remain independent and self-sufficient. That was my plan from the very
beginning, why you are thinking otherwise? Once before you wanted to do
something centralizing with your GBC meeting, and if I did not interfere
the whole thing would have been killed.
VedaBase =Letter to: Karandhara - Bombay 22 December 1972
here he is clearly talking about temples, not farm communities. It gets
even more complicated:
this part of the world also, we have got several buses, which are going
all over your country and doing nicely. Yesterday I have seen one
Sankirtana bus presented by Rupanuga Maharaja, complete with kitchen,
shower, and deity room. It is completely self-sufficient and can keep 8 to
10 men. Their program is to remain on the road going from town to town and
village to village.
VedaBase =Letter to: Madhudvisa - New Vrndavana 7 September 1972
does self sufficiency mean self contained as a traveling bus, or producing
foodstuffs living on the land? You couldn't have two more mutually
exclusive lifestyles. One tied to the land, the other completely untied.
You see the problem; not with the concepts involved, but the usage of the
term. Srila Prabhupada's points are crystal clear if taken in context in
case by case. It has more to do with the insufficiency of the language; in
English the same term can be used differently at different times. In any
case, it is not the concept of sustainable Earth based economics that I am
uncomfortable with. I am with Srila Prabhupada cent per cent on this. It
is the term itself that is so fraught with cultural baggage and spiritual
inexactitude. Was Srila Prabhupada himself attached to the term? Not
really, as is seen in the following quotes where he discusses the concept
but uses another label:
Yes, increase farm projects. It is very nice project. Self-dependent. Very
good. Krishna personally, He lived in village, farm, cows, calves, land,
Govardhana Hill. It is very nice. Land, in America, you have got so much
land. Produce vegetable, grains, milk, eat sumptuously, no economic
question. Prepare very nice product.
VedaBase =Garden Conversation - June 14, 1976, Detroit
amongst yourself and produce. Produce food grain, produce cotton, mustard
seed. Self-dependent, no use... And we don't require motorcar. Bullock
cart is sufficient. There is no need of going anywhere.
VedaBase =Highlights: Energy problems will be solved as soon as we are
localized...oxen will solve problem of transport...ISKCON should be id
an alternative, " self dependent" is used by Srila Prabhupada
that could serve equally as well. So why do I prefer the term self
reliant? In a nutshell, because it is used by proactive environmentalists.
I was visiting a community that has earth-sheltered housing, windmill
generated electricity, geothermal heating, organic gardens, composting
toilets, etc. They expressed to me they don't like the term self
sufficient because it implies cutting yourself off from others, and they
feel they have a responsibility to the rest of the world. They are also
preachers of a sort, and I believe that Srila Prabhupada would want us to
continue interacting with world, not just cut ourselves off from it. Book
distribution for instance. The localization he refers to is economic
localization, not social isolation. After two decades of failed farm
projects, there is just too much cultural baggage with the "self
sufficient" term and I would prefer a fresh start, using a term that
it already being used by some in the section of population Srila
Prabhupada suggested attracting.
Versus Oxen As Draught Animals
has debate has been going on for a long time. America was settled with
oxen. Horse and mule power became more prominent with the rise of
industrialization. Following is an article of excerpts from the Farmer's
Barn Book by Clater published in 1843. It covers most points. I got it out
of The ISCOWP News Volume 10 Issue 3.
Versus Oxen from the Perspective of Cow Protection
are fine if someone is a vegan whose only interest is draft power.
However, as soon as you start drinking milk in a self-reliant community,
cows need to be breed and calves will be born, 50% of them oxen. Actual
protection includes feeding them, whether they are worked or not. Which
makes a mule an extra mouth to feed. What to speak of a mule, also needed
is a breeding mare and a jackass. Mules are sterile. They are the
offspring of a donkey sire and a horse dam. More mouths to feed. If you
buy them from outside, then where is the self reliance?.
cites the not distant enough mess that occurred in New Vrindaban's cow
program as the tainted fruit of tractor usage. I agree. Tractors represent
the intrusion of industrial society into rural communities, making them
dependent on industrial production for survival. Due to my well known
interest in sports, a devotee suggested I watch a recently released video
called "The Cup.” It is in Tibetan with English subtitle. It is the
story of a Tibetan monastery in India and how they cope with change in the
modern world into which they have been thrust by the Chinese. The cup in
the title is a reference to the World Cup, the once every 4 year world
wide tournament of National soccer teams. It is a plot device used to show
what happens when young monks are not totally isolated from the
mainstream.. Notable is when the monks go to get the satellite dish and TV
to watch the finals (sorry, sort of ruining the suspense here but have to
in order to make my point), they use a tractor to haul it. This is heavy
symbolism by the film makers in that without tractors replacing renewable
energy in the farms, there wouldn't be the excess energy floating around
society to produce television. Also interesting was the Lama's reference
to the rice that the Chinese are bringing into Tibet. This is the real
genocide - religious persecution is one thing, but displacing agrarian
workers by cheaper oil produced rice is a death blow to the root of
back to New Vrindaban, the question would be how did the project leave
aside oxen and go with tractors? The major step was replacing oxen with
horses and mules, idling the oxen. The minor step was from mules to
tractors. So while I appreciate Garuda's interest in carrying forward
Srila Prabhupada's vision of farm communities, I hope he would reconsider
his conclusions concerning use of mules. Even his statement about Amish
style Krishna communities bears rethinking. I have great respect for horse
and mule powered Amish farms, and acknowledge we have an abundance we
could learn and emulate from them, but it is difficult to ignore that part
of their profit comes from the slaughter of nonproductive cows and oxen.
Devotee farms will not only be lacking that income, but will have
additional expenses in maintaining those very animals.
with their competitive economic advantage over cow protectors, the Amish
are struggling to maintain their farming heritage. In our area they have
saw mills and do logging operations, sell baked goods and make crafts for
tourists, and are the labor pool for prefabricated modular housing. The
fact is that at present 50% of Amish are no longer involved in farming.
They can't make enough money from agriculture to pay for the their farms.
If even the Amish can't make it these days, how can devotees protecting
cows expect to? And how can devotees living in urban and suburban
environments, who realistically won't be moving to farming communities,
support cow protection? That is a whole other article, but here is a hint:
say we must have a gosala trust, that is our real purpose.
krsi-goraksya-vanijyam vaisya karma svabhava-jam, [Bg 18.44]. Where there
is agriculture there must be cows. That is our mission: Cow protection and
agriculture and if there is excess, trade. This is a no-profit scheme. For
the agriculture we want to produce our own food and we want to keep cows
for our own milk. The whole idea is that we are Iskcon, a community to be
independent from outside help.
VedaBase =Letter to: Yasomatinandana - Vrindaban 28 November, 1976
The Advantages to Be Derived from a More Extended Use of Oxen"
Excerpts from an essay found in the Farmers' Barn Book by Clayter 1843
From the ISCOWP News Vol. 10 Issue 3
Farmer's Barn Book appears to have been a very standard agricultural
reference book, both in the U.S. and Great Britain, throughout the 1800s
-- it was not just some minor, little known work -- but rather a book that
was a highly regarded authority at the time, as evidenced by the fact that
it was published in numerous editions both in the U.S. and Great Britain.
It is still included in the libraries of many agricultural schools.
answer to the argument against oxen now under consideration, and the one
which has had most influence in restricting the use of them, we now offer
the views urged by the illustrious Madison (one of the early presidents of
the USA) whose pen simplified and enlightened every subject it touched, as
could not but happen with a mind so pure and so bright.
objections generally made to the ox are 1st, that he is less tractable
than the horse; 2nd, that he does not bear heat as well; 3rd, that he does
not answer for the single plough used in our corn fields; 4th, that he is
slower in his movements; 5th, that he is less fit for carrying the produce
of the farm to market.
first objection is certainly founded in mistake. Of the two animals the ox
is the most docile. In all countries where the ox is the ordinary draught
animal, his docility is proverbial. His intractability, where it exists,
has arisen from an occasional use of him only, with long and irregular
intervals; during which, the habit of discipline being broken, a new one
is to be formed. The second objection has as little foundation. The
constitution of the ox accom-odates itself as readily as that of the horse
to different climates. Not only in ancient Greece and Italy, but
throughout Asia, as presented to us in ancient history, the ox and the
plough are associated. At this day, in the warm parts of India and China,
the ox, not the horse, is in the draught service. In every part of India
the ox always appears, even in the train of her armies. And in the hottest
parts of the West Indies, the ox is employed in hauling the weighty
produce to the seaports. The mistake here, as in the former case, has
arisen from the effect of an occasional employment only, with no other
than green food. The fermentation of this in the animal, heated by the
weather, and fretted by the discipline, will readily account for his
sinking under his exertions; when green food even, much less dry, with a
sober habit of labor, would have no such tendency.
third objection also is not a solid one. The ox can, by a proper harness,
be used singly, as well as the horse, between the rows of Indian corn; and
equally so used for other purposes. Experience may be safely appealed to
on this point.
the fourth place, it is alleged that he is slower in his movements. This
is true, but in a less degree than is often taken for granted. Oxen that
are well chosen for their form are not worked after the age of about eight
years, (the age at which they are best fitted for beef), are not worked
too many together, and are suitably matched, may be kept at nearly as
quick a step as that of horses we see at work, who, on account of their
age, or the leanness occasioned by the costliness of the food they
require, lose the advantage where they might have once had it?
last objection has most weight. The ox is not well adapted as the horse to
the road service, especially for long trips. In common roads, which are
often soft, and sometimes suddenly become so the form of his foot and the
shortness of his leg are disadvantages; and, on roads frozen or turnpiked,
the roughness of the surface in the former case, and its hardness in both
cases, are inconvenient to his cloven foot. But where the distance to
market is not great, where the varying state of the roads and of the
weather can be consulted, and where the road service is less in proportion
to the farm service, the objection is almost deprived of its weight.
cases where it most applies, its weight is diminished by the consideration
that a much greater proportion of service on the farm may be done by oxen
than is now commonly done, and that the expense of shoeing them is little
different from that of keeping horses shod.
next most serious charge against the ox is constitutional slowness of
motion, which, as many suppose, no course of education can overcome, but
which, may be set off in comparison with the greater speed of the horse,
as Aesop illustrated the difference in the long run between the pace of
the 'tortoise and the hare! "The greater haste the less speed,"
is a proverb suited to this case as to that.
has already been seen that ox-teams travel over the ever-verdant pampas of
Buenos Ayres, at the rate of thirty miles a day, for a month together.
Twenty years ago, the writer of this held correspondence with Commodore
Jacob Jones, himself a practical farmer, and an habitually close and
judicious observer, and then commanding our squadron in the Mediterranean,
on the subject of Andalusian horses, cattle, and other animals, with a
view to the importation, under authority from the Albermarle Agriculture
Society. Of such as might be deemed we now quote from his letter as
applicable to the questions both of speed and susceptibility to eat:
cattle that I have seen in Spain appear to be nothing superior to ours,
nor have I seen anywhere on the coasts of the Mediterranean any that
appear better than those in America, except a race of white cattle at
Naples used for the draft. I was informed by a gentleman who, in supplying
the government with timber, had used thirty yoke of them for two years,
that during that time they had constantly traveled from twenty to twenty
five miles a day. They are generally fifteen hands high; their bodies
long, thin, and deep; legs long; small light head; sharp muzzle resembling
deer; color entirely white, except black nose, ears, and tuft of the tail.
They are most frequently worked in the thills of the cart, and are as
spirited and walk as quick as a horse, and appeared not to suffer from
heat more than a horse."
show, however, that we are not dependent on any foreign stock, it may be
stated that the small, pale red field ox about Salisbury in Maryland will
travel twenty five miles in a day, with heavy loads of lumber going, and
returning empty, over the sandy roads of that region; while it may be
affirmed, after particular inquiry, that the distance made by the
heavy-bodied, grain-loving, Conestoga horses on the national road between
Cumberland and Wheeling averages not over sixteen miles, six horses with
loads of from six to eight thousand pounds.
at the close of the war, in the summer of 1783, I recollect being at the
house of an agricultural gentleman of Princeton, in New Jersey, where
Congress was then sitting, and that Charles Thomson, the Secretary, was
present. One of Arthur Young's Agricultural Tours in England lay on the
table, and gave rise to a conversation on the use of oxen for the draft,
particularly when geared with collars, hames, and traces, like horses; and
Mr. Thomson related the following fact, now, for substance, perfectly in
in that part of Chester county in Pennsylvania which lay between Lancaster
in that State and Newport on Christiana creek, Mr. Thompson fell in with a
team of a novel character in that country, being composed of one pair of
horses and one pair of oxen: and the latter were accoutered with harness
like horses, only with the collars turned upside down. His curiosity being
excited, he stopped and made some inquiries, and received from the driver
an account as follows: that he and a neighbor, each having a horse team
and wagon, had entered into a contract to transport a quantity of flour (I
think in a given time) to Newport; that in the midst of the work one or
two of his horses failed, (felled sick or died), and he was not in
circumstances conveniently to procure others; but he had a pair of oxen,
and he concluded to try whether they would supply the place of his horses
that he made the experiment and succeeded. He told Mr. Thomson that the
oxen were more useful to him than horses; for after some fall rains, when
the roads had become miry, he continued to carry his full complement of
barrels of flour, while his neighbor's horse team frequently getting
stalled, (the familiar term in Pennsylvania when a team gets set fast in a
slough), compelled him to lessen his loads. But he added, that in
returning from Newport with their wagons empty, his neighbor had the
advantage in speed, although none in the actual performance of the
writer in the Memoirs of the Massachusetts Agricultural Society, speaking
to a community who neither could nor would be deceived on a matter so well
understood by, and so deeply interesting to them, says - "The
principal argument of the advocates for the cultivation by horses in
Maryland seems to be the superior speed of the horse. With this must
proceed from an imperfect training of the cattle. With us our cattle will
plough an acre of ground much better, and in as short a time, as a pair of
horses would do it, unless they can trot their horses in the plough, so
they will get in a ton of hay in as short a time."
we are well persuaded the sagacious writer hits the nail on the head, when
he suggests that the objection on the score of speed must arise from an
"imperfect training of the cattle." He must possess an imperfect
knowledge of the difference between the habits of the New England and the
Southern plough man who is not prepared to admit that in nothing is that
difference greater than in their treatment of all their cattle, and more
especially their oxen. I this very difference, in fact, is to be found the
solution of the question, and this brings us to the point for making the
suggestions we propose on the breed, gearing, training, and general
treatment of the ox.
© CHAKRA 30 January 2001
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