Every change begins with a conversation, but it is not often that a conversation brings with it a cathartic moment of gratitude towards the parties involved.
This is one such moment – so thank you Mrs. Meneka Gandhi & ISKCON.
Here’s why –
Mrs. Gandhi & ISKCON are stellar examples of excellence in their respective areas – the former in animal welfare advocacy & the latter in embodying the Sanatan way of Dharmic living. Hence, the question of right & wrong or credibility does not & should not arise.
ISKCON is a decentralized organization. Wrong doings, if any at all, happen at an individual unit level & must certainly be looked into. Blaming the entire organization is unfortunate & discouraging for the multitude of ISKCONs like GEV, Belgaum etc that are doing remarkable work in the area of cow preservation.
Coming back to why my heart swells with gratitude –
All our scriptures including the Bhagwad Gita, emphatically talk about protecting the entire Gauvansh, not just lactating cows.
Protection, however, does not merely imply saving cows from slaughter but instead, from a life that is a bigger miserable deplorable continuum.
ANYONE who uses modern commercial dairy products is actively aiding in –
1) Male calves being sent to slaughter
2) Painful separation of the calves from their mother
3) Forced & abusive impregnaton of ALREADY LACTATING cows just 2-3 months after calving. In simpler terms, forcing cows to grow a baby inside them while raising one outside them at the same time.
Such hormonal-laden milk leads to innumerable incurable diseases in humans like prostrate cancer in men and ovarian & breast cancer in women but since we’re talking of animal abuse, we’ll leave the human-karmic consequences aside for this discussion.
If we Sanatanis strive to usurp all the gauchar lands & leave none for the gauvansh, if we solely look at cows as milk machines, it doesn’t take much to guess the value attached to male calves.
If we manage cow grazing lands along with farmlands, campaigns on “save soil” wouldn’t be needed.
If commercial milk stops being the unfortunate reality it is today, the worth of a cow wouldn’t depend on its gender. So yes, thank you Mrs. Gandhi when you advocate for Veganism.
But I want to take it a step further – Let’s imagine a world where everyone is vegan.
What would happen to the bulls & cows?
They’d go from being overly exploited to being completely useless.
And this is where ISKCON is playing a crucial role in talking about Vedic Environmentalism – a vision that doesn’t end at veganism but instead helps people understand the real function of the cow as taught by the flute-playing cow-loving Krishna – which is to sustain the earth by being at the centre of farming, by recycling grass, sequestering carbon, improving soil health & reversing climate change.
Real protection of cows can happen only when we overcome our own exploitative tendencies and let cows be connected with her family.
While there may be hurdles & there may be mistakes, ISKCON has made that start. And for their work –
Thank you ISKCON.