Respecting your elders…including the cows
Chidambaram is an ancient pilgrimage place where for thousands of years pilgrims have come to discover their higher Self. Even the famed yogi, Patanjali, visited here and worshiped God in the form of Nataraja (Hindu god Siva in his aspect of dance). Chidambaram is one of my favorite places to visit in India and I love visiting the temple. One of the family of priests that manage the temple are dear friends of mine and I wanted to share a project that they are working on – a wholesome initiative to help preserve the sanctity of cows even in their aging years.
The Kailash Shankar Deekshitar family started a retirement village for cows where the animals go once they pass their peak productivity stage. The cows are fed, groomed, and cared for to help make them comfortable in their elderly state. Though the cows are older and considered less useful the contribution that they have given the families in earlier years are not forgotten. Old and gray but definitely not in the way.
An email I received from one of the sons of Kailash Deekshitar says “The project began in April 2012. One year has been completed. You had seen only one cow in my house. But now, We have 8 cows in Goshala (goshala literally translates to “cow shed”. Merriam Webster – ‘an Indian shelter for homeless or unwanted cattle that often also serves as a center for breed improvement and for study of bovine nutrition and welfare’). It is in a village, 3km apart from Chidambaram. Now the constructions works are going on to develop the Goshala to care 50 cows.”
Cows are considered sacred in India, and this South Indian family has found a way to continue to pay homage to them. The cows get to experience true luxury in this assisted-living center exclusively serving the aged four-legged populations. We will be stopping by this retirement village in our upcoming meditation retreat in India.
What the cow contributes:
Milk: From which we get “milk”, yogurt, butter, ghee, cheese, ice-cream and other dairy favorites.
Cow Manure: Makes great fertilizer. Cow manure contains the three main plant nutrients: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. When dried it also makes great fuel and easily burns. Cow manure is also used as flooring in some homes. When it hardens it is almost hard like cement and it is said to be antiseptic as well.
Manual Labor: Besides helping to haul people and things around, the cow contributes a lot with ploughing the land as well.
“One can measure the greatness of a nation and its moral progress by the way it treats its animals. Cow protection to me is not mere protection of the cow. It means protection of all that lives and is helpless and weak in the world. The cow means the entire subhuman world.” Mahatma Gandhi.
You should also check out the work of Peter Proctor and what he is doing with cow manure.
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