(4th November: Gopashtami Special)
Pujya Bapuji has not only promulgated the glory of cows; but has also carried out numerous activities pertaining to cow-service. Today, there are more than 45 gaushalas (refuges for cattle) across the country under the guidance of Pujyashri; sheltering around 9000 cows in total.
Bapuji’s activities, like taking the time out of His hectic schedule to ensure the requirements of cows – like fodder, water, along with general maintenance and care; visiting the gaushalas personally and serving the cows (with His own hands), encouraging cowherds; etc., showing His extreme love for cows. This divine work of Santshri (Bapuji) has proved to be highly inspirational to everyone. His sadhakas and entire followers and believers are always keen to serve cows.
Gajananda Bhai of Sheopur Gaushala, who has been engaged in cow-service since 2000, and has been availing the proximity and satsanga (spiritual discourses) of Pujya Bapuji since 1986, shares some reminiscences below:
“Not a single cow should be driven to the slaughterhouse”
In 2000, a severe drought struck the state of Rajasthan. During that period, due to a lack of water and grass fodder, people of Newai (dist. Tonk, Raj.) and other villages around left the cows to wander freely (unattended), they would then be driven to slaughter by butchers. When some sadhakas and other concerned people of Newai came to know about the situation of the cows, they just couldn’t tolerate it. They would bring together all the freely wandering stray cows; and keeping them in a safe place, would arrange for their food & water. The number of such cows increased on a daily basis until it went up to 1460. It was beyond their financial status to arrange for the maintenance of so many cows; and as a result, due to lack of medical treatment, etc., many cows eventually died.
When Pujya Bapuji got to know of this, He immediately ordered sadhakas to urgently engage themselves in service to cows. At that time, I was in Dondaicha (Mah.) ashram. Gurudev called for me, and said, “You people get engaged in the service to cows. Not even a single cow should be driven to the slaughterhouse (by butchers in that region). The required amount of money will be sent. Just make sure that you hire the best cow veterinary surgeons. Buy forage and feed the cows.”
As per Gurudev’s command, some of us sadhaka-brothers arrived in Newai, and arranged for the food (fodder and water) and medical treatment of the cows. Later on, a splendid gaushala was built in Newai, which was inaugurated by the Holy Hands of Pujya Bapuji on 14th June 2000.
The Grace of Guru showered
in the form of Rain
The number of cows being sheltered in Newai gaushala reached around 2100; and there was only one pen at that time. It was difficult to tend to that many cows in a single pen. On getting to know that the cows could be tended in the woods near Sheopur (210 kilometers from Newai), 8-10 of us residents of the ashram, set out for Sheopur from Newai with a caravan of 1400 cows. Every day we would walk 20 to 25 kilometers; and then halt in a village at the fall of dusk. In quite a lot of places, villagers would worry – ‘What will happen if these people abandon the cows and leave!’, so they would oppose our halting in their village, and keep a vigil on us. When we set off in the morning, the residents of other villages would add their cows to the herd of our cows. Thus, on our way, the number of cows increased to 2400-2500.
This happened on the 7th day of our journey. We reached a village called ‘Wardha Ka Khura’ where we took our food, assuming that we would get water somewhere nearby on our way ahead. We walked for around 10-12 kilometers when we arrived at a wood. No source of water was to be found anywhere. We didn’t have the facility of mobile phones back then. Then we came across some goatherds, who, on being asked, told us – “There is a pond located 8-10 km from here.”
The sun was scorching and our throats were parched due to thirst; even the cows were getting afflicted with excessive thirst. The situation was quite serious. It was quite challenging to cover the distance of even a single kilometer. Given all this, it was impossible to walk another 8-10 km. All we could rely upon was none but Gurudev. We could see Him as our only saviour. The prayer that was coming out of our respective hearts was – ‘Gurudev! We can’t walk any further, now you are our one and only saviour.’
Shortly thereafter, a miracle took place. It was something that we couldn’t have imagined. It started to rain and it poured so heavily that all the pits around were filled with water. We all quenched our thirst by drinking water, and so did the cows.
Singing the glory of Gurudev, we sadhaka-brothers set off again and soon we noticed something that would astonish even astonishment. Just half to three-quarters of a kilometer away, the land was completely dry; which implied that it had rained only around the cows; not a single drop of rain had fallen anywhere else in that region! That’s when I realized the omnipresence and omnipotence of Bapuji.
Not only this, to add to our surprise, the impact of Guru’s grace showering on us was such that it would begin to rain in every village we passed through with the cows.
Finally, we reached our destination on the 11th day. Then came some 40-50 people from neighbouring villages, who started to oppose the idea of us keeping cows in that area; however, when the residents of those villages claimed – ‘It’s only after Bapuji’s cows arrived that rainfall began’, they accepted this fact and allowed us to provide shelter for the cows.
It was impossible for us to drive so many cows a distance of 210 km; yet, how Gurudev made it possible for us is something that is beyond our comprehension! Some cows were sent from here to other gaushalas of the ashram. Today, by virtue of Pujyashri’s grace, the herculean task of tending 1800 cows continues incessantly in Sheopur.
So much love for the cows!
The following incident dates back to somewhere around 2004. Bapuji was visiting Sheopur for a satsang-programme. During that period, our cows resided in a jungle 50 km from Sheopur ashram. On the conclusion of satsang, Bapuji said, “Gajananda, I want to see the cows. Let’s go to the jungle.”
We left for the jungle forest in a car. It was rainy season. We had barely travelled 40 km when we realised that the car tyres were starting to sink and were getting stuck in the mud.
I said, “Gurudev! It’s quite impossible to drive the car further.”
Bapuji, “Then how are we going to make it to the forest? I have to see the cows.”
“Ji, we will have to walk there.”
It was around 7:30 – 8:00 in the evening and dusk had already fallen. Bapuji walked with us for around 7-8 km, and thus, we made it to the place in the jungle where the cows were present.
We pitched a tent near a hillock, in which a worn-out blanket was spread. Pujya Bapuji, an icon of simplicity, took a seat on the blanket; and said, “Gajananda! Where are the cows?”
“Ji, it’s quite muddy here; hence, the cows generally find a suitable place nearby to sit.”
“When will they come back?”
“Ji, in the morning.”
There was a scripture kept in the tent. Looking at it, Bapuji asked, “Which scripture is this?”
“Ji, it is Yoga Vasishtha Maharamayana.”
I started to read it aloud and Bapuji, laid on the blanket, started hearing. I must have read for 2-5 minutes when I noticed that Gurudev’s eyes were closed, which made me assume that He must have fallen asleep. I stopped reading but Gurudev again asked, “Where are the cows?”
“Ji, in the jungle.”
“OK, continue to read.”
I continued to read and again, 2-5 minutes later, I noticed that Bapuji’s eyes were closed and I stopped reading.
Again, Pujyashri asked, “Where are the cows?”
This was repeated around 5-6 times. Then at around 11.00 to 12.00 midnight, Gurudev said, “I want to go near the cows.”
I said, “Ji, now?”
It was so muddy out there that our feet, on merely placing them, would get stuck in the mud. So, I and 2-3 sadhaka-brothers laid stones ahead, one by one for Bapuji to walk on. With great difficulty, we made it to where the cows were sitting and resting. Around 1000-1100 cows from the total number of cows were present in front of us. Generally, our cows, when inhabiting the jungle, remain very alert. Even the light sound of footsteps was enough for them to run off to seek protection; but to our surprise, this didn’t happen!
Even today, I recall that amazing and peculiar sight of that night. It was a dark and stormy night, with lightning and thunderstorms. Initially, the cows were quite shocked to see us. But as soon as Bapuji cast His divine glance upon them, the cows came together in a herd and flocked around Pujyashri. Gurudev, moving His hand gently on the backs of cows, caressed them. In response, the cows started to lick Pujyashri to express their affection. Then Gurudev said, “Let’s go now, my resolve has been fulfilled.” Then Pujyashri came back to the tent and spent the rest of the night there. When we woke in the morning, the cows were standing in front of the tent. Looking at Bapuji, the cows again flocked to Him in a herd. Pujyashri cast His glance upon them; responding, the cows gazed at Gurudev.
Pujyashri said to us, “Your lifestyle here is like that of Rishis.”