Krishna and Cows

namo brahmanya-devaya
go-brahmana-hitaya ca
jagad-dhitaya krsnaya
govindaya namo namah

“I offer repeated obeisance’s unto Lord Krishna, who is the protector and well-wisher of the cows and the Brahmans. He is also the protector of the entire society. Unto that Lord, who is always satisfying the senses of the cows, I offer my obeisance’s again and again.”

[Vishnu Purana 1.19.65]

The words go-brahmana-hitaya indicate that the Supreme Lord is especially concerned with the welfare of the cows and considers them before even the Brahmans (spiritual teachers). The Brahmans (spiritual teachers) are dear to the Lord because they worship him, as indicated by the words brahmanya-devaya (the Lord of the brahmanas).

cintamani-prakara-sadmasu kalpavriksha-
lakshavrteshu surabhir abhipaalayantam
lakshmi-sahasra-sata-sambhrama-sevyamanam
govindam aadi-purusham tam aham bhajami

“Lord Krishna is situated in a spiritual abode made of transcendental gems. In that abode he is surrounded by millions of desire fulfilling trees (kalpa-vriksha), and he takes pleasure in tending the divine cows. He is always being served with great reverence and affection by hundreds of thousands of devotees. To that Supreme Lord, who is always trying to satisfy the senses of the cows, and who is the original person, I offer my worship.”

[Brahma-samhita]

The very word Govinda, which is a famous name of Lord Krishna, means “one who brings satisfaction to the cows”. And Lord Krishna has many such transcendental names which reflect His relationship to the cows. Gopala means “the protector of the cows”, and Krishna is famous throughout India as bala-gopala, “the child who protects the cows

Nanda Maharaja had 900,000 cows. Visvanatha Cakravarti gives this description of the cows of Vrindavana. Krishna knew every cow by name. If any cow was missing Krishna would immediately chase after the missing cow and call her by name. The cows were divided into herds by color, black, white, red, or yellow. In each color there were 25 further divisions making a total of 100 herds. There were also eight herds of cows that were spotted or speckled or had heads shaped like a mridanga or that had tilak marks on their foreheads. There was a total of 108 different herds of cows. Each of the 108 herds had a herd leader.

“Thus when Krishna calls out, ‘Hey Dhavali’ (the name of a white cow) a whole group of white cows comes forward, and when Krishna calls ‘Hamsi, Candani, Ganga, Mukta’ and so on, the twenty-four other groups of white cows come. The reddish cows are called ‘Aruni, Kunkuma, Sarasvati, etc., the blackish ones ‘Shyamala, Dhumala, Yamuna, etc., and the yellowish ones are Pita, Pingala, Haritaki, etc. (Srimad Bhagavatam 10.35.19 purport)

“As described in the Brahma Samhita (surabhi apbipalayantam), Lord Krishna on His planet, Goloka Vrindavana, engages in tending the surabhi cows. These cows are the Lord’s pet animals.” (Srimad Bhagavatam 8.8.2 purport)

Krishna says in Srimad Bhagavatam, “I can be worshiped within the Cows by offerings of grass and other suitable grains and paraphernalia for the pleasure and health of the Cows, and one may worship Me within the Vaishnavas by offering loving friendship to them and honoring them in all respects.”

[Srimad Bhagavatam 11.11.43]

A cow benefits all; its provides a lot for the welfare. Lord Krishna is also the creator. He created cows with a special mood. It is completely pure. Milk is a complete meal and its Sattvic. Its ghee is used for all ceremonies. Even cow dung and urine are purifying due to its sterilizing effect. Thus the cow is very unique. It’s the topmost living being. It is beautiful, gentle and generous. Cows are sinless (they can never cause offense to the Lord) and they are always giving to the society. They are worshipped by Lord Krishna. He is delighted by any service to the cows no matter how trivial. He never forgets even a little done for the benefit of cows. Krishna is directly worshipped with the service of cows. Cows need to be protected because they are very simple and gentle.

Why worship the cows?

To answer this question we have to state a principle. We worship someone due their nature and actions. Even God is worshiped because of nature and actions. Across all religions, God is described as very merciful, benevolent, kind etc. This is his nature. He is always acting for the benefit of all, he guides us through difficult times and misery, He provides protection and provides for everyone’s welfare. These are his actions.

Cows are pure by nature. They are completely satvik. How is this? We know that cow’s urine and dung are disinfectants. This is scientifically proven. If the excreta are so purifying, what to speak of the other products – milk, butter, ghee? Secondly, cows are very simple and never harm any body. They provide milk for entire mankind. These are some simple examples.

Then there is a deeper meaning. In Sanskrit, cows are called “GO”. In Vedic culture all knowledge begins with the word “Ga”. Guru and Gayatri are the beginnings of all knowledge. All auspiciousness activities also start with the cows. No sacrifice can be done without Ghee; sacrifices are considered auspicious and ghee is required. The “Ga” signifies cows, this is a secret meaning.

For Vaishnavs (people worshiping Lord Krishna in his personal form) there is a still deeper meaning. The meaning is within the words – Govinda, Gopi, Govardhana, Goloka Vrindavan. It is clear these are the greatest. Govinda is Lord Krishna, the protector of cows, Gopis are the highest devotees, Govardhana is the best servant, and Goloka Vrindavan (“go loka – the abode of the cows ”) is the highest destination . The meaning is obvious. There is nothing without the cows. They all serve cows. Cows are the dearest to Lord Krishna, they are His deities. This is the highest form of worship of Lord Krishna and available to only a very select few devotees. Even this knowledge is very rare – most people don’t understand the exalted position of cows, they see cows as animals. People who serve Krishna ’s cows are the most fortunate and achieve all results. This is the ultimate and simplest. Its how ‘goloka vrindavan’ is achieved while in the material world, in the material body.

 

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