on Feb. 21, 2009
Priests, farmers and congregational members at Bhaktivedanta Manor – ISKCON’s UK headquarters – witnessed the birth of a healthy female calf this February 20th. She was no ordinary calf, devotees felt, but a symbol of reconciliation and a new era between the RSPCA and Vaishnava communities across Britain.
Back in December 2007, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) killed Gangotri, a sick cow on Bhaktivedanta Manor’s farm, by lethal injection. This deeply offended the entire ISKCON community and a campaign was launched. The ‘Gangotri Task Force’ worked with DEFRA, politicians and legal experts to raise awareness of why Vaishnavas hold all life sacred.
Last December, the RSPCA apologised unreservedly and indicated its wish to build a progressive relationship. Bhaktivedanta Manor welcomed the gesture, and hopes the RSPCA will sign a protocol which will protect future cows.
The RSPCA also gifted the newly born calf’s mother, Aditi, to the temple. The new calf has also been named ‘Gangotri’, a name that is steeped in Vedic theology and history. She will reside in New Gokul, Bhaktivedanta Manor’s cow protection center that is set to be the largest in Europe once construction is completed this August.
Gangotri Task Force chair Kapil Dudakia says, “The whole community is ecstatic with this tremendous news. Only last month we saw the arrival of Aditi to the temple in all her splendour and today the birth of Gangotri has brought in an auspicious era for all our diverse
communities to celebrate life and a new beginning together.”
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) have recently published a protocol which will guide animal welfare at all farms and organisations in the UK with a non-violent ethos. Bhaktivedanta Manor farm manager Stewart Coyle said, “This resolution will now help to protect all our cows and I believe the Temple and the RSPCA can now work together for animal welfare.”