The News Agency of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness

Unholy Row Ends with the Birth of a Sacred Calf

By: for The Guardian (UK) on Feb. 28, 2009

Monks and farmers celebrate arrival of cow destined for life at new Hare Krishna eco-farm.

The birth of a calf on a farm near Watford would not normally cause tears of joy among onlookers. But Gangotri, a female calf, might have been in danger of drowning in the celebratory deluge from farmers and monks when she was born on Friday after a two-hour labor.

Radha Mohan with Gangototti, the 'luckiest cow alive'. Image: Anna Gordon

Gangotri is the calf born of a sacred cow given as an apology for an unholy row. She takes her name from a 13-year-old Belgian blue-jersey cross given a lethal injection by the RSPCA in December 2007 because it was judged cruel to keep the animal alive. It had been injured during a vigorous mating session and had developed bedsores, but the monks insisted it was recovering. The killing triggered protests at the Bhaktivedanta Manor Krishna temple in Hertfordshire and in the wider Hindu community.

Reconciliation was only achieved last month when the RSPCA admitted it had offended religious sensibilities and gave a pregnant cow, named Aditi, to the monks at the temple by way of apology.

The calf, say the monks, will be a symbol of a new era of harmony between the RSPCA and Hindus across Britain. She may also be the most fortunate young animal alive.

Gangotri will live out the entire course of her natural life in New Gokul, a £2.5m [US$3,500,000] farm currently being built on 80 acres of land around the temple, which has been visited by Russell Brand and was George Harrison's home before he donated it to the Hare Krishna movement. When its luxurious timber barns are completed, it will be a working, vegetarian, ox-powered farm. No tractors will be used, while all the cows will be milked by hand and allowed to live in a completely natural, organic way.

"We want to make a statement to the world that we love our cows and we'd like this to become a beacon for cow protection," says Radha Mohan, a spokesman for the temple. "We want people to come and learn why it's important to look after cows. In the Hindu tradition, cows symbolize mother earth. We believe there is a connection between man, the cow and the environment."

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