Whenever you have visited, or even seen a photograph or an illustration of an ashram, you must have noticed that there is a calf or two and some cows in the background, indicating that there is a goshala attached to this hermitage or spiritual centre. Many of you know that there is a large goshala at our Shri Chitrapur Math, Shirali and one at Karla Math too. Parama Pujya Swamiji explains the significance of having a goshala, while Yuva Raunak Shirali, who has a close emotional connect with the goshala at Karla and does regular seva with great devotion and joy, introduces us to little- known facts about the manifold-blessings these gentle friends bestow upon us ( March 2017 )
“A goshala imparts divyata, it creates atyanta mangalata all around. This naturally makes peace permeate in the surroundings of a goshala. Yes, doing your bit to maintain an ecological balance by offering care and support to cattle is positive, but what you gain from the Go-Mata is both at the physical and at a far more subtle level. A goshala, in this sense, is truly like a barometer for a Math as it can absorb the ill-effects of any form of negativity and thereby offer invaluable protection at a very significant, primary level. Animals are very sensitive and respond to the slightest sign of danger or impending trouble. The Sahiwal neelgai-s actually form a circle keeping the cowherds inside, if they are grazing in the jungle and sense that there is a panther on the prowl.
“Setting up a goshala at Karla was possible because adequate space was available and the pristine environs were ideal for this. Besides all the uses man can access – like fuel or natural pesticide – a goshala also ensures that there is greenery around and a certain level of cleanliness and hygiene. Most importantly, unlike using a pump set or any other tool that can be changed or discarded at will, learning to care for a sick animal that serves you in so many ways stirs a powerful element of love and concern which adds to the mangalata.”
Parama Pujya Sadyojat Shankarashram Swamiji
The goshala at Karla was inaugurated on 15th July, 2012 on the auspicious Janma Divas of Guru Swami – Parama Pujya Parijnanashram Swamiji III. The Jaypriya Foundation, set up by devout sadhaka-s Priyanka and Jayant Gulwadi of our ANZ (Australia and New Zealand ) sabha sponsored the setting up of the goshala. Initially, we had just five cows and three calves, which means- a total of eight cattle. Today, in February 2017, we have 27 cattle comprising 18 cows and 9 bulls! On 29th January 2017, there was a new arrival in the goshala with Kasturi giving birth to a male calf.
In June 2016,with the Anumati of Pujya Swamiji we extended the goshala and we now have the capacity to comfortably keep 40 cattle here. We had a peak yield of milk in the months of September and October when we got 40 litres of milk per day. The cattle-feed has been formulated in such a way that we give them enough nutrition during the lactation period and thereby, get enough milk for kitchen purposes. Of course, if there is further excess, then it is time to make paneer or a mouth-watering sweet!
The desi cows, especially those from Gir, have A2 protein in their milk which no other English breed cow’s milk gives. The English breed cows like Jersey have an average yield of 15 to 20 litres of milk per day. These cows do not have the A2 protein in their milk, but they have A1 protein which is not very good for health as it increases the cholesterol levels in the body.
Benefits of A2 protein milk-
1. There are 12 genetic variants of beta casein. All Indian native cattle breeds like Gir cow produce only A2 milk, while the foreign cattle breeds like HF breed produce only A1 type of milk and Jersey breed produce higher A1 and low A2 milk.
2. Regular consumption of A2 milk has shown reduction in - autism in children, schizophrenic symptoms, incidence of cardiovascular disease, type-1 diabetes and various neurological, endocrinal and immunological disorders.
3. Cow’s milk contains two major protein groups; caseins and whey proteins out of which caseins account for 80% of the milk protein. Among the caseins, beta casein is the second most abundant protein and has an excellent nutritional balance of amino acids.
What is more, we use the cow dung to make vermi-compost and create gobar gas with it, which helps us to save on the use of Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) in the kitchen. Most of the cooking is done on gobar gas and hence the use of LPG has come down considerably. We use the vermi-compost as organic manure in the fields and thus, all the vegetables grown in Karla are totally organic.
The cow dung takes around 40 days to decompose. We add besan to the compost which helps in fast -generation of earthworms in the manure. We even store the cow urine in a barrel for 15 days for it to decompose. We then add tobacco to this and spray it in the agricultural fields. This acts as a very effective insecticide and pesticide for the plants and so there is no need whatsoever to enter into any ‘chemical warfare’ to save the crop.
I started taking keen interest in the goshala a couple of years ago and being with these gentle friends has truly been a joyous journey. It is very important to understand what each animal wants to say when you are there. When someone does not eat her feed I feel very bad and I am upset for the whole day. I even feed some of them at times because the bonding between them and me has become something very special. Very recently I learnt how to give injections from Dr. Gourish Padukone mam. I have also learnt a lot about cattle health, cattle feed and many other things about them from him.
Nandini, Shradhha, Kapeesha, Kalyani, Kapila, Yashodha are the beautiful names of some of our loving members of the goshala. Some of the bulls in our ‘male-brigade’ are Veer, Ram Sundar and Nandakishore. Initially, Pujya Swamiji had named all of them Himself, but now He has asked us to name the new arrivals. However, every name is adopted only after it is approved and blessed by Pujya Swamiji. Our Vaidik-s do a ceremonious go-puja annually to offer gratitude from all of us for the plenty we receive from them and during the Maharashtrian Bail-pola festival our bulls are decorated and and displayed joyfully.
A cow named Chetana was due for delivery on 18th July 2016 but she delivered on 26th July 2016 instead. That was the day I lost my brother in a car accident and strangely, the time she delivered was 4.30 pm- which was the exact time that we got my brother home to pay the last respects. Chetana delivered a female calf and that little one in Karla has found a ‘forever-place’ in my heart just like my kid- brother for me. During the delivery of a cow all cattle in the goshala know that a newcomer is about to arrive. Till the delivery there is pin-drop silence in the goshala. In fact till that cow delivers not a single animal will even sit down in the entire goshala because they know one of their own is in pain. These Gir cows are very emotional and sentimentally attached to their caretaker. If there is a change in hands during the milking period they will not give milk at all for a day or two or else the yield will be very less. They will even litter only when their regular caretaker goes and pulls the calf out. If the cow is finding it difficult to push her calf out and someone unknown enters the goshala, she will not litter till the person goes out and only the caretaker is with her.
Being with these gentle friends for four years now and looking after them I have become very attached to each one and so, when there are any casualties, I feel as if I have lost someone of my very own. I treat all of them like my family members and try my best to understand and respond to their silent communication.
(Photo credit: Kishan Kallianpur)
(Photo credit : Kishan Kallianpur)