(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 26 October 2022, Vrndavana, India, Govardhana-puja Lecture)
In the past, I have been the temple president of Krsna Balarama Mandir. When I became the temple president, the GBC told me, “We have many bulls. Across the river, there is the one baba who takes bulls, so why don’t you go there and ask him if he is willing to take some bulls?” It was arranged that someone was taking me there. One of my first assignments in the first few days was to go to talk to this baba about taking thirty to forty bulls. So I went there, and on the way there, someone told me, “He is a naga baba, he is always naked.” And then someone told me some that, “He walks around with a trident and he goes to trains and breaks the locks of the trains because they are sending the cows to states where cow slaughter is not forbidden. He breaks the locks and takes the cows off the train. And if anybody says anything, he shows his trident. Since he is a holy man, nobody stops him.” I was told that this baba had 475 cows with him, which is a huge number!
At that time when we arrived, it was winter and the baba was seated under some tarpaulin with a fire. We also sat next to him and the devotee who was with me started coughing and the baba said, “A bit smoky, isn’t it?” He was a tough man, that was for sure. So then he said how he maintained the cows and why he did this. He said that once, he had been in an ashrama. So after the night, they asked him, “How will you pay for your stay?” He said, “Pay? I have no pockets. All I have is a trident. Is that what you want?” They said, “No, because in the Vedas it says that if you take someone’s salt, then you owe a debt.” He said,” So if it says in the Vedas, then I owe a debt, so what do you want?” They said, “We want that you go to Vrndavana and protect the cows.” From that day onwards, the baba did it, and he was here in Vrndavana single handedly protecting the cows. He used to stand on the road with his trident and if any villagers would come by with their tractor with the busa (cow feed), he would say, “This goes to my cows!” He said that the villagers used to drive around to avoid him. And singlehandedly, the baba maintained all these cows in this way. He said that, “Sometimes my cows do not eat, then the village also does not eat. If that does not help, then I beat somebody up and then usually my cows eat.” (laughter) So this baba was really taking care of the cows very nicely. He was a good businessman with such dedication. I remember when Kurma Rupa left his body. He also cared for the cows so much that this baba also came to offer his respects.
Protecting the cows is the most glorious service. In the Caitanya-caritamrta, there is a description of how Lord Caitanya met an astrologer. Caitanya Mahaprabhu asked him, “Can you tell me who I was in my last life?” The astrologer did a calculation and he did a mediation and he was astonished. He could not speak. Then Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, “So, what did you find?” The astrologer said, ”I do not know, but what I am finding is that you are the Supreme Personality of Godhead”. Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, “It is all wrong. I know that in my last life I was a cowherd boy. And as a result of this pious activity, I became a brahmana in this lifetime.” So, we can see how Caitanya Mahaprabhu points out that the service to the cows is most elevating. We never sent our bulls to that baba since I felt ashamed. I felt that if one man takes care of 475 cows, then how can the whole society not take care of his own bulls? We should be taking care of many more cows – that is after all our ultimate service!