The Suffering Of Cows

I'm thinking about the suffering of cows. I think about this a lot, because there is a lot of conversation about it and a lot of devotees have boycotted milk products as a result of the concern about the mistreatment of cows.

So, I'm thinking....

What can we do to help the cows that are suffering?

If we decide to stop using these milk products, that means each suffering cow who could potentially have had it's milk offered to Krishna, will now not be given that opportunity.

How does that help the suffering cow? If the cow has it's milk offered to Krishna, that is the PERFECTION of cow life. Every cow who has the chance to offer it's milk to Krishna, is like a mother to Him. We know what happened to Putana, who offered her milk to Krishna, poisoned, with the intention to kill Him. Think of this cow giving it's milk to Krishna. Totally innocent. Krishna accepts that cows milk. He drinks the offering. Yes. (or eats it, if it is edible)

We have the opportunity to be the "middle man" in giving this cow the chance to give it's milk to Krishna, by our offering it with devotion. Krishna accepts dairy products offered with devotion. He accepts the milk of that particular cow, that we have offered.

We have the opportunity to offer the milk of all these cows to Krishna, yet we are allowing them to die, and take birth again, (endlessly) without having this chance, if we are not offering their milk.

I agree there should be things done to stop this mistreatment of cows, but it seems to me we could find a better way. Why should we think the best way is to stop using the milk?

Boycotting may be the best thing in some situations, but allowing all these cows to die in the process of it, without having their milk offered seems to me to be only a WORSE way of torturing them, since we have the opportunity, through our offering of their milk, to give them liberation from material bondage.

The cows are not their bodies, they are souls. We should help the soul if we are concerned about their suffering.

There are so many things that could be done to stop the mistreatment of their bodies. We could protest, write letters to dairy industries, stage demonstrations at the local dairy farms, and other places. We could work together with other groups who are trying to stop the mistreatment, such as PETA. We could make videos talking about this problem, and show some clips of the mistreatment, and flood You-Tube with them. There are thousands of things that could be done if we try to think about this in a different way.

No one in the dairy industry is going to care what we say if we don't even use the milk, we are then not even a "customer". They will only care what we say if we are a paying customer that they have to please.

Human beings who eat meat in one life, take birth as cows in another, who will then be killed (and/or, made to suffer, then be killed). These are souls, and of course, we can not know where they came from, or why they are being forced to suffer. However, we do know that the MOST benefit we can give their soul (which is who they really are) is by offering their milk to Krishna.

There are surely thousands of ways to endeavor to stop the mistreatment of cows.

What does avoidance actually accomplish except to allow us to "wash our hands" of the problem? Perhaps we are not directly involved in the sin of tormenting cows, if we don't use the milk, but is avoidance of that sin so much better than the amazing positive benefit that can be given to the cows by offering their milk?

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Sun, 09/14/2008 - 22:18 — uagan chetty
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chaturmasya fasting

Well as from the 16/09/2008 we have to fast from milk. What happens in this period of time to the cows? What is the purpose of our fasting from milk? Please enlighten.

hare krsna
Uagan Chetty

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Tue, 09/16/2008 - 11:20 — NityānandaChandra
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Caturmasya fast is not a

Caturmasya fast is not a required fast, there is no offense in not following this fast and is rather extra austeries that one may take in mature understanding for further spiritual focusing. I have heard that their are some logical reasons to fast from the four different items during those four months but I do not have any further detail for I have never done the fast myself. I have a friend Narottamananda who could probably shed some light on this subject. ys

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Mon, 09/15/2008 - 01:58 — Navasi
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Hare Krishna, Uagan,

Like any austerity, or any other fasting time, the purpose is to reduce sense gratification, and mostly to increase our focus on Krishna.

As far as how this affects cows, even during the two months of Chaturmasya where milk is restricted (yogurt for one and drinking milk for another) other dairy products are not restricted.

So, it doesn't really affect anything about the cows, it seems to me.

Hare Krishna,

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Mon, 09/15/2008 - 02:01 — abrennan
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I have heard

I have heard that although we fast Krishna does not.

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Mon, 09/15/2008 - 02:10 — Navasi
Navasi's picture

Right : )

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Sun, 09/14/2008 - 01:56 — Preethi.N
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Hare Krishna.

Thank you for the topic. I just remembered, a few words of Srila Prabhupada

We speak so much about Goloka, what is Goloka. So we seggregate the words into two parts. Go and loka. So ideally, Goloka, is a place where there are cows live, or the planet only of cows. Of course, we all emphasise on the fact, Goloka, we would be serving Krishna, of course with His cows. Krishna loves cows so much, and any service done to cows, Krishna is pleased, because he is Gopala, and Govinda( although it also has 2 meanings- Go also means cow)
Everyone is speaking about cow protection, but, we are we really doing something to protect cows? As devotees, or rather if we want to be a resident of Goloka(!) we should try to do something on our part.
In Hyderabad, the place where I live, there is a huge slaughter house, so huge, that it exports beef to the other parts of the world. It was shocking to note that the owner of the slaughter house, is a Jain( Remember, jains, dont eat anything grown even under ground, as they will kill the micro organisms in there. Still, in some parts of India, there are very strict rules. Although things are changing a real lot now)
Very recently, i saw a video called " Save our cows, save our planet" It was played during the Gaura Purnima festival, in Sri Dham Mayapur, in which various devotees and others speak about cow protection.( Someone can contact me for the dvd, and i'll be glad to send it).
It is sad, that not many people know the importance of the cow, and how we should do something for our mother. When you just check you tube or any video, you can sees, cows being tied and slaughtered. Their innocent, liquidy eyes, who know nothing, their skins being peeled by burning, and they are cut by blunt knives, and its so pathetic. We cannot bear treating our mother as such. I remember a lecture of Srila Prabhupada, where he says, that slaughtering cows, is the end of human civilization.
Of course, Srila Prabhupada in His last days, emphasized, on Varnasrama Dharma. To live simply, on a land, serve the cow and the deities, in this way, we will be happy.
Thank you for the topic. We need to do something in a menial way.Of course, if we do this, Krishna will be pleased for sure, and he will bless us.
There is a whole lot of information on cow products too, which have unlimited benefits. May be we can post it here, for the benefit of all.

In the Manu-samhita, chapter 4, verse 162 we find: A guru, a teacher, a father, a mother, a brahmana, a cow and a yogi all should never be killed. ( 7 mothers, a human being has)

May cows stay in front of me; may cows stay behind me; may cows stay on both sides of me. May I always reside in the midst of cows. — Hari Bhakti-vilas 16.252

Radha Priya.

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Sun, 09/14/2008 - 02:57 — Navasi
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For The Cows

Thank you, Radha Priya, for your contribution to this topic.


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Fri, 09/12/2008 - 04:22 — thirtho
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wht i ll do

Mistreatment of cow is not all time prohibited. With the respect to other people, many people eat the meat of the cow. Every life has the right to live. The mistreatment of cow is not possible to prohibit in these country.
Moreover in the underdevelopment country cow is used to plough the land. For this reason the farmer beat the cow. These farmers are really poor they have no capability to buy tractor or other vehicle. If we tell them about the mistreatment of cow they will laugh at me.
I know the sacrifice of cow; according to my situation I could not do anything.

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Fri, 09/12/2008 - 05:46 — Navasi
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Offer It To Krishna

Dear Thirtho,

I understand what you're saying. I made the suggestions in this post for people who are in a position to do something and are concerned about it, and wish to act on that concern. (in whatever country they are in where they feel something could/should be done).

For you, you can offer the milk of the cows. That's everything to their soul.

Anyone who as access to milk or dairy products can do this if they are concerned.

That was the point of what I was saying. You TRULY save a cow when you offer their milk to Krishna.

So, that's what you can do, offer their milk to Krishna.

I was just pointing out that if we don't offer their milk, they continue to suffer, not just physically, but spiritually as well.

Hare Krishna,

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Fri, 09/12/2008 - 03:56 — Go-Seva
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Become educated

PAMHO, Hare Krsna~ While I agree that avoidance it probably not the answer, I do feel that consumers should become educated about where their milk and milk products come from so they can make an informed choice. It's a fact that, unlike other organic food sectors, organic milk demand is outpacing supply as more and more people are becoming aware of how conventional milk is produced.

As a long time user of milk products, I remember reading about the atrocities of factory farming in the early 90s (long before I was Krsna Conscious, unfortunately), and was appalled by their practices. I then stopped drinking milk (it's practically a health hazard!) and limited the use of dairy products, and back than, there was no organic brands to speak of. Nowadays, there are lots more options to choose from, especially organic, but not all are good. Horizon Organics, for example, has come under scrutiny in recent years for using USDA loopholes in organic milk production guidelines to run their operation just like a regular "feedlot". Other producers, such as Organic Valley, are very forthcoming about how they treat their cows and hold their family farms to strict standards in how humanely they treat their cows. They are also the only producer I have found that doesn't add vitamin D-2 (an animal byproduct) to their whole milk.

That being said, I think people should, at the very least, use their hard-earned dollars to purchase milk and milk products from those producers instead of the factory farms. This will give them the message that using these abominable practices is less desirable by consumers, and maybe the tide will turn so they will begin to adopt more humane practices, too. Some large cheese producers, such as Sargento and even Kraft, have begun using milk from rBGH-free cows (this is a growth hormone used to increase milk production in cows, but only by 5-10%), so someone IS starting to listen.

When I am shopping, I look for the label that states cheese is rBGH-free or buy butter, yogurt, etc. from organic producers (Organic Valley or Stonyfield Farm) that have good standards of animal treatment. We are fortunate to live in the country, and have access to a nice, Amish run goshalla down the road that supplies us with fresh milk from contented cows that we can see, touch, and talk to, and who graze on 100+ acres of land (there are only 100 or so cows.) This farm also produces milk for an organic cooperative. This is the best option, as raw milk is much more nutritious and healthful than anything you can buy at the store anyway, and it supports small, local farms in the process. This cuts down on our environmental footprint on Mother Earth as well by reducing fossil fuel consumption. Here's a educational website about the why's and how's of purchasing raw milk:

Granted, cows are souls in a body and offering their milk is a great service, but if everyone spoke out (with words or dollars)about their treatment in these feedlots, their lives spent to produce this milk wouldn't be so cruel and miserable. Personally, I am very, very concerned and disturbed by their plight and wouldn't want to encourage their mistreatment in any way by these heartless agribusiness corporations, so I chose not to support them.

P.S: Everyone should remember how much Lord Krishna loves cows and think about supporting some cow protection programs, such as ISCOWP in West Virginia, Care for Cows in Vrindavan, India, and an even more ambitious undertaking, the Save a Cow, Save the World project, which aims to establish Krishna Conscious cow protection communities all over the world.

"One should gently scratch the body of a cow, offer her a mouthful of green grass, and reverently circumambulate her. If cows are maintained nicely and comfortably, Lord Gopal will be pleased." ~Gautaminya Tantra~

"The cow is the mother of the Rudras, and the daughter of the Vasus. She is the sister of the Adityas and a source of all nectar in the form of ghee. To all thoughful men I advise: Never kill an innocent cow." ~Rg Veda~

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Fri, 09/12/2008 - 11:23 — Karnamrita.das
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Goloka---Planet of Cows

Hi Go Seva. You found a topic you could especially relate to! Actually we are all cow people, at least in the ultimate sense.

There are many opinions among devotees concerning cows milk. Sometimes the regular milk is just used for the Temple without really thinking about any alternative. We could question if this is really milk with all the stuff in it, and when we think of treatment of cows and their eventual slaughter, we might want to give it up all together. As you know there are alternatives, though it can take work to find them. It also depends where you want to draw the line. Where I live there are protected devotee cows, so that is perfect, then the other end of the spectrum is regular store bought white stuff. There are a whole range of choices in between, and depending on your convictions, time and budget, you can make your choice.

I thought it was only vitamin D3 that was fish oil, and the D2 was the vegy alternative,,,,,I never studied up on this, just an assumption,which by definition is not a good standard to base decisions on.

Your friend in Krishna,


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Fri, 09/12/2008 - 12:20 — Go-Seva
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Sorry, I had the "D"s mixed up

You are correct. D2 is the veggie alternative, D3 the animal version, called cholecalciferol. It's actually derived from lanolin (sheep's wool.) I had to look on our soymilk package to remember which D was which :-)

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Fri, 09/12/2008 - 06:13 — Navasi
Navasi's picture
Suffering Cows

Dear Lisa,

This blog is about what will benefit and can be done for the cows that are suffering and being mistreated.

Those cows.

Not the cows who are living happy lives being well cared for on Organic Dairy farms, and Amish farms, or Devotee farms.

Of course it goes without saying that all of those cows are being well treated and taken nice care of.

I'm saying "what about the cows who are suffering? what about the cows who are being mistreated? what's the best thing we can do for them?".

Those Cows

In my experience, subtle messages, and "hoping people get the hint" is not very effective.

Meanwhile, I wonder how many cows will die, and take birth again, while we are not offering their milk, and hoping that "someone gets the hint".

Hare Krishna,

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Fri, 09/12/2008 - 11:03 — Go-Seva
Go-Seva's picture
I understand

But I still would not chose to feed the agribusiness corporation by turning a blind eye and buying their products. The power of the almighty dollar is the only thing these demons understand, and if enough people chose not to spend it with those people, I am sure they would start to listen to their demands and get the hint to change their practices. That is the point I was trying to make: vote with your dollars. They don't care how many PETA people or how many YouTube videos are running, they only care about their profits. And if their profits start to plunge because people aren't buying their product, they will take notice. As I said above, even corporate giant Kraft has taken notice that their market share is going elsewhere, and has begun offering cheese products made from rBGH free milk due to overwhelming consumer demand.

And as for buying milk from these monsters to give to my children, forget it. This milk is still toxic, laden with pesticide residues, hormones, antibiotics and the like, and I would never, ever want my children to drink it or eat it in any form. I realize if it's offered to Krsna it become spiritual and is His mercy, but those children still have growing bodies and it is my job to nourish them in the best way possible. There are innumerable cases on the books of girls (and boys) who get breasts when they are 3 years old (or younger!), or girls who start menstruating when they are 8 years old which have resulted from an overload of hormones from dairy (and/or possibly meat) products.

I have wondered about the differences in a cows' situation, and it seems to me (please let me know if this isn't so) that they are sort of like people in the Krishna Conscious respect. Some people have never heard of Krishna, and some have. Is it safe to say that some cows are destined to live in a factory dairy while some are destined to live on a Devotee farm? The Lord has put each cow where they deserve to be, correct? So, aren't some cows more fortunate and others less fortunate? And how are we supposed to alter the fate of those cows that are less fortunate? Isn't that for Krishna to decide? What if those cows living on a feedlot in California were formerly workers on that farm (or some neighboring farm), and now they are being punished for their previous lives? Isn't that called Karma? I am not saying that we shouldn't try to help those cows, on the contrary, but I don't even want to patronize those businesses because it seems as if you are condoning those very practices.

And also, Correct me if I am wrong, but aren't we supposed to offer the Lord products of high quality? I would never buy sugar that is not organic due to the method in which regular sugar is made white, nor would I buy and prepare and offer stale, rotten, or putrid fruits or vegetables, or grains or beans full of bugs or worms. How is offering milk which is nothing more than a toxic slurry any different? Shouldn't we seek out the best ingredients to offer to the Lord? And, more importantly, shouldn't those ingredients be as kind to animals and Mother Earth as possible?

Hare Krsna, mataji.
Your servant,

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Fri, 09/12/2008 - 23:07 — Navasi
Navasi's picture

Dear Lisa,

You have asked me to correct you on your points.

I did not say "turn a blind eye".

If you think PETA is not a powerful organization, think again.

I didn't say you had to feed the milk to your children. Take it to the local homeless shelter, I'm sure they would appreciate it, and also benefit from having been given prasadam. (you can offer a lot of containers, by putting them all there when you make an offering from one container.)

As far as cows being like people, that's not even the point.

I'm saying that for those who CARE about the cows that are SUFFERING, then they could offer their milk. If devotees leave things to destiny, no one would be Krishna conscious. Devotees chant to insects to benefit them, they don't "leave it to destiny". Or leave it to "fate" or "karma". If they did, you would not have heard of Krishna either.

As far as offering the "best" to Krishna. Well, that's true in principle. However, there are many factors to consider within that principle. If you have to cook a feast for 300 people, and you have small temple, and very little money to do it with, are you going to use all the money (which of course we understand is Laxmi Devi) to buy the expensive organic milk?

This blog is addressing a concept. The point being, that if you care about cows, then care about all cows, and especially care about the ones that are suffering. If you care about the ones that are suffering, then do something to help them. Avoiding offering their milk does not help them. Maybe in the long run, some day, it will eventually affect the dairy industry, but like I said before, how many cows will die without their milk being offered in the meantime? Is this really the best thing to do?

I keep saying you are not understanding my point, and you keep telling me you do, then saying more things that are missing the point.....

Hare Krishna,

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Sun, 09/14/2008 - 20:58 — TaptKanchanGaurangi
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Stop thinking of offerring hormones injected Milk to Krishna

Dandawat Pranam to all the Devotees,
Please accept my humble obeisances,

There is no question of logical discussion here.. What is right is JUST right.. and YOU Know it is RIGHT... We can't offer milk to Krishna which is toxic, laden with pesticide residues, hormones and antibiotics. How do we know if Krishna is accepting it or not.

It is proven that Raw milk taken out of Mother Cow with love and care helps to fight against many modern day disease.

I agree with Lisa Mataji , when ample number of people stop using this commercial milk , then it is going to be an eye-opener for these Dollar Hungry Karmiks.

It is the only way to put an alarm. The Slogan is STOP Commercial Milk and PROMOTE organic Milk. As far as feeding 300 people with poison Milk , ie, in a temple does not make sense at all. How are we Krishna Conscious , we become complete killers. Other way would be to Stop use of commercial milk products all together in temples. There are many way of making prasadam. Nice Kichadi or Sabji's and Ladu made without use of Milk products.

We should promote Organic Cow farmers or trust like Go Rakhya Farm to to promote Organic way of Cow Milking .

Rajani and Ashok Dasi

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Mon, 09/15/2008 - 03:57 — Navasi
Navasi's picture
Working Together

Dear RadhaKunda,

I wonder why these projects have to be seen as being so mutually exclusive?

Certainly everyone only wants to see less cows suffer, and more cows treated properly.

While one person is convinced that their way is the only right way, and every other way is wrong, then we are not working together but against each other.

Just as you feel so strongly that milk from commercial dairies should not be offered, so do so many others feel just as strongly that it should.

So much more is accomplished when other views are taken into consideration, and everyone works together.

I don't see all these things as being so mutually exclusive, but the more statements that get made to that effect, the more I can see why they seem that way to so many.

I think that's very unfortunate. It goes without saying that working together always accomplishes more in the long run.

Hare Krishna,

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Fri, 09/12/2008 - 14:31 — jivatattva
jivatattva's picture
Buy All Cows

In the greater portion of the world in which Cows are exploited, the systems of law in those places dictates that these animals are 'personal or commercial property' and that the said owners can do what they want with them - and so they do.

The type of person or people who do this to these animals are waring like individuals, if you boycott them they will fight back by doing more of what they do!

They are all about the money, this is the only thing that will change their minds about what they do or don't do.

Educating people about good milk vs.tainted is useful - but I think that in reality this is not going to stop anytime soon.

This is a global human ego problem that is in the process of being fixed. At the moment there is some quarrel as to the method of fixing, like reduction of the ego or expansion of the ego or a combination of the two.

In the mean time - I think Navasi has a very sound and spiritual answer to this problem. Making an offering of the cows milk is the most anyone can do.

unless someone has enough money to 'buy all the cows' - because as you may know, any cow thats being mis-treated is also for sale, thats part of the problem, and all of the solution for someone who has enough money to solve it - but whos that going to be?
So making an offering is all we can do!

A little ego expansion in the area of right education is good also.


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Fri, 09/12/2008 - 15:25 — Navasi
Navasi's picture

Thank you, Jivatattva,

It's really wonderful to know that someone understood the POINT of my blog.

Hare Krishna,

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Fri, 09/12/2008 - 15:21 — abrennan
abrennan's picture
It is definitely something you can do

It's not true that if you fight back they will do more. No-one is asking you to fight anyone. Everyone should live responsibly. If you don't know about it you can't make the choices that are available.

Whole communities of people would still be oppressed and enslaved if no-one ever took small actions.

Offering milk of cows is something you can do it is not the only thing you can do

You can support those who are working to protect cows. Many devotees take service in this area. Even if you only support by bringing it to the attention of others. If possible you might help with your own resources like service or funds.

Depending on your situation there are other things. People should participate at the level they can.

I choose not to buy any of the by-products of this industry like leather and some cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. Food items often contain gelatin and other products made from the bones, skin and cartilage of cows and other creatures. This reduces the money they collect.

Just having posted here you have done something to raise the awareness of others. : ) That is a very important things. The more people who just know about it the better that chance that there are people who are in a position where they can help.

So don't fight with anyone : ) Just do what you can, that's all.

Hare Krishna

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Fri, 09/12/2008 - 23:14 — Navasi
Navasi's picture
Do What You Can

Yes Antony,

Just do what you can.

That's all.

Each person has to figure out what it is they can actually do, then DO it.

I love this:

"Whole communities of people would still be oppressed and enslaved if no-one ever took small actions. "

That's so true, and that was another of my points in writing what that blog.


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Sat, 09/13/2008 - 00:26 — abrennan
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: )

If you can only pray then that is your part. It's actually a very big part I would think.

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Sat, 09/13/2008 - 01:06 — Navasi
Navasi's picture
Pray & Act

Yes, praying is a big part of it. Essential part of it.

So is action, some kind of action. Even if it's only to read a little more about it so you might figure out what you can do.

What person is there that can not take at least some small action? Some kind of action, any kind of action?

We have to act on our prayers. You must not have read my recent blog "Prayer In Action".

You might want to read it... that would be an action ; )

: )


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Fri, 09/12/2008 - 18:53 — jivatattva
jivatattva's picture
Good Points

Yes, i wouldn't think fighting with anyone is a good idea, that's the whole point, to do so in any way is totally corporeal, but to perform offerings is the spiritual.

I have cow farms all around me. The way it works here is they will milk the cow until their output falls off, and then they don't live much longer. They all have a price on their heads, if you want to buy, you can buy dead or alive.

Of course if your saving the cow you buy alive. This is the most direct way to save a cow - buy them alive, and then keep them well!

If we have the means to save a cow or support the saving and well being of the cows that's excellent. And to offer up the cows milk, especially from the production dairies, because these are the souls that suffer the most.

Krishna will return the cows to their right place!