Bow Your Head

by Kurma Rupa dasa

Wisdom from the cow shed

They say it was the coldest winter in thirty years... no sunshine for three weeks. Finally one afternoon the sun broke through the haze and lit a small oval area in the barnyard. My mother Nagnagiti waddled over and plopped herself down to deliver me. As the labor pains ensued, she stretched all four legs and began panting. The gopas (cowherd men) had been watching her udder swell over the last few days and were awaiting my arrival.

They gathered around my Mom to assist if necessary and as my front hooves protruded they understood that I was in the wrong position to be delivered. I was upside down and stuck in the birth canal which is a dangerous complication.

I should have been in a diving position with my head between my legs with my nose at my knees. I was in the position of a back dive which is a dangerous way to take birth.

The gopas tried to shift me over with no luck. They called the vet who was experienced with this complication and he tied a thin rope to my hooves and pushed me back into the womb and gently turned me around so I was in the proper position and then pulled me out.

I had been warm in the womb, then cramped in the birth canal and then thrust into a record cold winter. As my Mom began to lick me I felt reassurance and soon felt my instincts direct me to try to stand. My legs felt numb but after a few tumbles I was able to stand unsteadily while trembling.

I was distressed as I realized that I was quite helpless to ward off the cold. My instincts further directed me to find my food source and all I could understand was that it was located somewhere above my head. I stumbled around my mother pointing my nose skyward attempting to find my quota of food. I knew that if I did not get something warm and nourishing soon, I would perish. I raised my nose trying to locate the milk as my instincts directed but failing to locate it I began to pray, “He Govinda! I am helpless and in danger. You are known to give pleasure to cows so please help me or I’ll perish.”

I repeated this prayer as my wobbly legs fumbled around my mother who remained seated. Even though the gopas tried to help her stand, she could not as she was too exhausted from the stress of the delivery. I had no choice but to continue searching with my head held high and chanting my prayer.

Then I felt a heavy hand on the back of my neck. While I struggled to search above, now a much stronger force pushed me down. I resisted with all my might but it was of no use… After crumbling unto the cold ground I intensified my prayer thinking these may be my last words, “He Gopala! If You don’t help me now, I will surely die!”

The heavy hand pushed me down until my nose nuzzled against my mother’s udder and I could smell the milk within. Instinct directed me to nurse and all my fears fled as the rich ambrosial nectar filled me with warmth and comfort. I was united with the source of my life. The force I had taken to be hostile was actually the hand of a gopa helping me find what I most needed.

My prayer had been answered!

I drank my fill and was covered with a wool blanket in a warm room for several days. I became steady on my legs and drank all the milk I wanted and soon became strong enough to run.

On the first day of my life I learned this important lesson: If your prayer is not answered while holding your nose in the air... pray harder and bow your head.

One should chant the holy name of the Lord in a humble state of mind, thinking oneself lower than the straw in the street; one should be more tolerant than a tree, devoid of all sense of false prestige, and should be ready to offer all respect to others. In such a state of mind one can chant the holy name of the Lord constantly. Sri Sri Siksastaka ,Text Three






Man cannot pretend to be higher in ethics, spirituality, advancement, or civilization than other creatures, and at the same time live by lower standards than the vulture or hyena.

Jay Dinshah, American Vegan Society