Friday, May 21, 2010

Go Pooja

So in Basse Normandie, in the spring and summer, a beautiful thing happens - lots of lots of little farm animals are born. When you drive through the countryside, you see these little ones; all spindly-legged and wide-eyed, next to their protective mamas who are standing stoic and proud. They are grazing in grass pastures, with hectares and hectares of space; having been born into the most charmed scenario for domestic farm animals, ie, free-range and well-loved.

The baby goats are adorable and mysterious with their horizontal eyes. The lambs, while also adorable, are a bit goofy looking. But the ones who touch into the soft spot in my heart are the calves, les petite vaches.

Before this spring, I'd never really noticed the calves. I mean, I always thought they were cute, but I had never really looked deep into the huge, gorgeous, innocent eyes of a calf and felt so connected to something so very big.

There's a particular pair of twin calves in a pasture just down the way, who have touched me deeply. They are of the Limousin variety, possibly the oldest breed of cow in all of Europe. 20,000 year-old cave drawings found near Montignac, France, bare an uncanny resemblance to today's breed.

I have named them Ram and Lam, the energetic sounds of the Mulandhara Chakra, represented by the color red, the color of their fur...

In Hindu and yoga philosophy, cows are sacred. Their sanskrit name is "Go" and honoring a cow is "Go Pooja". It is believed that "...a cow is so spiritually pure that millions and millions of deities take residence in and around a cow. Thus the very space occupied by a cow is holy ground. Only very pure souls can take birth as cows. Humankind should realize the spiritual significance of cows and learn how these docile animals can contribute to our spiritual upliftment."

Everything from their dung to the dust stirred up from the ground on which they walk, is considered sacred.

I love folklore and as the story goes, when Krishna (often also referred to as "Govinda" protector of cows, and "Gopala" finder of cows) played his flute in the pasture, first all of the cows would flock to him. Then, all the cow-tenders/cowgirls, ie, the Gopis, would flock to him as well. The music was transcendent. They would all dance the dance of Bhakti, playfully and lovingly, infusing the Universal life-force with pure love and devotion.

Apparently, Krishna loved butter and milk. He loved it so much that as a child he would steal the homemade butter and stuff it in his mouth, hiding it from others. One day his mother caught him and demanded he open his mouth. When she gazed in the mouth of this son of Brahman, she was overwhelmed with what she saw; the entire Universe unfolding as if like a song.

At times I have wondered why I, a one-time vegan, ended up here, in this sort of obscure part of Basse Normandie/Pays de la Loire, surrounded by cows and so much butter and cheese. As of this spring, I'm starting to understand.

Shri Govinda.