Care for Cows Vrindavana held a special event to celebrate Kurma Rupa Dasa’s life and service on June 28th, the third anniversary of his passing.
The founder and director of Care for Cows expired due to cancer in 2015 at the age of 67. But the organization he started continues to support and care for destitute and abandoned cows in Lord Krishna’s holy land of Vrindavana, India.
The commemorative event in Kurma Rupa’s honor took place at the Care for Cows Goshala on the Food For Life Vrindavana land in Kiki Nagla Village. About 250 people attended the program, which ran from 10:30am till 1:00pm. Among them were members of the many other volunteer groups who protect cows in Vrindavana, such as Street Cow Seva and Go Seva Vrindavana.
The program included kirtan and bhajans by Krishna Balarama Mandir’s renowned 24-Hour Kirtan team; glorification of Kurma Rupa, along with a ceremonial offering of flowers called pushpanjali; and go-puja or worship of the cows.
The cows were then fed sumptuously with all the food they love, including bananas and watermelon, followed by a delicious feast for the attendees.
Keshi Nisudhana Krishna Das, who served with Kurma Rupa for seven years, organized the event. He describes how Care for Cows was first founded.
In 1997, a local Brijabasi store owner donated a young bull named Padmalochana to Kurma, who kept him in his house and would personally cook for him every day. During the sacred month of Kartik that year, Kurma made a vow to take in and feed a couple more homeless cows. But two cows quickly turned into several, then a dozen, and by the end of Kartik, fifteen.
“They just kept coming,” says Keshi. “We believe that Krishna knew – this was the man who could take care of the cows.”
Preparations for go-puja
Kurma Rupa teamed up with Rupa Raghunath, Director of Food For Life Vrindavana, to start Care For Cows. And for the next eighteen years, he fully dedicated his life to the service of abandoned, sick and injured cows, bulls, retired oxen and orphaned calves.
Today Care for Cows has three goshalas – two on the FFLV land with 300 cows between them, and one in Belwan, across the Yamuna river, with some 200 more. The organization also has three main efforts underway.
“Feeding the street cows was very dear to Kurma Rupa Prabhu, so our number one project is called ‘Feed Abandoned Cows,’” Keshi says. “We can’t bring them in because we don’t have enough space, but we go out every day in a donated auto-rickshaw with about 500 kgs of grass, and feed them.”
The second effort is providing both outpatient and inpatient medical attention. “We are on call 24-hours a day,” Keshi says. “Any time we get a call that there is an injured cow on the street, we go and take a look. If it’s just a minor injury, we administer medication and leave. But if, for instance, the cow’s leg is broken and they wouldn’t survive on the streets, we bring them in, look after them, and feed them.”
The event was a chance for devotees to connect with the cows and calves
The third effort, of course, is long-term care of the cows that are taken in. “After the injured cows were better, Kurma Rupa Prabhu never kicked them out, they were now part of the family,” recalled one friend.
Dedicated to continuing on Kurma Rupa’s legacy, Keshi Nishudana knows he had the chance to serve with a truly unique devotee.
“Kurma Rupa was special,” he says. “He loved the Lord’s cows, and alone made so many people more aware of the need to take care of them. To see him in action was amazing. If there was a cow in trouble, no matter how difficult the situation, he would be the first one out there. He would sit up from midnight till the morning outside the goshala because he couldn’t be sure the chowkidars would be aware enough – he wanted to do the security himself. That’s the kind of person he was.”
“To me,” Keshi finishes, “He was a saint.”
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To find out more about Care For Cows, please visit https://careforcowsvrindavan.com/