Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Remembering Gita


Balabhadra teaching with Gita (on the left) and Vraja, and Gita and Vraja hard at work

For the last 18 years we have been blessed by the association of Vraja and Gita, our team of Brown Swiss Oxen. From the time we saved them from the slaughterhouse when they were 2 1/2 months of age until last fall when Vraja passed away at the age of 17, and this winter when Gita passed away at the age of 18, our time together has been full of lessons.

Vraja and Gita were twins and they each had completely different personalities. Vraja was the boss and head of the herd and Gita was the gentle soul and gentleman. From the age of 4 months, they traveled across the USA to many festivals and fairs to show the American public the beauty of full-grown oxen and to spread the glories of “OX POWER.”

I was their teamster, hauling wood together and plowing the fields besides traveling with them to many Rathayatras and festivals. They were both honest workers. Sometimes someone else would try to be Vraja and Gita’s teamster. Vraja would often test them by acting up but Gita would just watch the charade and wait for the teamster to get Vraja under control, which often involved my help. Those were Gita’s main characteristics, patience and tolerance.

When we saw a pair of horns above the corn, we knew it was you Gita. Even though we had chased you out of the corn field you would find your way back, eating and trampling all the corn under your feet. Your one fault was loving sweet corn too much!

What remains most memorable about you Gita was your uncanny ability to sense the suffering of both cows and people. You gave comfort by staying close often until the end of a life, listening patiently to any outpouring of anguish, and showing your understanding by licking and nudging the sufferer. Who were you in that bovine body that you possessed such empathy?

You have touched the hearts of many people worldwide over the years. Great souls VRAJA and GITA..................thank you for sharing your lives with us. You will always be in our hearts.
Submitted by Balabhadra

Monday, February 25, 2008

Memories of Gita

Shelda made cookies for Gita and he loved to eat them
I was so sorry to hear of the passing of Gita. He will be missed by everyone that had the honor to have met him. He was the kindest, gentlest soul that I have ever known. It seemed that all he ever asked of anyone was some love and affection. I so treasure the time that I got to spend with him and am glad that I found a treat that he enjoyed so much, it gave me great pleasure to do that for him. I know that he is much better now and will no longer suffer with the pain of his arthritis.

Submitted by Shelda Bloomingdale

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Memories of Gita

Gita with Chaitanya Bhagavat and Shelda
I first met Gita when I came to New Vrindavan in June 2006. Balabhadra prabhu was showing the ISCOWP barn to me when I felt a nudge on my right shoulder. I turned around and there he stood, 7 feet high at the horns, 2000 pounds of pure friendship and loyalty. To describe him as majestic would be an understatement.

I turned to stroke his face and he began licking my hand with his sandpaper tongue. I took a few steps away from him to continue the tour with Balabhadra and Gita followed me closely wherever I walked. We became fast friends.

By Krishna’s mercy, I was able to spend many a day serving and caring for him over the past couple of years. The experiences and lessons from his association are so meaningful to me I could write a book and probably should.

The last few days of his life, I spent with him morning and evening. I would go to the barn and rock his head in my arms. He would just collapse into me as we both sat in the hay listening to Srila Prabhupada chant “Manasa Deha Geha.”

When I found his body that morning as I walked into the barn, Srila Prabhupada was speaking the purport to that song. His exact words as I approached Gita were; “My life, my body, my home, I surrender everything unto you.”
Submitted by Chaitanya Bhagavat das

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Memories of Gita


I saw Gita only a few times before recently helping with the cows at ISCOWP. I saw him here at New Vrindavan and LA Rathayatra. His size and beauty amazed me. He was seven feet from his toes to the tip of his horns and weighed 2000 pounds; a most beautiful servant of Srila Prabhupada and Lord Krsna.

At LA Rathayatra, I witnessed how people were in awe of him. I cannot help but think he influenced the minds of the people who saw and met him. Some realizing they were eating such a wonderful animal in their daily diet and perhaps becoming vegetarian or at least swearing off eating cows.

Srila Prabhupada often commented how if the people would do this one thing (stop cow killing) the consciousness of the world would change for the better. All glories to Gita, a sweet servant of the Lord!

Submitted by Tranakarta das (ACBSP)

Friday, February 22, 2008

In Memory of Gita

Gita socializing with Lakshmi and guest jck Baldwin last May 2007
I was finally able to check my e-mail late on February 18 in India and wrote a letter to my parents asking how everything and the cows were at home. Mom wrote back (it was the 17th in America) that Gita was in very bad shape and most likely would not last that long. As I was reading the email, I started to cry. He was one of my babies, he was raised as if he was my brother not someone or something that you owned.

By this time, it was late in the evening and the middle of the night in the USA so I would not hear anything from parents until the next day. All day I was thinking about Gita and praying for him. On one hand, I was praying that he would pass fast and on the other hand, I did not want him to pass at all. You never want a family member to pass on who is dear to your heart, soul, and mind. Here in India it was Lord Nityananda's appearance day, a very holy day and a good day to pray.

I was finally able to check my e-mail in the late afternoon and there was an e-mail waiting from Mom. I did not want to open it. I knew it was about Gita. I was right, he had passed, but he had a very good passing. He was blessed that he went quickly and his passing was not prolonged. I started crying again. Just writing this right now, I want to cry and I am starting to tear up just remembering reading the e-mail.

It was a blessing to have known Gita because he was such a sweet, kindhearted, and gentle soul. I know he has moved on to another good place in his journey. I just wished he had not moved on so soon. Whenever I would go into the barn, he was always so thrilled to see me. He loved to be petted, rubbed, and sometimes just hugged. He had the most beautiful soulful eyes. I felt I could fall into them and be comforted and healed. Gita always knew when you were sad and would try to comfort you in his own sweet way by trying to lick the sorrow out of you with his big sandy tongue.

Gita and Vraja did so much outstanding preaching. They touched so many hearts and minds and changed them for the better. I remember traveling all over the country with them and the affect they had on the public. Gita was always the sweet and gentle one of the twins. We always had to watch out for Vraja, he really liked to use his horns. We never had to worry about Gita misbehaving or scaring people with his size or horns. He was the perfect gentleman.

Gita's full name was Bhagavad-Gita. Everyone who knew him will sorely miss him.


Submitted by Lakshmi devi

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Thank You New Vrindavan Devotees

Gita With The Herd last Summer

Within the story about how “Gita Moved On” we mentioned the selfless devotees who dropped everything and came immediately when asked to help Gita. We would like to mention their names: Bhakta Chris, Gopal das, Krsna das, Madhavananda das, Yamuna-Jivana das, Ragupati das, Lalita Gopi dasi, Vishaka dasi, Vrnda dasi. Special thanks to Chaitanya Bhagavat das who spent many hours with Gita in his aging days and in the last moments of his life, and Tranakarta das who recently has come back to New Vrindavan and helped with caring for Gita in his final days.

“On February 16, we moved him again and he again surprised everyone and walked around. This time we made certain he was in the larger part of the geriatric barn and he eventually sat down in a good place. However, the next day, after Chaitanya fed him his grains, Gita collapsed. From that point, he struggled to get upright. When he couldn’t, Chaitanya came to get me and we both went to the barn to access what could be done. We realized that we needed to flip him to get him into a better position but the two of us would not be enough to do it. Then, Chaitanya went to the temple to see what help he could get. About forty-five minutes later, Chaitanya came back with six devotees to help flip Gita. We had four devotees on Gita’s legs and three at his head to make sure his head moved with his body. We expertly flipped Gita and he landed sitting up. We braced him with square bales and then he tried to eat the bales. Enthusiastically, all the devotees ran to him with hay to eat. The cows ran to the gate to see. Everyone was very happy at what appeared to be a miraculous recovery. Joy permeated the atmosphere. I was inspired and moved to see the selfless service of the devotees and their joy at Gita’s recovery.”

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Gita Moves On


Gita left early today on Lord Nityananda's Appearance day, February 18, 2008. Last night strong winds were carrying warm air while they moved billowy clouds swiftly across the sky. As I walked to and from the barns, it felt like someone was turning on and off a floodlight until I realized it was the clouds passing over the white bright moon. The stars were very bright in the sky, often covered by the clouds. There was a presence in the night: the wind personified to bring Gita away as he thrust his head into the air and opened his mouth.

At first I said, "Don't do that Gita! Don't stress yourself!" And I would put his head down. After several hours of Chaitanya Bhagavat and I trying to make him comfortable, we came to realize he was trying to leave his body. He was opening his mouth so his soul could leave upward. We had given him Ganga water, placed the tape deck of Srila Prabhupada chanting next to him, as the winds were so fierce we could not hear it from the top of the barn, and placed Govardhan Sila on his head. Govardhan Sila then sat on his altar on the wall facing Gita.

He had arthritis for several years and each year it became more difficult for him to walk. This winter we put him in the geriatric barn so it would be easier for him to access his food and move around. Gita was one of our oldest cows. He turned 18 years old recently. His twin brother, Vraja, died last summer. He also had arthritis. Together, they led many Rathayatra parades in the United States and appeared at many events. They greeted guests with their handsome appearance and endearing personalities. In this way, they presented cow protection to the public.

Around February 9, Gita was not able to get up. He did not have the power in his back legs to push up his large body. Since he was an old cow, we expected that he would leave his body in the near future. We kept him as comfortable as possible and fed him as much as he wanted to eat and drink. In preparation for parting, He daily listened to Srila Prabhupada’s sacred chanting and received holy Ganga water.

On February 13, we attempted to move Gita into a better place with an apparatus called hip huggers. He was near the gate of the barn and a lot of wind was blowing on him. As he was lifted and placed down, he surprised everyone and started walking around. However, he was weak for he was down for a few days. After a few hours of walking, he sat down again in the same place.

On February 16, we moved him again and he again surprised everyone and walked around. This time we made certain he was in the larger part of the geriatric barn and he eventually sat down in a good place. However, the next day, after Chaitanya fed him his grains, Gita collapsed. From that point, he struggled to get upright. When he couldn’t, Chaitanya came to get me and we both went to the barn to access what could be done. We realized that we needed to flip him to get him into a better position but the two of us would not be enough to do it. Then, Chaitanya went to the temple to see what help he could get. About forty-five minutes later, Chaitanya came back with six devotees to help flip Gita. We had four devotees on Gita’s legs and three at his head to make sure his head moved with his body. We expertly flipped Gita and he landed sitting up. We braced him with square bales and then he tried to eat the bales. Enthusiastically, all the devotees ran to him with hay to eat. The cows ran to the gate to see. Everyone was very happy at what appeared to be a miraculous recovery. Joy permeated the atmosphere. I was inspired and moved to see the selfless service of the devotees and their joy at Gita’s recovery.

When I checked on Gita later in the day, he was lying down obviously struggling again to get upright. However, this time he was near one of the barn poles and flipping him would not be possible. It was six o’clock and it would be dark at 6:30. As he struggled to get up I tried to brace his back with square bales but he was too heavy and moved them away when he would fall back. He was fighting and trying to eat the bales that I tried to use to brace him. I knew Chaitanya was coming to check on Gita and I tried to comfort Gita until Chaitanya came.

When Chaitanya came, we spent a couple of hours trying to make Gita comfortable. The winds were so strong and loud and then there was a change in Gita. He started putting his head in the air and opening his mouth. He no longer reacted to our words. We felt he was in the process of leaving this material world. By then it was late evening. A few hours away and it would be lord Nityananda’s Appearance day. Just like Gita. We had always called him the Brahman of the twins. He was always the gentleman, sensitive to the feelings of others. Listening to Srila Prabhupda chanting, tasting Ganga water, with Govardhan Sila in his sight, on Lord Nityananda’s Appearance day, he left his body.




Submitted by Chayadevi

Monday, February 04, 2008

Gita and Vraja baby photo


HAPPY BIRTHDAY GITA!!!!!!!

It just seems like yesterday that Dad was calling around to local farmers looking for two baby bulls. At this time we were living in North Carolina and they had a different calving time compared to Pennsylvania. PA was the state we were living in previously for 9 years and they normally calve in late March thru May. Now NC is down south and the climate is a lot hotter so they calve in the beginning of the year.

Dad was calling around and no one had any calves, they had already been sent to the slaughterhouse. Then Dad called a place that was 2 hours away and the farmer said he had 2 twin bulls that were two months old. If Dad was interested in purchasing them, then he would have to do so fast because the farmer was planning on putting them in the next auction which was in a couple days. So Parents got into the car and went to go see the babies. When they saw them they just fell in love. They were so cute! The farmer was only holding on to them because he planed on fattening them up and selling them when they were 2 years old. But it was turning out to be too expensive.

Parents told him they would like to purchase them and the price was agreed on. It was the price of meat per pound at that time times how much they weighed. The next day Dad, I, my older brother and a couple of the neighborhood kids piled into our large red van. The back of the van was filled with bedding for the babies. I think the farmer was shocked when we all piled out of the van and were all so excited to meet the babies. .We told him we were all vegetarians and paid him with a International Society for Cow Protection check. Another shock! We put the halters on the two baby bull calves and Dad and Valadev (my brother) picked them up and put them into the back of the van. The rest of us climbed in with them to keep them company and to keep them calm.

That trip was a lot of fun. This is how it came to be that Bhagavad Gita and Vrajabhadu came to join our family. Even though it feels like it was just yesterday it was a long time ago. Vraja passed away in the winter of 2006 but we still have our beautiful Gita. For his birthday, February 2, he got many handfuls of cookies which he just inhaled. Gita is a special ox, apples, carrots and other items will just not do, he has to have cookies in some form or another.

Submitted by Lakshmi Devi