About the Caste System

Bhagavad-gītā 16.22 | April 27, 2003 | Gurukula, Modernization, Social Topics, Vedic, Varnasrama

English with தமிழ் Translation; Salem, Tamil Nadu, India

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Question: Should devotees refrain from taking milk from commercial dairy cows who are destined to go to the slaughter house if there is no milk available from ISKCON protected cows, and in that sense be vegan, thus removing the risk of being connected with the slaughter of cows? This is a hot topic in ISKCON… Expand>

Question:

Should devotees refrain from taking milk from commercial dairy cows who are destined to go to the slaughter house if there is no milk available from ISKCON protected cows, and in that sense be vegan, thus removing the risk of being connected with the slaughter of cows?

This is a hot topic in ISKCON right now and I was inspired to ask you this question after hearing a lecture you gave in Mumbai entitled "ISKCON's Forgotten Mission."

I am engaged on the goshalla at Bhaktivedanta Manor, UK and am a brahmacari in the asrama.

 

Answer by HH Bhakti Vikasa Swami:

Should devotees refrain from taking milk from cows destined to go to slaughterhouses, if there is not available milk from ISKCON protected cows? Well, apart from ISKCON at least here in India, are protected cows from Jains, they for instance and others, keep goshalas in which they don’t sell out the cows when they don’t give milk anymore or become old. Anyone who sells the cows for any reasons, it means they will likely go for slaughter. Vegan, well, should they be vegan if they can’t get milk? Well, there should be milk, at when you go to an ISKCON center, you should be able to get milk. Probably in the West ISKCON is the only society that claims to protect cows. I don’t know if there are some Jain goshalas, I never heard of it in America, England, there is one in Berm so I heard when I was there. Probably in Nepal, there may be some goshalas. So, mostly in India. Difficult to get there, even in India.

 

NEGLECTED MISSION
Actually our movement should have by now after all these years promoted farm communities and plenty of milk available from protected cows but it is a neglected mission. Some individual devotees may as they wish take or refrain from taking milk unless it is from protected cows, which for many devotees might mean they will never take milk or milk products.

COW'S MILK REQUIRED
However Srila Prabhupada also writes that milk is required…Milk means cow’s milk…generally when stated milk in shastra it refers to a cow’s milk, not the buffalo’s milk or…There is a lots of buffalo milk in India, or buffalo’s milk mixed with cow’s milk…There is also goat’s milk, donkey’s milk, camel’s milk, horse’s milk, pig’s milk, human milk (devotees laugh)…whale milk…I never heard of anyone milking the whale (laughter). But milk means cow’s milk. So, that is required, Srila Prabhupada said, to make fine brain tissue required Srila Prabhupada said to make the fine brain tissues which are required for understanding God. So Srila Prabhupada stressed that milk drinking is important for devotees and even though he was taught that in America by law milk could not be sold without fish oil in it, anyway Srila Prabhupada said devotees should take it and offer it. That was generally supposed to be true. But one devotee did some investigation, he asked dairy companies and they said, no, they don’t put the fish oil because it would smell horrible and nobody would like to take it. The thing is the milk is supposed to be vitamin D enriched and they were taking it from some other source. But the point I’m making is that Srila Prabhupada said that we should go on taking milk. So, yeah, we should do.
I’m not doing it, after reading a book from Sahadeva prabhu I decided I’m only gonna take milk from protected cows which in India, a lot of the time in many places you can do that.

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