Taking care of cows is rewarding and lots of fun! The indigenous cows are very affectionate, alert and friendly. They demand lots of love and attention, and love to be hugged and patted just like domestic pets! Gir cows will not give their milk until a close bond has been established with their caretaker.
Some of the activities that centre round the Art of Living, International Headquarters, Bangalore Goshala:
Agnihotra: An oblation made into fire, of whole rice grains mixed in ghee (clarified butter). This is done to the recitation of certain mantras at the precise time of sunrise and sunset. Cow dung sticks feed the flame into which the offering is placed. Some benefits of daily performing Agnihotra include: peace and purification of one’s immediate surroundings and building and repairing the ozone layer. The smoke from the homa (fire offering) also works as a mosquito repellent. The ash from the offering mixed with native cow dung works as a good fertilizer; ash mixed with desi (local) cow ghee has anti-bacterial properties and may be effectively applied on wounds. Research has proven the positive effects of Agnihotra for drug and alcohol de-addiction. The Agnihotra site attracts different species of birds. This fact has been proven in the goshala, which has now over a number of months, become a site for a number of exotic birds.
Mahamrityunjaya homa: Performed daily to ward off diseases, ensuring good health. The ghee and cow dung sticks used in Agnihotra and Mahamrityunjaya homa are made in-house.
Preservation and propagation: A bull’s and cow’s family history is first studied before mating begins to ensure good pedigree. Near delivery time pregnancies are closely monitored.
Feeding: Cows are fed thrice a day. Fixed meals of fresh and dry fodder, gram husk, and mineral supplements are served to them in their sheds. They are let out mid-morning for grazing.
Milking: Cows are milked twice a day: at dawn and dusk. This is also the time when the young get a drink from their mothers. Milk is distributed in the ashram.
Green electricity: Production of biogas (methane) from cow dung for meeting energy needs.
Guided tours for visitors: Visitors are provided information regarding the different breeds of Indian cows and their material and spiritual benefit to society. Visitors with extra time may offer a helping hand by grooming cows and cleaning sheds.
Seva or selfless service: Hindus believe the Indian cow, houses the entire panorama of gods and goddesses. Cow seva (caring for the cows) is considered one of the highest forms of seva. Brushing cows is one of the seva activities open to visitors.
Go daan (Donate a Cow): This is considered the highest form of daan in the Hindu tradition. Money and cheque contributions are accepted. For further details email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Other activities in Art of Living Goshala: Bathing cows, cleaning sheds and open enclosures, inspecting cows for injuries and ailments, and attending to the medical needs of the cows.
The Art of Living plans to open a goshala in each of it centers in India. Currently there are two goshalas – one in Bangalore (Karnataka) and another in Vasad (Gujarat).