Everyone loves mysteries! Today we would like to share one with you. It is a mystery of the Mother Cow and the Sanskrit word “go”.
Have you ever wondered how these two meanings of the word ‘go’ (‘Feeling’and‘Cow’) are connected? Or – how can we realize cows’ divine nature and its practical connection to our life and how can we serve them? We have. That is why we addressed these questions to H.G. Vasushreshtha Prabhu, a Holder of an Advanced Doctorate in Philosophical Sciences, an author of more than 100 scientific publications and a founder of the Bhaktivedanta Institute in the Ural Region of Russia, who joined ISKCON in 1990.
So, let us dive into the ocean of philosophical nectar which his answer to these questions proved to be.
In the Laghu-Bhagavatamrita Rupa Goswami states that one must worship Krishna and Krishna’s devotees. It is the greatest mistake to worship Krishna, ignoring His devotees, and vice versa. Simultaneous performance of BOTH types of worship is a fundamental premise of the spiritual practice of bhakti-marga.
The essence of bhakti-yoga is worshipping Prema, which means worshipping the love of the devotees for Krishna, and the love of Krishna for His devotees. And in that sense, prema that connects Krishna and the cows of Vraja is unique. All the great saints, the dwellers of Vraja, immersed in the mysteries of Vraja-bhakti, claim unanimously that serving the cow is the key to realizing Vraja-bhava, the special mellow of Goloka Vrindavana.
Vaishnava scholars, experienced in the higher rasas of Vraja-prema, do not provide any rational explanation for the role of the cow in the life of Goloka, but it looks like it cannot be any other way since the main characteristic of a cow is an inexplicably deep level of sensitivity which maintains the initial spirit of Krishna’s abode.
The mystery of the name “GO”
External sense organs are called “indriyas”. Spiritual feelings and experiences – “hrishikenas” or “go”. Spiritual feelings are by definition irrational – that is they defy logical explanation, but still one can notice intricate, inconceivable coincidences between the meanings of the Sanskrit word “go”: “feelings” = “cows”. It turns out that feelings–emotional experiences are the cow’s “form of life”. The essence of the cow’s being is to emphasize with and to feel with all the living beings and their spiritual feelings!
Krishna is the source and master of all the feelings (Hrishikesha). Cows, who are made of go,feelings, by their nature feel the heart of Krishna the most. The cows of Vraja always intensely feel His love for allliving beings, starting with the dearest and closest of His devotees (Radha, Yashoda…). And Krishna, in His turn, feels the hearts of the cows. This mutual “feeling with”,“co-experience”, keeps Krishna and the cows constantly and deeply dependent on each other. This dependence is so strong and unbreakable, that Krishna, whatever he’s doing, always remembers the cows, and the cows remember Him. This connection between Krishna and all the cows defines the life in Vrindavan to such a degree that the simplest definition that one can give to the home abode of Krishna is the “Planet of cows” (Go-loka). The rhythm of a “mundane” life of Vrindavan filled with endless experiences of prema is “centered” around the feelings of the cows. And that is because it is the cows that are so sensitive (that is they feel so much with the prema of each and every dweller of Vraja) that they turn out to be the most unprotected and in need of everyone’s care and support.