Today marks the annual celebration of Lord Krishna’s lifting Govardhana Hill to protect the residents of Vrindavana from the wrath of Indra. Typically devotees prepare varieties of foodstuff with grain and ghee (like rice, dhal, halva, pakora, puri etc.) and all kinds of milk preparations (such as sweet rice, rabri, sweetballs, sandesha, rasagulla and laddu). The food is stacked like a small mountain and offered to the Lord. Then it is distributed to everyone.
Of all the devotees, this Govardhana Hill is the best! O my friends, this hill supplies Krishna and Balarama, along with Their calves, cows and cowherd friends, with all kinds of necessities: water for drinking, very soft grass, caves, fruits, flowers and vegetables. In this way the hill offers respects to the Lord. Being touched by the lotus feet of Krishna and Balarama, Govardhana Hill appears very jubilant. (Srimad Bhagavatam 10.21.18)
Devotees also worship the cows on the day of Govardhana Puja. Krishna is known as Gopala – the protector of cows. There is also a prayer in Vishnu Purana (1.19.65) that states: namo brahmanya-devaya go-brahmana-hitaya ca. Here Krishna is described as the well-wisher of the cows and the brahmanas. The cows are decorated and fed well. Keeping the cows in front, devotees circumambulate the Govardhana Hill.
There seems to be an ongoing debate over Veganism vs. Vegetarianism amongst devotees. Even in communities like New Vrindaban, where the cow is being protected, and there is an ample supply of fresh whole milk.
I happened to run across this comment by Mahananda dasa on Facebook and decided to share part of it with you today.
Milk… Krsna’s Miracle Gift To Mankind
EDITORIAL, Jul 27, 2000 — by Mahananda dasa
“The protection of cows maintains the most miraculous form of food, i. e., milk for maintaining the finer tissues of the brain for understanding higher aims of life. ” Srila Prabhupada
In response to the article written a few days ago about the harmful affects of drinking milk, I would like to present our view of milk drinking that we have accepted from our spiritual master.
Despite the evils of modern dairies and the cruel methods of obtaining milk from the mother cows, or despite the unwanted chemicals that store bought milk might introduce into your body and cause ill effects, still, we do not condemn drinking milk nor support veganism as part of our philosophy.
Quite the contrary. The glories of drinking cow’s milk are everywhere in Srila Prabhupada’s books. And though this may cause some doubts in the minds of those who have embraced vegan-ism, we as devotees faithfully follow the advise of our teacher, though it is sometimes contrary to fads or scientific theory.