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Gopashtami, or Gosthashtami is came after previously having grazed the calves, on this day Krishna first went out to graze the cows. In this way He became a gopa, a cowherd boy. On this day Shri Krishna became a qualified cowherd. Before this day, he was a keeper of the calves. Thus Shri Krishna, along with His elder brother Balarama, passed the childhood age known as kaumara and stepped into the age of pauganda, from the sixth year up to the tenth. At that time, all the cowherd men conferred and agreed to give those boys who had passed their fifth year charge of the cows in the pasturing ground. Given charge of the cows, Krishna and Balarama traversed Vrindavana, purifying the land with Their lotus footprints. It is stated in the Kartika-mahatmya section of the Padma Purana: suklastami karttike tu smrta gopastami budhaih tad-dinad vasudevo bhud gopah purvam tu vatsapah "The eighth lunar day of the bright fortnight of the month of Kartika is known by authorities as Gopastami. From that day, Lord Vasudeva served as a cowherd, whereas previously He had tended the calves." The word padaih indicates that Lord Krsna blessed the earth by walking on her surface with His lotus feet. The Lord wore no shoes or other footgear but walked barefoot in the forest, giving great anxiety to the girls of Vrindavana, who feared that His soft lotus feet would be injured. Krishna said at that time that the cows are worshiped even by the demigods, and He practically demonstrated how to protect the cows. At least people who are in Krishna consciousness should follow in His footsteps and give all protection to the cows. Cows are worshiped not only by the demigods. Krishna Himself worshiped the cows on several occasions, especially on the days of Gopastami and Govardhana-puja.
Vrindavan, 2014.10.31 (VT): Gopashtami is the occasion when one should take a pledge to protect the cows. This is the day when Shri Krishna went out to graze the cows (go-charan) for the first time. For this festival, cows are worshiped in every temples, ashrams and house of Braj. Unfortunately, by the very next day they are forgotten. The cow is revered by millions of Hindus, but not much can be done for them in the so called secular state of India. Leaving the rest of India, even our Braja-bhoomi has not been able to become a safe haven for the cow. When we think of Krishna, we visualize Gomata with him. Yet, even in this land where their master Shri Krishna used to roam barefooted with them, they are not safe. Braja should set the example for the whole world by putting cow protection front and center and promoting the cow economy. But this has not yet happened. Thousands of stray cows can be seen getting beaten in the streets by fruit or vegetable vendors. They don’t get enough to eat from the streets, which forces them to eat non-edibles such as paper and polythene bags. Many cows die in road accidents, even though hundreds of goshalas are fetching big donations in their name. Pasture lands have been grabbed by land mafias and hotels and housing complexes have been built on them. This leaves them no alternative but to roam the streets. Those who claim to be working for the cows are only interested in running their goshalas. An effort is needed to bring all the goshalas under one platform so they can work together for cow protection. Those who run the goshalas also need better management training so they can become self-dependent by making products out of cow dung and cow urine, apart from selling cow milk. Farmers need to be motivated to use natural organic compost made of cow dung instead of using chemical fertilizers. They should also be encouraged as far as possible to use bulls instead of mechanized tractors in the fields, which will have a very good long term impact in terms of growing natural organic produce. The condition of milch cows is generally a little better than that of the male calves and oxen, since they are needed for the production of milk. But it is painful to see the cruelty of young calves being separated from their mothers and abandoned to life on the street and the depravations of poachers. Butchers take advantage of the selfish mentality of those Hindus who abandon the cow after she goes dry. These animals are stolen in the night and sent to places where cow slaughter is legally allowed. Let us take a pledge on this day to think seriously how we can do some good for the gau-matas. We should work together to make Braj bhoomi a sanctuary for our mother the cow. We should propagate the idea of the cow economy seriously. Let us join hands to bring pressure on the government to make Braj bhoomi a safe home for Krishna’s most beloved creature. Let us become a true Brajwasi by doing the job of Govinda and Gopal.