Srimad Jagadguru Shankaracharya Sri Sri Raghaveshwara Bharati Maha Swamiji of the Sri RamachandrapuraMatha was so appalled at the living conditions of close to 30,000 cows in Male Mahadeshwara Hills in a time of near-drought, that he made it his life’s mission to save desi cows from being butchered.
Across Karnataka, Swami ji and his team of dedicated volunteers started a campaign called #GiveUpAMeal, asking devotees and regular folk alike, to donate the money saved from skipping one meal to the Matha, which would use it to buy feed for the cows. Unprecedented numbers of folk sent their humble savings, and the Matha was able to save these cows from starvation and butchery, for the 2 months needed to tide over till the rains. A substantial number of contributions came from social media as well, apart from scholars and celebrities.
Then Sri Sri Raghaveshwara Bharati Maha Swamiji realised that seasonally protecting desi cows, who were rapidly being bred out by cattle owners keen on hybrid and foreign breeds, was not enough. He had to convince owners to carry desi breeds by educating them on the superiority of desi cow products and the many uses of byproducts. To save cows from being slaughtered or abandoned, he had to tie up with Goushalas (cow shelters) to house them as well.
However, this was not possible without the support of the people. They didn’t breed cows at their individual homes, nor did they visit Goushalas. So there was an absence of knowledge about the usefulness of cows, the superiority of desi cow milk over hybrids, and a general emotional bonding with an animal once found in every home and fed the first roti of the day.
Swami ji and his team then hit upon an idea: to launch campaigns to drive awareness and information between both breeders and consumers online and offline. The campaigns would encourage folk to #GiveUpLeather, or continue to #GiveUpAMeal or take a #SelfieWithCow at a goushala, donate or even adopt Goushalas; and save human beings in the leather trade from inhuman working conditions as well. Bharat has more than 2000 tanneries, most of them illegal and located along the major, life giving rivers into which they discharge their highly toxic effluents.
Sri Sri Raghaveshwara Bharati Maha Swamiji partnering with the Kamadugha department of Sri RamachandrapuraMatha and the Bharatiya GouParivara, launched the #Abhayakshara or #ProtectWithPen campaign.
Every citizen of Bharat, starting with Karnataka, would sign a petition and urge the Central and Karnataka State governments to bring in laws for a complete ban on cow slaughter.
The “AbhayaGouYatra” was launched on the auspicious day of Datta Jayanti which aimed at the collection of the Abhayakshara / petition signatures across the state by Swami ji and a team of volunteers travelling to each district of Karnataka. The AbhayaGouYatra travelled the length and breadth of the state for 48 days collecting Abhayakshara from each district; the number of signatures collected, stands at almost a Crore as of now! From common folk, farmers, policemen, to little school kids, to Karnataka’s most famous movie stars and most powerful politicians, virtually everyone joined in the AbhayaGouYatra. Outreach in various languages of Bharat, including Hindi, ensured that every resident of the state was included in this mercy mission.
The culmination of this Yatra, known as “AbhayaMangala” took place today at Raghavendra Gou Ashrama, Malur with Dr. Subramanian Swamy MP as chief guest. Dr. Swamy has also been a part of the MahaMangala (culmination) phase of the MangalaGouYatra at Mangalore last year. He assured the gathering about follow up on his private member bill for the ban on Cow slaughter. Sadhvi Pragya Singh Ji, who was a part of the program, was unable to attend due to health issues, but ensured to send a voice note played for the gathering about the importance of Desi Cows and her own experiences with them.
There were few special events at the program. The Matru Shree of Sri Swami ji signed a petition in blood, and several sants and gou premis and gou kinkiras followed suit. Sri Swami Ji adopted a whole cattle breed, Malnad Gidda, on the verge of extinction. The Matha will now preserve and propagate this breed of desi cows. The outcome will be extended across other breeds at a later stage.
Sri Swami Ji’s mission since 2008, to spread the word about the need to save desi cows through innovative social media campaigns and dedicated volunteers who put feet on street, has borne fruit. His announcement about the task of providing evidence as to how raising desi cows is actually more beneficial economically, has increased curiosity of attendees and cattle breeders alike. We now await the direction the dynamic young Swami ji will give to this mass movement.
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