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Friday, March 5, 2021

A spiritual retreat

Reading Time: 3 minutesJoin the Hare Krishna devotees at the New Gokula Farm in the Hunter Valley in their mission to create a more God-conscious Earth

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Spread over a sprawling 500 acres of lush organic farms, the New Gokula Farm and the Sri Sri Radha Gokulananda temple, is nestled in the picturesque Hunter Valley in New South Wales, 166 kilometres away from the bustling city of Sydney. The name for the farm is derived from the Sanskrit word go kula or ‘home for the cows’, and replicates Lord Krishna’s childhood days in Vrindavan and his love for cows and mother nature, conserving which happens to be the prime mission at this farm.

In 1988, a few devotees purchased the land with the goal of establishing a self-sufficient Hare Krishna community, laying the foundation for the New Gokula Farm. Soon the Sri Sri Radha Gokulananda temple was built and infrastructural facilities like dams and underground irrigation for the purpose of cow herding and organic farming were developed.

 

Inside the New Gokula Farm

 

Surrounded by vast pastures, vegetable and flower gardens, the farm is a sanctuary for 68 cows, bulls and calves, and devotion to Krishna, the Supreme Lord, is the core of all the farm activities here.

“The key focus here is the welfare and protection of the farm animals whilst establishing sustainable farming practices and offering cruelty-free dairy produce to the community, which is the Vedic formula for meeting all economic needs”, says, Jayanti Devi Dasi, one of the ten devotees residing at the ashram.

 

Protecting the holy cow

 

In Hinduism, Krishna is depicted as a cowherd in Goloka (abode of the cows) Vrindavan, where he spent his childhood tending cows and calves and playing the flute in the forests with his friends. His avatar portrays the importance of cows to the human society, the benefits of nurturing and protecting them, and the rewards of an agrarian society based on the cooperation between man and cows. Also in the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna mentions cow protection as one of the prime duties of any civilised society.

“In our vedic scriptures, cows are considered to be one of the mothers of humankind because cow’s milk, apart from our biological mother’s milk, is perfectly suited to maintain human life. Krishna also told his cousin Uddhava that go puja (cow worship) is equal to my puja (worship). So we (at the New Gokula Farm) consider ourselves to be a servant of Krishna and willingly offer our services in this spirit, and protect and nurture the cows to please Him”, adds Jayanti Devi Dasi.

Making a difference to the planet

 

The devotees at the New Gokula ashram aim to create a greener and a more Krishna-conscious, Vrindavan-like world by protecting the mother earth and the holy cow.

“We always need volunteers to help us in our mission and to make it a better home for the cows and to maintain the organic farms. So whether you are a traveller or a WWOOFer (Willing Workers On Organic Farms), you can stay with us and help us in the farm activities”.

As a service to lord Krishna, you can also adopt a cow through the cow sponsorship programme and the donation is used to supply all the necessities for these delightful four-legged devotees and for the improvement of the go-shala (cow shelter).

To present Sydney dwellers with a more accessible hub for spiritual learning, the New Gokula Farm is soon coming up with its city arm in Newcastle called The Bhakti Tree. The Newcastle centre will offer keertan and meditation programmes, Vedic philosophy discussions, organic farming classes, cooking classes, and a lot more. And the New Gokula Farm will always be a gateway and a getaway for a more meaningful and mystical experience.

 

 

Upcoming Festivals

Go-Seva(Service to Cows) Starting from Sunday, 28 September 2014, every last Sunday of the month is designated as the day when anyone that wishes to perform go-puja (cow worship) can do so. If you want to join in, the programme starts at 11 am and the donation amount is $151. For details, please contact Kaliya Krishna Das at 0488 178 293 / newgokula@gmail.com

 

Govardhana Puja, one of the biggest festivals besides Janmashtami, will be celebrated at the New Gokula Farm on the 25th of October this year. Govardhana Puja also called Annakuta (heap of grains)andit is celebrated to mark the day Lord Krishna lifted the Govardhana Hill to protect the inhabitants of Vrindavan from torrential rains created by Lord Indra’s wrath. On this day devotees build a replica of the Govardhan hill with sweets. Cows are especially honoured on this day, being dear to the Lord. Large quantities of prasadam (food that has been offered to the deities and blessed) are made by the devotees at the farm and offered to lord Krishna and then distributed to everyone. If you wish to volunteer your services on this day, email at newgokula@gmail.com by 20th October, 2014.

 

 

 

 

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Saroni Roy
Saroni is a senior writer, editor and a PR professional. Her forte is lifestyle journalism, art, food, beauty, films and travel writing.

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