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What Comes First, the Cow or the Preaching?

There is sometimes some debate whether the priority in our lives should be independent living, high thinking, with emphasis on the raising and protecting of cows. Some devotees especially hold the conception that devotees preaching in the cities should leave and live peacefully according to the Vedic standard with a cow and a farm. But Srila Prabhupada clarifies the misconception in this purport by point out the priorities.

dharmah padaikena caran

vicchayam upalabhya gam

prcchati smasru-vadanam

vivatsam iva mataram

The personality of religious principles, Dharma, was wandering about in the form of a bull. And he met the personality of earth in the form of a cow who appeared to grieve like a mother who had lost her child. She had tears in her eyes, and the beauty of her body was lost. Thus Dharma questioned the earth as follows.


The bull is the emblem of the moral principle, and the cow is the representative of the earth. When the bull and the cow are in a joyful mood, it is to be understood that the people of the world are also in a joyful mood. The reason is that the bull helps production of grains in the agricultural field, and the cow delivers milk, the miracle of aggregate food values. The human society, therefore, maintains these two important animals very carefully so that they can wander everywhere in cheerfulness. But at the present moment in this age of Kali both the bull and the cow are now being slaughtered and eaten up as foodstuff by a class of men who do not know the brahminical culture. The bull and the cow can be protected for the good of all human society simply by the spreading of brahminical culture as the topmost perfection of all cultural affairs. By advancement of such culture, the morale of society is properly maintained, and so peace and prosperity are also attained without extraneous effort. When brahminical culture deteriorates, the cow and bull are mistreated, and the resultant actions are prominent by the following symptoms.

SB 1.16.18

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