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Holy Cow! Hare Krishna Contribution to Vegetarianism - by Steve Rosen

Jagat - Mon, 16 Aug 2004 17:15:21 +0530
Book Announcement: Just released!

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Holy Cow! The Hare Krishna Contribution to Vegetarianism and Animal Rights,
$17, 1-59056-066-3 (New York: Lantern Books, 2004).
240 pages with pictures and index. By Steven J. Rosen (Satyaraja Dasa)

Preface by Chrissie Hynde
Foreword by Mukunda Goswami

This is a major outside publisher's first ever book on prasadam (sacred vegetarian food), cow protection, Food for Life, Ayurveda vegetarian style, diet and the three modes of nature -- and documention of devotees' award-winning cookbooks and first-class, pioneering vegetarian restaurants. Includes vegan-friendly recipes and will be available at all major outlets.

Hot off the press!

Summary: Holy Cow explores the often neglected connection between spirituality and diet, using the accomplishments of the Hare Krishna movement as a basis for this discussion. Krishna devotees have long been known for their other-worldly and extremely tasty vegetarian cuisine as well as for their pronounced views on animal rights, both stemming from a philosophy of compassion for all living entities. Unlocking these aspects of their philosophy and practice, Holy Cow takes readers into an esoteric world of Eastern wisdom and culinary delight.

The growth of the modern-day Hare Krishna Movement in the 1960s coincided with the growth of vegetarianism as an expression of nonviolence in a time of objectionable warfare. That is, "Hare Krishna" and vegetarianism enjoyed a contemporary as well as historical synchronicity. In fact, Holy Cow makes it clear that devotees of Krishna in many ways spearheaded the widespread appreciation of vegetarianism and animal rights in the United States and in Europe as well. Thus, Holy Cow focuses on the Krishna movementís pioneering and even visionary efforts in popularizing non-meat cuisine and the compassionate treatment of animals in the Westóit explains how they did so from the days of their first Sunday Love Feast (in 1966) and how they continue to do so in the present day.

The Origins of the Hare Krishna Movement
The Movementís Philosophy in Relation to Vegetarianism and Animal
Devotees of Krishna: Aesthetic Ascetics
The Importance of Prasadam

1. A Brief History of Vegetarianism in India
Animal Sacrifices
Vegetarianism and the Long-Term Vedic Restoration Paradigm
Looking at the Sacrifices More Closely
For the Good of All Creatures
Vegetarianism and Nonviolence
"The Lordís Mercy"

2. Indiaís Sacred Cows
Krishna, the Blue Cowherd Boy
Mother of Mankind
Mother of Necessity
ISKCON and Cow Protection

3. Ayurveda and the Three Modes of Material Nature
A Closer Look at Ayurveda
How Ayurveda Works: The Personal Approach
Back to ISKCON
The Yoga of Balance
Doctors of the Soul
The Three Modes of Material Nature

4. "Thou Shalt Not Kill"
Analysis of the Sixth Commandment
"Killing" Versus "Murder"
Do Animals Have Souls?
"Killing Plants is Still Killing!"
The Ethical Implications of Vegetarianism

5. Food For Life
The Distinguishing Quality
ISKCON Food Relief Origins
FFL Success Stories
Victory in Chechnya
What the Future Holds

6. Restaurants and Cookbooks
The Next Phase
Govindaís Restaurants, et. al.
Jerry Abramís Prasadam Cart
Books that Cook
Adiraja and The Higher Taste
Yamuna Makes Waves
Kurmaís Culinary Conquests

7. Recipes For The Soul
The Taste of Krishna
The Real Ingredient

Appendix: interview with Rosen

This book may be ordered online at or at or by calling customer service in the USA at 1 (800)
856-8664. It may also be special ordered at any bookstore. For bulk
and wholesale orders please call customer service or send an email
message to
Jagat - Tue, 17 Aug 2004 20:09:46 +0530
Book Review by Vasu Murti

"Holy Cow: The Hare Krishna Contribution to Vegetarianism & Animal
Rights" by Steven J. Rosen. Lantern Books: New York, NY, 2004

In his book, "Holy Cow," author Steven Rosen (Satyaraja dasa) does an expert job of explaining the philosophy and history of the sankirtana movement to nondevotees. He begins by quoting Srila Prabhupada as saying, "Real philosophy is nothing more than this: 'friendliness to all living entities.'" Rosen explains that devotees do not artificially renounce the material world, but rather engage it in Lord Krishna's service. Offering one's food to Krishna is a standard Vaishnava practice, which Rosen compares to the Eucharist in Christianity-sacramental food. This is an appropriate analogy. Madhavendra Puri dasa (Steve Bernath) of the Bhaktivedanta Institute reports that in 1986, when devotees in San Diego, CA held a Jewish-Vaishnava interfaith conference, none of the rabbis present would take prasadam-because it was food offered to idols. On the other hand, Catholic clergy have defended devotees against charges of idolatry from Christian fundamentalists, and some of them have even compared prasadam favorably to the Eucharist.

"If people are to be educated in the path back to Godhead," writes Srila Prabhupada, "they must be taught first and foremost to stop the process of animal-killing." Rosen does a good job of demonstrating (through quotes from the Vedic scriptures) that the ancient Vedic religion espoused vegetarianism and nonviolence. Rosen refutes Professor D.N. Jha, author of "The Myth of the Holy Cow," a book which claims the ancient Vedic religion supported flesh-eating and animal sacrifice. Rosen shows that the sacrifices were meant to elevate people in the lower modes of nature, and that they were permitted only in previous yugas; thus, the Vedas uphold vegetarianism and nonviolence as a moral ideal.

On the issue of cow protection, Rosen quotes Gandhi and the Rig Veda, and describes Krishna's pastimes as a cowherd boy and a butter thief in Vrindavan. He quotes Srila Prabhupada as saying that abortion, like war, is the karmic reaction for killing animals-especially cows. Srila Prabhupada said, "If you kill the cow, who is your mother, then in some future lifetime your mother will kill you." Devotees have always scoffed at people who protest war, march for peace, protest nuclear weapons, etc., while eating meat, but Srila Prabhupada said the same thing about abortion! Rosen cites James Lovelock's "Gaia Principle," and describes a Vedic "ecotheology" to demonstrate the importance of protecting cows. He shows how modern science confirms that cow products-milk, ghee, dung, urine, etc.-are beneficial to human society.

Rosen explains how foods fall into different modes of nature, according to Bhagavad-gita, and explains Ayurveda to a Western audience. He quotes distinguished historian Will Durant, in "Our Oriental Heritage," as having said of Ayurveda, "Many of its diagnoses and cures are still used in India, with a success that is sometimes the envy of Western physicians."

It is in Chapter 4, entitled, "Thou Shalt Not Kill," that Rosen's scholarship really begins to shine. This chapter contains numerous quotes from Srila Prabhupada about the immorality of killing animals for food, and the hypocrisy of the Christian religious leaders in sanctioning this practice. Rosen should have quoted a purport from the First Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam, where Srila Prabhupada says, "It is nonsensical to say that the killing of animals has nothing to do with spiritual realization." Similarly, in his purport to the Srimad Bhagavatam 6.10.9, Srila Prabhupada writes: "One cannot continue killing animals and at the same time be a religious man. That is the greatest hypocrisy. Jesus Christ said, 'Do not kill,' but hypocrites nevertheless maintain thousands of slaughterhouses while posing as Christians. Such hypocrisy is condemned..."

Srila Prabhupada even candidly told a Catholic priest in London in 1973, that, "Animal-killers cannot understand God. I have seen this. It is a fact."

Rosen quotes Srila Prabhupada as saying, " far as meat-eating is concerned, every cow will die-so you just wait awhile, and there will be so many dead cows. Then you can take all the dead cows and eat... Don't kill. When the cow is dead, you can eat it." One of the first things I learned from devotees was that Srila Prabhupada said this about meat in general: if you want to eat meat, wait until the animal dies of natural causes. This indicates that Srila Prabhupada was not thinking in terms of "dietary laws," or food in the mode of goodness, passion, or ignorance, but rather in terms of the rights of the animals.

The Srimad Bhagavatam quotes Maharaja Pariksit as having said, "only the animal-killer cannot relish the message of the Absolute Truth." And Srila Prabhupada is quoted on page 81 of "Holy Cow" as saying, "if the Christians want to love God, they must stop killing animals." Srila Prabhupada not only opposed killing animals for food, he also opposed killing animals for sport and animal experimentation. These facts should have been mentioned in "Holy Cow." These facts indicate that devotees of Krishna are vegetarian out of compassion for animals, and not just because meat, fish and eggs are unofferable to Krishna. It is a significant fact that Srila Prabhupada did not reject any of his fallen disciples, as long as they did not return to meat-eating.

In describing Food For Life, Rosen quotes Srila Prabhupada as having said, "To distribute prasadam to millions of hungry people hankering for spiritual emancipation. This is the mission of the Krishna consciousness movement." (Srimad Bhagavatam 1.13.9 purport) A Nigerian radio station compared Food For Life with "the second coming of Jesus, because just as he fed the masses, so the Hare Krishnas were feeding thousands of people."

Steven J. Rosen's "Holy Cow," would be an excellent book to give to congregational members, friends, relatives and well-wishers of devotees, college students, academicians, and anyone else interested in the relationship between theology and compassionate living. As an ISKCON Life Member, author of "They Shall Not Hurt or Destroy," and an animal rights activist, I am pleased to endorse this book.