Saturday, July 28, 2007

Shambo, the Sacred Bull, is Slaughtered

I have never posted a news article here in the blog, but tonite i came across this AP story on the internet. It is a simple story, but so telling about the values (or lack of them) of our so-called civilization. It reveals the soul-less nature of secular society.

Associated Press July 27
Dateline: LONDON
HEADLINE: British police slaughter Sacred Bull
Officials drag away protesters, take sick animal from Hindu monastery

A sacred bull seized from a Hindu monastery in Wales because he tested positive for tuberculosis has been slaughtered, officials said Friday.
The plight of Shambo the bull had attracted international attention since his diagnosis this spring and prompted an Internet campaign by the Skanda Vale monastery to save him. Hindus revere cattle and said killing the bull would violate their religious rights.
More than 100 devout Hindus and their supporters prayed and chanted outside the bull’s paddock throughout Thursday, but animal health officials and police led Shambo from the monastery to a trailer at around 7:30 p.m. A Webcam site, dubbed Moo Tube, which the monastery set up to show the flower-garlanded bull in his paddock, broadcast images of an empty,
hay-lined shrine.

“I can confirm he has been put down,” said a spokesman for the Welsh Assembly, the regional government. The spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with government policy, did not specify how Shambo was killed.
Swami Suryananda, one of Shambo’s caretakers, said officials had “committed the most violent and ignorant act of desecration of our temple and destroyed an innocent life.”
“The perpetrators of this act will suffer the consequences of their actions for generations to come,” he said.

'Bye, Shambo'
A veterinary official and police officers had come for Shambo on Thursday morning, but left after monks would not let them past the gates of the remote monastery, about 230 miles west of London. They returned hours later with a warrant, which they posted to the door.
About 20 police officers later entered the temple, wading through a crowd of more than 100 supporters who had gathered in front of the bull’s paddock to pray and chant.
They cut a chain securing the gates, dragged away some of the worshippers who refused to leave, and loaded the bull into a trailer.
Police officers flanking the trailer removed their helmets, and some worshippers called out “Bye, Shambo” as the bull was driven away.
Authorities said no one was hurt and there were no arrests.
“It’s bad, but I don’t blame the police because they were friendly and they did their duty,” said one of the protesters, Verena Blum.

Secularists back decision
Regulations stipulate that cattle suspected of carrying bovine tuberculosis be slaughtered; the disease can be spread to other cattle, to deer and in rare cases to humans.
Hindus took the government to court to prevent Shambo’s slaughter. The monastery argued that it could keep Shambo isolated to prevent the TB spreading, or that it could take the bull to India. The monastery said authorities had refused both options.
Last week, a Welsh judge ordered local authorities to reconsider their decision to kill the bull. But the Court of Appeal in London reversed that decision Monday, ruling that killing him would be justified to prevent the disease’s spread.
Some people in Britain supported the bull’s seizure. Keith Porteous Wood, director of the National Secular Society, claimed Shambo’s supporters were “putting religious dogma before the welfare of the community.”

Monday, July 23, 2007

Observations from the Big Apple

Usually there is something in particular i want to express that inspires me to make an entry into this blog. Today there is nothing in particular, but i want to remain habituated writing at least once a week.

This week i'm alone in New York City, staying at the apartment of my paternal uncle who is now 90 and lives in Florida. He has been there for past 25-30 years in Florida. He just kept this apartment for very brief visits to NYC, usually once a year. I arrived last week from Chicago, flying here with all my luggage (from India) and the keys to this apartment. I had never been here before. I wasn't even sure if my uncle had given me the correct set of keys because he has dementia now and his memory is not what it used to be. I imagined a situation where i would not be able to get in and would need to find a hotel to spend the night. The average hotel room costs $500 per nite in this part of New York. Naturally i was nervous.

On the plane coming here, i prayed to Hanuman. Hanuman is a most extraordinary transcendental personality. In India, i think he is more widely worshipped than anyone, including Lord Sri Krishna, Lord Siva and even Ganesh. The Hanuman Chalisa is a very famous poem/prayer that is sung and recited by millions. And his murti, usually carved as a relief and painted in bright orange, is seen everywhere in India, even in Vrindavan dham, inside Siva temples, outside Krishna temples and in many of his own temples. Anyway, by his mercy, the keys worked, and i got in.

The apartment location is excellent, being just 100 meters from Central Park, between 97th and 100th St. Anyone who knows New York, knows that Central Park is like a city in itself. Miles and miles of greenery, lakes, playgrounds, fields, theatres, zoos and even restaurants. Yesterday was a hot sunny summer day, and i walked for 3 hours thru the Park. I heard more than half a dozen languages being spoken by various people walking by me: Arabic, Spanish, French, Russian, Hindi, Chinese, just to name those languages i could recognize. New York is the most international of all cities. Unfortunately, there is no unity amongst the diversity. Despite being the home of the United Nations, there is nothing united about people here. Everyone is isolated, either alone, or in small social circles. Everyone is under the misconception that they are the enjoyer of the world. No one actually cares about anyone else, except in their own small selfish spheres. This creates a most unharmonious and unattractive scene, at least to my eyes. I felt more alone walking in that crowd of thousands of persons enjoying the sunny day than when i'm sitting by myself in the apartment.

Inside this flat, it's a bit bizarre. The furnishings are from the 40's, 50's and 60's. Most of the furniture, i believe, came from my grandmother. It looks frozen in time. And despite that for over 25 years no one has lived here for more than a week at a time, and the appliances are all at least 30-40 years old, everything-- the lights, the shower, the stove, the fridge, the piano and even two vintage '60s television sets-- works. Fortunately, i ordered a broadband connection before i arrived and was able to install the router my first nite here. So i don't feel any burden, like i'm in a time warp. My plan here is to clean and prepare the apartment to be rented. That includes giving away, selling or throwing out just about everything here. It's a lifetime of collected stuff. So it will take me some time to go thru everything. Then i need to get the kitchen and bathroom repainted, wood floors cleaned and refinished. And with the help of a broker, find a tenant.

Perhaps while i am here, i will go to 26 Second Ave. to see the storefront where Srila Prabhupada started Iskcon. It's too bad that mood of Prabhupada and his first disciples could not be frozen in time, and be preserved for the benefit of humanity. It is preserved in Prabhupada's classes, and it's those early 1966 NY lectures that i most enjoy listening to on the MP3s. Hearing Prabhupada's enthusiasm and compassion giving his first classes in America is most enlivening. It's such a contrast from what became of Iskcon in later years. In fact, for me, those early NYC classes are all that is left of the real Iskcon.