Monday Morning Greetings 2021 #14 – COVID and the Cow in the Room

April 5th, 2021

There is much discussion about how best to deal with COVID-19. There is something, however, that few seem to be talking about, even those well versed in traditional Indian literature—that the ultimate cause and cure for the COVID-19 pandemic is beyond a virus.


The Cause (collective karma):

“Any country where people indulge in unnecessary killing of animals will have to suffer from wars and pestilence imposed by material nature.” (Bhag. 7.15.24, Purport)


Śrīla Prabhupāda was especially concerned with the result of the pervasive slaughter of the cow:


“Therefore they are sinful. They must have, there must be war, pestilence and famine.” (Lecture, London, 24 July 1973)


The word “pestilence” comes from the Latin “pestis”, meaning plague, and is defined in English as “a contagious or infectious epidemic disease that is virulent and devastating.” Sound familiar? What to do? To cure a particular disease, you have to first locate its cause and then reverse or eradicate it.


The Cure (pious leadership):

“As soon as there is complete eradication of sinful activities in the state, then there will be no more war, pestilence, famine or natural disturbances.” (Bhag. 4.20.14, Purport)


I am not being facetious. The śāstra is saying something here that should be at the forefront of our discussion. The ultimate cause of pestilence is collective karma. Therefore, a vaccine, even if efficacious, won’t solve the problem. If the hearts of people are not purified, and corrupt leaders and ignorant educators continue to mislead people and sanction trillions of animals to be killed world-wide, the collective reactions to such mass exploitation will continue in one form or another, even if everyone on the planet is vaccinated, immune, and this particular karmic reaction is paid.


Does that mean that I should not take a vaccine? That’s another discussion. We should always deal with the symptoms of any ailment, as they also cause harm. When one has a very high fever, one must be very vigilant to bring it down. One should not, however, foolishly think that subduing the fever has eradicated the disease. Similarly, in dealing with COVID-19, we should do whatever it takes to help eradicate the disease, but not lose focus on its ultimate cause. As long as unqualified leaders continue to support and sanction the mass killings of animals, especially the cow, the sin of exploitation will certainly manifest in continual calamities and society will be ravaged by one disease or another.


There is an English metaphorical idiom: “The elephant in the room.” It indicates that something as conspicuous as an elephant can be overlooked for various psychological reasons, including ignoring an obvious truth that we can’t hear because it challenges our attachments or worldview. I changed the metaphor for this article to “the cow in the room” to indicate something that is so glaring, but too often overlooked in Śrīla Prabhupāda’s teachings—that if we don’t gravitate to a more self-sustainable and karmic-free life based on the land and cow protection, we all will be subject to the karmic reaction for using and thus supporting an exploitive society. The result will not be pretty:


“European and America civilization will be finished on account of this sinful activity of killing the cows.” (Śrīla Prabhupāda letter to Kīrtanānanda, 31 May 1975)


So why are we not talking of “COVID and the Cow in the Room”?



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