February 12, 1993: Maharaj in the dairy

Gobind Sadan used to have hundreds of cows and buffalos, among which were the All-Asia and the All-India prize-winning cows. The All-Asia prize cow was named ­­­­­­­­­­­­­Rustam (“The Champion”). She gave 60 litres of milk in one day. Maharaj knew the names of all the cows and used to visit the dairy daily to oversee their care, in every detail. The dairy was kept scrupulously clean. Gurdev Singh was the dairy manager at that time, and faithful Ralph Singh used to have the duty of taking the milk to the market and hotels by autorickshaw early every morning.

Since then, most of the animals had been shifted to Shiv Sadan, Gobind Sadan’s big farm in Uttar Pradesh, where land and water are more plentiful than here on the outskirts of Delhi. Remnants of the old dairy had been standing mostly unused, though a small herd was kept for Gobind Sadan’s own needs.

On this day Maharaj made a personal tour of the dairy, starting with the old buildings. One was a huge storage barn. Kissi Atwal, a longtime devotee who does large-scale mining work, showed him how the barn could be converted to a hall that would seat 1000 people. He suggested that the unused stalls could serve as bedrooms and bathrooms. Maharaj listened to his ideas, as he often listened to people giving their ideas, but he seemed to be more interested in seeing the buffalos.

The buffalos were duly brought out and paraded for Maharaj’s inspection. He stood there in the noon heat and sun, immaculate in white with a rose tucked into his turban, carefully watching each buffalo. Then he asked if they had any water. They were not looking healthy or clean, so he told the sevadars to start washing them to clean them and help their skin. The buffalos seemed pleased and clustered happily for their bath. Maharaj and Gurdev discussed their condition, and the dairy manager was brought for instruction, particularly with reference to their cleanliness.

Afterward, as we walked behind Maharaj, the peasant women cutting fodder in the fields called out, “We are here only because of Babaji.” The fat jolly old one has been here for 20 years. She is very quick.  Maharaj used to stand in the fields with them and say, “You will cut from here to here,” and she always finished first. The women are very expert in using the datri, a curved cutting blade, to cut a bunch of fodder with one hand while grasping it with the other. Then they carry great bundles of fodder—or else grass that they have gleaned from the fields, thus foraging for their own animals while at the same time cleaning our fields—on their heads with perfect balance. They are from a Gujjar community living on the other side of the hill. When they use our roads to reach their huts, carrying these heavy bundles on their heads, they keep us in touch with rural India, even as urban Delhi grows around us all. As they pass, they greet us with cries of “Ram, Ram!” or “Sat Sri Akal,” in the spirit of Maharaj’s interfaith, intercaste mission.