Srinivasa Kalyanam 18: The enraged cowherd watches the cow pour milk from its udder into the anthill

Sarva deva roopini gomata…

Towards the end of the day the cows began to go back. Brahma noticed this and signaled Rudra to follow him. However, Rudra who was in the form of a calf was continuously circumambulating the anthill with full devotion. It refused to listen to Brahma

Brahma who was the cow blocked Rudra’s path as if to tell the calf to leave as it was time for the cowherd to wake up. Once awake, he might realize their absence in the group. Although it was angry and upset, the calf, did as advised by his mother and soon they mingled into the massive herd of cows.

Leaving the place as soon as the cowherd fell asleep in order to feed Lord Srinivasa in the anthill and returning right before the cowherd got up became a daily stint for the cow and calf.

One fine day, the queen summoned this cowherd to enquire about the cow and calf that were acquired recently. Even in our day-to-day lives, in anticipation of such sudden calls from our superiors, we must always be ready with our work. We must keep any kind of articles or objects handed over to us always readily accessible. This way, we can be prompt in responding to such surprise instructions from our superiors.

Similarly, the queen instructed the cowherd to bring the milk of this particular new cow. Since the very purpose of buying the cow was for its milk, the queen desired to feed its milk to her son, the prince, so that he could grow up stronger. When instructed thus, the cowherd immediately left to fetch milk.

In those days, it was possible to milk the cows during any time of the day. Since milk was collected only when required, as opposed to today when cows are milked to the maximum possible extent whether need be or not, it was possible to milk the cow at any time of the day. However, when the cowherd tried to milk the cow, nothing came. The udder looked like it had already been milked.

Seeing this, the cowherd, convinced that the cow had already been milked, reports the same to the queen and promises to bring this cow’s milk the next day. These words enraged the queen. Suspecting that the cowherd stole the milk, she gets him punished by the guards around. Weeping and begging forgiveness, the cowherd pleads innocence. The queen let him go on the condition that he brought her the cow’s milk every day. Warning him that such punishment of greater magnitude shall be awarded to him upon failing to bring the milk, she pardons him. Wiping his tears and consoling himself, he reached the cowshed where he saw the cow that brought him so much pain and humiliation. He was so enraged that he felt like ending its life but obviously could not do so. He then questioned all the workers whether any of them had milked the cow. All of them denied doing so. They claimed that they were giving the cow extra special treatment as they were well aware that it was the queens cow. They said that they used silk and cloths of other fine fabrics to clean the cow. It was treated so well that even the dung was cleared in silver platters. Saying all this, they pledged that they never milked the cow.
Convinced that they were innocent, knowing that he was innocent and fully aware that the cow was being fed well, the cowherd decided to investigate the next day’s events to find the cause for the missing milk. Next day, insisting that he would take care of the entire herd himself, the cowherd did as usual but this time, only pretended to fall asleep while attentively watching the cow and its calf. Soon, much to his surprise, he saw the calf and cow stray away from the herd. They movement was too orderly to be considered to be a mistake. The cowherd followed them with curiosity and stealthily and saw that they finally stopped at an anthill. Then, he saw that the cow automatically started pouring its milk into the anthill. The cowherd got enraged. He felt betrayed! It seemed to him as if the cow was doing this on purpose in order to get him punished or worse, killed.

Seeing this, he was reminded of all the blows of yesterday and the imminent death upon failing to do as instructed by the queen. In a fit of rage, he raised his axe to strike the cow. This brought deep pain to Srinivasa who was in the anthill below. The Lord, known as “swalpa maatra santushta”, one who is pleased with very little offering, decided to protect the cow for the few drops of milk it gave him. So, even before the cowherd could strike the cow and kill it, Lord Srinivasa, came in the way of the axe and took the blow instead of the cow.

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