The Lost Cow – English

It was in the days when Sri Matha functioned with Kumbhakonam as its headquarters. There was a large cattle-shed behind the Matha. One day, a cow that did now belong to Sri Matha was found in the shed feeding on the hay and drinking at the water-trough. It was not known whose cow it was. The news was passed around in the neighborliness, but no one came to claim it. Four or five days passed. The Manger asked Periyaval, "Shall we drive away the cow?"

"If the cow must be driven out because it does not belong to Sri Matha, then several people in our Matha should also be sent out".

There were indeed many people living in the Matha, eating and sleeping there, doing no particular work. "The cow cannot speak for itself. We do not know its master. Let it stay on in our cattle-shed. It is our duty to protect it".

As the days passed it was seen that the cow was getting ready to calve and in due course did so. The Manager came back to Periva. "The yellowish milk yielded after calving has stopped. The cow seems to be of a very good breed. It is nourished on good cattle-feed too. It gives four large measures of milk in the morning and in the evening".

"Hand over all the milk to Kalathisvara temple for abhiseka. The cow does not belong to Sri Matha. So the milk must not be utilised by the Sri Matha".

Two days passed. Periyaval questioned the Manager. "What are you doing with that milk?"
The Manager replied hurriedly, "I have made arrangements for the milk to be handed over to the Kalathisvara temple everyday".

"All the same, it is likely that the milk may be used in Sri Matha, by mistake. So, handover the cow and calf to a Siva temple".

The Manger did as instructed. But the temple had several cows already and found it difficult to take on one more. The temple trustee announced the auction of the cows. Periyaval was worried that the cows bought in auction would go straight to the butcher. So he told a wealthy devotee to buy all the cows that were auctioned. Later, one by one, he gifted them to devotees who were committed to tending cows with care. That is the kind of love Periyaval had for cows.

Source: In the Presence of the Divine

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