Sadhana: Coalition of Progressive Hindus Condemns Hate Crime at Lakshmi Cow Sanctuary

March 21, 2016 This past weekend, in Monroe County, Pennsylvania, the head of a cow was found at the home of Dr. Sankar Sastri, a Hindu man, graduate of Columbia University and retired CUNY professor of mechanical engineering. Police are investigating the matter as a hate crime. Authorities indicated that an as yet unidentified person or persons entered the property of Dr. Sastri in Jackson Township between 8pm on Saturday, March 19th, and 8:30am on Sunday, March 20th, and left the cow head. Dr. Sastri only recently relocated to his new home in Jackson Township last month. His home also serves as the Lakshmi Cow Sanctuary. 

The Lakshmi Cow Sanctuary, named in honor of the Hindu goddess Lakshmi, is a place where rescued farm animals can peacefully dwell under Dr. Sastri’s care. According to the Bhagavad Purana and the Mahabharata, the goddess Lakshmi appeared with cows when the devas (gods) were churning the ocean with milk, referred to as the “nectar of immortality.” Founded in 2000, Lakshmi Cow Sanctuary's mission is to “rescue animals and provide them with a safe haven,” as well as to “promote love and compassion towards all beings and awareness that all beings are sentient.”

Dr. Sastri, a truly selfless and humble individual, has stated that he will continue to further the sanctuary’s mission, in spite of the disturbing act.  He is hopeful that some good results from the hateful incident, including increased awareness about the importance of cows to Hindus. 

While Hindus regard all living beings as sacred, the cow is revered as the mother of the entire Earth, providing nourishment and giving without ever expecting anything in return. The cow is also representative of a primary principle in the Hindu faith, ahimsa (non-violence), with its gentle, patient, and tolerant characteristics. It is therefore extremely painful that such a heinous crime was committed at the home of a man committed to protecting cows.

Mahatma Gandhi once said: “Cow protection to me is one of the most wonderful phenomenons in human evolution. It takes the human being beyond his species. Man through the cow is enjoined to realize his identity to all that lives. Hindus will be judged not by their tilaks, not by the correct chanting of mantras, not by their pilgrimages, not by their most punctilious observance of caste rules but by their ability to protect the cow.”

Sadhana, joined by a coalition of Hindu organizations, denounces this hateful crime and urges anyone with information that can assist in finding the perpetrator to contact the Pennsylvania State Police at Fern Ridge by calling  570-646-2271.

Supporting Organizations/Individuals (list in formation):

Mat McDermott, The Bhumi Project