Srila Prabhupada mentions in his commentary to “Srimad Bhagavatam”, verse 1.17.8: "The protection of the lives of both the human beings and the animals is the first and foremost duty of a government. A government must not discriminate in such principles. It is simply horrible for a pure-hearted soul to see organized animal-killing by the state…"
While the governments of different countries are not in a hurry to implement animal protection, it is up to the Vaishnavas to take the lead. One current development in this field has been the publishing of the first-ever Russian-language book on cow protection. It is Dr. Sahadeva dasa’s work entitled “To Kill A Cow Means to End Human Civilization”, which in Russian has come out under the title “Vedic Symbol: Sacred Cow”.
On the auspicious day of Gaura Purnima the book was presented to the audience in the Moscow Sri Sri Doyal Nitay Sacisuta temple.
The idea of publishing this work in Russian has appeared back in December 2009, when the devotees serving in ISKCON Communications, Moscow have come across an article about the book on ISKCON News. “It seemed a very good idea to present this work to the Russian public, - says Radha Damodar das, one of the inspirers of the project. – This idea of cow protection is completely novel to people of our country, and we decided it was time to fill in the void.”
To begin with, three translators were asked to do the job of dividing the text and turning it into Russian. This was done with the aim of speeding up the process.
Also, since translators were doing this as an unpaid service, there was a suspicion that a huge amount of text would discourage them.
But what happened was that all the three translators received so much inspiration in the process of translating. One of the interpreters has just joined ISKCON and later confessed that, while she was working on the book, she gave up eating meat and became a vegetarian.
Then the Russian text needed editing. This presented a problem. A professional editor is very costly, and a devotee editor somehow was not appearing on the horizon. Some devotees tried, but their understanding of editing differed from the understanding of the team. As a result, one of the devotees on the team sat down and dedicated one hour per day for two months to reading out the text, correcting the mistakes she could find, bringing the style of the three translators to one common language, and also deleting some of the phrases of the author which seemed too radical for the Russian reader. The book was originally written for Indians who know in their hearts, that the cow is sacred, so they just needed a strong reminder. As for Russians, giving them a strong push might have scared them away instead of making them think that perhaps the cow should not be killed.
And so a couple of years have passed and nothing was moving ahead. Progress came when Anubhava Dasi stepped in and took the matter in her hands. She contacted the publishing house “Amritha-rus” which prints religious, esoteric and psychology books, and made a deal with them. The deal was that they would give the book a final editing, correction of text, layout for printing and the cover design, as well as physically print the book. Half of the print they kept for their own distribution, while half was given to devotees.
Before printing , the publishers made a research as to see what kind of books on cows were already exisiting in Russia. Their conclusion was that "there are tons of books on how to cut a cow’s carcass, but not a word on why the cows should not be eaten in the first place".
Although “Amritha-rus” is not a leading publishing house in Russia, still they have good distribution network, thanks to which Dr. Sahadeva dasa’s book has already appeared in the leading Russian internet bookstore www.ozon.ru, in some of the central bookstores of Moscow and St. Petersburg, as well as in stores in cities all over the CIS, from Brest, Belarus in the West and Almaty, Kazakhstan in South.
The book is very much needed, especially in the Russian-speaking countries of the Middle Asia, where people eat meat three times a day. In one of these countries there is a saying, “When Kazakhs eat meat, wolves fill with envy”.
Dr.Sahadeva’s book is rich in quotes from Srila Prabhupada’s books, lectures and letters. So this book will be a vessel that will carry Prabhupada’s words to people who least of all are expected to receive such mercy.
An internet page in Russian has been set up a couple of months ago at http://www.facebook.com/ne.ubivaite.korovy to promote the idea of cow protection and inform the potential readers of the new book. The page received a lot of attention, having attracted over 500 subscribers from different cities and countries. The major part of subscribers are, naturally, devotees from Moscow, Barnaul, Dnepropetrovsk, Odessa and many others. Yogis, shivaites, followers of Osho and ecologists have joined.
As the page’s development continues, the hope is for more people to show interest. Animal protection, what to speak of cow protection, is quite underdeveloped in Russia compared to Western countries, and these efforts are meant to improve the situation.
More titles by Dr. Sahadeva have been already been translated and are waiting to be published. Should you want to help this project in any way, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org