For animals that cannot survive on their own, we offer sanctuary for the rest of their natural lives. They are not kept in cages but freely live out their lives in the compound. It's a very good life. And they are very happy.
An example of the loving care we provide: On Sunday, January 10th 2010 we buried our beloved Lakshmi the cow.
We had rescued her from slaughter in a James Bond-like action drama almost two short years ago. She had been hit by a truck and Dr.Raja had lovingly nursed her back to health, every three days completely changing her bandage/cast, warding off infection, encouraging healing. She lost part of her right rear leg (just below the knee).
We had found a lovely home for her outside of town on Hari's estate where we were intending to place her but during the healing process (which took six months) we had come to love her. Her gentle nature ... Her sattvic presence ... Moving here and there around the Shelter garden ... Giving us her darshan. And so she was happy and content with us, and we decided to keep her.
Towards the end on a friday, she became weak and unable to garner enough strength to stand up on Friday. We contacted the one government veterinarian who was expert in large animals. He was in meetings all day and unable to come that day. Dr.Raja arranged to meet him at the Shelter 7:30 Saturday morning. But it was getting cool here at night and we were concerned about her. In the evening, Dr. Raja had Prakash enclose her entire "resting area" with plastic to ward off any breeze and cold air and made a bed for her of straw covered with a blanket. Our staff picked her up and put her on it ... lying on her side). Late evening we were still concerned. Vishwa and I scanned the shops before closing and bought two extra "space heaters", and five wool blankets.
She was comfortable. Prakash gave her a lot of extra attention and love during the night but she quietly left her body around 4:30am. We don't know why. She expired before the large animal expert had a chance to examine her.
Vishwa arranged for a beautiful burial. Her body was put on a flatbed bullock cart. It was adorned with vibutti (sacred ash) and cum-cum. Totally covered with yellow, blue and red flowers. Four photos of Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi (one with him and his beloved cow Lakshmi, another with Jackie the dog), a photo of Satya Sai Baba, and a print of Chenrizig (the four armed aspect of Avalokateshwara, the Tibetan Buddhist bodhisattva of compassion). There was a large yellow garland (six inches in diameter) encircling most of her body. She actually looked beautiful and peaceful.
Eight of us followed the bullock cart, on foot, as we slowly made our way to a quiet remote burial spot facing sacred Arunachala that Vishwa had found. We threw flower petals on the road the entire way as is the Hindu custom. The eight young men lifted her body off the cart and gently placed it in the prepared grave. We said brief prayers. We all participated in covering her with the earth.
It rained for five minutes immediately after we finished ... a blessing and very auspicious. The grave site was prepared beautifully. A large cluster of incense was placed on it. Camphor was burned at the foot and head. Vibutti and cumcum was liberally sprinkled all over. The large garland was placed on top of the dirt mound. And as is the local custom a small pool of milk was poured, with a stick of incense placed in the middle ... beginning and ending of life with milk. We will miss her.