India Abroad January 16 2015 by George Joseph
Stephen and Linda Voith, who were in the eye of a seven-year legal fight to keep cows for religious purposes at their home in Angelica village in New York in early 2000, have relocated the cows to Belfast, a town south of Buffalo, where they operate the Govinda Goshala for cows and other animals.
After the state court denied their appeal, they declined to take the case to the Supreme Court despite the backing of major Hindu groups; they couple felt it more productive to popularize goshalas or cow sanctuaries n the US.
Stephen joined the ISCKON movement in 1977, and Linda in 1980. They want to incorporate the Goshala as a nonprofit.
“We would love to see Goshalas connected with temples all across the US, so that their residing deities will be supplied with milk and ghee from protected cows,.” Stephen said. “Imagine how much more potent the offerings would be if they were produced with compassion and ahimsa.”
Married in 1992, the couple have seven children. Their Goshala is home to seven cows and an ox.
“Last year we were able to save one milk cow and two calves from going to the auction,” Linda said. “A local farmer called us in distress; she was low on feed for her herd and had to sell a bunch of cows. She asked us if we could take a few of her favorites, otherwise they were going to the sale. We raised the funds rather quickly from the Hindu community. The new animals have created a 50 percent increase in our labor, so we are looking for ways to get funding for their maintenance and for staff to help care for them since Steve and I are getting a little older, and because we have more to do than two people ought to reasonably be doing.”
Due to the continuous care needed by the cows, the couple has not left the farm for a vacation in 16 years.
“Stephen visited India in 1981 and 1982 as a spiritual pilgrim,” Linda said. “He also traveled to Kolkata during Durga Puja in October 1988 to bring back his second internationally adopted child during his first marriage.”
Stephen has recently written a letter to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Linda said, inviting him to visit Hindu Jagannath Dham and and Govinda Goshala on his next visit to the US.