“People buy cows for profit, for milk, and not because they love them. The ‘old and useless’ cows are abandoned on roads. If I don’t take them in, they’ll remain wherever they were thrown out and dogs will eat them alive, while crows will pick at their eyes. They will lie in the heat during summers, without water and in the cold during the winters, without shelter.” - Friederike Irina Bruening, a.k.a Sudevi Mataji, Founder, Radha Surabhi Gaushala
Friederike Irina Bruening a.k.a Sudevi Mataji, a compassionate German national, has devoted her life to caring for abandoned, sick, and injured cows in India. Her incredible journey began in 1978 when she arrived in India as a tourist, unaware of the profound impact she would have on the lives of these gentle creatures.
What was supposed to be just a short and fun trip became a life-changing experience for Bruening. She was inspired by the ancient traditions and cultures of India and her encounter with the Bhagavad Gita deeply influenced her. She developed a deep admiration for India's great gurus, teachings, Upanishads, traditions, and magnificent temples.
It was during her stay in Mathura, that Bruening’s life took a transformative turn when a neighbor asked her to buy a cow. Driven by her compassion for these vulnerable cows, she made the courageous decision to leave behind her luxurious lifestyle in Berlin and relocate to India, dedicating herself wholeheartedly to their well-being.
“I first found a calf with a broken leg and a maggot infestation. I brought her home and nursed her back to health. That’s where it started. Soon came another cow, and then a third, and so on… When it got to 30, the space ended up being too small. I moved elsewhere, and rented a space to house them.” - Bruening
In 2004, she established the "Radha Surabhi Gaushala" in Radha Kund, Mathura, providing a sanctuary for cows and calves that have been mistreated, abandoned, or are in need of medical attention. Her selfless dedication and unwavering commitment have earned her India's fourth-highest civilian award, the Padma Shri, in 2019.
“When the number of cows in my care increased to 100, I said no more. There was no space left, and I was running out of money to look after them. Yet, I couldn’t stop.They are like my children and I cannot leave them. I cannot refuse when somebody leaves a sick or injured cow outside my ashram, and I just have to take her in.So, now, Gaushala is home to 2,000 cows.” - Bruening
For the past 45 years, Bruening has lovingly assumed the role of a mother to these forsaken cows. Leading a dedicated team of 140 workers at the Gaushala, she ensures that the cows receive the care and attention they deserve. The Gaushala, spanning an impressive 3,300 square yards, is strategically divided to facilitate the monitoring and care of injured and special-needs cows.
“We believe that Gods reside in cows. In Mathura, Lord Krishna’s birthplace and where he also reared cows, these animals are even more special.” - Bruening
In addition to providing shelter and care, Bruening operates an emergency ambulance service at the Gaushala, responding promptly to reports of injured or abandoned cows. To sustain her efforts, she relies on the rental income generated from her inherited property in Berlin as well as donations from compassionate individuals towards the well-being of these cows. However, the increasing cow population, as well as rising costs of medical care poses a significant challenge to Bruening’s caregiving efforts.
“We get 15-20 cases every day. Most of them are either handicapped injured or ill, so they need a lot of care and treatment. So far, I have been managing with whatever I have, and I’m not currently earning, either. All my savings will be exhausted within the next few months. We don’t have enough money to keep this shelter going. We still need funds to meet the daily needs and expenses of the Gaushala. So I request everyone to please come forward and help us continue our work.” - Bruening
Your support is crucial in enabling Bruening and her dedicated team of 140 caregivers to carry on their invaluable work. By making a donation today, you can directly contribute to the well-being and care of these deserving animals.
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