Ms. Satya Kalra, Danville, CA


“An enlightened person (by perceiving the Lord in all) looks at a learned and humble Brahmana, an outcast, even a cow, an elephant, or a dog with an equal eye.” (Gita 5:18)

The above verse from the Bhagvad Gita had always perplexed me ever since I started learning the psychological concepts of this ancient text, with the view of applying its relevance to my daily life. Specifically, I was confused as to how cows and dogs can be equal. Where I was raised, we worshipped cows, but I for one had no empathy for elephants and dogs. This may sound harsh, but as a young girl growing up in India, I was exposed to seeing dogs as stray animals, or as harbingers of rabies. Also, I have seen people bitten by dogs, and have also observed patients who were given rabies shots in the stomach for 40 days using large gauged syringe needles. As such, it’s not surprising that I always had a fear and dislike of dogs.

God’s Leela
Just recently however, a watershed incident had happened to me, and I realized that God took care of my fears and dislike of dogs by teaching me a very humbling and beautiful lesson. About five months ago, my daughter, Mintee got a dog, named “Coco”, born on December 8, 2005. When she told me that Coco was just a few months old, I envisaged the puppy to be a small furry ball. When I saw him in Los Angeles in March 2006, I was shocked that Coco was a large black Labrador puppy. Honestly, I was upset that my daughter would get a dog, not only because I had an aversion to dogs, but I also did not see the need for her to keep a pet. She lives in an apartment and she has a hectic schedule, having just started a new business (holistic lifestyle brand). Nevertheless, I told myself that God must have some purpose, and I should just surrender to His will and watch His Leela (plan and actions) and learn a lesson from it. As Lord Krishna says in Gita: “So, as an oblation to God, I did all whatever I can do by offering my services to Him” (Gita 9:27), by accepting Coco and serving him selflessly, such as feeding him and taking him out in the mornings.

About a few weeks later, when I was back in my home in Danville, Mintee decided to visit us with Coco. I did not like the idea of Coco coming to our home, but eventually agreed to her plans. Coco stayed with us for a week and during this time, I barely managed since although my heart was slowly opening up to Coco, my mind was stubborn and I got often irritated. Then, Mintee had to go to India for a few weeks and she was looking for a boarding place for him in Los Angeles. Without telling her, I started making a backup plan, just in case she could not arrange for his boarding. But, I had no idea how to take care of him, so I started looking for a dog house on various web sites. I also spoke with my neighbor, who also has her own dog, and explained to her my situation. Without hesitation, my neighbor agreed to assist me in taking care of Coco. So, I offered to take care of Coco while Mintee was traveling. I strove for Karma-yoga, planning to work to the best of my abilities (with love), by serving Coco, without becoming attached to the fruits of labor (Gita 2:50, 2:51), for sake of self-purification (Gita 5:11).

I was concerned at this undertaking, since I did not know how to take care of dogs. But I was willing to help, out of my love for Mintee. At first, I did not know what to do. Of course, I gave food and water to Coco, and had also relied on my neighbor for help, who let Coco play with their dog. Eventually, I managed to take care of Coco and started seeing goodness and pure love in him. As Lord Krishna says: God is present equally in all being and there is no one hateful or dear to God (Gita 9:30). After all, those who perceive God in everything and behold everything in Him are not separated from God, and God is not separated from them. (Gita 6:30)

Process of Removing Fear
After two weeks, Mintee brought Coco back and I had asked her if she could leave Coco with me for the time being. Now, I looked forward to returning home since Coco was there to greet me, excitedly jumping up and down, wagging his tail, accompanied with his joyful bark and cheerful smile. I had also overcome my fear and dislike of dogs. In fact, I started going to pet stores to get toys for Coco and also bought him a doggie bed. Coco and I become friends, and believe it or not, I was able to teach Coco some yoga tricks. And he enjoyed it!

On July 22nd, 2006, an event turned out to be cataclysmic for me. Our friends who were visiting me, decided to perform havan (fire ceremony), which we did for almost 8 hours. We also did Shri Durga Path and 1008 Gayatri mantras at our home. In fact, I have never done such a powerful and long-lasting havan in my entire life! Lord Krishna said in Gita: While praying, we set aside all meritorious deeds (dharma) and just surrendered completely to God’s will. God shall liberate you from all sins. Do not grieve (Gita 18:66). Coco most thoroughly enjoyed sitting and watching havan with us and participated in the ceremony.

The following Saturday, I took Coco out to the yard. After a short while, he was sitting in the garage and I noticed that he was very slow. Since I have never seen a dog being sick before, I then got very concerned and started checking up on him, and also spoke with my neighbor, who remarked that something is wrong with Coco. I then called my friend, Dr. Salwan (owner of American Animal Hospital in Fremont) and arranged to take Coco to his clinic. When I drove Coco in my car to Dr. Salwan’s clinic, I spoke to Coco, asking him for forgiveness for my initial fear and dislike of him. After some tests, it was discovered that Coco had internal bleeding in his chest. There was nothing else that could be done, and Coco eventually succumbed to his last breath. He died on 29th July 2006, 7 months and 21 days old. With Baba’s vibuti, I sprinkled Cocco’s body and prayed to God, and for Baba to bless Coco with moksha. I was very sad, because Coco was Mintee’s dog and I was given responsibility to take care of him. But, I remembered Lord Krishna’s message that atma is permanent and the world is transitory. Atma cannot be cut or burned. It is eternal, all-pervading, unchanging, immovable, and everlasting (Gita 2:24).

I had an opportunity to serve Cocco without any expectation and he was giving me his total, pure, and unconditional love that created a bond between us. I was offering all my services to God. Whatever charity I gave to Coco, whatever austerity I performed, I did all of that as an offering to God (Gita 9:27). The reason why dogs are “man’s best friends” is because they only give and don’t expect anything in return. The chance of serving Coco was helping me to get closer to God and helped me to move toward a supreme goal of my life— self-realization. One who does all works for Me, to whom I am the supreme, devoid of attachments, whoever is free of animosity toward all beings, he comes to Me (Gita 11:55).

Lessons Learned
By bringing Coco in my life, God planned and executed this leela (event) for me, to transform from my fear into fearlessness, and cast my dislike of dogs to make me begin liking them. During my four months journey with Coco, he taught me how to serve selflessly without expecting any fruits of my action, but do my duty to the best of my ability (Gita 2:50). I developed a love for dogs and I began to see God in everyone— in cows, elephants, and dogs. God showered both of us with His blessings. For me, God transformed my Fear toward dogs’ → Fearlessness; Dislike → Like; Hatred → Love; Partiality → Impartiality. For Coco, God let him experience love, havan, and prayers. In truth, I saw GOD in DOG. I believe he got moksha because he lived for 7 months and 21 days.

(NOTE: 7 = Heaven; 2 =GOD and DOG are 2 beings that became 1.)

Before Coco died, I had seen him leaving me in my meditation for three consecutive days. I did not pay much attention to this, thinking that it only meant that Coco was going back to Mintee in Los Angeles. Since I did not want to get too much attached to him, I ignored the real message, that he was not just leaving me for Los Angeles, but he was leaving me from this life.

Who was Coco? Where did he come from and where did he go? I do not have the answers for all of these. Whoever he was, and wherever he came from, and wherever he is now, does not matter. He was a sweet and short-lived gift for me from God who came to teach me a beautiful lesson. I just thank him for coming to my life and I pray for him that his soul may rest in peace.

Mintee— Thank you for sharing Coco with me.

Coco— Thank you for coming to my life and God Bless You!