The Shepherd

In the New Testament of the Bible Jesus is the benevolent shepherd. The analogy is one of a pasture of lovely flowing green fields where the flock of Jesus the Pastor may safely graze. When lured by greener pasture, the desire for greater wealth, or by any such temptations, the fancies of the mind lead the errant sheep astray. The Pastor in his caring and tender love as the Shepherd herds the straying miscreant back into the fold. Unfortunately for the one that does not heed the restraint, the foxes and vixen lie waiting on the fringes ready to devour the devout that becomes deviant. The preying beasts are the vices and the vicious snares, the Satans that eagerly await the wayward victim.

The Cowherd

A parallel exists in Hindu Scripture, where Krishna the Cowherd, with the lilting melody of his flute lures the cow and keeps her in the range of his caring glance. The word cow in English and gau in Sanskrit derive from the verbal root gam meaning to go. The cow is the mind that constantly wanders and has that tremendous power to traverse and transcend its physical limits. In the Bhagavadgītā, more popularly known as the Gītā, the message given by Krishna to the seeker, Arjuna, comprises Eighteen Chapters, each being titled a Yoga eg. The Yoga of Restraint. The Bhagavadgītā then presents the dilemmas of the mind and how one has to rise above sentiments and attachments to perform one’s duties without fear or favour. It is interesting to study the derivation of two of the many names of Krishna, Gopāl and Govind. Go means cow and pāl means tends to; Gopāl is the one who tends to cow, nurtures, cares and provides for her. Vind means to find, thus Govind is the one who finds the lost cow, the cow that has wandered astray. He is always trying to save the cow from all the forces waiting to prey on her; but the mind through lack of control over its natural tendencies to stray, does not heed the call of the lilting flute and falls into the plight of its own temptations.


The Gītā, Upanishads and Vedas are reputed for their timeless and ancient eternal wisdom. It is then indeed worthy of note that both in the Hindu and Christian Literary traditions there is the metaphor of the wandering mind that needs the discipline of mind or self-control and the Cowherd and Shepherd stand watching over these meandering minds.

Ganapati/Ganesh In the Vedas this simile finds expression in another name for the abstract formless Supreme Being, Ganapati, who in Hindu mythology becomes Ganesh, the remover of obstacles. Hindus begin their prayer by first invoking Ganesh to remove all the earthly hindrances so that their lives may be filled with prosperity, peace and happiness. Gana means to count and pati is Lord, similarly Ganesh derives from gana, to count and īsh, Lord; in both instances God is the protector who counts his flock to ensure that no-one is lost or gone astray. In Hindu mythology Ganesh is the elephant headed deity; portraying the inherent nature of the elephant to remove any hurdle that comes on its path, the virtue of persevering on the journey of life unhindered by its rough terrain.