STROUDSBURG, PENNSYLVANIA, November 19, 2018 (The Inquirer): Every day, a joyful man in dung-covered boots tries to balance the world’s karma by dishing out love, compassion, and the occasional fried Indian delight to his ragtag herd of cows. The mighty Krishna, a tall and hefty Angus, appears to be a favorite, but Sastri said each of his 23 cows is equally beloved at his Poconos sanctuary. Sastri, 78, is wiry, bespectacled, and constantly smiling, and wears a blazer over his farm clothes while he walks around his 90-acre Lakshmi Cow Sanctuary in Monroe County. Sastri still resembles a college professor, albeit one who fell in mud. He grew up in Chidambaram, by the Bay of Bengal in Southern India, moved to the United States in 1964 for grad school, and spent 28 years teaching engineering at New York City College of Technology in Brooklyn.
As the millennium approached, however, Sastri, a devout Hindu, began to ponder his next life and wonder if he’d done enough good deeds. He wasn’t just thinking about a life after retirement. “The Hindu philosophy says whatever karma you have done in the past, in this life, follows you,” he explained. Sastri decided in 2000 that saving cows was his way forward and traded a Brooklyn brownstone and academic life for pickup trucks on life support and a farm in Northampton County, and eventually a 90-acre spread in Jackson Township, Monroe County, with a ramshackle farmhouse. The goal of the Lakshmi Cow Sanctuary, a nonprofit, is to save cows destined for the slaughterhouse, but Sastri has also taken in animals other kindhearted people had kept as pets. “If you look at all the living beings in this world, the most loving and compassionate animal is the cow,” Sastri said. “They give and give and give.”