ISKCON Supporter Harvey Cox Retires From Harvard Post

By ISKCON News Service on 31 Oct 2009
In a ceremony to commemorate the retirement of Harvey Cox as the Harvard Divinity School’s Hollis Professor of Divinity, a Jersey cow grazed in the Yard adjacent to the Memorial Church, resurrecting a 200-year-old practice.

In a ceremony to commemorate the retirement of Harvey Cox as the Harvard Divinity School’s Hollis Professor of Divinity, a Jersey cow grazed in the Yard adjacent to the Memorial Church, resurrecting a 200-year-old practice.
Dr. Harvey Cox, a renowned scholar and an avid supporter of ISKCON, retired from his post as Harvard Divinity School’s Hollis Professor of Divinity this past June.
Dr. Cox, who was with Harvard for 44 years beginning in 1965, spoke in defense of ISKCON during the anti-cult propaganda days of the 1970s and ’80s. He once visited a group of concerned parents before the New York Ratha-yatra festival in 1977 and also spoke at the event. “As far as I can see,” he once said, “Deprogrammers are simply hired-guns. They will deprogram anybody you pay them to deprogram.”
Dr. Cox also held tremendous respect for ISKCON’s founder. “The life of Srila Prabhupada is pointed proof that one can be a transmitter of truth and still be a vital and singular person,” he wrote in his forward to Srila Prabhupada lilamrita. “Srila Prabhupada is, of course, only one of thousands of teachers. But in another sense, he is one in a thousand, maybe one in a million.”
Harvey Cox even corrected this praise in the 1983 book Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, commenting, “When I say that [Prabhupada] was ‘one in a million,’ I think that is an underestimate. Perhaps he was one in a hundred million.”
The esteemed religion professor wasn’t always so sure about the Hare Krishnas. “I remember I was quite astonished when I first met the devotees,” he said. “I was wondering who they were. Their clothes, their singing, and their shaved heads were somewhat strange to me. Later, when I got to know the movement, I realized that the essence of its teachings and the original roots of Christianity bear some striking resemblances. These are simple living, not collecting too many mundane goods and acting out of compassion and love for all living entities. I think what Srila Prabhupada wrote and did was important and lasting.”
In keeping with his appreciation of the simple life advocated in Krishna consciousness, Dr. Cox had students and staff doing double-takes as he brought a Jersey cow to graze in Harvard Yard during a ceremony commemorating his retirement this September 10.
Apparently such grazing rights are a 200-year-old practice established in 1721 along with the Hollis Professorship. Cox decided to take advantage of the privilege as he stepped down from his post, borrowing a cow from a nearby farm school for the occasion.
Hundreds of onlookers gathered near the steps of the Memorial Church adjacent to Tercentenary Theatre to honor Dr. Cox and take a gander at the unusual sight.
The response was just what Cox was hoping for. While the ceremony provided a lighthearted break from the pressures and pace of the early back-to-school frenzy, it also offered something a little more concrete, remarked the professor.
“The cow’s presence represents how much closer we need to be to the animals that sustain us, to the Earth, the grass, the vegetables,” Cox told the crowd. “Perhaps it shouldn’t be such an oddity to see a cow grazing in Harvard Yard. If it happened once, perhaps it could happen again. And if not a cow, [or] a pasture, perhaps then at least a garden,” he said, adding that if the White House lawn could have a garden, then surely Harvard Yard could too.

 

Posted in In the News.