Padma Shri Friederike Irina Bruning: From traveller to mother of cows

As many as 1800 cows and calves – mostly abandoned, sick and injured-have found themselves a mother in Bruning

Bhubaneswar: German citizen Friederike Irina Bruning was awarded Padma Shri on 71st Republic Day for selflessly sheltering about 1800 cows and calves in Uttar Pradesh’s Mathura. She has kept them in her cowshed ‘Surbhai Gauseva Niketan’.

Far from public glare, in a dingy and deserted lane of the temple town, Bruning tends to over 1800 cows and calves. She has been doing this for the last 25 years. Most of the animals in the cowshed were rescued after being abandoned by their owners.

Bruning had landed in India from Berlin in 1978 as a tourist but had no idea what future had in store for her.

She was in search of a guru for proper guidance in her life but somehow ended up buying a cow. To understand cows better, she bought books about them and even learnt Hindi.

Padmashree Friederike Irina Bruning

Fondly called Sudevi Mataji, she started her cowshed known as ‘Surbhai Gauseva Niketan’.

The 61-year old German woman has spent her entire savings in setting up the cow shelter and employing workers for the rescue work. Two decades later, there are about 60 workers at the cowshed. Rs 35 lakh is incurred every month on workers’ salaries, food grains and medicines for cows.

Padma Shri Friederike Irina Bruning

Sudevi manages her expenses through her inherited property from where she gets Rs 6 to Rs 7 lakh every month. She has now made use of her parents’ money to set up the gaushala.

Additionally, she has even built a separate enclosure for cows that are blind or injured and need special attention.



The other major issue was about visa, she said, adding that the Indian government has not given her a long-term visa. She has to renew the visa every year. Mathura MP and veteran actress Hema Malini has been a great help to Sudevi aka Bruning in her mission. Malini had contacted External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in regards to Sudevi’s visa and promised to help gather support for the goshala’s work.

“I cannot take Indian nationality as I would lose rental income from Berlin. My father was working in the German Embassy in India. It’s the money of my parents that I have put into this gaushala,” she said.

Irina with a calf

She believes that her cows are her children, her family who she can never leave. She says this in reference to the large family of cows and calves in the sleepy town of Radha Kund in Mathura.

Friederike Irina Bruning who is popularly known as ‘gau mata ki aashraydaatri’ was conferred with the fourth highest civilian honour-Padma Shri for her unceasing efforts towards animal welfare.

Also Read: Meet Sickle Cell Advocate & Padma Shri Dr Sudam L. Kate

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