Krishna is conscious for the Krishna conscious
Lord Krishna has a unique relationship with every devotee and has a unique plan for their purification. During my early days in Krishna consciousness, everything was sweet; the only thing I was uncomfortable with was book distribution. I felt ashamed to be seen as a salesman persuading anyone to sell his books. I was very concerned about my image—what if any of my friends saw me? Very soon, Krishna’s plan for me was revealed.
I was distributing books in a long distance train running from Mumbai. In a three-tier AC bogie, I noticed a young man. With a copy of the Bhagavad-gita, I approached him, “Please take this book.” With a sarcastic look, he pointed across the opposite berth where an old lady was asleep,“That person would have surely taken your book.”I wanted to retaliate but I retained calm and remembered Krishna. I paused and asked him gently, “Can I say something if you don’t mind?” He consented. I suggested, “There is a common misconception that the Bhagavad-gita is supposed to be read only during old age. Suppose you were doing some work and I observed you from the very beginning, I might be able to point to you if at all you were going wrong somewhere. In that case you might benefit from my observation. But what if I decide not to help you?” The young man replied “But if you were watching from the beginning and had noticed my mistake, why would you not tell me at once and prevent me from making a mistake?” There was a sincere question-mark on his face.
I quickly replied, “The Gita is the textbook of life. It teaches one how to live and if you read it during old age when you have already passed many precious years, it will be of little value to you. When we buy a product, the instructions for use are printed very prominently. If the Gita was meant to be read only during old age, it would have been mentioned somewhere distinctly. During old age, one’s eyesight becomes weak, our joints start aching and whatever little memory remains is used only for remembering our medicines. With all these unfavorable factors, how can we read and understand the Bhagavad-gita properly in old age? Therefore, one’s youth is the best time to read it.”
He had no answer for my presentation. Pondering for a while he asked, “How much does it cost?” The person sitting next to him was also inspired and asked for a copy in Marathi. A person on the opposite seat was listening to this whole conversation and he also asked for a copy. I got down from the train with an elated heart on my first success.
In retrospect when I realized that one remark from that young man had triggered two more men to receive the mercy of Srila Prabhupada. However ungainly or inopportune a question may be, one never knows what subsequently transpires and what truth comes to light. From that day on I stopped perceiving any discussion, debate and possible argument as an obstacle and instead I now see them as a stepping-stone to personal realizations and success.
Over time, I have realized that distributing books has many advantages. I have gradually shed my fear of talking to strangers and have become less apprehensive. My presentation skills are far better. This also has pushed me to read the books I was distributing; I needed to know what I was trying to give away. Now I use more analogies and examples in my conversations. The books came alive for me. I can confidently answer questions from the general public and provide satisfactory answers. This service inspired me to pray to Krishna for his shelter. Often people I met were unfavorable to Krishna consciousness so I pray to Krishna for them and this helps me stay connected with Him and beg for his shelter. I get a feeling that Krishna is watching me, testing me, protecting me and guiding me in this service. Overall, I feel I have become sensitive in my presentation of Krishna consciousness to various persons according to their level of understanding, socio-cultural upbringing and mental development. I can only thank Srila Prabhupada for laying such emphasis on distributing his books. By this alone, many including me have benefitted.
In the Bhagavad-gita (18.68 and 69), the Lord states “For one who explains the supreme secret to the devotees, devotional service is guaranteed, and at the end he will come back to me. There is no servant in this world more dear to me than him, nor there will be”. This verse infused me with determination and even though I still have many apprehensions and doubts; I will keep trying to serve Krishna by distributing Srila Prabhupada books.