In this column we present the experiences and realizations of devotees who give Krsna consciousness to others by giving them Srila Prabhupada's books and other books on Krsna consciousness. The editors
FOR MANY Hare Krsna devotees the most important activity is giving people spiritual knowledge. Without spiritual knowledge human life is incomplete. The most profound spiritual knowledge is found in the Vedas.
Srila Prabhupada considered it his most important activity to translate into English the essence of Vedic knowledge. To spread that knowledge, he established the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, which has become the world's largest publisher of books on Indian religion and philosophy. Appreciating the great treasure of Vedic knowledge revealed through Prabhupada's books, many of his disciples and grand-disciples have become inspired to dedicate their lives to distributing them.
Struck by Lightning
One day while distributing books in a parking lot in Oslo, Norway, I noticed a man who seemed strange. As he walked across the lot, he was leaning over and almost losing his balance. He stopped, took a few steps forward, a few steps back, a few steps to the side, and then went on walking.
I went up to him and showed him the books. He was a big tall man. I could understand from his speech that despite his size he was a softhearted man and a man of discrimination.
He took two books but had only a very small amount of money. He gave me that and said, "That's all I have. I can give you that. But I'll go to the bank now, and when I come back I'll give you some more."
I said, "All right. That's OK." I gave him the two books.
He came back later and waited patiently while I sold books to someone. Then he came up to me and handed me more money.
I asked him, "Perhaps you already know about this subject matter?"
He said, yes, he had been reading esoteric books for a long time. Fourteen years earlier he had been struck by lightning in the mountains. He had been paralyzed and in a coma for a long time. For about twelve years he was in a wheelchair, and now he sometimes loses part of his memory and has problems with his balance.
Since the accident he has been interested only in spiritual subjects. His family and friends left him. He still has his old job, driving trucks, but he said he does the job out of habit, to earn money, and then the rest of the time he studies spiritual life and spiritual literature.
I told him that Prabhupada's books are the real spiritual literature. I took him to the car, and he took all the books I had and gave me all the money he had.
He said, "I went to the bank today to get some money. Somehow you came to give me all these wonderful books, and I gave you all the money. I think this is the will of Providence, God's arrangement, because otherwise we would not have met here."
He was very enthusiastic to receive Srila Prabhupada's books.
Junkie in Bern
I was distributing books in Bern, the capital of Switzerland, and a young junkie, drug addict, walked by me. He looked very, very down and out. I was thinking to let him go by, because drug addicts are usually not so interested in books and are sometimes very aggressive. There were so many other people around, so I tried to avoid him.
But he walked by me, turned his head, and smiled with the most incredible bright smile.
I said, "Why are you smiling? Do we know each other? Do you know these books?"
He came up to me and said, "I read those books for years when I was in a psychiatric hospital. My parents bought me the books. I have AIDS, and I'm going to die within a couple of months. I simply read Srila Prabhupada's books, and therefore I'm actually very happy. I know I have nothing else to do in my life but read Srila Prabhupada's books. That's all I have to do."
We had an interesting talk, and then he left with his three new books.
Louis and His Problem
I was traveling in the U.S. with Kaustubha Dasa from KrishnaFest. One evening we were filling up at a gas station, and the gas station attendant, named Louis, started talking about his life. He was depressed because his mother had died. He couldn't understand why she had died, because she was such a nice person and she never did anything wrong, never did any harm to anyone. But somehow she had died and he couldn't understand the world anymore. Life seemed so empty and bleak.
Louis said he had gone to a psychiatrist because of his depression and lack of interest in life. "Do you know what the psychiatrist told me? He told me I should go out and feed the birds. So I went to the park and fed the birds. I felt so stupid, like a little kid. And it didn't help."
He had become more and more depressed and frustrated and tired of life. He didn't know what to do should he kill himself? He didn't know what he was living for.
Kaustubha told him, "Well, first of all you should understand that your mother didn't die."
Louis became shocked, and his eyes opened wide. "What? She didn't die? Then where is she now?"
"Your mother just changed her body. She is a spirit soul, like you and me, and she just changed her body. Just as a person can move from one car to another, your mother has simply moved on to another body. She is still alive.
"And second of all you should understand that your psychiatrist is simply a cheater, taking your money but not helping you a bit to understand the real facts of life. You should read this book, The Journey to Self-Discovery, and the story of Ajamila, who had a near-death experience."
Louis became excited. "Wow, my mom didn't die? That's wonderful."
He took two books and happily gave a donation.
Navina Nirada Dasa is a disciple of Radhanath Swami and has been one of ISKCON's leading book distributors for many years. He is travelling widely to teach about Krishna consciousness and conducting seminars on outreach.