FOLLOWING ARE excerpts from the diary of Aisvarya Dasa. Based in San Diego, he travels throughout America with other devotees, distributing Srila Prabhupada's books.
Saturday, June 13, 1998
We'd just come from New Vrindavan, so after the peace and serenity of farm life, my mind was having trouble coping with being thrown into this mayhem the Tibetan Freedom Concert, an outdoor rock concert at RFK Stadium. Then I remembered that in a short while Lord Jagannatha would be happily gliding down New York's Fifth Avenue on His Rathayatra cart. I longed to be there and began thinking I'd made a mistake in coming to a show where it would be difficult to distribute Srila Prabhupada's books. But I suddenly realized that if I went out and tried my best, then Lord Jagannatha would be there too. So I tentatively stepped out of the van into the sounds of illusion.
One Eager Soul
At first Jananivasa, another distributor, thought Joe looked interested, but Jananivasa's mind said no, and he kept walking. Joe smiled at him.
Awhile later, amid thousands of people, Jananivasa saw Joe again. Joe smiled a bigger smile, but Jananivasa kept walking.
Later, they met yet again, and Joe smiled the biggest smile yet. Jananivasa finally conceded it must be that Lord Caitanya wants Joe to get a book. Joe bought six books.
Four young men in a car each took a book. Later I passed by them again, and one of them called me over. We briefly discussed Nietzsche and other philosophers, and he told me he was stuck in existentialism, as he pointed to the beer in one of his hands.
"I really want to give this up," he said, "but it's so hard when everyone else around me is doing it."
He realized the folly of what he was doing and had taken a book to improve himself.
There's a brahmana in every parking lot.
It rained, and the show was canceled. We decided to leave but got caught up in the exiting traffic. This all turned out to be Lord Jagannatha's mercy. Within a few minutes the rain stopped, the sun came out, and everyone was sitting in the traffic jam, waiting for their books. A day that had started out rough ended up very auspicious.
Sunday, June 14
Claire is interested in the Hare Krsnas, so much so that if she were a man she would have joined at once. But from observing ISKCON she felt some prejudice against the ladies.
I told her we're aware of the problem and are improving. Then I said that Krsna consciousness goes beyond the interactions of a society and into the realm of our true nature.
"So it doesn't matter where we are whether we're on a mountain top or in a society it all boils down to our consciousness. When I first became a monk, I wanted to go live in a secluded place and escape this crazy world, but now here I am in the middle of this parking-lot mayhem, selling books. I would never be a salesman in a million years, so the reason I'm here has to come down to my consciousness. These books are not for my profit but for the profit of the people who get them. I could be selfish, not do it, and think of myself. But then what about everyone else? Do I forget about everyone else and leave them to rot while I sit on my mountain thinking of myself? So if we limit ourselves by getting bogged down with others' problems, then we're not really helping anyone, including ourselves."
At the end of my sermon, she took a Science of Self-realization to add to the Quest for Enlightenment she'd gotten yesterday. As I fumbled with her change, I mentioned that I don't like dealing with this money stuff.
"But you have to deal with it," she sternly reminded me. "Don't forget about the rest of us out here!"
Jananivasa met Joe again. This time Joe went out and tried his hand at book distribution. Afterwards he came back to the van and had some prasadam with us. He had a ticket for the show but got so fired up by distributing books that he sold his ticket so he could be with us. I was feeling ill and couldn't read, so I asked Joe to read out loud from his Quest for Enlightenment. I've never before experienced Prabhupada's words coming across so clearly so soon after Prabhupada's action in giving a spirit soul Krsna's mercy.
Navina Nirada Dasa heads ISKCON's book-distribution ministry and travels worldwide to train and inspire book distributors.