The December book distribution marathon in Mumbai started right after the notorious terrorist attacks at CST railway station and other places. The atmosphere was tense and full of suspicion and mistrust. Devotees had planned to distribute books at prominent railway stations and also in local trains, but the attack had raised fears of uncertainty about the reaction of commuters as well as the railway authorities. Will the permissions be canceled? Will the authorities allow distribution of Bhagavad-gita in public places when the communal tension was so high?
December 1 arrived, and the devotees began the first stall. It went on without any obstacle.
One devotee, Bhakta Balaji, a Ph.d. holder, recalls his experience:
One day I was distributing Bhagavad-gita in the second class compartment of local trains. As I finished my short announcement, one man standing at the far end called me. I went nearer. His face, eyes and even his ears had turned red. Burning with fury, he shouted, “I am an ex-army man. India is a secular country, how can you distribute these books here?”
I decided not to answer back. I smiled and ignoring him walked back and began to show books to other commuters.
But sensing some commotion behind I turned back. My lack of answer had only further infuriated the man and he had come closer. He looked threatening; probably intending to hit me.
Suddenly six people got up simultaneously from different corners of the compartment. “Stop!” they shouted at the man. “You go Panditji,” they said to me, “we will take care of this man.”
“And you,” they turned to the man, “Why are you harassing Panditji? You did not want a book and he is not bothering you. Why are you having problems when he is giving books to others?”
They silenced the man.
The destination arrived. Every one got down. But when I got down, the man began to follow me. Seeing this, these six men immediately surrounded me and made a protective cordon around me. Fortunately we had a book stall at that station. These men accompanied me to the stall where other devotees were present. Seeing them, the man left.
I realized that although there are dangers at every step in this material world, Lord Krishna especially protects His devotees.
Cleaning The Ecology
I had an experience recently which made me remember Srila Prabhupada very much and made me think what he would say in such a situation.
I was approached by college students who were taking a course in Environmental Politics. They loved it, and they were taking interviews for their teacher with great enthusiasm. They wanted to interview somebody spiritual with their video camera. I decided to try to say exactly what Prabhupada would say in order to make it short and concise.
I told them the only way to a clean environment would be to start from the inside with the chanting of Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. I told them that we have materialistic dust upon our hearts and we need to chant to clear it away. If we don’t start cleaning from the inside then all the legislation or conferences will have no effect because people will go back to their same unclean habits.
They asked, “But do you Hare Krishnas have anything else to clean up the environment?”
I said, “Our dormant love for God and one another has turned into lust due to material association. We must transform that lust back into love by chanting the mantra. That is the most effective way by which the environment will be restored to its natural condition.”
“I agree,” the girl replied. “I had tried to renounce everything by living on a beach for one week and it was a most beautiful experience. Do you Hare Krishnas renounce everything?”
“You cannot renounce things artificially,” I replied. “If you listen to the radio or watch TV, you program yourself to go out shopping or buy that new car. So why not set your mind straight spiritually by hearing the mantra, Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. If you chant first thing in the morning then you will not spend your whole day polluting the environment, but you will think of Krishna and serve Krishna instead.”
Again, “But is there anything else that you Hare Krishnas do to save the environment?”
“Okay,” I said. “One other thing. Which do you think causes more global warming, driving a car or eating meat?”
They were well informed on that from their professor.
So I explained that Hare Krishna devotees would never interfere with the God-given life of any living being. Only animals will eat other animals. Human life is a crossroads between compassionate spiritual life and animal life. Hare Krishna devotees are automatically inclined not to pollute the environment because they do not slaughter the animals.
Finally the interview was over. They thanked me profusely and asked me to explain Prabhupada’s books to them. They bought two books and gave 22 dollars. (By Karuna Dharini Devi Dasi)
by Rakesh Uberoi
We visited an alcohol dealer in New Delhi. He was a lively man. He said he never encouraged people to drink too much.
We said we encourage people not to drink alcohol at all as it is harmful for the health, wealth, and their spiritual life.
He then said, “Bhagavad-gita is a wonderful scripture,” and ordered 200 Bhagavad-gitas!