In this column we present the experiences and realizations of devotees who give people Krsna consciousness by giving books by Srila Prabhupada and his followers. The editors
The Old Book Distributor
ONCE WHEN I WAS selling books on a street in Germany I showed a teacher The Journey of Self-Discovery. He was skeptical and not interested in the subject. But then a man about sixty-five years old came by on a bicycle. He stopped and came over to us.
"Bhagavad-gita?" he asked. "Srila Prabhupada's books? These are very interesting."
The teacher asked him, "Do you know these books?"
"Of course I know these books," he said. "Who doesn't know these books? Which one are you holding? The Journey of Self-Discovery. That's a wonderful book. It tells you everything about yoga, karma, reincarnation, the science of self-realization everything is in that book. You should read it. You should buy the book. Give him a donation. He's a nice boy."
Then he told the teacher, "And you know what the best thing is? If you read these books you understand who you are that you are spirit soul and servant of God. Then when troubles come and nothing works anymore you are fighting with your wife, your kids are rebelling, your job is hell you sit down and very calmly sing and meditate on the Hare Krsna mantra. You know what happens then? Everything just turns very positive, very bright. You become happy and ecstatic and just go right off into the universe. You become so happy you just take right off."
The teacher was so surprised by the man's conviction that he happily gave a donation for the book. I explained what the book was all about. It turned out he was interested but just a little skeptical.
While I spoke with the teacher, the older man took off on his bike. Later he came back.
I said, "You must know these books, right?"
"Yes, of course," he said. "I've been reading them for eight years now. And every time I tell myself that something has to happen in my life, I go to the city and meet one of you and buy some new books. So that's exactly what I'm going to do. Show me what books you've got."
I showed him the books I had. He bought two.
I told him we have temples and asked if he knew about the Hare Krsna movement.
"Temples?" he asked. "You mean like churches?"
He didn't know about the temples. He thought we were just young idealists selling books. He didn't know there was a whole spiritual movement behind them. He was amazed to learn there is also a movement in which people practice the philosophy of the books.
"You know," he said, "nobody actually understands what is going on in this world. Just look at these people, how they are madly running around trying to gratify their senses and be happy in their material pursuits. Like animals, they have no aim in life. They simply know the pleasures of eating, sleeping, and sex. They don't know what's going on. Don't you find it difficult to speak to them about the knowledge of Bhagavad-gita? Do you actually know what you are doing here? Do you know that you are doing the most important work for the whole human society?"
I wanted to hear more, so I asked him, "Do you really think so? Do you really think the work we're doing here with these books is important?"
"Yes, yes," he said. "This is very important the most important thing you can do, more important than breathing. You must give people these books so they can find out why they are living, so they can get some sense into their life."
The man left happily with his two new books, leaving me amazed at his conviction in the power of Srila Prabhupada's books and the chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra.
Fed Up With Cults
Another time, I was distributing books in front of a post office in Germany. I tried to show the books to a businessman stepping out of his car. He was in his mid-fifties, well-to-do, and very tense and businesslike.
"You are all cheaters and rascals," he said. "And I don't want to get involved in this. You're all a bunch of hypocrites. It's all bogus."
So I said, "What? What you are talking about? This is Bhagavad-gita, ancient philosophy from India."
"Yes, yes, India," he said. "I know all these yogis and swamis and gurus, and this is all cheating. Tell me which guru is the head of your organization."
"His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada," I replied.
"Really?" he said. "Swami Prabhupada? Then I take back everything I said. I have great respect for that man. Show me what books you have."
I showed him. Then I asked him, "Do you know Srila Prabhupada?"
He said, "I can tell you why I like this man. It's because I read his book Life Comes From Life. In that book he calls modern leaders hogs, dogs, camels, asses, rascals, cheaters, and hypocrites. And he defeats them all the scientists, the philosophers, the religionists. He tells it straight to their face."
He was very happy about Srila Prabhupada, and he took two books.
Navina Nirada Dasa, a disciple of Harikesa Swami, has been one of ISKCON's leading book distributors for many years. He is based at the ISKCON temple in Zurich.