Priceless Gifts – A Book Distribution Report
By Chandrika Dasi
April 2, 2012
If you have the opportunity to give something freely to anyone you meet, what would be that gift? For someone like me who do not have surplus money to give away, the best gift I can offer is Krsna’s mercy—in the form of our beloved Gurudeva’s devotional literature that anyone can read and cherish for the rest of one’s life.
Thanks to the GVP Sponsorship program, I am able to give these gifts to all that I meet.
It was a beautiful, sunny, Saturday morning, and I was out sitting on the bank of a canal, chanting the mahamantra. In the cool December breeze, a group of swans gracefully flew in close by, joined by a group of geese. Bobbing above the running stream was a small turtle head; its four limbs vigorously treading water to stay afloat. The attentive gaze of the geese and turtle seemed to signal a hunger forfood.Unfortunately, the only thing I could give them that day was the gift of the Holy Name. So I chanted louder…Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna, Krsna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama, Rama, Hare, Hare…
An inspiration can come from ordinary incidences, and from the morning incident, the inspiration for my book distribution activity for the holiday seasons was to just distributeour beloved Srila Gurudeva’s books, without expecting anything in return. These priceless gifts can take each recipient on the path of Krsna-consciousness andcarrysukriti into subsequent lifetimes. How that knowledge stirred my motivation; to know that my small effort can actually help each soul in their attainment of self-realization!
It was December 24, 2011—Christmas eve, and my first destination for the day was downtown Miami. But even before I could reach downtown, the car I was in broke down, right in the middle of the intersection of Coral Way and Miracle Mile in Coral Gables. I thought to myself, “Maybe Krsna wants me to distribute some books in this area.” So with the carpushed to the road side, I started distributing out a dozen copies of “The secrets of the Undiscovered Self” and ‘”The Way of Love,” to whomever I saw as I walked towards the shopping plazas. I smiled and wished each person I meet a “Happy Holidays!!” Everyone – senior men and women, young adults, and teenagers reacted positively and took the books, just as I predicted. I believe that nobody would refuse a holiday gift. I realized this from my experience back in high school when a Christian monk handed me a Christian literature. He did not say even one word, but I sensed his peaceful and compassionate demeanor. Instinctively,Iconcluded that the book must be good because it came from a seemingly good person. So when I got home, I read it. Simple enough a plan and it worked even for me too!
Soon after I gave the dozen books away, the car started to work again. What a relief! I did not have to carry the remaining four dozen books by hand. I thought about what had just happened. The shopping plazas in the affluent Coral Gables werenot my usual distributing target, but now I realized that I should not leave out any area. I should just let Gurudeva guide me in my seva.
In the heart of Downtown Miami, near the Miami-Dade College-Wolfson campuswas the First Street shopping area. I had browsed quite often in these stores looking for great deals. My first stop was Piccola, a luggage store. A couple of weeks ago, I had purchased a carry-on from William, the Oriental store owner. I remembered I asked him for a discount. He grinned, and responded, “Yes, one penny!” So that was how much he charged me for the small luggage – one penny less from the retail price. I was determined to come back and gave him a better impression. This time, I approached him and gave him a copy of the “The secrets of the Undiscovered Self” and Journey of the Soul.
“What is this all about?” William asked as he flipped the pages. I thought for a second how I should answer that question, for he might be a Buddhist. I replied, “Spiritual Truths” I replied. Nearby, his assistant, Riccardo, walked in from the adjacent room as soon as he heard our conversation. Noticing his interest in the subject, I gave him a copy of “The Perfection of Yoga,” written by Srila Prabhupada. He took it and began to read the first page. “Its secrets from the spiritual world,”I told him and he nodded his head in response. Riccardo seemed more receptive tothe spiritual gift. I realized then that we do not know who should receive Krsna’s mercy and who will eventually embrace Krsna-consciousness, we can only act as Gurudeva’s agents and do our best in our seva to please Krsna.
A block away from Piccolawas Indian Prem. Ashok, the co-owner of the shop had previously agreed to distribute several copies of the Siva-tattva. This time around, I left six copies of the ‘”The Way of Love,” three copies of “Essences of Bhagavad-Gita,”and five more copies of “Siva-tattva” in his shop. He let me set up the books on the shelf along with a murti of the dancing Siva and pictures of Radha-Krsna and baby Krsna holding a flute. I couldn’t ask for a better set-up in downtown Miami,at Indian Prem where most Indians who work as ship crews stop by regularly.I’m very happy to reportthat this set up is permanent, and I can always leave some books there fordistribution.For Ashok’s effort, I gave him and his family a copy of the Journey of the Soul, “The Way Of Love,” and “Essence of Bhagavad-gita,’ and “Secrets of the Undiscovered Self” as Christmas presents.On my way home, I walked around the Miami-Dade College campus downtown and distributed more copies of “The Way of Love,” and “Secrets of the Undiscovered Self” to families who were out and about shopping during the Christmas season. There was definitely a festive mood and everyone I met was happy to receive a copy of Gurudeva’s book as Christmas gifts.
That evening, Lilanath prabhuji, our godbrother stopped by at the ganga-mata to pick up the rent for Malati dasi, who had been in Vrindavani since October, 2011. He picked up a booklet, Sri Dasamula Tattva from my book distribution table, and donated a gallon of water and a gallon of milk. Nice donation; I needed those bhoga for the week!
A week later, I met with our godbrother, Laksman prabhuji and Sidyavidya prabhuji (Srila Prabhupada’s disciple) for their usual Friday Harinam-sankirtan in Miami Beach. I had been going on Harinam-sankirtan quite often with Sidyavidya prabhuji’s ever-changing group for over 15 years. While he distributed “Krsna” pamphlets, I supplemented his effort with a copy of either “The Way of Love,” or “Secrets of the Undiscovered Self” to whoever was enjoying the transcendental sounds of our congregational chanting.
On the way home, while driving back to Coconut Grove, I got the chance to talk to Sidyavidya prabhuji about Gurudeva’s books. He was skeptical about reading Journey of the Soul, because from Srila Prabhupada lectures, he believes that we came from the spiritual world, whereas Gurudeva explained that we were not from the spiritual world, and whoever was from the spiritual world did not fall down. However, at that point, he was glad to accept a copy of Manah Siksa. And I asked Laksman to give him a copy of Journey of the Soul next weekend; which he did, and persuaded Sidyavidya prabhuji to read it.
That Friday night, I visited Punky, an old friend of Laksman prabhuji. Punky, incapacitated by a shot in the head back in high school, lived with his parents in Miami. He was introduced to Krsna-consciousness while attending the Saturday programs at Radha-Govinda Mandir in Miami Beach. He couldn’t go to the programs as often as he would like to; so I presented him with copies of the Journey of the Soul, “The Way of Love,” and “Essence of Bhagavad-gita and “Secrets of the Undiscovered Self” as Christmas presents to keep his interest in harikatha alive.
New Year’s Eve program at Radha-Govinda’s Mandir was truly festive and joyful! At this Mandir, devotees from the ISCKON and the Vrinda Temple sanga mingle with devotees from the International Pure Bhakti-Yoga Society. I took a couple of Manah Siksa and gave them to a couple of my old friends of mine, Rashasha Gaura prabhuji and Lilamurti didi (disciples of Jaya Pataka Maharaj). I have known them for over 15 years, and we still go on Harinam-sankirtan together in Coconut Grove and Miami Beach, especially on holidays. The following Saturday, I gave another copy of Manah Siksa to Imli Tala didi and Kalki Prabhuji. I also promised to give a copy of Manah SiksatoRaghava prabhuji and Sringarvats the next time I see them. These disciples of Paramadvaiti Maharaj have been going to the Saturday programs quite regularly, eager for sadhu-sanga and ecstatic harikatha given by our preachers.
Harikatha by Bhaktivedanta Vana Maharaj and Bhaktivedanta Padmanabha Maharaj this winter brought in more devotees from other sanga to the temple. I met some devotees from the ISKCON sanga, and took the opportunity to speak about Gurudeva’s books to them. One of them is Mahavaraha prabhuji, a long time disciple of Srila Prabhupada. He was happy to receive a copy of the Journey of the Soul and a copy ofManah Siksa.He then asked me if I have Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita; showing me the first edition, the unedited original copy of the book. He told me that he had drifted away forawhile after the death of his spiritual master, but now felt a renewed sense of purpose in life from reading Gurudeva’s books.
Back at Miami-Dade College where I worked, I approached several students whom I felt compelled to distribute copies of the Journey of the Soul, before they graduate and leave the city. One of them is Arthur, an international student from Haiti, who had confided in me his unquenched thirst for transcendental truth, and had been dissatisfied with current spiritual literatures that do not give him all the answers. I had invited him several times to come to hear harikatha, and get the answers from our preachers. I approached him again recently and showed him two books, Journey of the Souland Science of Self-Realization(written by Srila Prabhupada). He was very interested in reading them and asked me which book he should start first. I suggested he start with Science of Self-Realization first to get most of his initial questions answered.I also gave a copy of the “Secrets of the Undiscovered Self” to two other of my Haitian friends, Eric, a Math Instructor, and Joseph, who took courses on education with me.
That week I kept running into Monique, a former student of mine, who had previously received a copy of the “Essence of the Bhagavad-gita.” “Why do I keep running into you..?” Monique asked, feeling that there must be a reason to this frequent occurrence. “Well, not sure myself” I responded, but in my heart I thought, “Krsna, just the person I want to talk to.” So a couple of days later when our paths crossed, I was ready. “Here, I’ve been meaning to give this book to you.” Monique’s friend, Miranda had been studying with her lately, so when she saw Journey of the Soul, she got interested. “Would you like a copy of this book too?” I asked her. “Sure” she replied. Glancing through the book, she commented, “I like reading this stuff.” Dannie, another MDC student whom I regularly tutor, also felt the same way. Jocelyn, on the other hand was more curious. I was happy to give my friends a copy of the Journey of the Soul.
From personal experience, I find that young adults seem to be more open to learn about Krsna-consciousness, and I try distributing this Supreme Absolute Truth to every young adult I know or meet.
Jocelyn and Dannie, at MDC
It’s such a wonderful feeling to know that I am following Srila Gurudeva’s instructions by distributing his books. The feeling of being lost, drifting aimlessly on the ocean of samsara is no longer there, but now has being replaced by a feeling of spiritual contentment, resulting from thefeeling of a deep connection to the Supreme Person, Krsna throughthe ancient disciple succession. All glories to Sri Sri Guru and Gauranga!!! Radhe Radhe!