Texas Vegfest and South Asian New Years Festival

Posted on July 16, 2017 by vasantidasi

Texas VegFest

On the auspicious appearance day of Sri Ramanujacarya, we had the great fortune of being able to distribute books at the Austin Texas Vegfest. Sripad BV Bhagavat Maharaja, Nrsimha Prabhuji, and Vishnujana Prabhuji were so gracious to facilitate much of the preaching. It was such an honor to serve beside them.

As soon as the flood of people started to enter the gate and head toward the food tents and pavilion, several people stopped by our table, sometimes all at once. I heard just about every person who passed or stopped look at the paintings and just say “Wow!” I told them I shared their sentiment.

ISKCON devotees were also present, such as Amala Kirtan Prabhu, who lead kirtan towards the start of the festival. They had a wonderful book distribution team at the kirtan tent as well as at the front gate when festival goers first entered. One gentleman I talked to, received a book set from one of the book distribution teams and happened to also come by our table. He said that he is getting up there in age and has kind of reached a midlife crisis, feeling like he has lead or is leading a life without a purpose or direction. I assured him that the books he received will provide the proper guidance he needs to continue in his journey. He also mentioned that he had books on just about every spiritual and religious path and certain things resonated with him while others did not. We spoke a bit more about what bhakti-yoga is and he seemed very interested. He got a Jaiva Dharma for himself and a painting of the Cycle of Birth and Death for his teenage daughter.

Another gentleman came with an inquisitive heart about trying to understand Hinduism and Christianity. Sripad BV Bhagavat Maharaja spent some time speaking with him one on one and was extremely grateful for the opportunity. It helped to clear up a lot of his doubts and answers a lot of his questions. He came to the table and looked at the books. He seemed hesitant to take anything, but Sripad BV Bhagavat Maharaja encouraged him to take a book and give some donation from his heart. He did and was grateful.

A sweet young gentleman who did not have any money gave an orange instead for a book. That orange was bhoga for Thakurji.

I had a very interesting conversation with a woman who saw the book Our Gurus and the picture of Srila Gurudeva and Srila Prabhupada. She said, “I have seen Srila Prabhupada, but I do not know who he is (pointing to the picture of Srila Gurudeva).” Then she asked how we were connected to the other group there, referring to the devotees from ISKCON. I told her we are from the same family, the same tree. There is virtually no difference, only apparent differences, and contradictions. She seemed very familiar with the lines drawn and I mentioned to her about bhakti flowing from pure and advanced Vaishnavas and that there should be not restrictions when this path is a matter of the heart, of attraction, and of nourishment. If there are restrictions, this will generate a separatist and sectarian mood, which is inherently the antithesis of bhakti.

A very special thank you to Sripad BV Bhagavat Maharaja and Nrsimha Prabhuji for gracing this festival and sharing their expertise in the art of book distribution and preaching seva. It was such an honor to experience this festival with these amazing devotees.

South Asian New Year Fest

Just one week after Texas Vegfest, Vishnujana Prabhuji and I headed to the South Asian New Year Fest held at Zilker Park. This day was certainly a day of tests as there was such a ferocious wind that blew the books and paintings off the table. However, after securing everything down, the wind was no longer a test and eventually calmed down as the day went on.

The first person I met even before the event started was a woman named Linda. She asked what the books were about and what bhakti meant. I explained and she responded that love in this world is with a little ‘l’ whereas that divine love I was talking about is with a big ‘L’. She said, “that Love is for everyone and every being.” It was so sweet to hear her say that and it reminded me of how kind and merciful Sri Krishna and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu are that pure love of God is available to anyone and everyone.

A young woman named Cassie saw the painting of Jaya Sri and wanted it so badly. She searched in her backpack for money, but only came up with a quarter. I gave her the painting and gave her some suggestions about where to put it. I also explained a little bit about the painting and she loved it. She was so grateful and asked if she could hug me. I said “of course, I am a hugger!”

Two men came by the table and asked if I had the Biography of Yogananda. Last week, another man also asked for the same book and highly recommended it; he left with a Jaiva Dharma instead and these two men each left with a Journey of the Soul.

We had two sweet children, a young boy and girl, who had a few dollars and were looking at the paintings. They were very fond of the Cycle of Birth and Death painting so each got one. Soon after, they both came back asking for a painting with a peacock. Each painting I had had one, but they were drawn to Venu Gita, so the little boy took that and gave another donation. We told them to be careful with the paintings and keep them in a safe and clean place. They both agreed they would.

I also got to meet the Mayor of Austin and gave him Secrets of the Undiscovered Self. He promised he would read it and told me that his daughter went to India and frequently guides their family in meditation. I said that when he is finished with the book, to give it to her. I also spoke to him about the Prison Seva Program, which he seemed interested in.

We met several more people that day. One of the last was a woman named Paula. We spoke for a long time as she asked several questions about the paintings and books and took notes on a sheet of paper. She seemed very inspired and wanted to explain all this to her friend. She left with a small book.

I never know what to expect from these small seva endeavors, but each time without fail, I am absolutely amazed and inspired by the mercy and supreme kindness of Sri Krishna and Srila Gurudeva. JAYA!!!!!

An extra special thanks to Vishnujana Prabhuji for making to the 2.5-hour journey to and from Houston in one day to help with both these festivals. He was such a huge help, unloading and loading the cars, carrying all the boxes of books to and from the festival site, helping set up the table, speaking with people who stopped by the table, and for taking all the wonderful photos.

And a very, very special thank you to Vasanti Didiji and GVP book distribution seva team who so kindly gave many books so that these book distribution events and others could happen. So very grateful to you Didiji and all the devotees!

Jaya Jaya Sri Radhe Shyam!!
Transcendental Book Distribution Seva ki Jaya!!
Sri Nitai Gaura Premanande! Hari Hari Bol!!

Vaishnava Seva-abhilashi,
Anuradha dasi