Malawi Mellows – A Beer in Right Hand and a Bhagavad Gita in the Left
A Sankirtan Report form Malawi
Blantyre, one of the major cities of Malawi in Africa has a population of approximately 800,000 people of which 400 are of Indian origin. Malawi is one of five poorest countries of the world. Two years ago, Murari Das from Tanzania, on the order of his guru HH Bhakti Vikasa Swami started preaching and distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books in Blantyre to people of both the African and Indian origins. In April 2012, I, Nitai Nimai Das, also a disciple of HH Bhakti Vikasa Swami, from India joined him to help in expanding the movement. Recently, Bh. SB Rama, who works as a manager in a biscuit factory started living with us and helping us to preach. On 29 September 2012, the day when Srila Prabhupada accepted sanyas, an ISKCON preaching centre was formally inaugurated by HH Bhakti Caitanya Swami. The inaugural function was a grand success with an attendance of 300 people, who participated in Kirtan, heard the inaugural lecture by maharaj, saw the video “The Hare Krishna People” projected on a large screen and had sumptuous prasadam of 7 items. The pictures can be seen at * http://www.dandavats.info/?p=641*
Every year the Blantyre Hindu temple organizes Navaratri festivals in a big way for nine consecutive nights culminating on Dashera, the day when Lord Ramacandra killed the evil Ravana for kidnapping Sita, the Lord’s eternal consort. Since past two years, ISKCON Blantyre has been setting up a book table and distributing many of Srila Prabhupada’s books to the people who come for the festivities and participate in playing the *dandiya* dance. This year also during the Navaratri festival from 16 October to 23 October 2012, we set up a book table for eight consecutive nights and by the mercy of Lord Caitanya and Srila Prabhupada distributed 45 maha big books, 10 big books and 13 small books.
During the time of Diwali, a festival of lights and happiness marking the return of Lord Ramacandra, Mother Sita and Laksmana to Ayodhya after killing Ravana and an exile of 14 years, the Blantyre sports club organizes the *Diwali Fair* a week before Diwali and the *Diwali Night* on the night of Diwali. Both these events are attended by many people from various backgrounds such as African, European, Indian, and Chinese and also by many members of the Muslim community. During these events, stalls selling various kinds of foods and other items are set up and on the *Diwali Night*there are some stage performances and a display of amazing fireworks. This year the events were organized on 3 November and 13 November 2012 respectively. As in previous years, ISKCON Blantyre set up a book stall distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books this year also. But this time, along with the books, we distributed free hot halawa prasadam which was cooked with a lot of ghee, milk, semolina, cashew nuts and dates and offered to Lord Krishna with love and devotion. And what was the result? The people who generally do not like to come to our stall were attracted by the free distribution of prasadam and after tasting the prasadam, had a change of heart and bought Srila Prabhupada’s books. Many of the Europeans, mostly Christian missionaries, whom I tried to sell books on the street but had never taken one, on this day after tasting the prasadam appreciated the great taste and were more than ever ready to hear what we had to say about the books and enthusiastically bought Srila Prabhupada’s books such as Bhagavad Gita As It Is, Krishna Book, Srimad Bhagavatam 1St Canto and several other books.
On the *Diwali Night*, our book stall was right next to the liquor bar. Some of the people who bought the books were drinking beer and later you could see them with a bottle of beer in the right hand, and the Bhagavad Gita As It Is in the left hand. What a mercy of Lord Caitanya and Srila Prabhupada upon these fallen souls who got a great fortune by tasting the prasadam and buying the transcendental books.
We called one person who looked totally drunk, and told him “Please take prasadam.” He replied, “What?”, then we handed him the cup of halawa and said “its prasadam”, he took it and said “Oh! It’s warm”. Then we showed him the Bhagavad Gita, he said “I’ll come back later, right now I am drunk”, we told him that later the books would be finished, and so he agreed and bought the Bhagavad Gita.
One fair skinned muslim person, to whom Murari prabhu gave prasadam and explained the philosophy of Krishna Consciousness, told us that he was from Pakistan but originated from North Russia. He also told us “where ever I go I carry my gun in my pocket”. So Murari prabhu asked him “Why do you carry a gun?” “For protection” he said and showed it to us. The gun he was referring to was actually his beads which he uses for chanting the names of Allah. Then he went and brought his wife who was also a muslim from the African background and asked Murari prabhu to explain the points again and after listening, she approved her husband to buy a book and they bought a Life Comes From Life.
On the *Diwali Night*, one young European boy came and took the prasadam and said that his mother had bought the Krishna Book on the *Diwali Fair* a week ago. Later I saw the same boy along with his father who was drinking beer, I called them and gave the prasadam to the father and explained to him about the Bhagavada Gita and he happily bought it. When I requested him for a picture with the book, he asked his son “They want to take a picture, here take this beer and hide it”, I said “No, it’s ok” but he replied “No, No, hide the beer” and only then did he pose with the book along with his daughter and son holding the beer bottle out of sight.
After some time, I saw a group of three young boys and a young girl pass by and called out to them to come and collect complimentary sweets. They said that they were all from Germany. After they had tasted the prasadam, I explained to them about the soul from the Bhagavad Gita and also showed them the Krishna book and explained to them that God does not have any work to do but he just enjoys by performing various pastimes such as playing the flute. I asked one of them “What would you like to do if you were God?” in order to explain that everybody likes to enjoy so why not God. And his friends replied “Oh he would like to smoke cigarettes the whole day and drink lots of beer” and they all started laughing. One of them bought a Bhagavad Gita.
Another time, I called a European lady and gave her and her husband the prasadam and explained about the Bhagavada Gita. After tasting the prasadam, she bought two Bhagavad Gitas and a Krishna Book.
Later, I saw a young African lady dressed in a saree walking with her husband and called them to take prasadam. After tasting the prasadam, they bought the Bhagavad Gita, and on the other side of the table, Murari prabhu sold one more Bhagavad Gita to another African couple who turned out to be the parents of the lady in the saree.
By the mercy of Lord Caitanya we have been able to witness so many amazing sankirtan pastimes. The total number of books sold on the *Diwali Fair* and the *Diwali Night* are 27 maha big books, 2 big books and 15 small books.
In this way, we distributed free prasadam profusely without discrimination and sold many books to all the poor and needy souls of Blantyre who although were materially rich, were spiritually poverty stricken. We request the blessings of all the devotees to distribute more and more books and preach Krishna Consciousness in the land of Malawi.
Sri Krishna Sankirtan ki jaya! Sri Sri Gaura Nitai ki jaya!! Srila Prabhupada ki jaya!!!
Your humble servant,
Nitai Nimai Das,
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