A perfect arrangement
Gokul Lila, Saumya Mayi, and I set up a book table outside a bank in
Palmerston North for the day, across the street from a busy mall entrance.
Two of us would distribute in the mall, while one manned the table, piled
very high with stacks of “Hiding in Unnatural Happiness.” I was standing at
the table, looking down to read a message on my phone, when I heard an
enthusiastic voice say, “Check out the table!”
I looked up and saw two skateboarders. The enthusiastic one, who was telling
his less enthusiastic mate to check out the table, grabbed one book and
started looking at it. Seeing the word “swami,” he asked, “Is this Krishna
This enthusiastic dude’s name is Iwi, and he is eighteen. He told me he got
some of our books from a monk in Palmy, put them on his shelf, and forgot
about them for a while. Then one day, recently, he really wanted a book to
read, and he suddenly remembered Srila Prabhupada’s books.
He is reading Science of Self Realisation and also started slowly reading
Bhagavad Gita, as he wants to take it in properly and understand it.
Iwi’s mate must have decided this wasn’t for him. He drifted away and stayed
there for the rest of our exchange, which was about to become more nectarean
— a perfect arrangement. We talked longer.
I explained that there is a student life in Krishna consciousness: one lives
very simply and studies the books and tries to share this knowledge with
He asked, “Is that like simple living, high thinking?” He also asked me
whether what I was doing was my ‘service.’
I responded, “Yes, this is my devotional service!” Obviously, Iwi was
actually reading Srila Prabhupada’s books. He was speaking like someone
whose intelligence has been somewhat purified. He wasn’t dishing out the
usual quasi-spiritual ideas that we often hear on book distribution.
He bought Hiding in Unnatural Happiness. When I showed him the photo of
Devamrita Swami on the back cover, I said, “He’s my teacher. It’s his
birthday today. That’s why we’re celebrating by sharing these books.”
He remarked, “I definitely haven’t met him, but he just seems familiar”.
The most nectarean thing he told me was at the end of our exchange. I showed
him Srimad Bhagavatam (1.1) and told him that after he finishes reading his
other books he can read Srimad Bhagavatam. He got really excited. He said,
“I love these books.”
I said, “You can collect them all.” He laughed but then got more serious as
it was clear he wanted to say something sober. He said “These books, they
just help so much. I’ve never read a book in my life until I started reading
After our exchange, which lasted ten minutes, his friend came back, and they
both walked back the way they came.
I was super grateful to Lord Caitanya for using me, as I felt that I really
didn’t do anything. I just happened to be standing at the table. I realised
that sankirtan is such an amazing service. You just have to show up, and
Lord Caitanya can use you for His super-nectar schemes.
I’m keeping in contact with this special soul and praying to Srila
Prabhupada to help him (and to help me help him). He says he is going to try
to come over to Wellington for a Soul Feast at Bhakti Lounge on November
15th, so let’s see what happens.
All glories to the sankirtan movement of Lord Caitanya and to devotees
engaged in the sankirtan movement! All glories to Srila Prabhupada, who put
everything in his books!
Kunja-mandana Devi Dasi