Akula, “the Shark,” on sankirtan
In the spirit of the Prabhupada Marathon, here is a story from some years back in Russia.
up there they forgot all about it. They were high on sankirtana, and Akula was beaming with extreme confidence, feeling like nothing could stop him and Lord Caitanya’s mercy.They knock on the door, and a bare-chested man with a machine gun in his hands opens it. He jabs Gautama in the stomach with the barrel and asks “Who are you?” Gautama immediately remembers the earlier warning and melts into silent prayers to Lord Nrisimha, but Akula, without missing a beat, shouts back “I am Akula!”
“Shark” is not a name mothers give to their children and so only a fellow bandit, backed up by his bosses and his gang, would dare to announce himself like that. Thus the man at the door is taken aback. “Okay, come inside.”
Devotees are led into the main room, and it’s the sight of a huge feast, with twenty or so people sitting around the table. Vodka bottles and clouds of smoke.
“Akula is here. He wants to talk.” The devotees were thus introduced.
“What does Akula want?” the boss asked, rising to the challenge.
What helped is the devotees were dressed in black leather jackets which, I believe, are an acceptable bandit uniform all over the world, so they are taken seriously. Who knows who they are and who they represent?
“Do you know what happens to you when you die?” asks Akula, his eyes shining with the excitement of sankirtana. And he had a gold tooth as well. “Do you know what kind of death awaits you and what will happen to you
afterwards?” continues Akula, not skipping a beat. Dead silence around the room. Akula means business. This is it, the moment that defines whether you live or die. Hands are reaching for guns and Gautama hears clicks as
triggers get activated.
“What’s your answer?” demands Akula. “Cat got your tongue?”
Two guys without guns are challenging twenty in such a brazen way! This leads to questions.
“Are you from Moscow? No one local would dare to talk like that.”
“Yes, from Moscow,” Akula continues.
He beams a huge smile at them. “We have a message from Caitanya Mahaprabhu
for you. It’s right here in our bags.”
The bandits’ faces go white. They think there are explosives in the bags and that these two crazy Moscovites are ready to blow up the building. Silence falls.
Akula puts his hand in the bag and slowly takes out Bhagavad Gita. “Everything is in here!”
The boss takes the book in his hands. Akula opens it up to the illustrations and starts preaching as usual. Everyone realizes that although these guys have guts, they are not threatening and, moreover, they really mean business
about this death thing. They want to know how the book gives them so much strength and they respect that. They ended up buying twenty books!
Akula is on a roll, he wants to continue with his preaching, but Gautama gestures at him to round it up and leave, and eventually physically pulls him out before the situation changes for the worse. They leave the apartment.
Once outside, Akula unloads on Gautama: “Why did you stop me in the middle of my preaching? Why are you obstructing sankirtana?” Turns out he didn’t even notice the guns in the room. He thought it was a birthday party and was
totally oblivious to the danger.
Some time later Akula received the name Ananga Mohan dasa. Unfortunately he died in a car crash together with two other sankirtana devotees in 2010. They were driving to another city for the Prabhupada Marathon.