Beat Me in Arm Wrestling and I Will Buy a Book!

Arm Wrestling

by Caitanyananda Dasa

While distributing books in Helsinki, Finland on a rainy October day, I met a big fellow who said, "If you defeat me in arm wrestling I will buy all of your books." I argued that it would not be a fair competition; he was an old man and anyway, it was raining. But the man was persistent. So we began to wrestle, placing our elbows on a covered electrical box at the side of the road.

We were grinning and struggling for some time without either of us gaining an advantage. Passersby looked surprised to see two men arm wrestling in the rain on the side of Helsinki's main road. Although in his fifties, the man turned out to be quite a powerhouse, and in the end, he won.

Red-faced and breathing heavily he said he had robbed several banks as a young man and spent a total of sixteen years in prison. Before that he had competed in weight-lifting competitions at the national level and being in prison had allowed him to continue his training.

Then one day in prison he had looked in the mirror and asked himself, "Am I a thief?" He decided he was not, and when he was released he never stole again.

And even though I lost the competition, the man was happy and bought a copy of The Teachings of Queen Kunti, giving all the money he had (which didn't turn out to be much–only 5 Euros! So much for his big talk about buying all my books!). But he was friendly and wanted to talk more, so I got him some lunch. Then I escorted him to the train station and helped him with his luggage before saying good-bye.

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