Marathon Experiences by Harish Rana, India
Dear Mahabhagavat Prabhu,
Thank you very much for your detailed marathon report. It's very enlivening and very motivating every time I read it. Its amazing that you can keep yourself going during the full marathon period despite of odd weather and circumstances.
I totally agree with you that India is much more pouplated than Canada or other countries and has upper edge and moreover most of the people here at least believe in God or some power, even though most of them are confused about who the Supreme Personality of Godhead is. Actually a surrendered devotee find advantage in disadvantageous position also like cold weather, less people, people of other faiths, communist countries etc. and where there is advantage he just goes rocking. I have seen devotees distributing numbers of books in the same place where other less sincere one's can hardly distribute even a single one. While distributing I felt it to be a continuous process and if we distribute occasionally like once a year or twice, thrice a year then it seems like a steep hill to most of the people like me.
I did not join Bhagvad Gita marathon because of winters here which I know is nothing in comparison to Canada or other freezing countries. But when only 8-9 days left for the marathon to end, I just could not stop myself from joning the devotees. The last 8-9 days I went in a row, out of which 5 days I bunked from Office. I used to bunk from office some years back too but that was for watching bollywood movies, so this time I thought why not take risk for Srila Prabhupada instead of Bollywood.
Now yes its very populated here, we had a stall in local bus stand here, I went there in full enthusiasm and as I entered the bus stand, I developed cold feet while seeing hundreds of people there. My heart started beating faster and I wanted to run away with the same enthusiasm with which I was coming thinking when I will reach the venue, when I will reach. I could hardly take steps back as there was a war going on to move ahead or go back. Then suddenly one Mataji at the stall looked towards me and then I have to go to her. She said I have to go, so can you sit at stall, there are other devotees also who are distributing books in the area. I agreed and it was ok sitting at the stall with lesser people coming themselves to enquire. Then another mataji came she said you can go and distribute books in the area while I sit here at the stall.
Oh no, this was what I was fearing. I took some Bhagvad Gita in my hand and went ahead but I could not ask a single person as it was just like a mad rush with people in groups (a disadvantage I felt with populated countries compared to countries with less population as we can find less people but more time to discuss without any interference from other, this was my opinion anyhow; 'grapes are sour'). I took one round just to show other devotee distributors there and came back thinking to the stall that I will go now after putting the books back in stall.
As I was about to go, a little known senior devotee Doctor couple came and said will you accompany us as this way we can carry more books altogether and I anyhow agreed as inside heart I wanted to be there and try. I went with them, they distributed and I just accompanied them but I was deeply touched by their sincerity. They did for almost an hour and then they have to go for some class, so they entered their scores in the register there and they put my name also with them. I felt deeply humbled. So first day with my own efforts I could do ZERO distribution but I got the strength, the desire, the compassion from the Doctor's prabhu and mataji.
Next day I could distribute 2-3 Bhagvad Gita as I was selective in approaching people, this one will take, this one will not, this one will, this one not. Third day 3-4 Bhagvad Gita, fourth day 3-4, fifth day again 6-7. Then by 6th day, Krsna helping from within, I was totally changed, full of enthusiasm, positive energy, feeling compassion for all - by the mercy of devotees, Gurudeva, Krsna mercy I started confronting each and every single person who came my way. I wanted to give one book to every person there before the marathon ends, so on the 6th day I distributed more than 35 Bhagvad Gitas in Hindi, Punjabi, Krsna books. The numbers increased on the last 3 days and I could not keep the track, the Punjabi Bhagvad Gita's exhausted from our stock and fellow devotees were saying how you are distributing Punjabi Bhagvad Gita to Punjabis which are bit costly than Hindi one and punjabi people who appear rude were hard to be approached.
I will remain always indebted, grateful to the Doctor couple devotees specially and all my godbrothers and godsisters, and Srila Gurudeva whose lecture after hearing in office I could not stop myself bunking form the office for going for the marathon. I repeated it 5-6 days in a row and no one could notice my absence in office, which shows my importance in office. Just my laptop lying there with papers scattered all over the table.
Some incidents I want to share :
Look I am a scientist : I approached a young guy with Bhagvad Gita. I told him that today is Gita jayanti and this day Bhagvad Gita was spoken by Krsna to Arjuna for the benefit of all of us. It's been a torch light of knowledge guiding people since generations after generations. He listened with interest. But while viewing the pictures, when I told him about rebirths, he suddenly said, well do you believe in all this. Look I am a scientist and I don't believe in these philosphies. His bus started and he jumped in smiling at me as he had defeated me, I smiled back to him but I was feeling pity for him, I was just thinking if there was little more time, may be I could have told him about Newton, Einstein who used to read Bhagvad Gita. May be one day he could get Bhagvad Gita from any other devotee.
What's the need of so much knowledge : This Sikh gentleman appeared very morose so I approached him to help him out but he turned out to be very rude dissatisfied guy. He said I am a teacher in a renowned school and some of our students go to Iskcon centre too. I could not understand what is the need of so much knowledge. If people can just work with whatever knowledge they have, its enough, we don't require more. I told him Bhagvad Gita is the king of knowledge (raj vidya raj guyham). But he was very adamant so instead of wasting more time I left him with his knowledge.
Why have you spoiled my business : I climbed one bus and started distributing Bhagvad Gita. But one middle aged beggar lady was also there who was begging, she started scolding me why you are spoiling my business, it was going so well. Not expecting such a scene, I forgot my aim and got into unnecessary argument with her, anyhow it was a lesson for me not to repeat in future. I said Mataji why are you asking for alms. She replied why you are selling books. Now you have to give me 10 Rupees. I said why I have to pay you, this money don’t belongs to me, I can’t give to you. You don’t appear to be a beggar and you are healthy also. Why don’t you work instead of begging. Oh but she started weeping and saying she has not eaten since yesterday, I tried to console her, I even hugged her and told her ok Mataji I will provide you food, come with me. But she kept murmuring in Punjabi. Then I said, Mataji we both are beggars, you continue with your own begging and let me beg too. But it became unbearable and I went away losing some potential takers.
Why not? : I approached one Sikh middle aged gentleman and asked if he would be interested in Bhagvad GIta in Punjabi. He said why not and immediately took one, took out his purse and gave the money. He replied you have done very good thing to print the Bhagvad Gita in Punjabi, people from Punjab will appreciate.
I want more : I approached a lady with his young daughter with Bhagvad Gita. She asked where are you from, I did not hear about Iskcon earlier, where it is. Even she was living just a walking distance from the Iskcon centre, she did not knew but her daughter seems to be a college girl knew but had no interest in spirituality and she did not want her mother to get involved also. She replied before I could speak that she knew where Iskcon is. Her mother took one Bhagvad Gita, I had no other books that time. But she said she would love to come to visit Iskcon and know more about it.
How is the response in the market : I approached a young man sitting all alone in deep thoughts. I showed him Bhagvad Gita, he appreciated, started reading and asked how is the response of your Bhagvad Gita in the market. I said well its awesome, people are reading it, re-reading it since last 5,000 years. I myself reading it 4th time. He took the phone numbers of local Iskcon centre and said I will order more after reading if I find it useful.
All Bhagvad Gita’s are the same : A young girl with her friends sitting in the bus replied I have Bhagvad Gita at home, I don’t need more. I asked if she had ‘Bhagvad Gita As It Is’. She arrogantly said what does it matter, all are the same. I replied well all buses are the same, then why are you sitting on this bus only, why don’t in other buses there. She replied because she had to go to the place where this bus is going and the other bus although looks like the same but they don’t go there. Yes exactly ! I replied, similarly this Bhagvad Gita named As It Is is indeed As It Is as spoken by Supreme Lord Krsna to Arjuna without any amendments or alterations. She knew she got defeated and wanted to take but because of false ego in front of friends she just ignored. When I went away, may be a friend of her came running behind me, wait wait I need one please.
I am a Muslim : I met 2 persons at different occasions who replied they are Momden (Muslims). They don’t accept Hindu literatures. One was Indian army personnel. He said I offer prayers in morning and then whole day I serve the country. I don’t have time for reading Kuran or Bhagvad Gita. But they both were sincere souls and knew about the importance of chanting in this age of Kaliyuga. They appreciated the distribution of holy books.
Why are you doing this? : While I was distributing books, a family who was not taking Bhagvad Gita from anyone but were just watching the devotees distributing Bhagvad Gita asked me with amazement why are doing this. I replied for our family. I mean all of you. They seemed impressed, may be one day they will also become fortunate.
Krsna too was a fun lover : I approached two guys, they were chewing tobacco. One of them refused to take Bhagvad Gita but the other said he will take one. The other one tried to stop him saying then you have to stop intoxication. He asked me is it so. I replied no it is not a prerequisite. He said yes I know Krsna too have taste for all these things (intoxication etc.). I did not correct him because the other guy was trying to convince him not to take. I just requested him that the only requirement is you should try to read it gradually from the start till the end. He said yes I will read daily. I know about Krsna but I want to know more about Krsna.
We have seen OMG : A group of girls and boys students replied sarcastically, we have seen OMG. As I had overhead people in office earlier also discussing OMG, I could figure out, may be it is some bollywood movie portraying the devotees or God in bad light. I replied well what’s shown in movies is not always true. They just sell dreams and people buy those, which have no foundation. They just smiled as they know I am a cheater. So I went away with a feeling to watch the movie myself to understand why they were making fun. I went back home, next day I enquired from a colleague in office about OMG, he told me it’s a movie Oh My God. He gave me the movie, I watched it at home although God was portrayed as not present in deities form, all sanyasis as cheaters but having prior knowledge I could see only the positives in the movie. The book Bhagvad Gita shown in the movie was our Bhagvad Gita As It Is which was given to the hero saying that it has solutions to life all questions and after reading it he won his case too. It showed Krsna as God and helped him in distress,, it showed that the person who don’t believe in God suffered in end. So I banked upon the positives and it helped in convincing other youngsters with OMG frame of mind.
There were many more wonderful encounters and got so much realization answering people’s queries and knowing people from different backgrounds, different faiths, different culture, meeting people in mode of goodness, meeting devotees from different belieifs….
Thanks for reading. Please advise for corrections.
Srila Prabhupada book distribution ki jai