Sankirtan in Detroit, some of my first Sankirtan adventures
It was my fortune that that I got a chance to spend the week of Gaura Purnima under the shelter of Srila Gurudeva Sankarshan Das Adhikari and Srimati Gurumataji Vishnupriya Devi Dasi in Austin, Texas. I was even more fortunate to have accompanied Srimati Gurumataji on book distribution, her enthusiasm was contagious and I had made up my mind that when I return to Detroit I will go on book distribution at least once a week. So when I got back, I was making plans to solicit shopkeepers in my area to setup a book table once per week, however everyone politely denied, so my only chance was to go out on the streets and distribute books. I was very much reluctant at first however it was my only chance so I was researching online on ways to distribute books on the streets and I stumbled upon my dear god brother Mahabhagavat prabhu's account of his book a distribution experiences, inspired I directly wrote to him for advice and he gave some very helpful advice and a lot of encouragement and support. So thus inspired I went out on the streets.
The very first time I choose a somewhat busy spot in the relatively deserted Detroit downtown and was trying to interest people in Srila Prabhupada's books when a cop pulled over and addressed me thus "what are you selling there man" I showed him a Chant and be Happy and told that I was from a nonprofit organization IKSCON that we don't sell the books but accept donations from interested people. He mentioned that the building management was not happy with me being there and showed me a different spot. I thanked him and started using the very same spot for my subsequent trips.
One day I was distributing a book at the Michigan Veg festival and one nice person took a book gave a donation then I gave him a mantra card with the temple address and told him about the free Sunday vegetarian feast, he exclaimed "free!" and asked why we were doing this for free, I couldn't think of any thing better so told him that our spiritual master gave this to us for free and asked us to do the same, he said interesting and walked away with his book.
Another time one nice lady took a Chant and be Happy almost pulled out a donation from her purse but questioned whether the book was religious fortunately Srila Gurudeva in His Thought for the day addressed a similar question earlier, so I responded saying "no this is beyond religion, the essence of all religion" she seemed satisfied gave the donation and walked away with her book.
I was trying to distribute books in downtown Royal Oak, Michigan, two ladies were passing by I inquired if they were from around, they said no and before I could say anything seemed to walk away, just moments later one of the them took a step back and asked "why do you need some help", I put a Chant and be Happy in her hand and said "yes we are showing these please take a look, these are books on yoga and meditation that show you how to get free from stress" She pointed to Srila Prabhupada and asked if He were Gandhi, I said he is swamiji who taught us about Bhakti yoga, showed them the pictures of George Harrison and John Lennon and said that they were also his students. She pulled out a nice donation for the book I felt she should also get a another book for the donation. Then gave her the mantra card and asked her to chant along with me, which she did, she noticed the maha mantra and instantly recognized the Hare Krishnas, I mentioned that I was one as well, then she looked at my head and said "but you are not shaved" I replied "I am incognito" we both laughed and she left with her books and the mantra card.
It said that by the grace of Guru even a lame person can climb a mountain and a mute person can also sing, in the same way by the Grace of Srila Gurudeva and Srimati Gurumataji and by the mercy of devotees like my Godbrothers, I am able to slowly shed my fears and distribute whatever few books I can to my capacity.
Sri Gaura Hari das