Yesterday was a special day to celebrate the spiritual contributions of Srila Prabhupada’s guru, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur. He was pleased when a young member of the ashram went out to sell magazines – even if he only sold one. So I thought I might be in with a small chance of pleasing someone yesterday when I headed out to the north-west London suburb of Ealing Broadway for a spot of book distribution.
It was another ‘Weekend Warrior’ day organised by young Sachin Kotak, who just seems to love preaching the word of Krishna. When I arrived the book and prasadam table was already in place, attracting passers-by, a kirtan was going on, and a number of distributers were already dotted along both sides of the street engaging pedestrians. A veritable sankirtan festival.
I tried my best for around two hours, just taking long enough to break my morning fast at midday. (Only on special occasions do I do this, otherwise I love breakfast – at breakfast time!) I am happy to report that I sold slightly more than one magazine, so perhaps Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Thakur was pleased with me.
Next up I was asked to lead a spot of energetic harinam sankirtan up and down the streets. Its always pleasant to see just how many people like the sound of kirtan and join in. But it was a Saturday in London, so a group of boys felt they had to provoke a reaction by throwing rubbish at us. Some things never change. When we broke for some prasadam later, I told the devotees of the first time I was asked to lead a kirtan along a street. It was London’s Portobello Road market in December 1974. I got about seven minutes into the kirtan, and was feeling quite proud of myself, when a chicken’s head, trailing bloody giblets, sailed through the air and hit me square in the face. The stall holder thought it was a great joke, as did his friends.
Later that day I drove to Maidenhead, a town some 40 miles away, to speak to the fortnightly sanga there. Its a growing group and they’ve had a mini-Rathayatra through the streets of Windsor – where the Queen has her castle – and also Maidenhead of course.
Such groups are proof that through a steady programme of book distribution coupled with a personal and considerate follow-up of interested new readers, newcomers can have their questions answered, their doubts adddressed, and gradually take to the basic daily practises of Krishna consciousness.
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