Experiences Distributing Books in Mpumalanga
While staying in Mpumalanga for 6 weeks conducting research with women with chronic disease, I would distribute books at the nearest shopping centre on each Saturday. This is a brief record of the experiences:
- 1 Beyond Birth and Death (Well to do – asked good questions)
- 1 Science of Self Realisation
- 1 Chant and Be Happy (Christian girl who likes to read)
- 1 Life Comes from Life (Trade Unionist Jolly)
- 1 Science of Self Realisation (Another trade unionist, quiet, liked the idea of God Centred Communism)
- 2 On the Way to Krishna (One lady who barely glanced at it, but donated the money, and 1 young man, underpaid, encouraged by bottle store man)
- 2 Chant and Be Happy (One man walking into shop, purchased immediately he heard God, and 1 girl, also inspired by God)
- 1 Perfection of Yoga (Man going into bottle store, said had no money, gave for free, went into bottle store, and later encouraged another man to buy)
- 1 Science of Self Realization (Underpaid, bottle store worker anxious to read it but no money)
- 1 Higher Taste (Another man working at the bottle store)
- 1 Perfect Questions Perfect Answers (Man and wife in car, said it was OK as it is only scientists who deny the existence of God who were criticised)
Often, when people are not interested, they will say “Shame, no money”, or “Next time” or “Are you around here? OK I’ll come back”. They are polite, and don’t say no out right. Some ladies just look and don’t say anything at all.
One man, who works in Vodacom encouraged me by saying “These books are important, and the people want them. Don’t be shy, but go into the shops. People want these books. I know what you want: you want people to read these books and to join. This is very important” He did not buy a book, but understood even better than I did the importance of distributing them.
Another person, who did not buy a book, told some others who were close by, “It is important to read. Every time you finish a book, you take away some knowledge.” He then told a story about a hunter, who, by relying on the voice of God, caught enough to feed his family.
The man in the bottle store said he was an avid reader, and said I should come back with more books.
Another man, walking past the bottle store, pleaded that I give him the book for free, saying he promised to read it, and that he knows God. God is always the same. I gave it to him, and then he walked into the bottle store, maybe to buy something. I didn’t say anything. Later, as I was showing the books to someone else, he walked past urging him to buy the book. He didn’t have enough money, so I let him have it for what he could afford.
One person once asked me why I am selling these books, whereas I should be giving them for free. I answered, I could give it for free, but it is better if you buy it, because then you are giving your money for God.
On the last day of book distribution only one book was distributed:
- Perfect questions Perfect Answers.
The book was distributed to the same man whom I had met on an earlier occasion, who told the story of the hunter. He told me part of his life story, which was very interesting. He was a sometime member of the ANC in exile, and was fluent in English, Shangaan, Portuguese and French. He told 2 stories which reminded me of stories told by Srila Prabhupada.
In the first, he related how he was sleeping in the Bush with the other members of his unit, when a large python wound its way through all of his sleeping colleagues, going directly to his sleeping bag, right in the centre of the camp. He recognised the significance of the snake missing all of the rest of his sleeping colleagues, and coming directly to him. It was Fate. He awoke to find the snake slowly creeping down the sleeping bag, around his thigh, and back up over his chest. He said that for the first time in his life, he prayed sincerely to God. As a result, he found the courage to stand up and struggle with the snake, eventually rousing his sleeping comrades, who injured the snake, whereupon it left the camp.
Later on, he seemed to have switched sides, because he told another story of how he was the interpreter for the South African forces in the Angolan civil war. He was captured along with his unit, and, as prisoners of war, they experienced a number of horrible tortures, one of which was starvation. He said that for 6 months he lived only on cow’s milk, which he would obtain by sneaking to a nearby government cow shed and milking the cows at night. He survived in this way for 6 months, and said that not only did he survive by this means, but he felt very fresh and vital as a result of the diet.
Later that evening the following books were distributed to a work colleague in Mpumalanga, a Kenyan by the name of Victor, who had visited the Iskcon temple in Kenya:
- 1 Higher Taste
- 1 Sri Isopanisad
- 1 Science of Self Realisation
- 1 Perfect Questions Perfect Answers
The books are distributed by the mercy of Srila Prabhupada, Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Nityananda Prabhu. Most times, if not all, it is the person who approaches me. I feel grateful to those who buy the books, or show interest in them.
I give thanks to Sri Guru and Gauranga and all the Vaishnavas for engaging me in their service. Jaya Sri Krishna.