Journey to East Africa

Murari Dasa

Dear Devotees,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All Glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Recently I had to travel to Nairobi – Kenya from Blantyre – Malawi and the period of my journey included the first week of December. As this would mean missing the Marathon during this period I tried to distribute books during the journey which was done by bus. I couldn’t distribute on all of the bus journeys since in some of them the passengers wouldn’t know English and I didn’t have Swahili books on me. The following is an account of my preaching during different legs of this journey.

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Nairobi, Kenya – Dar es salaam, Tanzania

It was an early morning bus and the coach was half-full when I started showing the books around to the passengers. One Kenyan passenger on the bus looked at the small books and commented that he is interested in Indian philosophy since he studied in a Hindu school in his early years, called Arya Boys School in Nairobi. He took ‘Coming back’ (CB). On the seat next to me the person who I found out later was a sales person took two small books. Right at the front of the bus there was a mother with 3 children. I could tell she was from the Swahili coastal areas and probably a Muslim. She took two small books. Immediately one of her kids snatched one of the books and started reading it while the others started fighting over the other one. Later they all fell asleep and she was reading one of the books. TOTAL books: 5 smalls

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Arusha, Tanzania – Nairobi, Kenya

A young Indian boy was on the bus and when I showed him the books he said they had some of ‘Bhaktivedanta’s’ books at home. Still he took a ‘Coming back’ and read it on the journey. Another smartly dressed African gentleman with a briefcase took ‘Perfect Questions Perfect Answers’ right at the front of the bus. I saw the driver of the bus looked friendly and so I approached him to take a book and he declined. However next to him was a person with ‘dreadlock’ hairstyle. He was quite interested and ended up taking a ‘Science of Self –Realization’ (SSR). He was actually a teacher who was from Zambia but working in Tanzania, now on his way back to Zambia via Nairobi airport. When we crossed the border into Kenya the bus stopped at some desolate café where people started buying drinks and snacks. The good thing about Kenya is that the command of spoken and written English among the average person was quite good. I tried to sell a book to someone selling newspapers there but he didn’t have enough money. However there was a woman watching me who was selling African style sculptures and curios of ebony. She looked through the books while I spoke about them. She bought a CB. TOTAL books: 1 big (SSR) and 3 smalls.

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Lilongwe, Malawi – Blantyre Malawi

This was a double decker bus and the ticket price was on the high side which meant a good chance to distribute books. Of course in reality Sankirtan is transcendental to all this. I was on the upper deck. At the back of the bus a Malawian lady with two kids bought an SSR. Further up a young woman took an SSR but was taking time to decide so I left the book with her so she could decide and went on. She ended up taking it and giving a donation later on. Another young woman (Student) bought two smalls books up ahead. Then I came across a gentleman who asked me so many questions about my tilak, sikha and choice of dressing (dhoti-kurta) and told me to sit for some time while he enquired more and more about Krsna consciousness. He took an SSR by Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s mercy. I went downstairs and at the back of the bus a person in a suit who seemed quite bright took two smalls (PQPA +CB). Then I saw an Indian/Pakistani woman and her mother, I showed them the books but they weren’t interested. Opposite them a middle aged woman heard what I said about Krsna consciousness silently without asking any questions and then bought a PQPA. Right at the front I came across a young Malawian woman who was wearing an Indian outfit. Not something one would see every day here in Malawi.  I spoke about Krsna consciousness to her and she immediately took two smalls (I had run out of SSRs). She said she really like Indian philosophy and  culture and she had been to India recently where she bought lots of Indian artifacts and even deities (!) for display in her house. Her family complained a lot about this. She also does Yoga and wants to know more about Indian philosophy. I took her contact in order to try and connect her with another mataji who is seriously practising in Blantyre. I told her she was probably an Indian in her past life or a Hare Krishna and that’s why she was really attracted to Vedic culture.

TOTAL: 5 SSR’s and 15 small books.

Begging for mercy from the Vaisnavas and the Gurus, to be always somehow connected to the Sankirtan movement as a servant of the servants and thus be able to take part in the Supreme welfare work of distributing Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s mercy in the form of Srila Prabhupada’s books. What could be of higher benefit for the receiver and distributor of the books than this act of book distribution? Just by a single book someone can shatter their material illusions and awaken their dormant Krsna consciousness and thus return to their original position as an eternal loving servitor of Sri Krishna.

 Your servant

Murari dasa

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