Maseru, Lesotho March 2013 Day 4
by Madhumangala dasa
On this day, I approached a lady at a table outside a coffee shop and asked her if she knew where I could find a vegetarian restaurant. As she replied, I could hear that she spoke with an American accent. I asked her if she was from California. Yes she was, she answered. I told her that I had lived in San Diego for three years. She responded with amazement that she lives in San Diego. I enquired what had brought her to Maseru and she replied that she was with the Peace Corps working in education with young children. I then asked her if she knew Bob Cohen, who had also been in the Peace Corps many years ago.
I sat down at the table and handed her a Perfect Questions Prefect Answers, showing her Bob Cohen’s name at the back of the book. “This is amazing, you giving me this book with the name of a person who was in the Peace Corps. And what’s more, you will not believe this, but just today I was looking for a bookshop to buy a book on spirituality but I could not find such a store. And now you have come along and given me this book – this is certainly amazing!” I told her that nothing happens by chance and the book came her way for a very good reason. We both laughed as I said to her: “Imagine if there were more people in the world like us!” She gave me a nice donation and her email address and said that she would like to keep in touch. Srila Prabhupada ki jay!
As she got up to leave, an Indian gentleman approached me at the table. I introduced myself to him and told him that I was a travelling monk from ISKCON; I had been travelling in Africa for the last sixteen years, distributing the message of His Divine Grace’s Bhagavad Gita As It Is and the knowledge of Krishna consciousness through the books of Srila Prabhupada. The Indian gentleman’s name was Anil Singhal; he was from Delhi and was now a project manager for Lesotho Consolidated Contractors; he was a life member of ISKCON and had been living in Maseru, Lesotho, for a few years now.
During the course of our conversation, he explained that for some time he had wanted to build a Hare Krsna temple in Maseru. He asked if it was possible and said that he would like to discuss it with me. I thanked him and said it would be very nice. I then further went on to explain that it should not become Hindu temple and that we are preaching to the local people of Africa. Yes, he fully agreed, and he took my email address and cell phone number, saying as we parted that he looked forward to meeting me again at a later date. I was very amazed to get an email from him about two days ago. He reiterated that he had a great desire to build an ISKCON temple in Maseru, Lesotho, and asked me how he could go about it.
By the mercy of Guru and Gauranga, this was the 4th day that I had been distributing books in the capital city of Maseru in Lesotho. I was to leave to go back to Bloemfontein that coming Sunday. I knew I would certainly come to Maseru again to distribute books and spread the glories of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s sankirtan mission. In the four days I had been here, I had encountered so many special souls who had chanted the holy name of the Lord with me and had eagerly taken books from me.
I had come to understand that, in all my travels beyond the borders of South Africa and from all the people I had met, those of Lesotho are very pious souls. They are very patient listeners and have a wonderful sense of humour. What had inspired me most about them was that young and old alike have a culture of respect and a cheerful disposition. No matter where I would be in public, when I greeted someone, they would greet me back by saying: “Tati, I am not sure what it means, but I can understand that it is a greeting expressing respect.”
I would tell most people whom I would stop and talk to that I am a travelling monk. And although some did not know what a monk is, they seemed to understand it nonetheless. I would explain that I am travelling in Africa to bring the peace formula to the African nations. I would then ask them if they knew what the peace formula is, to which they would reply that they had never heard of it. I would begin to explain that firstly, it is to understand who we are and what our true identity is. Secondly, it is to realize that everything belongs to and comes from our father God and that nothing really belongs to us. Everything we own has been given to us by God and we are the caretakers of His property. The third step of the peace formula is to realize our true identity as separate from our temporary bodies and as spirit souls, eternal servants of God. Fourthly, it means that we understand and realize our true duty, which is to do everything in the service of God. After explaining this, everyone would agree. I would then ask them about themselves and their families, and show them the books I was distributing. All would say that the books are interesting, and take one.
If there is fertile ground for spreading the mercy of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s sankirtan mission, it is at the north of the border of South Africa. By the mercy of Guru and Gauranga, this is the place! So my prayer to Lord Caitanya is that He will send us some nice devotees who would like to do some pioneering preaching in Lesotho. What inspires me most in Maseru is the eagerness of the youth to inquire about higher knowledge – there is certainly great potential to preach in universities and colleges here. All we need is enthusiastic devotees to do harinam in the mountainous kingdom of Lesotho and to distribute the king of books, Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad Gita As It Is!