Last summer, two interesting incidents happened on book distribution in Sarajevo, Bosnia, which illustrate how non devotees can distribute Srila Prabhupada’s books. I was only assisting them.
I was distributing books in front of a big mall, and after some time I took a break on the bench in the street. From a distance an elderly couple (around the age of 70) approached and ask if they could sit beside me, because the other benches were taken. I had no objection. I thought that maybe this was some kind of providential arrangement for me to show them books, but I was so exhausted that I remained silent. After a few minutes I opened my book bag to take out a bottle of water.
The old lady sitting beside me saw the stack of books inside and asked, “Are you selling something?” Now it was obvious that there was some arrangement going on, but I again decided not to say anything not just because I was tired but just to see what would happen. I took out a Caitanya-caritamrta and put it in her hands. She read the description on the back and then started examining the book. She seemed to be waiting for me to say something, but I remained silent. After quite some time she asked, “How much is this?” I said, “Donation — give as much you like.” She again carefully examined the book for a while, as though it was a piece of fruit that had to be checked for defects. Still I didn’t say anything about the book. She said to her husband: “Look, a very nice book. We can give as much we want.”
The old man said that they didn’t need this book and anyway they already have many other books at home, but the old lady insisted. She said, “But look how nice this book is, I want to read it.” He again made some excuses and finally said that he didn’t bring his wallet with him. She was really eager and continue to praise the book, and then she put a book into his hands. Now it was as though someone rewound the tape, but switched the roles. He read the description on the back, examined the book, and said, “It is a really nice book, maybe we should take it.”
Now she was counteracting saying better not to take it, because they have so many books at home, but he reasoned with her to take it anyway. “It is a nice book and I want to read it” he said and gave a nice donation out of his pocket. Surprisingly, I felt fully recovered, thanked them, and continue on with book distribution.
The second incident happened in one of the skyscrapers in Sarajevo. I rang the bell at one of the doors, and a very receptive middle-aged lady took a book. When she saw me heading toward her neighbor’s door, she told me that in this apartment lived a very old woman with bad hearing, who could not hear my ringing, but she had a key to her apartment. She took the key, entered her apartment and brought her in front of the door to speak with me. I showed the old lady a book, but she refused to even look at it. Besides that, she was grouchy and bad-tempered. Than her neighbor took a book from my hand and forcibly put it into her hands and started to yell in her ear that this is holy book about God and that I am a monk preaching God consciousness, etc. “I also took one and you should also take! He is not selling, you only need to give a small donation to cover the printing cost!” After this drama, the old lady was persuaded by her neighbor, and she took a book. I said goodbye to her and continue conversing with her neighbor for a while. In the end she asked me my name and told me hers: Rada!