I was on sankirtan with Mangal-Aarti on a bitterly cold winter afternoon at Eaton Centre and had spoken to a few people and was just recuperating from the snow and rain a little, standing in the shade.
A man walked by and I asked him,”Have you tried yoga or meditation, sir?” He stopped for a while, as I showed him some pictures, but I could tell he wasn’t going to buy a book. He walked away, but from the corner of my eye I spotted a thin, tiny man with an old, torn jacket and a little hat and a cigarette in his hand.
He pointed to the Bhagavad Gita with the finger that was looped around the cigarette and said, “That is the best book!” He had a thick, raspy accent I was unfamiliar with — maybe from Australia or Africa — so at first I didn’t know if I’d heard him correctly. But when he came a little closer and repeated himself, now touching the pictures, I understood. I immediately broke out laughing and said, “Yes! Have you read it?”
He twirled the cigarette in his hand and said, “Read it? I can’t stop. I’m reading about the… uh… eleventh chapter…universal form.” I began to say something and prepared to show him the Krishna book, but was cut off, because this man went off on a long talk about the Gita’s greatness.
He said, “I got the book from someone only a little while ago. I really like the pictures. They’re so colorful and real. Now I can’t stop reading. I am a servant of Ram. Ram Dasa: that is what I want for a spiritual name. That is me. I am not God. I am God’s servant. This book is the nicest book. I have read so much before: the Koran, the Bible. So much. But this book I cannot stop reading.”
So at last I showed him the Krishna book, and immediately his eyes widened. “Does this have pictures?” he asked, sounding now like a little child.
“Oh yeah,” I replied.
I flipped through a few of the pictures and to my complete surprise this man began to name the people in the pictures. “Oh, is this Kamsa? Oh, so this is Durgadevi. Oh, I see, yes, I know this is Krishna.”
He really wanted a Krishna book, but he did not have enough laksmi, so I showed him a Chant and Be Happy instead and he immediately grabbed that one and gave a nice donation. He parted smiling and saying, “The pictures are the best. They’re great. Oh yes. Oh yes. They’re great.”
Prabhupada says that even if someone touches a book his life is transformed. Krishna book was his favorite book. How great is Krishna that a man with a cigarette in one hand is using his other hand to touch the pictures of Krishna, which are nondifferent from Him, and his mouth to glorify the Supreme Personality of Godhead, his pastimes, and his associates. Indeed, how good is God.