By Niraj Bidawatka
Last month, I had gone to the office of the Deputy Registrar of Cooperative Societies, accompanied by my co-complainant in connection with my pending complaint with him against the Office bearers of our housing society. After completing our formal discussion, I presented the officer a copy of “The Hare Krishna Revolution” newspaper. It was a gesture of soothing the strained ties between us that had reached a nadir because he was not taking any concrete steps to resolve my complaint. As a result I had to approach the State Government. He was a little miffed off at me because I had complained about his misconduct right up to the Chief Minister. But since he was under pressure from the higher governmental authorities, he was now expediently acting on my complaint. He started browsing the newspaper and as it usually happens, the photographs of Krishna brought a smile to his face and he remarked that the photos were indeed very attractive. “No doubt about it”, I thought, “After all Krishna means ‘the all-attractive one’”. He further said that he reads a śloka of Bhagavad Gita every day, which he receives via SMS on his cellphone.
After a short discussion on Hare Krishna with him, we took leave of the Registrar and came out of his chamber to collect a letter from the clerk. We were requested to take a seat in the visitors’ lounge because the letter that was not yet ready. When we were sitting there, my co-complainant became curious about the newspaper and desired to have a look at it. I gave her a copy. I knew that she was not spiritually inclined and therefore, when she was putting the newspaper in her bag, I remarked that I sell them for Rs.3.oo INR a copy. She immediately gave me back the copy. I could make out that she felt offended on being asked to pay for it. So I immediately responded, “But for you, it’s free!” She happily kept it back in her bag and started asking about its mode of distribution, the aim of publishing it, etc. After all she was a post graduate in science and a professor of mathematics in an engineering college.
The next time I met her, I enquired whether she had read the paper. As expected, she nonchalantly replied in the negative saying that it was not her interest. “But my elder sister read it and she loved it. She wants the previous issues also.” she added. I was not convinced and forgot about it. The next time when I went to her home in connection with the pending complaint, her elder sister reminded me about her request for the previous issues. Now it was evident that she was very eager to read them. She had paid the price of Krishna consciousness as enunciated by Rupa Gosvami. Tatra laulyam api mulyam ekalam: ‘Eagerness’ is the price that one has to pay to achieve Krishna consciousness, says Srila Rupa Gosvami. Srila Prabhupada therefore has instructed not to distribute any of his literatures for free because he wants everyone to pay a price for achieving the highest knowledge. If they pay for it, then they will value it and read it. So I am particularly strict when it comes to giving away any of Prabhupada’s books for free.
Yesterday, when I went to deliver the previous issues, I took along half-a-dozen small books of Srila Prabhupada. After handing over the newspapers to the elder sister, I showed her the books of Srila Prabhupada and informed her that the newspaper is based on these books. Therefore, I reasoned that she should buy one of them because she would really enjoy reading them. The younger sister casually took “Teachings of Prahlada Maharaja” and remarked, “Let me try out this small one.” I could understand that she was thinking that the books were for free. So I quickly reminded her, “It is for Fifteen rupees only.” She immediately gave back the book. The elder sister, after buying “On the way to Krishna”, started asking about the activities of the Hare Krishna movement. She was very excited and inquisitive to know more about the Hare Krishnas.
The first question was that how come there are more Americans and Europeans than Indians in your movement. Before I could answer it, she had another query, “But they are all non-vegetarians, aren’t they? They must be eating flesh.” I said that they have given up eating meat, fish and eggs. But she had her reservations, “It is not possible for them to live without eating flesh.”
“Forget about eating flesh, they do not even eat onions and garlic,” I responded.
“Well. Why do the Hare Krishna devotees not eat onions and garlic?”
The answer is that the devotees eat only the remnants of Krishna. They first offer food to Krishna and then eat the remnants. Such food that is offered to Krishna is known as prasadam, which literally means ‘the mercy of Krishna’. According to the Bhagavad-gita, one who does not offer his food to Krishna is simply eating sin. Since Krishna does not eat onions and garlic, we do not offer them to Him. Therefore, the devotees also do not eat onion and garlic. Nor do they regret not eating them because eating onions and garlic leads one to the mode of ignorance.
“But how do you know that Krishna does not eat onions and garlic?”
We get that information from His exalted devotees, such as Srila Prabhupada, who personally know Him.