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Be a lion on the chase and a lamb at home.

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Contributed by Mahavishnu Das .

Pragosh: Previously when I told Srila Prabhupada about the soldier who had given me eighty dollars and took four books, the soldier asked me, “Could I be Krishna conscious and still be a solider?” Srila Prabhupada looked at me and asked, “So how did you answer?” I said, “I told him that the Bhagavad-gita was spoken to the greatest warrior in human history.” Prabhupada was charmed because he looked over at Hari Sauri as if to say, “This guy really knows how to lay it on.” (laughs) Then he looked back at me, waited for a second and then said, “You have answered rightly. Arjuna was a military man.” Just like that. He was enlivened by the simple frankness of it. And he confirmed it.

We were in Chicago and a devotee said to Prabhupada, “Prabhupada, they are taking the books, but sometimes they are tearing them up. They are throwing them in the trash.” Prabhupada’s immediate retort was, “They are throwing their babies in the trash. What can be done? We cannot prevent that.” Prabhupada said, “But even they touch the book before they throw it in the trash, they make some benefit.” Immediately we’re thinking, “Well, there’s no problem there.” We literally thought that we owned the airport. Now of course anyone in material consciousness would think that’s outrageous or a very cultish statement. But quite literally, that was our inner sense of what was happening.

The first airport I worked was in Hawaii, and it was illegal. For four months I worked that airport every day and I used to run from the security cops. One day a cop arrested me and took me in the office and threw me up against the wall. He was very thuggish. Not too professional. Big guy. He pushed me up against the wall, grabbed my shirt and said, “Now listen, I’m not going to tell you again. Don’t come back here. I’ll have you arrested.” I looked at him and said, “I’m not going to tell you again, I’m coming back every day.” The guy was completely flummoxed. He said, “Do you want me to arrest you?” I said, “You can arrest me. I’m single.” He said, “You’re single?” I said, “I’m single, I don’t have a wife. I don’t have any kids. You can arrest me. I can sit in jail for a few days, no big deal.” He started laughing. He said, “You don’t care?”

I said, “No, I don’t care at all.” I said, “But as soon as I get out, I’m going to come back here.” I said, “I give out forty to fifty of these books every day, mostly to service guys. They need these books. These books are very important.” So then the guy let go of me. He backed up and I started preaching to him. In my mind I prayed to Prabhupada: “Prabhupada, give me the right thing to say.” I said, “You know, you follow me around so much, you’re trying to catch me all the time,” I said. “You’re thinking about me all the time.” The guy got an embarrassed look on his face. I said, “I think you should read one of these books. I think that’s why you’re following me. Krishna wants you to follow me.” I said, “Take this book home, read it. If you really feel that there is nothing of value in this book, then okay. But I think you’ll find something of value.” So the next day I had one of the devotee women make me a cheesecake at the temple. I took it to the airport and I hunted for the cop. I didn’t wait for him to catch me. I hunted for him. I gave him the cheesecake and he looked at me and he said, “All right, okay, all right. I read your book, a little bit of your book.

I read enough. You’re okay.” He said, “But I got a boss, and he’s going to get on my case if I don’t get on your case.” Then he said, “So you do me a favor. When you see me walking, you sit down. Don’t talk to people. Let me walk through, walk away, go in the other airport wing, and then you go back to what you were doing. Is that okay?” I said, “We got a deal.” We shook hands.
We had a level of conviction in what we were distributing and we had this authority because Prabhupada was absolutely cracking the whip. He was cracking the whip in the most loving, wonderful way. It was impossible to say “No” to Prabhupada because he was literally like the king and the general. The book distributors especially saw him in that generalship, kingly way, probably more so than maybe others, because that was the relationship that we had. In New York at the La Guardia airport I used to bring the cop every Friday a cheesecake. And when I failed to bring him a cheesecake, he would come out and look for me, and he would get upset. He would say, “Hey, where is my cheesecake?”

When Srila Prabhupada came to Chicago a reporter asked, “Swamiji, why did you come to Chicago?” Without skipping a beat, Prabhupada picked up the Time Magazine with the cover headline, “Crime – Why and What to Do?” Holding up the magazine he said, “Why, because you have very big problem here in Chicago; too much crime. Here it says, ‘Crime – Why and What to Do?’ I have come to show you why and what to do.” (laughs) Prabhupada was not like any other guru or sadhu. Prabhupada was showing up with guns blazing. He put everybody on the hot seat and we loved it. He was like Mohammed Ali. “For the next twenty years, I’ll whip any man from any country, any time, any place.” That’s what Prabhupada was like. He was like, “I’m from Goloka. I’m not from here. I’ll take you all on, one at a time or all together at the same time. Let’s go.” And all the devotees had that same spirit. We got that from Prabhupada.


As a matter of fact, the largest number of devotees to join the movement joined from the time the BBT was started in 1972 until the time Prabhupada left the planet. I had no earthly idea how I went from where I was to how I became a devotee in the space of three months. I have no earthly idea how that happened. I was a passionate athlete, smart enough, and articulate enough that I could be a book distributor. I think Krishna looked over and He said, “This guy, he’s got all this energy. It will be completely squandered in the material world. Totally wasted. My pure devotee is over here and he’s got a serious task to do. So here is one of a thousand I’m going to grab by the hair, pull them right out of their material world, whatever it is. So many book distributors were musicians, athletes, or losers from the material perspective.

Then suddenly they were all just dragged in by Krishna with the idea, “Here, my pure devotee wants so desperately to accomplish all of this. Now you get the mercy. You get the credit, you get the fun, you get the joy, you get the excitement.” It was exciting going on sankirtan during that period. You never knew what was going to happen. Someone would respond in an amazing way to the book itself, someone would respond in a negative way, and then eventually later they would get turned and become your friend. It was amazing. Miraculous things would happen. Miraculous. And we got to witness it. So how it happened, we have no idea. Prabhupada injected something very special.

He had said in Washington when Mother Mina said, “Prabhupada, it seems so strange that you tell us women to be chaste, shy, quiet and submissive.” Prabhupada said, “Yes, what is the difficulty?” She said, “Well, that’s not my question. My question is you also send us out every day on sankirtan and we have to stop men in the street, and we have to smile at them and we have to speak nicely to them and we have to talk to them and then we convince them to give us money. Prabhupada said, “Yes, what is the difficulty?” She said, “Well it seems one is at odds with the other. It seems that you are asking us in some situations to be aggressive but as women we’re not really supposed to be aggressive.” Prabhupada looked at her and said, “I am also an aggressor. When I came to this country, I was aggressive. I was very aggressive. You also can be aggressive.” But then Prabhupada said, “You must learn how to be a lion on the chase and a lamb at home. When you get home, then you can be a mataji.” He said, “Is that all right?” She was smiling from ear to ear. She knew then that she could go out every day and be an aggressor and stop people, “Hey, you’re not your body. Guess where you come from? Guess what? You’re actually a rich man. You’re a wealthy man. You just don’t know it. You come from a very wealthy family. Take a look.” And then come back to the temple and be this simple devotee. So Prabhupada was the powerhouse behind all of that. He was the powerhouse and sometimes it was quietly injected and sometimes it was powerfully injected. And everyone felt it.

 

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