Bhagavad-gita: A Book for Free and a Sudden Friendship
I just cost the International Society for Krishna Consciousness a hundred rupees, not that I think they will mind. It was a pleasant Delhi morning…
I was waiting for the signal to change at the Zakir Hussain Marg traffic light, when a man from Iskcon popped up outside my car window, a stack of hardback Bhagvad Gitas in his arms. He offered one towards me. “Hare Krishna,” he said. “I’m not sure I’m a believer,” I said. That didn’t matter, he assured me, I probably needed to read it even more in that case. I still had about half an hour to go before an appointment, so I pulled my car over to the side and motioned to him to follow me. I was force-fed the Gita when I was in school, I told my Iskcon friend, during a surprisingly dull class called Moral Science (always with a capital M and S in our timetables) — and I didn’t happen to think much of Krishna anyway, what with all the ladies and the half-truths.
“So do you see a bit of Krishna in you?” He fired back, truly unfazed. What was he trying to say? I laughed noncommittally, so he said, “There’s a little Krishna in all of us — I see Him in you too.”
Then he indicated an aura around me. “I think you’re ready for the Bhagvad Gita again,” he said. “Look my friend,” I told him, patting him sincerely onthe elbow, “that’s not an aura you see, it’s cigarette smoke.” He seemed to find this truly funny. Just at that moment, a silver Jaguar crawled up to the red light — my attention a little deflected. “I see what you mean about aura,” I said, but this time he didn’t laugh, his face suddenly serious, his nostrils flared.
“It’s just a hundred rupees, and all for a good cause,” he sighed, and I felt broken. I pulled out my wallet, showed him the three well-thumbed ten-rupee notes and two two-rupee coins. “That’s what I’m down to right now, my friend,” I said, a little unnecessarily.
He fixed me with his stare for a second. Then he thrust a copy of the book into my hands. “Looks like you really need this book. Here’s a copy complimentary of Iskon,” he said and turned away, looking not entirely unhappy. And in the blare of horns, I hurried to my car, looking into my rearview mirror just in time to catch my friend push a copy of the Gita into the open window of the waiting Jaguar.