The Book On The Shelf
Srila Prabhupada’s books eventually find this young boy even though he has long forgotten them.
One day, during the summer of 2004, my sister returned from her high school with a box full of books. “These books had been gathering dust in the library and the librarian was throwing them away, “She said, “She gave a few to me,” My sister searched in the box and kept the books she liked. In the bottom of the box, she found one Srimad Bhagavatam, second canto part two. “Hey Jean!” she called me. “I have one of these eastern philosophical books. Perhaps you would be interested in it.” At that time, I was reading mystic literature and practicing asanas, pranayama, and kundalini yoga. My goal was to read all the major canonical texts of all major cultures of the world and I had heard about Bhagavad-gita through a yoga book. I decided to try Srimad Bhagavatam because it said in the front flap that it was a elaboration of the Gita and the ripened fruit of Vedic literature. That line appealed to me. I liked it’s pictures. I was an artist and I immediately scanned them to my hard drive . I liked the picture of Lord Caitanya chanting and dancing in the temple. I had never seen a more beautiful picture of someone like Him. I liked Paramatma. I liked Lord Krishna and the cowherd damsels. I admired Lord Krishna for having so many girl friends. I could relate to Him because at that time I was obsessed with chasing girls.
However, Srimad-Bhagavatam was low on my priority list. I thought I would read it after finishing the Bible and the Koran. But one day I had an uncontrollable urge to read Srimad Bhagavatam. It seemed as if the book was screaming at me from the shelf. All other books I was reading were boring me to tears. I picked up the Srimad-Bhagavatam and finished it over the weekend. My friends called me for partying but I made an excuse. My favourite verse was about dogs, hogs, camels, and assess. [Men who are like dogs, hogs, camels, and asses praise those men who never listen to the transcendental pastimes of Lord Sri Krishna, the deliverer from evils. (S .B. 2.3.19)] I was amazed at the accuracy of the purports; they so vividly described my own situation and those of everyone around me. I called my friends and read this verse to them aloud. I also read to them the descriptions of the Vaikuntha planets. But I only became the object of their ridicule and laughter.
As I continued reading Srimad-Bhagavatam, I began developing a desire to read more. I checked the name of the author- A.C. Bhakrivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Although sounding foreign it seemed familiar. Intuitively I went to the Iiving room closet, searched at the back of the bookshelf, and found two “The Science of Self Realization” books. I realized they had been given to me on the streets long back, when I was eleven years old. I hadn’t touched them ever since. After reading them, I became very convinced and began to chant and follow the regulative principles. I felt the same feeling while chanting which I would experience while practicing kundalini . Those were the best rounds of Hare Krishna maha-mantra that I have ever chanted since.
I am very grateful to Srila Prabhupada for writing these wonderful books and for inspiring his followers to distribute them widely. But for his mercy I would have been still going round in a whirlpool of maya.
Bhakta Jean Paul originally from Canada, has completed his graduation in economics and philosophy. Currently, he stays at ISKCON Mumbai and is studying the bhakti-sastras.