Diary of a Traveling Preacher
HH Indradyumna Swami Maharaj
We are coming to the end of our two-month preaching tour in America, a program that has seen Sri Prahlad and I crisscross the entire country six times. Time is also flying by, for when you are doing something you like time passes quickly, whereas when you are doing something you disdain it goes very slowly.
The experience has been intense, and I barely have the physical strength to complete this last week. But the spiritual rewards have been bountiful - most significantly the people whose hearts we have had the good fortune to touch with Krsna consciousness.
One of the rigors of traveling through America has been the numerous security checks we undergo in the airports before each flight. Since the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers in New York City on September 11, security has been tightened at airports throughout the country. Because we travel on cheap one-way tickets, purchased a few days before each flight, the computer systems automatically notify security personnel to conduct extensive searches on us.
While passing through security at Jacksonville Airport in Florida last week, the lady examining my carry-on luggage excused herself and went to speak to her superior nearby. I overheard her say, "I'm requesting just two minutes to speak to the man."
Her superior replied, "But you simply can't do that! You're on duty."
The security lady said, "Please, I beg you! It's very important to me."
Surrendering to her wishes, her superior said, "Alright, but only two minutes."
Returning to the table where the contents of my bags were strewn, she respectfully said, "Sir, my name is Amy. May I ask you a question which is not related to this search? It's personal. Please."
A little surprised, I replied, "Yes, of course. What is it?"
As we sat down near the security table, her superior looked around nervously and motioned to her watch, reminding Amy that she had only two minutes.
Amy said, "Many people come through this airport every day, but I have never seen anyone so content, so peaceful and so happy as you and your friend. My life is miserable and I have so many problems. Please help me. I'm a Christian. Can you share your secret with me?"
Immediately feeling compassion for her, I wondered how in two short minutes I could summarize the entire process of Krsna consciousness, which Srila Prabhupada once described as the panacea for all problems.
Thinking for a few moments, I moved my chair a little closer to hers and said, "This material world is not our real home. We belong in the spiritual world with God - with Krsna. All problems are solved when we return to that transcendental abode."
"What do you call that place?" she said.
As time was short, I decided to be direct. "It's called Vrindavan. It's a place where there is no anxiety. But while here in the material world, we can be aloof from all miseries by always remembering God. Jesus once said that we must be in this world, but not of this world."
"But how can I always remember God?" she said. "I have to work."
"If you love someone you remember them all the time, even when you're working," I replied. "Is that not true?"
She smiled as she caught the point, and said, "It's true."
Becoming anxious that her two minutes were passing, she pressed forward and said, "Can you tell me in a few words how I can learn to love God?"
"By chanting His names," I said. "It's as simple as that."
Looking over at her superior, who now showed her one finger, indicating only one minute was left, Amy said, "Can you show me how to do that?"
"Yes," I said.
And there in the midst of the hustle and bustle of airport security, with machines flashing and beeping and a long line of impatient passengers waiting for security clearance, I taught her word by word the Hare Krsna mantra. Time stood still for those few moments as she closed her eyes and listened carefully.
Suddenly, we saw Amy's superior indicating that it was time for her to return to work, and Amy turned her attention to the next passenger in line. As she started to go through his belongings, I heard her softly chanting Hare Krsna to herself. When I picked up my baggage and turned to leave, she looked up and smiled, the holy names still on her lips. It was the only reward I had hoped for in our brief exchange. Amy had been greatly blessed by hearing the glories of the holy name; I had been greatly blessed by sharing them with her.
papadya bhavadiyatam kalita nirmala premabhir
mahadbhir api kamyate kim api yatra tarnam januh
krtatra kujaner api vraja vane sthitir me yaya
krpam krpana gaminim sadasi naumi tam eva vam
"In public places I glorify Your mercy which is granted to even low creatures, and which enables me, even though I am lowborn, to live in this forest of Vraja, the place where Your great devotees, filled with pure love, aspire to take birth even as a blade of grass."
[Rupa Goswami: Sri Stava Mala, Volume 2 "Utkalika-vallari" (A Vine of Hopes), Text 65]