Manidhara Das
22 Jul 2018

Sometime in 1975, one Sunday morning we decided to leave temple earlier and “warm up” for our upcoming sankirtan marathon week by not taking part in the Sunday Feast.


Three new bhaktas jumped into my sankirtan van and we got on the highway, which was in those days at this time, early Sunday, rather empty.


While driving I realized that it is time to fill gas tank, and so I took turn to the next highway gas station. Filled the car and heading for the cashier, I realized that… I forgot to bring money from the temple!

Well, I wasn´t worried, I had a plan. I offered to the man at the cashier my ID card, promising him that while he keeps my ID, I wil go back to the temple, get some money and return back.

The man smiled sarcastically, opened a draw next to the cashier and indeed... it was filled with ID cards people left behind there, never coming back. He stopped smiling informing me "you go nowhere".


He didn´t look very friendly while reaching for the phone, obviously intending to call a police.

I  put on my best sankirtan smile and said to the man:

"Wait! Don´t call police. You know, we are actually book sellers, and we sell our books on the street. So, if you allow me to sell some books at your gasstation, I will pay for the petrol soon."


The man looked around, looked at the entirely empty highway, and seeing nobody coming and nobody at hand, he said even more sarcastically: "Go ahead."


So I informed bhaktas who were sitting in the car, that “it will take a while before we will leave". They didn´t look too inspired. Neither they joined me in my effort, nor they were eager to wait too long.


And so I stood there with the books in my hand, looking to the empty highway, praying intensely for some conditioned soul to pass by.


Indeed a small car appeared in the distance, just to pass quickly, ignoring the gas station altogether. Then, after few minutes, another car showed up and yet it turned to the gas station, and the driver started to fill up some gasoline. He was an elderly man, and was rather surprised to meet me with my Srimad Bhagavatam and telling him that “next week this book may appear in the book shop and this is one of the first copies, coming straight from the printer. It´s still hot!”

The man smiled and actually bought the book.


Another car passed by and another car stopped. Gradually, within a period of maybe half an hour, enough cars stopped and enough of people took a book, so I almost had all the money needed to pay the gas. With little amount still missing, suddenly no more cars arrived. The bhaktas looked totally annoyed, knowing well that not taking any money from temple was a mistake on my part to start with.


And so finally I made my way to the cashier, with the man standing there, looking rather surprised how his gas station became a book shop for a while. He counted the money, and when he realized it is still some missing, he found me standing on the other side of cashier with a smile, holding the last book, ready to give it to him. With a blend of a slight respect and a desire to get me finally out of the gas station, he looked at me and said: "Ok, give me the book," ... and bought it.


So I jumped into the car, turned back to the bhaktas saying in a chalenging way: "You should always know: there is the Supersoul!" And we drove off heading for another week of sankirtan ecstasy.