Walking from Bourke Street to Swanston Street in downtown Melbourne city can be an interesting affair. You can see everything here. People with interesting clothes, hair styles, food, career and sports, all in a 2 minute walk. Few days ago, as I was in the process of taking my wild and prowling stomach to Gopal’s for a sumptuous feast, I was stopped in my tracks by a wide variety of people with missions and causes they supported.
The first person who sprang forth in front of me was Aaron from Plan. With a strong British accent, he said, “Sir, Do you have some time on you?” I gave him the time. Only 15 minutes though.
He spoke about his organization. He said that Plan Australia is one of the largest community development organizations in the world hoping to eliminate poverty and ensure that kids have the right to education and good life. As he spoke, I couldn’t help thinking about the Krishna Consciousness perspective. I wanted to tell him that if all NGO’s could work with the Hare Krishna’s in eliminating the poor fund of knowledge on love of God in the world, we would have really helped most of the short comings in the world. But I didn’t. I listened and took a copy of the flyer. Aaron wanted me to donate $ 1 a day. I promised him that I would go through his website and decide in time whether I would work with them closely or not. But I told him that I appreciated his hard work on the streets.
Next in line was “Animals Australia”. They carried the above signboards which displayed graphic photos of animals in captivity. I have always liked this concept. If more people saw the gruesome treatments animals have to go through before they end up on someone’s sandwich, there is every chance people will stop eating them. Last week, I met a gentlemen who said after 47 years of meat-eating, he chanced upon a documentary which showed explicit images of animal slaughter. It seems his stomach turned, eyes filled with tears, the bulb came on in his head and within 24 hours he stopped all meat-eating.
On the streets, they actually had a pig run around pedestrians. As people turned to see if they actually saw a pig amongst them, a volunteer would step up, hand over the above flyer and explain to them in details about factory farming of animals, the need to pity the animals and how they can donate money towards a worthy cause. The flyer was well designed, had important statistics, contact details and how to donate. I particularly liked the starting lines on the front page :
“Animals raised for meat and eggs are much like the animals we share our homes with. They are just as intelligent, just as social, and they experience joy, pain and fear just like cats and dogs.”
I think we must aggressively promote cow protection in a similar way. Our volunteers can wander the busy streets with signs like “Save Cow Now” or “Cows need compassion too” and we can hand out flyers with explanations, stats, donations forms etc. There are many ways we can attract people to the Krishna consciousness society. We have them all – Music, yoga, music, animal protection, food, travel (pilgrimages), books etc. Something for everyone’s interest. Cow protection awareness is vital.
The above music band called “The Wishing Well”, was a big hit. I sat and listened to them for about 45 minutes. There is something about a guitar that attracts me strongly. Only if I had the patience and the inclination to study the instrument. Of all guitar music, I am attracted to those composed by Spanish Gypsy families. Haunting and soothing. Anyways, the above group moved one and all. I particularly liked the 3rd song they sung which had a nice line in it, “Before you knew me, I was already lost“.
I couldn’t help wondering if we also could take a spot in the city where we can perform some wonderful kirtans and bhajans. I know we have the street harinams but I am talking about a music performance at a single spot. We can roll out an exotic Kashmiri carpet for seating, have the harmonium, the mrindanga, the flute, karatals and the devotees. We can have a small book table like how the above band had a table for selling their records.
Then there was this man who wore no audiences. He stood at the same spot for a long time before he would plant himself at another place. Surely, he attracted a lot more photographers.
And yes, finally I brought myself to a stop in front of some of the devotees who were busy with their book distribution. They stopped the people on their tracks too and spoke about Science of Self Realization, The Perfect Escape and Bhagavad Gita. Of all the causes, only if people donated their time and efforts to spirituality. Some stopped to listen while others ignored.
Nanda Mandir prabhu approached me : Prabhu ! Hari bol ! Nice to see you here…
Me : Hari bol ! Nice to see you all again..
Nanda Mandir : Why don’t you distribute some books too?
Me : Sure…
And on Swanston Street, inches away from Crossways and Gopal’s Vegetarian restaurant, my original destination 2 hours ago, I too volunteered my efforts and time. I spent about 30 mins but I distributed 5 books ! There is a sense of achievement when you acquire 1 customer out of 5 or 8 who would have ignored you or rejected you. There was a point during that time when a lady approached us and said, “You boys are doing a wonderful job. Keep going. Merry Christmas !”
I love volunteers. They have hearts of gold. They all believe in their mission, see themselves as an instrument in bringing about a change in the world and persevere all rejections. I wish them all the best, Seasons Greetings and Merry Christmas too.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. – Margaret Mead
Service to others is the payment you make for your space here on earth – Mohammed Ali