By Parijata devi dasi on 9 Jan 2010
The first location visited by the devotees was the Arthur Road Jail, which is one of Mumbai’s largest and oldest prisons.
The management and devotees from ISKCON Juhu, besides distributing 10,0000 copies of Bhagavad-gita across Mumbai, visited three outstanding locations in the city namely the Arthur Road Jail, University of Mumbai and Balika Ashram orphanage to distribute Bhagavad -gita as part of the Bhagavad-gita Marathon. Lord Krishna spoke the Bhagavad- gita, almost 5000 years ago on the battlefield of Kurushetra to guide his friend Arjuna. Bhagavad – gita consist of seven hundred verses which instruct Arjuna about the nature of soul, karma, yoga and transcendence.
During the month of December, ISKCON centers worldwide distribute Bhagavad-gita in several languages at subsidized prices. Devotees and congregation members at all ISKCON temples worldwide, make elaborate plans and arrangement to share the timeless knowledge through the distribution of Bhagavad-gita not only at public places but also public institutions like railway stations, orphanages, hospitals, old age homes and many other places. In keeping with this spirit, devotees at ISKCON Juhu visited three prominent locations in the city of Mumbai, namely Arthur Road Jail and University of Mumbai on 28 November 2009 to distribute Bhagavad-gita on the occasion of Gita Jayanti.
The first location visited by the devotees was the Arthur Road Jail, which is one of Mumbai’s largest and oldest prisons and houses most of the city’s criminals. Presently, it is also home to Kasab, the lone surviving terrorist of the 26/11 terror attacks. Devotees enlivened the jail inmates with Hare Krishna maha-mantra kirtan and thereafter Gopal Krishna Goswami and Devakinandan Das along with Jaywantiben Mehta, ex-MLA, spoke about the glories of Bhagavad-gita and its relevance in everyday life. Devotees thereafter freely distributed copies of Bhagavad-gita to all police personnel and jail inmates.
After a successful book distribution program at Arthur Road Jail, the devotees proceeded to the University of Mumbai, where they were invited to participate in an interfaith program. The devotees shared the stage with members of the Muslim community as Bakri Id feel on the same day as Gita Jayanti. When invited to speak, Praneshwar Das from the ISKCON Youth Forum, explained the universal message of Bhagavad-gita, the need to imbibe it in daily life and authenticity of the ‘Bhagavad-gita As It Is’ as written by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, founder of ISKCON. However, what enthralled the students and the audience the most was the kirtan performance by Praneshwar Das and his team, which was followed by lip-smacking ekadasi prasad which had all including members of the Muslim community and students asking for more. The devotees thereafter distributed copies of Bhagavad-gita to professors and students of the University of Mumbai.
The most endearing book distribution program took place at the Balika Ashram orphanage which is home to 45 girls aged 6-16 years. The excitement in the eyes of the little children as the devotees began kirtan was palpable. Not only did the children very easily take to the Hare Krishna maha-mantra led by Bhima prabhu but they were in their element clapping and dancing to the engaging tune. After a short arati of Sri Sri Radha Rasabihari by Bhaktin Radhika, and before distributing the ‘Krishna’ book, Bhima prabhu explained very simply how chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra and reading ‘Krishna’ book would bring joy to their hearts in times of happiness and distress. All the girls couldn’t contain their joy when they received their personal copy of ‘Krishna’ book and tore the wrapper frantically to discover colorful pictures and action packed stories of the Lord. While the locations and recipients of the book distribution differed throughout Mumbai, the joy on the faces of people who received a personal copy of the spiritual literature was unmatched. Caught in a whirlpool of stress and chaos, the citizens of Mumbai found a matchless gift in the ‘Bhagavad-gita As It Is’.