Stop Them If You Can!
Being threatened, being jailed, being harassed, couldn’t stop them. They zealously continue distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books in the streets of Nairobi.
Srila Prabhupada always said that ‘the Books are the basis’ and ‘Preaching is the essence’; a couple of dedicated Nairobi Temple devotees proved this by relentlessly distributing books, getting arrested, being threatened, but still fearlessly continuing to distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books.
In this degraded Age of Kali, the streets are considered temples for the devotees of Krishna. Hence Kirtanam in the form of Book distribution becomes a very important form of service unto the Lord. Dwarka Vasini Dasi, her niece bhaktin Amrita and bhakta Lewis throughout the year carry out book distribution in the streets of Nairobi. In Nairobi, to distribute books in the streets one has to have a legal permit issued by the City Council or the Local Municipal Council. Dwarka Vasini carried the permit with her every single day she went out to distribute books on the streets.
The Municipal officers always are under cover, hence, difficult to recognise. One sunny morning of June 2011, Dwarka Vasini and a local Bhakta Lewis stacked up books in the car from the temple and got dropped at the city centre. Then both Dwarka Vasini and Lewis took their usual position and enthusiastically started holding onto the local passer-bys and distributing books to them. In an hour’s time, an officer in disguise came and demanded for a permit from Dwarka Vasini. When she produced the permit then he said that it’s not valid since the officer who issued it is not in session at present. Even after requesting the officer deliberately arrested Dwarka Vasini and Lewis and forced them in a prisoner’s van.
The prisoner’s van was a glimpse of hell. Dwarka Vasini and Lewis had to squeeze in and sit with the alcoholics, drunkards, drug addicts, gamblers, pickpocketers and all sorts of criminals. The awful stench was worse than a liquor house or pub or even a garbage dumpsite. For about one hour they had to endure it inside the dark van. Then finally they were taken to the open Court number 3, to write a report against Dwarka Vasini and jail her along with Lewis. The court was like an asylum. People were running around, shouting and howling, crying, and for Dwarka Vasini the only thing to cling onto was her chanting beads and the Holy Name and Srila Prabhupada’s books. From the Court the report is handed over to the magistrate straight away and the accused is not even shown a copy of this report, hence the person remains unaware of what he/she is accused of until he is taken to the Court, before the magistrate.
Within all this commotion and tense situation, Dwarka Vasini remembered that she was carrying her cell phone, so she dialled the Local Temple President, Umapati Das’ number and narrated the whole incident. Within a short interval of time Umapati Das arrived at the spot but he, too, seemed helpless. At that point in time, nothing seemed to be favourable for Dwarka Vasini. The officers were threatening her that she has to pay a fine of Kenyan Shillings Six thousand for herself and same amount for Lewis too.
Umapati Das was running here and there trying to negotiate, and the officers in the mean time were threatening Dwarka Vasini. She at that time was just chanting the Holy Name and remembering Lord Nrsimhadeva and begging Him to protect Lewis and her. A couple of hours passed, and nothing improved. Then suddenly Umapati Das and Dwarka Vasini met the Local Licensing Director and Counsellor, Jafar Qasim, who was from the same county Dwarka Vasini belonged. He saw Dwarka Vasini and enquired ‘what’s the matter’ and spoke to Umapati for a long time. Then he helped them get out of the situation, but they had to pay a fine of just Kenyan Shillings Two Thousand only. So he gave a handwritten temporary permit, sanctioning Dwarka Vasini to distribute books on the streets of the City Centre.
That was an enriching and learning process for both Dwarka Vasini and Lewis. But this did not discourage them, instead they were more enthusiastic and were determined to go back on the streets and distribute books again.
Mid-next month sometime, Dwarka Vasini and her niece Amrita along with Lewis went for Book Distribution on the streets. And that day again another officer disguised as a common man came to Dwarka Vasini when she was trying to convince a teenager to take a book. The man in a very rude manner asked Dwarka Vasini, ‘You have a permit?’ Dwarka Vasini adamantly replied, ‘Yes. Do I look like a fool to you?’ And then she walked past the officer. Lewis was awestruck at Dwarka Vasini’s attitude, because that day they were not carrying the actual permit. Dwarka Vasini just looked at Lewis and said one thing, ‘Supersoul is there, He will take care’. Umapati Das after last month had re-applied for the actual permit and was waiting for it to be delivered anytime soon. That day, Dwarka Vasini, Amrita and Lewis had a narrow escape.
Next week Dwarka Vasini was caught distributing books by a senior legal officer. When he demanded for the permit from her then she just produced a stamped paper and quickly put the paper in her bag. This did not give the officer enough time to see the papers properly and confused him and Dwarka Vasini managed to make a move.
Then within a couple of days Umapati Das received the official permit. Dwarka Vasini, Amrita and Lewis kept on going on the streets to distribute books and on an average would distribute up to 500 books. One day, an inspector came up to Dwarka Vasini and asked her to produce the permit again and started questioning her. This time when the inspector asked her to go with him to the head office, she did not refuse and willingly went to the head office. There the legal head officer looked at the permit and said that there is no problem with the permit. He stamped and signed it. Henceforth Dwarka Vasini was never harassed. Now not only are the Municipal Council officers and Police Officers but also the Legal officers are friends of Dwarka Vasini and they had taken books from her.
Just like the old saying ‘when there is a will, there is a way’, Dwarka Vasini had the will to distribute Srila Prabhupada’s books and serve his mission, hence Lord Krishna and Srila Prabhupada made the way easier for Their devotee. Dwarka Vasini leads the Nairobi Youth Girls’ preaching and she dreams to distribute Srila Prabhupada books in every town and village of East Africa in near future. She zealously continues distributing books and nothing can stop such soldiers of Srila Prabhupada, spreading his mission.