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The Tradition Continues
The mission that Shrila Prabhupada has given us originally came from Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Lord Chaitanya says in the Chaitanya-caritamrta, Adi-llld, Chapter Nine, "I order every person within this universe to take up this Krsna consciousness movement and spread it everywhere." If you do that — and it is not difficult to do—then Lord Chaitanya is ready to throw mercy all over you. I can remember a graphic illustration of this mercy, as it descends through Shrila Prabhupada. We were smuggling books into the former East Germany, an activity for which one could go to jail for at least fifteen years. We went through the border in two vans. I went through with entry status and the other van went through with transit status. We both had the same model of van, old Hanumag Henschels, which we used at Schloss Rettershof for book distribution. The transit van was filled with boxes of books, and I was alone in the completely empty entry van. The border guard got suspicious when he looked into my van because there wasn't a single thing in it except the car papers. I didn't even have a suitcase, because there would not be enough room for anything else in the van when we filled it with books.
According to our plan, we would meet at the first rest area that was open. The other van arrived before me because going through transit was quicker than going through entry. We met and parked the two vans right next to each other. We were just going to take the books out when a police car came into the rest area. Trying to look calm and innocent, we took some apples and sat under a tree. The police were looking at us and the vans again and again. They could plainly see that one van was empty and the other piled up with boxes, but they must have thought that it looked innocent, because they went on their way.
When they left, we immediately piled all the books into my van, and I drove off. After about five kilometers, I saw the police car by the side of the road and one of the policemen, standing by the car with a walkie-talkie. When he saw me, he started waving his hands for me to stop. I thought, "Now I am finished. I have entry status and not transit, and the van is filled with illegal books. This means the end." I figured that it would be better to outrace these people than it would be to go to jail for fifteen years. After all, it looked as though I would go to jail anyway. Pretending not to see the policeman, I looked straight ahead and just kept on driving. As soon as I went over the first hill, I pushed the gas pedal to the floor and went full speed ahead, 130 kilometers per hour, down the East German autobahn, waiting for the flashing light of the police car to appear in my rear-view mirror.
Then, all of a sudden, Krsna, out of His extraordinary mercy, started pouring down a thunderstorm bigger than had ever been seen in the history of mankind, and it had been so hot that day that the rain immediately caused steam to • rise from the autobahn. Steam was everywhere, thunder was booming, lightning was flashing, and I was surfing down the road as fast as I could go. I pulled off at the first exit, which was illegal with my entry status (I was supposed to use only the exit designated for my destination), and I screamed down the road toward Leipzig to deliver the books. By Krsna's arrangement, the police car must have been caught in the midst of the storm, and no one was following me. I arrived in Leipzig at about nine-thirty at night. It was dark. I ran up to the house of the devotee who was to receive the books. I banged on his window, and he came out all groggy. I said, "I have some books. Are you ready for them?" He said, "OK," and I ran back to unload the van. Although the books were so heavy that two men had had to load each box into the van, I was so full of adrenaline that I picked up a box all by myself, ran up to the house, and threw it through the window. It hit this devotee in the chest, and he fell, moaning, to the floor. I kept running back and forth as fast as I could with boxes of books from the van, which was under a street light because there was nowhere else to park. I kept throwing the boxes through the window, and he kept falling to the floor. Finally his little room was so full of books that he had no more place to stay, and I said, "Good-bye. See you tomorrow, if I can."
I ran to the van and drove off, thinking, "I have done it. I'm safe. There is no problem." Then, after driving around until two in the morning to get to a campground, I went to sleep. I was sleeping dead away, when around five-thirty in the morning, I heard on the window: Knock, knock, knock. "Oh, no," I thought. "It's not happening!" I heard it again: Knock, knock, knock. And someone said my name. I had to get up. "This is it," I thought. "They have found me out. They took my license plate number, found out at the border who was in the car, and tracked me down to this campground. I'm finished. This is the end." Then I opened the door, and a man said, "You have a telephone call." I replied, "Oh, really, how nice!" I got up and went to the telephone. It was Bhakti-bhusana Swami, who was then Sucandra dasa. He knew where I was because I had told him where I planned to stay. He informed me that Shrila Prabhupada had called from America and wanted me to meet him in London the very next day' to become his secretary. I could understand that just because we tried to do a little service of smuggling books, Krsna was directly offering His transcendental mercy.