Sankirtana with Presidents
By Sri Krishna Murti
Despite having a degree in social communication, I have never felt at ease distributing books. I cannot say that it is due to shyness because I like singing, and public speaking is part of my profession and my seva. But the fact is that, as the sankirtan devotees say, “I feel unease” when distributing books.
Therefore, my experience boils down to two times, very dear in my life, because in both I felt Srila Prabhupada right next to me. In 2002, soon after being elected, the then future President Lula visited Belo Horizonte and attended a luncheon at a hotel in the State capital. My father, a politician since I was born, was at that time a state representative. I was beside him at the door of the hotel, waiting for the arrival of the President. So when Lula appeared, surrounded by a battalion of reporters and aides, and came straight toward me, I was able to deliver a Bhagavad-G?t? as it is into his hands, with a dedication in the name of all ISKCON, which described the fundamental aspects of the book.
Srila Prabhupada said that a Krishna Conscious book in the hands of an influential person gains even more power. Regardless of political convictions or preferences, it is an undeniable fact that Lula has become known worldwide. The current President Dilma follows in that track, and has been pointed to by Forbes Magazine as the third most powerful woman in the (material) world behind German Chancellor Angela Merkel and American Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. Dilma made the cover of the magazine.
I had tried to meet Dilma to present her with a book ever since her election. However, the opportunity had not arisen although my father had already given her a Himalayan salt lamp, and my dear Sri Rupa Manjari mataji managed to encounter her before and had given her a Bhagavad-G?t?. Fortunately, I was able to achieve my goal during the December Marathon 2012 on the controversial 21st, in a quick passage of the President in Belo Horizonte. After the reopening of the Mineirao Stadium, Dilma returned to the Government Airforce Base where I waited eagerly in the living room among people including my father and, coincidentally, the aunt of Dilma. This should surely make her read something of the books.
Dilma arrived, and since her ceremonial had already informed her of my present, came directly to meet with me. I was introduced by my father and gave her a Science of Self-realization, which, as revealed “in confidence” by Bhakti Narasimha Swami, is the favorite book of Nelson Mandela. With this information, she assured me that she would read the book. Later, I delivered the Bhagavad-Gita, also with a dedication on behalf of ISKCON. Dilma was quite friendly, attentive, fairly esoteric, praised my “energy and lightness”, and asked for new encounters.
I was in a dhoti, kurta, tilaka and mantle at the request of my father, who today is Deputy Mayor of Belo Horizonte. He wanted me there as a member of ISKCON, more than simply his son. It is a great honor to represent Sri Guru and Sri Gouranga in all locations. Srila Prabhupada wanted every ruler and leader to have this teaching, for it is the real basis for a new awareness in this world. What they will do with the knowledge we cannot control. But we cannot leave them with the excuse of never having had access to the greatest jewel of the universe. Sankirtana Yajna ki jaya!
Sri Krishna Murti (PGM) – Belo Horizonte, Brazil