Devotees realised the greatest potential of the travelling bus program when, in early March, they used it to go up the coast of New South Wales, on an inaugural trip to Brisbane, Queensland. Just a few days before, a shipment of small books had arrived. Devotees were excited, since they had only ever distributed Back to Godhead magazines on the street before. But now they had Easy Journey to Other Planets and Krsna Consciousness — The Topmost Yoga System, both attractively presented with full-colour covers.
Temple numbers had swelled from 12 devotees to over 30. Consequently, 18 brahmacaris were freed to travel on the bus. After stopping in Newcastle, the bus drove almost non-stop, arriving in Brisbane late one night. Next morning, Mohanananda took care to approach the local police to inform them of his plans. Since the Queensland police were notorious for strictly enforcing rules governing lawful assembly, Mohanananda was decidedly “low key” in his descriptions to the officer at the desk. “We’re monks from Sydney,” he explained. “We’ll be here for two or three days. We have these books and we sing in the street a bit.”
Miraculously, the officer thought it would not be a problem. He introduced Mohanananda to the sergeant, adding that the monks “were a bit like those Hare Krsnas from Sydney”, and that they’d like a permit. The sergeant was equally agreeable. “Sure, no worries,” he said.
Not only did he grant a permit, but several police cars escorted the bus downtown and arranged parking. To avoid obstructing pedestrians with the numerous book boxes, the police suggested that maybe they could help out by allowing the devotees to store their boxes of books in the boots of their police cars.
For two days, devotees caused a sensation in Brisbane. As a large kirtana party of 15 weaved its way through the downtown shopping area, the rest of the devotees sold books to the incredulous crowds, who literally lined up 20 or 30 at a time to buy them. People jostled eager to find out more. “Was it a circus or a movie promotion?” some wondered.
Harry, with his freshly shaven head, had recently moved into the temple and had worked on the bus refurbishment. He could hardly tear open the boxes quickly enough.
“Sixty cents each or two for a dollar,” cried Harry. As one box would empty, a devotee would run to the police car, open the boot and take out another box, giving a nod to the constable who would give a wink back.
After two days, all the books were gone and the devotees, exhilarated with their success, returned to Sydney.
On their arrival, they were greeted with auspicious news: Prabhupada was coming! Mohanananda had written, expressing the devotees’ eagerness to see Srila Prabhupada in Australia again. Prabhupada had reciprocated their feelings; Srila Prabhupada said:
With pleasure I have noted that you are desiring to be personally present with me again, and I also am looking forward to seeing you, all nice boys and girls, in Australia again.
Biographies and Glorifications of Srila Prabhupada-The Great Transcendental Adventure-Part I –Sydney & Melbourne, 1971–1972-Kurma das
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