Laxmi Run

By Srila Jiva Goswami dasa

Yes, on the Town Runs with Dodge Rama Dasa, yours truly got to pick up cases of hooded sweat shirts, sheets of plywood, PVC pipe, milk and ice cream from United Dairy, fabric from Imperial Display, nails, you name it, I got to get it.

Even to the point of towing out refurbished vans for Sankirtan Parties far and wide, and hooking up their expired vehicle to haul it back in, yours truly got to do it. Bimbadhara Prabhu taught me how to drop a driveshaft, in order not to harm those automatic transmissions over the hundreds of miles of towing. To this day, I can get under a vehicle and pull that driveshaft in just a minute or so.

It was all a joy, but to me, one of the most unique aspects of doing the Town Runs was the Deposit Jaga. In this one, on the way out, I stopped at Dharmatma’s house, where Sudhanu Prabhu lives today, and Dulal’s, our Treasurer’s, and I picked up Community Funds to run down to the old Mercantile Bank in Moundsville for deposit.

I’d back up into the driveway at Dharamatma’s and walk in through the garage. In the garage, strangely to me, there were humming gleaming commercial soda machines. Dharamatma lived at the house with I don’t know how many Sankirtan Women. Some parties were almost always out. They seemed to operate in squadrons.

I’d come in through the garage and report to Dharmatma. He’d tell me where the money was, usually in a hall closet, sometimes overflowing to the floor outside, and I’d load up the truck with Mother Laxmi. We had bags and bags of coins, cash and checks. This was heavy stuff. The fact that I was driving a 3/4 ton pick up with helper springs was an asset. I was never asked to sign for the money. I never counted the money. I just loaded Her up, like sacks of carrots.

On the way down to town, after the additional pick up at Dulal’s I often wondered about security. The gray truck I was driving was nondescript enough for sure, but if someone were of a thieving mentality, I could see where there was potentially a kind of ripe target.

An alternative, I thought, one regularly used by Karmis, would be an armored car. But we Devotees were not about that. We were open. And Krsna protects us. Still, I kept alert as possible … remembering the story of the girl who put salt in the Sweet Rice … after the third time, Srila Prabhupada is said to have asked the girl why she put salt in the Sweet Rice, and the girl is said to have replied, “Oh, it’s Krsna’s Mercy!” to which Srila Prabhupada said, “Do not blame your stupidity on Krsna.”

So I did feel that Krsna protected me on this potentially volatile and sensitive mission, but I was particularly keen to mind my p’s and q’s while engaged in the Laxmi Run.

There is no way, for example, I wanted to stop anywhere on the way in, even if there was a stop to be made later in the day. No, it was straight directly to the Mercantile Bank.

No hitchhikers to preach to, no stop along the way for a pick up which would have saved time, nothing. Bank only. And a funny thing I understand now, in retrospect, but when I pulled into the Mercantile Bank parking lot, and entered the lobby with my hand truck literally stacked with loads after loads of money, it seemed to me that all around, there was an audible undercurrent; I could hear bank employees and customers alike going, “Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.”

At the time, this audio vision seemed to me something you’d pick up from a dream helmet. I did not think it to be real. But in retrospect, I understand that what I heard was real indeed. Patrons and workers alike were simply noting my jangling arrival and explaining it among themselves. I heard that part which corresponded to what I’d heard and participated in at the Temple for 2 ½ hours that morning: “Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.” It was unique, an African American person, bringing in load after load of money from a pick up virtually filled with the stuff.

Someone would say, “There’s a Hare Krsna,” or “He’s from the Hare Krsna Farm.” I’d hear the “Krsna” part.

In short order, tellers would be dispatched with those big wheeled steel carts especially designed to haul money. I’d have bags of receipts and slips from Dulal’s, which I’d take to a teller window. After all that, I’d be free to go and the regular Town Run would begin.

But let me tell you something about the need for Security, Armored Cars and the Grand Communal Chanting of Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.

On one particular morning, as I was pulling a sack of dimes from the side window of the cap on Dodge Rama Dasa, the bag caught on an edge and split open. Dimes came out like a fountain and rolled everywhere in the parking lot. The tellers had not yet come out. There was no one in the lot but me and my fellow patrons. There was a frozen kind of hanging “oops” instant, when everyone sized up the situation. You could hear the sing of the silver spill, kind of a light, metallic prolonged crash. There is no mistaking the sound of running coin. You hear it most often when a slot machine is depicted paying off in Vegas. But this was the Energizer Bunny of pouring cash. It just kept going and going and going. Tssszzzzziiiiinnnng, tsssssszzzzzing, iiiiinnnnng!

Then fellow customers jumped to action. They were on that money like kids at an Easter Egg Hunt. Every coin every farthing was found and eagerly brought to me. Kids were scrambling in corners of the lot near and far. Stodgy looking codgers with pin stripe vests handed up fistfuls. Of course, I was happy to see this, but it seemed the people all around were even happier. It was hard to tell which shone more, the returned coin or the beaming ruddy faces of everyone participating.

People about to pull in to an empty spot were waved off by others, “Wait wait,” they’d cry. “Krsna’s Money!” Then they’d scurry, retrieve and deliver. Some made little jokes, “Try not to do that again,” they’d say, stuff like that. Overall, it was a cloudburst of a quick party. It was a place where there was no need for the Armored Car or Persona. It was Heaven; a Golden shaft of light, bursting through, permeating all our worlds, just like the shining silver column of dimes shattering and spilling through that dirty sack we otherwise treasure.

I won’t talk here about the factual evidence of reciprocation. How good that Laxmi was for the entire intertwined Community we generally perceived as “us and them.”

In those moments in the parking lot of the Mercantile Bank, with every citizen there spontaneously engaged in the most honorable righteous service, even I could see that from that Great Height, all variety of tree is virtually the same.

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Reader Comments

Excellent recollection and even more wonderful conclusion. Found this article very happily encouraging; how Krsna uses something potentially pretty distressing to illuminate the basio human goodness in any human being. Thanks for the memory Jiva.

I remember another Bank Run, done by Nameless Das, who shall remain nameless to protect the guilty.
Nameless das was somewhat pre-occupied when he did the bank run that morning- at least we’ll presume it was only That Morning. (this was in Buffalo, NY when we had a temple there).
He took out the bags of cash and coin, set one down to lock the vehicle, and proceeded to go into the bank- leaving 1 bag of cash outside!
By the time he remembered, he ran outside, only to discover——-
Nothing!! It was Long Gone.