The Bhagavad Gita is a sacred Hindu scripture.
“The purpose of [the Bhagavad Gita] is to destroy our ignorance, which is the root cause of our suffering,” Das said. “So, we distribute pure knowledge, not contaminated at all. We don’t make earnings out of it. The whole purpose of knowledge is so we can realize our real nature. Our real nature is blissful.”
Das is affiliated with the Rupanuga Vedic College in Kansas City, Mo., and travels to all the major colleges in the western region of the country to hand out books. He said that he and other monks with whom he distributes books don’t want people to know that they collect donations for the books, and declined to discuss the subject further.
“If the school authorities [where the monks distribute books] know that we’re collecting donations,” Das said, “they won’t want us to be there.”
Das travels to schools and communities throughout the country handing out books to distribute the knowledge found in the books to as many individuals as possible.
While Das wouldn’t discuss the donations further, it is understood that the donations go toward the Rupanuga Vedic College and help to pay for the cost of the books.
Last week, Das offered the Bhagavad Gita to Alex Mineker, a Western freshman, by the library. Mineker said Das was dressed in street clothes and told him when he approached him that he looked like a smart guy.
Mineker said Das handed him a copy of the Bhagavad Gita and then told him he could find enlightenment through the old masters and then asked for a monetary donation.
Mineker said he told Das he didn’t have any money on him. Das then asked if he had any other way to pay for the book — whether with a check, a gift card or by giving him his credit card number, Mineker said.
Mineker said Das took the book back because he didn’t have any money. Das then gave him a smaller book and his business card with a phone number and link to the website for the Rupanuga Vedic College. The college, which is not an accredited institution, is an educational branch of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.
Western sophomore Scott Bushey, who said he is planning to become a monk when he graduates, said he had a similar experience with Das on May 25 when walking by the library toward the Humanities Building. Das, who Bushey said wasn’t wearing a monk robe or anything that indentified him as a monk, handed him a copy of the Bhagavad Gita as well.
“The Bhagavad Gita is a beautiful work of philosophy,” Bushey said, “so I was really happy to receive it.”
When he told Das that he wouldn’t be giving him money, he said the monk took the book back and asked again for money. Bushey told him “no” and walked away.
“No monk should ever directly ask for money,” Bushey said. “I would be very wary of someone who claims to be preaching for a religion while requesting money.”