Who can say what the preface is? Perhaps, before this life we would have featured in a book of this and may still be good candidates. Somehow, be good fortune, a soul drifting body to body, gets the chance to meet a liberated soul and is freed from this world of repeated birth and death. The stories of this book feature non-humans who have received this special good fortune.
Once upon a time, on a very rainy day, an ordinary garden worm was crawling across the path. Squelch. Usaual fate. But no. The mighty boot was worn by a Vaisnava (read on). The poor worm took birth again as a worm, but this time in the garden of the Krishna temple. There his spiritual path really began. In his next birth he was born as a human and was able to practice devotional service. He had the greatest good fortune to meet devotees and his was transformed. This is the history of us all. From "Worm to Butterfly".
To get to the point, the characters in this book who recite the pastimes are a worm and snail. Strange choice as neither feature in the actual articles. What's the reason? Well, when I was a kid I was nicknamed 'Worm'. I would go around picking up helpless worms from the path and put them back on the garden, before the civilized humans would come along to crush them to death. I guess I did the same thing with snails. Thus it's easy for me to relate to the position of these invertebrates. I hope that seeing it through the eyes of a worm gives me a little licence to draft from the strict standards of writing – breaking every law in the book. Animals aren't expected to follow them. When a circular went out, we had one reply from Kavicandra Maharaja to please include him in the book. Okay Maharaja you're first. But only in the category of one who is mercifully delivering animals like myself. Lord Caitanya delivered the animals of Jharikhanda jungle. Srila Prabhupada delivered two-legged animals of the concrete jungles of the west. Srila Prabhupada Ki Jaya! Now let's go to the garden and see what's happening. One day...
Snail: Morning worm.
Worm: Greetings my friend. Please take a seat. Can I get you a cup of water? Some nice fresh green leaves ?
Snail: What's happened to you. I've never come across such hospitality form a worm before?
Worm: That's long story, and I don’t think it's the right time to get into it. I think if you read this book you might understand.
Snail: What book's that?
Worm: It's book about animals in Krishna consciousness. I've been trying to write it for ages.
Snail: I don't believe it. A worm writing a book! What can a worm write about? And how in earth can you hold that pen? What madness had caused this?
Worm: Well just some time ago I had this inspiration. Something inside. I had my doubts. It's true worm can't write much. Actually the inspiration came when one day I happened to crawl into this place and met some unusual humans. You mightn't believe it but I happened to hear them talk all about this God who loves all creatures, is a friend of al, the father of all living entities. Someone we can all love and serve and won't kill us at the end of it all. Then I met a true friend who really inspired me. I wanted to write about her, although I know she didn't want me too.
Snail: Humans! Those monsters! Don't trust 'em with a barge pole. There's none so cruel in three worlds. You should know better. Look they treat worms. They stamp you flat, put you on hooks, poison you, eat you. My God what don' they do? They don't care a damn about anyone, even themselves. I've heard horrific rumours about what they do to each other. Are you mad?
Worm: Maybe, but snail I've honestly met some humans who actually respect us. Who treat us as if we have feelings too. Listen to the tales I've got. Believe me they are not all bad.
Snail: All right worm. You've always been a good friends, let's have some fun.
Worm: I'll start when I first met them. When I crawled into that room these strange looking humans were readings from this big book called the Srimad Bhagavatam. This is what I heard: "One should treat animals such as deer, camels monkeys, mice, snakes, there actually is between children and these innocent animals." Then this human said, "We should be compassionate to all creatures even the ants. One time Prabhupada said (I found out later that's the name of their teacher), that we should feed the ants. We shouldn't kill any creatures. That Prabhupada again had told them to take a little bug outside as it seemed hungry and to put it on a leaf. All beings are our brother and even if are not so intelligent we have no right to them. We should protect them. They have just as much right to live, to eat to eat the food given by God as we do." He went on and on. "Krishna (That's the name they call God) came five hundred years ago in the most merciful form called Gauranga. " That's about twenty thousand years of your lives! It's incredible what he said about this Gauranga. He went into jungles and delivered all the animals and all sorts. He fed us all with His own hand. I can't remember all the details, but I became ecstatic. I started to dance, and I guess they noticed me. I got really scared, but then they didn't stop me, but carefully put me outside and sat me next to this pile of incredible food. I became completely intoxicated. My whole life changed. I kept going back. They kind of got used to me, and let me stay after a while. They had this other book about animals. What was it called? Panca something. All sorts of stories telling about their beliefs. I was fascinated. They really believed we were souls too.
Snail: This is amazing worm. Tell me more. Where are these humans?
Worm: They don't eat meat, first eggs, worms, or snails. So many things I learnt. I just felt I wanted to write something good about those humans. I know they've got such a bad name for their wicked, selfish behaviour, but somehow these ones seemed different. The they talked about animals and things that were engaged in what they called devotional service to God or Krishna. I couldn't quite work out what that was, but then they told me some stories and I've written about that in this book. They said that even animals could be liberated in this way. I felt so secure and happy. I can't remember very well, but they told me that elephants have good memories and introduced me to a wonderful soul named Gulab Kali. He's helped me so much. I heard from him that Prabhapada had said, "Even a dog can take part in the chanting."
Snail: What's chanting?
Worm: O, I forgot to mention. Memory again! Yes the most important thing was this chanting Hare Krishna Hare.. I'll have to look in the book again. It purifies the heart. Even trees, bugs, birds. Everyone benefits by this chanting. I tried. It was hard at first, but in the association I got it. It was truly amazing.
Snail: I want to meet this Prabhupada, let's go.
Worm: Oh no. Then they said that Prabhupada's gone some-where called Goloka Vrndavana he loves the cows and all sorts. They said we could still meet him in his books, instructions and followers.
Snail: This is too good to be true.
Worm: Well it is, and that's why I wanted to write something.
Snail: Okay, say a bit more about this book.
Worm: Some of these kind humans said I should write a book about animals in Krishna consciousness and they'd help. They gave me some pictures and some stories from far off places. They told me that if I wrote a book it would be de devotional service. I still wasn't sure. After all I'm a worm. I' m really slow as well. "As slow as a snail." Oops, sorry. I didn't mean it. They suggested I ask help from Hare. I looked for a hare but couldn't find one to help although I know they are fast. So I' m trying. It's slow and difficult. But I think that Krishna is helping me. They said he's in my heart and if I pray to Him he'd help. I really hope this inspires both humans and animals the likes of us, to take up Krishna consciousness. I hope that our future generations of invertebrates get inspired as well. Perhaps our relationship with the humans will improve and they'll come their senses. So what do you think snail friend?
Snail: I wish you all the best and if there's anything I can do to help you let me know. Who was that friends you met in Malaysia who inspired you?
Worm: Oh. You've never heard about our big sister in the north? She passed away a few years back, but I was so fortunate to meet her and spend time with her. She was the best friend I've ever had. I learnt so much from her. I think really she convinced me to write this book and to become a devotee of Krishna. I've written about her first. Now my fiend please sit down and let's chant together for a while, the I'll start telling you the stories I've got so far...
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