Who wants it for free?

Yesterday I led another six hour Gita workshop in Brasilia. It’s part of my weekend Gita workshop series that I regularly teach in Rio, Brasilia and Porto Alegre. The difference is that in Brasilia I do it at home, on a Sunday once per month. When I travel I do the whole weekend once every two months, teaching two chapters, not just one.

This time we decided to charge a little more, bringing the price to R$40, which comes out to about US$23. For this people get about 5 hours of class and a delicious lunch prepared by my wife.

The guests sit around a big plasma TV, connected to my laptop, where the PowerPoint presentation guides us through every verse of the chapter in question (yesterday it was Chapter 2) and selected excerpts of Srila Prabhupada’s commentary. They sit on the sofa, chairs, or floor cusions, in our air-conditioned living room.

Even though we upped the price by about 30% this time, we got more people than ever before – 14 all told.

After the event, I had to quickly get ready and head off to our Sunday Program (Krishna Sanga, we call it). It’s held in a yoga studio we rent out on Sundays. It’s totally free, everyone can come and hear a class, chant with us and then get free prasadam.

Funnily enough, there were only 10 people there! Even though basically it was the same thing: a class based on our scriptures, kirtan and prasadam. But people who come to my paid-for Gita classes hardly ever want to come to the free weekly meetings.

This just goes to show the need for professionally arranged programs, in comfortable settings, free of all the trappings of “going to church”. People want to learn about Krishna Consciousness as they learn about everything else they’re interested in: by doing professional paid-for courses. As Prabhupada used to say, you try and give free mangoes, people get suspicious. If you sell them, though, no problem.

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