Published on September 13th, 2023 | by Madhudvisa dasa


A Society Based On Literature Distribution

I was recently invited to visit the Australian headquarters of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. It’s a large complex in Sydney with about 270 people living on the site. The center of the complex is a huge printing press printing their magazines: Watchtower and Awake!

, twice a month in more than 25 languages. The magazines are available in Australia in 82 languages and world-wide they print in over 160 languages! They distribute well

I often distribute Srila Prabhupada’s books in Sydney’s Town Hall station and in recent years we share the spot with the Jehovah’s Witnesses. It appears to me the general public are far more interested in purchasing and reading Srila Prabhupada’s books about Krishna than their “Watchtower.” However, although the public seem quite disinterested in their literature they distribute an enormous quantity of it world-wide. So when Shaun invited me to visit their Australian headquarters I was interested to see how they managed to print and distribute so much literature first-hand.

I discovered to be an “active” Jehovah’s Witness one has to distribute literature. They seem to value more the hours spent in distributing the literature and preaching then the actual quantity of magazines sold. Every member is called a “publisher” and the mission of the “publishers” is very clear. To distribute the magazines and preach to the general public. Most of this is done door-to-door…

They have more than 100 administration centers world-wide [mostly called “Bethel”] which print their literature in 160 different languages and administer the “Kingdom Halls” in their area, supplying them with literature and their other needs.

These administration centers have a live-in “staff” of dedicated witnesses who work for no salary. Here in Sydney there are 270 witnesses living in the center including all types of professional and skilled people. There is a fully staffed legal office, a very large design office which designs and builds new Kingdom Halls for Australia, the Pacific Islands and even India. They have all sorts of tradesmen, builders, carpenters, electricians, etc., etc… They have an automobile repair department which repairs and maintains the cars and a large gardening department that maintains the grounds complete with very nice flower and vegetable gardens. The entire complex was built by their own men… They regularly build entire Kingdom Halls in three days… They organize all the materials to be delivered to the site, arrange the volunteers and build the whole thing in three days…

As for the printing the main press can print 19,000 32 page full-color magazines per hour and they have another smaller press which is used for printing languages they don’t print in very large quantities. In Japan they have a press printing almost 100,000 magazines an hour…

The only cost is the paper and the ink… The press equipment is paid for long ago and is operated and maintained by volunteer witnesses who live on the site. So the magazines cost well under 10 cents each to produce…

Everything is clean and very well organized. They say “Jehovah is a God of order.” So they keep everything very nicely maintained and in order. The whole complex is very clean and perfectly maintained.

The management is quite centralized in Brooklyn NY. In Australia they receive all the magazines printed here electronically from Brooklyn and simply make the plates and print them. There is no layout or design work done here and although they have a “writing desk” in Australia [one of 12 in the world] all articles must be submitted to the Brooklyn office.

Their management system seems to be quite authoritarian with the members surrendered to “do the needful.” We were shown around the complex by Chris who started living at Bethel eighteen months ago. He was a carpenter building houses in Perth but now he works as a housekeeper cleaning passages and stairways in one of the residence buildings and as a tour guide.

He would have preferred to work in the printing department, but he is happy to work in whatever position the management require him to work in… He says it is best to “go with the flow…”

Unfortunately the philosophy they preach is not very satisfying. Shaun and his wife were trying to understand why it was that good people suffer and why it is that sometimes babies suffer horrible deaths… Their only answer is it all happens by chance. They believe Jehovah does not cause it and they don’t believe in Karma… They don’t believe in Hell and can’t imagine how a “loving God” could create such a place. The most amazing thing for me is they don’t even accept the existence of an eternal soul. They think everyone “dies” and when Jesus comes back he will resurrect only the Jehovah’s Witnesses…

It is quite bewildering to me. In many ways they are preaching the same thing as the atheists. The atheists claim there is no life after death. They claim one simply dies. The witnesses agree. The atheists claim there is no eternal soul. The witnesses agree. The atheists claim there is no Hell, the witnesses agree. The atheists say everything happens by chance and there is no karma involved in any suffering we may experience. The witnesses agree…

So with such a faulty philosophy which is really not very interesting to the general public they are still able to distribute more than 40,000,000 magazines a month…

I wonder what is the potential of Krishna consciousness, such a perfectly logical philosophy which I find the general public are truly very interested in… Surely we could distribute more than 40,000,000 of Srila Prabhupada’s books and magazines a month if we actually made that our main business? I am convinced we can do it… And it will change the world…

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About the Author

My first contact with a Hare Krishna was a most merciful Mataji in Oxford Street, London who sold me a "Higher Taste" cook book in 1984 while I was on holidays there. I started seriously reading Srila Prabhupada's books in Australia 1985 and by 1986 Srila Prabhupada had convinced me "Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead" and "we should surrender to Krishna." I joined the Hare Krishnas in Perth, Western Australia in 1986. Since then I have been chanting Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, reading and distributing Srila Prabhupada's books and preaching as much as I can. That's my life and full-time occupation now really. I like it more than anything I've ever experienced before. Srila Prabhupada's books are so amazing... Even after reading them all many times they're still fresh and new. They are truly transcendental! That's it really. Now I'm just hankering to once again see the world chant Hare Krishna, dance and feast and float away in the ecstasy of Lord Caitanya's Sankirtana movement as it did in Srila Prabhupada's physical presence. Let the whole world drown in the ecstatic flood of love of Krishna!

13 Responses to A Society Based On Literature Distribution

  1. Aman Pandey says:

    Hare Krishna Prabhu
    Please accept my humble obeisnces
    All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

    Is it possible to distribute Srila Prabhupada’s books on streets without training? I feel completely incompetent to distribute Srila Prabhupada’s books, especially on street and I have very much respect for those devotees who are doing it. All I can do is pray for all who are distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books on streets.

  2. Allan says:

    Hare Krishna prabhu, regarding the updated site: the search function is not working like it did before. Will this be fixed? Please let me know. It was such a great asset in studying Srila Prabhupada’s books!

    • Hare Krishna Allan

      Search function is much improved but still has some problems. There is a very nice advanced search when you click on the magnifying glass button on the top button bar. That is a much, much more powerful search function than before and provides the suggested words as you type, which is very helpful, and then gives the list of search results in a new frame at the bottom of the page. Then when you click on a search result in the bottom it will automatically load that document in the main window and should jump to that exact paragraph in the document. Sometimes now it is not jumping… So we have to fix some bugs with this soon.

      So please try the new search and let me know what you think and how it can be improved. It is much better than the old search actually if you get used to it.

      As far as your other point with the index taking up too much space, you can reduce the space it takes, if you just put your mouse on that line between the index and the main frame you can click on it and drag it across and make it as big or small as you like.

      So please spend some time on the new site and make some practical recommendations to improve the new site more and more.

      Thank you very much for your feedback and for using and recommending the site to others.

      • Allan says:

        Thank you for your elaborate explanation on the new functions, prabhu. I appreciate. I indeed needed some time to figure things out. Guess I was somewhat attached to the former site. But it looks like it is actually a great improvement.
        You’re doing a tremendous service!
        Hare Krishna

  3. Vinod says:

    Hare Krishna Madhudvisa dasa!

    I want to distribute books, especially the smaller books like Beyond Birth and Death, and Perfect of Yoga have great appeal to the karmis as a gateway to Krishna consciouness.

    The problem is languages and the rights and royalties to print. Fx even the smaller books are easily 10x as expensive in Danish than in English just to give you an idea. Even importing the books costs another 100% ontop in import tax and shipping.

    So how do you propose we can get into a full scale massive low cost printing and distribution? I’m interested in your suggestion.

    • Hare Krishna Vinod

      I have no idea. You just have to work it out locally. Find a local printer and print the books. But I think that would be still just as expensive as getting the books from KBI.

      Really I suggest you just import the books we are already printing in English and distribute them in your country. These days practically everyone, especially the younger people who are really the only ones who will be able to seriously take to Krishna consciousness anyhow, already know English. You know all technical things, all ‘edgy’ things, all interesting things, they are in English.

      So I think if you just import the English books from KBI then we can ship them to you directly from India and the cost in that case will be very, very low. So if you are serious contact me by replying to this with the details and the sort of quantities of books that you would like to order. We need to think in pallets of books. The more pallets of books we can send the better the price will be for you.

  4. kenny says:

    srila prabhupada’s books are in comparable with any other literature. may it be jehowa or bible or quran or budhism… all these are primary school level knowledge when compared with vedas which is like advanced post graduation study.

  5. Intrigued says:

    As one with knowledge of the subject I read with interest to see how close to the truth you would stick.
    Overall you gave a good accounting of your experience.
    There is one thing I have to disagree with however and that is to do with the point you made about the resurrection.
    The bible and the teaching of Jehovah’s witnesses clearly state that when Jesus comes and resurrects the dead, that it will be done in two parts.
    First a resurrection of those who go to heaven. And second a resurrection of those who will be resurrected to Earth. As the Earthly resurrection Jesus said that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.

    • Marilyn says:

      Nowhere in Revelation does the scripture say that there will be an earthly resurrection. In fact, Corinthians letter from Paul specifically tells us we will be resurrected as spiritual bodies. This earthly resurrection is a fallacy.

  6. Former JW says:

    I am a former Jehovah’s Witness and would like to thank you for this article.

    At least when Hare Krishnas preach, it is pleasant. Prasadam, kirtan chanting, and the joy of the devotees. The message of Krishna is not one of wrath, vengence, fear, and Armageddon.

    That is what the Jehovah’s Witnesses preach; unless you become a “true christian” (i.e. a JW), then Jehovah will destroy you at Armageddon in his terrible wrath and judgement.

    You will NEVER see the Jehovah’s Witnesses reaching out to the community like Hare Krishna devotees do with kirtans and prasadam. They believe door to door preaching is sufficient for “reaching out.”

    I will grant this to them, they do have the distribution of literature perfected. I agree with you that if you want to distribute more of Srila Prabhupada’s books and therefore reach more people, study the production and distribution practices of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society.

    • ut says:

      Do not give wrong ideas to people. Jehovah witnesses do believe in hell and it is mankind’s common grave Even Job was in hell when he died.Job14:13.Acts 2: 31 make it clear if you want to read that.Also read psalms 146:4, ECClesiastes 12:7. It talks about the condition of the dead. You do not have to accept want Jehovah witnesses say. They teach from the bible and show you from the scriptures. You can either accept want the bible say but don’t give false information!!!!

      • Ann Observer says:

        Do not give false information yourself!
        It is TOTALLY DISHONEST to say the Bible supports ONLY the “mankind’s common grave” idea of Hell (Hades).
        The JWs teach from very select bits of the Bible and ignore the bits that do not fit, same as everyone else does.
        From the verses you list, this one really doesn’t support it:
        Ecclesiastes 12:7 New International Version (NIV)

        Which of these 2 is you? The dust in the grave or the spirit that goes to be with God from which it came? I’d choose to be the spirit.

        Whatever Job, Luke, the psalmist or the “man” in Ecclesiastes say (which is a dialog between God and man, this bit being from the mouth of man, this is called “context”), these bits of the Bible are only reporting what THESE MEN said and believed.

        Note: making doctrine from the bits of the Bible which are quoting MEN will likely yield “Doctrines of men”, not God.

        Here are some of the many other verses which indicate something different:
        Jeremiah 1:5: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…”
        Luke 16 – the dead are conscious and there’s enough info here to make a map of Hades – though this maybe a story or a parable, Jesus thought this useful and surely he wouldn’t say something untruthful?
        John 9:2 – “Who sinned? THIS MAN, or his parents that he was born blind?”

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