Book Distribution

Published on March 21st, 2019 | by pandava-vijay-dasa | Full size image

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The First Traveling Sankirtan (Book Distribution) Party

The 100 degree fever of Sankirtana in the early 1970s in America can only be described as an epidemic.

At one point, when we were completely out of Books, waiting for Dai Nippon’s shipment of Krsna Books to arrive, the leader on the west coast, the pre-GBC mega-authority was Karandhara.

His office was in the breezeway of the Temple in New Dvaraka. During mangal arti, the rumor spread that there were 100 cases of Krsna Books stashed in Karandhara’s office.

That they were Karandhara’s personal property, that they were earmarked for some lofty and important purpose, that he was the “ultimate power” meant absolutely nothing to us-Buddhimanta and the Gang from New Jagannatha Puri, San Francisco.

We mercilessly, without the least consideration for the exalted position of Karandhara, without the least considereration for the extensive damage, we mercilessly broke down his door, splintered it into tooth picks and took every single book and went on a three day Book Distribution Marathon.

By that time, the shipment of fresh Books arrived and the fever spread further and further.

Buddhimanta, you must keep in mind, was the total personification of Maha “outrageousness.” Everything he did, every word he spoke, every gesture, every thought of his should have been filmed for posterity.

Buddhimanta was very handsome, 6’1″, 180 pounds, with an impish grin and reddish blond hair…like the American movie star, Robert Redford.

Buddhimanta was 100% convinced of only one thing: that Srila Prabhupada was the embodiment of the Absolute Truth-that there was no need to look any further. The ONLY need was to Distribute Prabhupada’s Books.

The first Traveling Sankirtana Party, to my knowledge, left San Francisco Temple, New Jagannatha Puri in the Summer of 1971.

It consisted of about 15 brahmacaris crammed into two vehicles. We were out for about 3 and half weeks and distributed an “astounding number” of Back To Godhead Magazines, 3000.

On the last day, the 25 day of our austerity, the day before returning to New Jagannatha Puri Temple, we ended up in the East Bay just north of Oakland in a tract of split level executive homes-nicely landscaped yards, clean streets, lots of trees.

Arriving just as darkenss fell, about 8PM on a pleasant Saturday evening, we piled out of both cars, sikas trailing, dhotis blowing, shouting “Hari Bol”, we descended upon this peaceful community like a hurricane.

We ran “Hari Boling” from door to door, distributing as many of Srila Prabhupada’s Books as possible and running to the next house.

After an hour, we were on fire. Buddhimanta especially. He ran up to a door and RANG the bell.

There he stood, taking up the entire doorway space, eyes bugging out, sweating profusely, neck beads taught against his throat, and fire engine red-faced.

“HARE KRSNA,” he announced to the bewildered housewife who unwittingly opened the door. His eyes bugged. His neck beads strained.

She took one look at this escaped lunatic from the Nut House in Goloka Vrndavana and fainted dead away on the spot.

It only took about 5 minutes for a thousand police sirens to split the calm air.

The surrounded us. They had us. It looked bad. But they didn’t know exactly what to do with us. We didn’t really do anything wrong.

So they didn’t take us to jail. The DID talk to Buddhimanta for about 30 minutes to make certain that even though he looked and acted spirtually insane, that he was infact, OK, not violent, and harmless.

Stuff like this happened in the days of the Sankirtana Revolution in America.

Long may the Flag of Sankirtana Book Distribution wave.

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If you Love Me Distribute My Books -- Srila Prabhupada

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8 Responses to The First Traveling Sankirtan (Book Distribution) Party

  1. Aman says:

    Hare Krishna Prabhu!

    Can I simply distribute books door to door in my village so that there is at least one Srila Prabhupada book in every household?

    • Yes Prabhu you can. You know the people so you can work out how to get the books in their houses and you can visit them all and talk to them and introduce the books to them and encourage them to read. Even the small books. You could, for example, distribute ‘Beyond Birth and Death’ to every house in your village and after a month or so re-vist all the houses and talk to the people about the book, if they read it, etc. I think young people in your village will all be able to read English? Older people maybe not. But preaching is really much more appreciated by young people. It is very difficult, almost impossible, for old people to change their ways. So really the younger people are the future. In India of course there are many young people, you have maybe 60% or more population under 30. So it is a very good opportunity for preaching really.

      The thing is people need to be encouraged to read the books. Just putting the books in the houses is good also, because surely someone will read. But it is really so much better if you can get them to give something to help pay for the printing cost. If you give people something free they don’t value it. But if they pay something for a book they feel obliged to read it. They think, “Oh I have paid so many rupees for this book, I have to read it to get my money’s worth.” So getting a donation from them almost forces them to read the book and they will take it much more seriously and value it much more than if you just hand it to them for free.

      Association with a devotee is very powerful. So if we can become devotees somehow and give our association to the people, without taking their material association, then they will make nice advancement. And prasadam distribution also is very powerful.

      And in India all these things are the people’s culture. You know everyone’s grandmother at least knows the Bhagavad-gita verses, and these little books like Beyond Birth and Death are full of Bhagavad-gita verses. So it will be very familiar and very comfortable for Indians.

      Srila Prabhupada said that Indians are naturally Krishna consciousness, but because of the bad training starting from the British rule days, where the British trained the Indians that everything Vedic was primitive and everything from London was civilized, mostly the Indians have been spoiled and no longer appreciate the wonderful gift they have in the Vedic culture.

      So the summary is yes, I think it is a great idea. But it would be even greater if you get a donation for the books, and even greater still if you could visit everyone regularly, like every month or every few months with a new book. And if you spend time with them and try to convince them to read the books and try to explain to them what benefits they will get from chanting Hare Krishna and from reading the books it will be good for you as well as being good for them.

      So it is good. You know best what is possible in your village. So do it. And let me know how you are going.

      There will be people there who will be very happy to sit down with you and have a kirtan, so you can always be looking for that opportunity. Where you can sit down and chant Hare Krishna with the people there. They will like it and you will like it and it will put them in a good mood to buy Prabhupada’s books from you also…

      There are so many things. So it will be successful if you try it, Krishna and Prabhupada will help you, maya will also try to stop you, so try it…

      Very exciting…

      Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!

      Madhudvisa dasa

      • Aman Pandey says:

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

        Thanks for the guidance Prabhu.

        Doing these things looks like a huge task for me Prabhu. Currently I want to maintain my basic sadhana until I become strong. I will do these things some day for sure.

        The main problem for me in book distribution is people in and around my village cannot understand English at all. Not even young generation. Only maybe 1℅ can understand. Sometimes I think I must stay in this village and spend all my energy in becoming a pure devotee and making it a devotee village but next I think, “what about book distribution”….I don’t want to do job in city Prabhu as Srila Prabhupada has said, “agriculture is the most noble profession” and you have also advised me to stay wherever I am and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has said the same. “sthane sthita shrutigatam tanuvam manobhih” but I’m sure to face strong opposition from family members when they know about this plan of mine of staying in my village. One benefit in going to city may be that I will be able to distribute English books.

        But I really don’t want to go to city for job or anything. If at all I’m forced to go then I will return soon maybe in 5 years.

        I’m really relying on you, Srila Prabhupada and Krishna to guide me in this regard.

        Please say something what should I do Prabhu, how to convince family members that I must stay in village for Krishna Consciousness if that is what I should do.

        Hare Krishna!
        All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

        • Hare Krishna Aman

          I can not say what you should do Prabhu. That you have to work out by reading Prabhupada’s books and chanting Hare Krishna.

          But in the material world we have to work. As a man you have to support yourself and your family. Or you can work for Krishna, but the work has to be there.

          Many want to use Krishna consciousness to avoid working. But that is not Krishna consciousness. So you do not want to surrender to preaching, and at the moment it is really very difficult to do because it requires training and the training is not available at the moment, anyhow you do not want to do it. Just working for Krishna.

          So you have to work, most young men want to get married, have a family, and to do that you need money, so you need to work. So you have to work either way. You can not use chanting Hare Krishna and reading Prabhupada’s books as an excuse for not working.

          And you do not want to work like preaching and distributing books, so you have to work to make money and perhaps get married and start a family and later on take vanaprastha and sannyasa.

          So you have to work out what you want to do. If there is no work or preaching opportunities in your village then you have to leave it and go to somewhere where you can work and preach.

          Generally no one is appreciated in his home anyway.

          So anyhow, it is up to you, I can not suggest, I do not know you. You can not know someone by exchanging some messages online. Krishna consciousness is a personal thing. So I do not know you to give you advice and you do not know me to trust me to give you advice also.

          But that is my experience and my life. I have always worked. Always tried to contribute rather than be a liability. If I was living in a temple I would make sure to do plenty of service and go out and sell books and bring the collection back to the temple. I wanted to make sure that I was always an asset, not a liability.

          It is part of growing up. Not expecting others to support you, but taking the responsibility of supporting others instead.

          Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!

          Madhudvisa dasa

          • Aman Pandey says:

            Hare Krishna Prabhu
            Dandavat pranam
            All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

            Thanks a lot prabhu. I have understood what I should do. Follow Prabhupada’s instructions and then he will let me know what I should do.

            I will also try to follow in your footsteps and not become a liability Prabhu. I will not use chanting Hare Krishna and reading Prabhupada’s books as an excuse.

            Hare Krishna!
            All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

          • Aman says:

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

            I have decided that I will not get married and instead work only for Krishna following the orders of Guru Maharaj Srila Prabhupada. I have no other aim in life
            now but to become a pure servant of Srila Prabhupada and thus become a pure devotee of Lord Krishna. Although some attachment for family remains but that will also be hopefully removed very soon by Srila Prabhupada’s grace once I start distributing his books. Now I’m simply looking for book distribution opportunities. I will not marry now and control all sex desire by chanting Hare Krishna and tasting prasadam. I’m sure by following the rules and regulations I will be able to control sex desire and will be able to distribute books and thus gain the mercy of Srila Prabhupada and become a pure devotee of Krishna in this life itself by all merciful Prabhupada’s grace.

            Hare Krishna!
            All glories to Srila Prabhupada!
            All glories to Sankirtan Movement!

  2. Rukmini says:

    My book distribution is extremely horrible! It seems that the set of 240 POF I bought will last me an entire lifetime….I’m so horrible at describing the books that when I said “Since no one wants to die…” ; a middle aged lady corrected me saying that if I say that line no one will buy it. I approached many young people but due to my preaching weakness they said “Not Interested” and left before I could say a word more…I know you are able to convince even the “not interested” youngsters too…I tried to say many things but none of them worked….seems hopeless.

    Please Prabhu, could you tell me what to say to distribute this (POF) book. I will repeat it. I know it’s a matter of realization but I don’t understand what to say so as to get the materialistic people become interested….I don’t know the tactics to distribute-( what to say…what not to say…). Please Prabhu,, could you tell me at least a few lines which I could say…Please don’t scold me, Prabhu..I’m extremely weak.

    All Glories to Srila Prabhupada! Hope some day in my life I’ll be able to make Srila Prabhupada happy……

    • Hare Krishna Rukmini

      You have to keep trying…

      There is a science to it, book distribution. Basically there are a few steps. Fist you have to stop the person from walking. You can not sell a person a book if they have not stopped walking. So the first thing you have to concentrate on when you approach a person to sell a book to him is you have to stop him from walking. Otherwise no matter what you say he will just keep on walking past you. So the way devotees stop the people generally is by asking them a question. The standard question is “Are you from Mumbai or out of town?” And you have to ask them this question like it is so very important and their answer to the question is so very important. You have to be very serious. Then when they answer, it doesn’t matter what they say, you have to be so excited, so happy. Like they have given the correct answer and have won the lottery. You know. It does not matter. But you have to be very excited about their answer so they get the idea they have given the correct answer and that qualifies them for something wonderful.

      So the whole point of this is to stop them walking and if you have done it right and if they stopped [you can not get everyone to stop, if you can get say one out of 5 people to stop you are doing well] then you can go on to the next step.

      And the next step is to get the book in their hands. It is not likely they will buy the book if you do not get it in their hands.

      So you can say something like “Fantastic, today we are showing the people these books.” And hand it to them. And many times they will just take the book from you. You have to practice. There is a way that you can hand the book to a person and automatically they will feel they have to put their hand out and grab it. It is a natural reflex. If you hand something to someone they grab it. So that is what you want. You want them to grab the book. If they refuse to grab the book you can just say “Where’s your hand?” and they will put their hand out and then you just put the book in their hand and they grab it. That is what you want. You want the book in their hands.

      Then while they are holding the book you open it up and show them some of the color plates. And you talk something about them. Not much. Just enough to get them interested. You have to find the things to say that will make them interested in reading the book.

      You know, “The deep secrets of India’s culture in a small book that is very easy to read…” I don’t know. You have to experiment, you have to find what works where you are.

      So once you have stopped them, got the book in their hands and showed them some of the color plates and talked a little bit about the benefits they will get by reading the book then you ask them for a donation.

      So you can say “We are asking the people if they can leave something to help cover the printing cost.”

      Then you have to wait and see what they do. As soon as they start going for the money you can say “The books cost about …. to print.” It gives them some idea how much to give.

      You should watch that video “Distributing the Bhagavad-gita on its merits…”

      So just do these things and I think you will find you will be selling some books at least…

      Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!

      Madhudvisa dasa


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