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The Art of Transcendental Book Distribution
Srimati Dora reveals the inner mood of sankirtana
If, like me and the devotees in the BLISS temple, you had the chance to cross over the wonderful teachings of Srila Prabhupada, if they have changed your whole life, if they made you a better, sober human being... then automatically the question should be, "how can I serve this person who gave me pretty much everything that I need?" How can we please Srila Prabhupada?
Well, first of all, don't think you can, in any way, pay your debts to Srila Prabhupada. You are such a tiny, minute spirit soul that you cannot even hope for it... and He is the dear-most friend of Krishna, God. But, if you want to show Him your love, your appreciation, there are many things you can do. Before anything else, chant Hare Krishna.
But, also preach those teachings, spotless teachings, and distribute profusely His books, all around the world. Make this mission your life and soul, from now on think only, "how will those people, just like you, get the chance to associate with His Divine Grace Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada?"
Usually, when we want to associate with someone, we need to see that person, have conversation with that person in real life, and sometimes give direct service to them. In the case of associating with Srila Prabhupada, at this particular moment, you cannot get this type of association. Bodily association. His Divine Grace departed this material world on November 14, 1977 in Vrindavan, India.
In our days, if you have the desire to associate with Srila Prabhupada, it can be done through His vani. Vani means instruction, or the vibration, the words... not the physical body. Actually, this vani, these words are not different from the spiritual master. We don't really mind about the physical body, of course it should not be neglected, and the body of the spiritual master is not material, but we have to understand that Srila Prabhupada is always present– His words are not different from Him. Just like Krishna was also present in the material world, and He spoke the Bhagavad-gita to Arjuna. The "material" presence of Krishna and the Bhagavad-gita you are hopefully reading now are not different from Him, the Supreme Person.
Now if a devotee has a doubt about anything, any subject matter, he can always ask the devotees who are more advanced, or go through these divine literatures and get direct guidance from the spiritual master. We also have to understand that the devotees of Srila Prabhupada who are repeating or explaining the teachings are also not different from Him. So, not only do we get knowledge, but also we get to have personal instructions at any moment of our lives.
The basis of this Krishna consciousness movement, the prophecy known by all the devotees spoken by the divine mouth of Sri Caitanya Himself is:
prithivi-paryanta yata ache desha-grama
sarvatra sancara haibeka mora nama
"In every town and village of the world, the chanting of My name will be heard" (Caitanya Caritamrita, Antya 4.126)
Usually, the process is that if someone hears about Krishna, automatically he will want to chant His Names, and if someone hears constantly, he will also want to chant constantly.
In my journey of Krishna consciousness, I've met two great devotees who never associated by vapu (physical presence) with Srila Prabhupada. His Grace Purujit Dasa Prabhu came across the Bhagavad-gita As It Is and started chanting automatically without anyone telling him to do it, and by doing so, he became one of the greatest preachers on behalf of his Spiritual Master. Janardana Dasa Prabhu also read the first canto of Srimad Bhagavatam and started chanting the Holy names of Krishna.
In the Bhagavad Gita (18.69) the Lord says:
na ca tasman manusyesu kascin me priya krtamah "There is no servant in the world more dear to me than He, nor they will be one more dear."
Here, Krishna says that no one is dearer to Him than the one who preaches His glories. This text from the Bhagavad-gita says, "Preaching is the best service to the Lord. The Lord will immediately be extremely satisfied with one who engages in the service of preaching Krishna consciousness. This is confirmed by the Lord himself in Bhagavad gita (18.69) na ca tasman manusyesu kascin me priya krtamah: 'There is no servant in this world more dear to Me than he, nor will be there be one more dear.' If one sincerely tries his best to spread Krishna consciousness by preaching the glories of the Lord and His supremacy, even if he is imperfectly educated, he becomes the dear-most servant of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is bhakti. As one performs this service for humanity, without discrimination between friends and enemies, the Lord becomes satisfied, and the mission of one's life is fulfilled."
Trying our best, in this context, means that our mind should be always absorbed on how to preach this Krishna consciousness movement, because Krishna can see our desires and if we really try, he will help us and give us intelligence to preach his glories.
It doesn't matter if one is imperfectly educated because this is a transcendental service to Krishna, and bhakti doesn't depend on anything material. In any condition you can love God. ahaituki aprati yayatma suprasidati (SB 1.2.6).
Here, Srila Prabhupada says, "without discrimination between friends and enemies" and how I relate this to book distribution is that we can easily try to distribute books and be stuck in the mental platform sometimes. I have one friend who was sometimes complaining that he is too much on the mental platform and he makes many discriminations, asking himself before approaching someone, "does this person have money, a wallet? Who looks spiritual... etc."
Of course, we don't have the vision of a pure devotee, that everyone is a spirit soul, part and parcels of Krishna, but we can fake it for book distribution and try not to discriminate according to the body, we can be surprised sometimes very young girls and boys give nice donations but because they look so small we can think that they have no money; homeless, or very dirty people also. The thing is that we are not controlling who will take a book, but the Supersoul inside their heart is determining if they will be inspired, or not. This meditation is very helpful to be detached from the results of wether we will distribute a book or not, our business is to put as much enthusiasm as possible to glorify our spiritual master, Krishna and the teachings.
I personally don't like to analyze, and instead go to everyone, and analyze afterwards. I get more surprises in this way and also it adds more austerities to the service to approach people who we think will never take a book.
The most important thing is to try to connect with them on anything. The karmis are doing many different things when walking... sometimes they are eating, so I approach them by saying, "Oh, salt and vinegar crisps are my favorite ever, you have great taste!" They can find it funny and be attracted in this way. Everyone wants to be loved in the material world and everyone wants to be important so if you can make them feel like God in a very short time, they are more likely to take a book from you.
People are also very much attached to their kids or dogs, so, what I do is give all the attention to their beloved with as much enthusiasm as possible, and most of the time they like it. I make them feel like their children are the most beautiful human beings and that their dog is the most funny ever, and most of the time this works very well.
I like to imagine that book distribution is like a theatre. You have to see yourself as an actor playing a role. We are just acting as instruments in the hands of Krishna. These books, they have to be distributed, and they will be distributed, so we can decide whether we want to be part of Krishna's plan or not.
On book distribution, Krishna can also be very challenging. It's, of course, not the easiest service to be outside in the karmi world, but it is very satisfying to Krishna and Srila Prabhupada, so we have to do it. The satisfaction you get after one book distributed, or after an ecstatic day on sankirtan is indescribable.
Srila Prabhupada gave somw advice that I really absorbed since I first started distributing books; those people we are approaching are the most beautiful, the most intelligent and the most rich. Of course, we know, or we try to realize that they are mudhas, and they are simply wasting this precious human form of life. I personally put out a lot of enthusiasm, feeling, and movements when I compliment them, even though sometimes there is nothing to compliment. We all want to be Krishna, and be in the center, so for a few hours the karmis should have 100% of our attention.
Book distribution can be very challenging. The weather difficult, the people can be very rude, sometimes they don't even look at you, sometimes they ask many questions but they are actually just making you lose your time (agents of Maya to stop the book distribution), so we have to be careful and focus on the fact that Prabhupada wants as many books distributed as possible, and our little preaching of 5 minutes will not do anything... but millions of books distributed can create millions of devotees in the next 10,000 years. Our vision should be expanded, and we should not hanker to transform them immediately. The words of Srila Prabhupada will act in due course of time. So, those little austerities, they should be done to please the spiritual master because actually any little austerities we do in Krishna consciousness is rewarded by being peaceful and blissful in our daily practice.
The nature of the conditioned soul is to be puffed up, but if we change this mentality; that we are big preachers, that we are doing so many books; then the service becomes more enjoyable. You become more and more satisfied when you realize a little bit that Krishna is in control, and your only concern is that, 'this book distribution is my duty, let me do as perfect as possible, let me engage all the parts of my body, my intelligence, my mind on how I can please my spiritual master' and you will become verrrrrrry satisfied.
If you understand, just a little bit, that you are a servant, a soldier in the mission of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, then you can change your whole mindset, and when you go on book distribution, you know you are a soldier on the battlefield and Maya is kicking you from every side, but because you are protected by Krishna, nothing can harm you.
Here are nice quotes about preaching that are very inspiring to me: "It's the duty of every disciple to preach Krishna consciousness, the brahmacaris should go morning and evening to beg and bring everything to the Spiritual Master."
"Instruct everyone to preach."
"A devotee who tries to preach is first class." Prabhupada speaks about the devotees who are self satisfied. We shouldn't think that by simply chanting 16 rounds and following 4 regulative principles, we have attained perfection– the actual purpose of these rules and regulations is actually to be able to preach, since it is the essence of Krishna consciousness.
"Devotee must preach, that will give him advance in self realization."
And lastly, one aspect of book distribution that is probably my favorite, is taking everything from the karmis!
Before, I was afraid to ask for big donations, thinking that they would not take a book, but then I remembered how much money I used to spend as a karmi. And I also realized that even the ones who say they have no money, still have money to spend on drinks and other sinful activities. We should be bold, and we should always remember that everything belongs to Krishna, especially their money. They are directed by their mind and they need to be guided, so they need a firm hand, we should not be shy. Another thing that gives me enthusiasm about taking all their money is that Prabhupada always says that everything should be first class for Krishna; the deities, the dress, the foodstuffs etc.. and in order to make everything first class for Krishna, you need laksmi. So, if we have some kind of a goal to expand, have big deities with beautiful dresses, hundreds of preparations for festivals, etc., it gives encouragement. While at the same time, we shouldn't be attached, and whatever they give is also okay. Krishna is in control of what we need and don't need. HARE KRISHNA