North Gaura-lina’s Moon is Rising

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By Lila Shakti Devi Dasi

After months of meditation and preparation, on the auspicious day of Sayana Ekadasi, (June 30th, 2012), Team NC inaugurated their ongoing Monthly Sankirtan Festival. We fanned out in Chapel Hill to spread the mercy of Lord Caitanya and Srila Prabhupada. It was 108 degrees that day, and, as HG Vaisesika Dasa observed, “The heat baked this experience firmly into our consciousness.” It did indeed, and we are now focusing our efforts to obtain a team goal of 5008 books distributed by the end of the year.

On the Friday evening before we went out, Vaisesika prabhu lead a beautiful bhajan and then eloquently presented a slideshow conveying the reason to go out and help the conditioned souls. He also began giving us the philosophy of book distribution, making it sound very easy, practical, and sublime. Most of those present had never been out on book distribution, yet after the presentation, we felt confident and enthusiastic to go out right then! Predictably, many of us couldn’t sleep that night in anticipation of Saturday’s events.

Saturday morning (finally!) came, and immediately following the morning program, Team NC started crash-course training on the nuts-and-bolts of book distribution. Vaisesika prabhu is most certainly the undisputed master in his field, able to overcome any objection while validating the individual and keeping the tenuous sales relationship pleasantly intact. He was able to easily show us how to sell the Bhagavad-gita As It Is on its own merit so we were able to replicate the method. After having a light and nutritious Ekadasi breakfast, we loaded up the trucks, organized the teams, and spread out as Lord Caitanya’s army, at war with Maya. It was very exciting, with the best was yet to come.

The teams went door-to-door or store-to-store; My team went door-to-door to an apartment building. The feeling of carrying around a powerful arsenal of Srila Prabhupada’s books to show to a person you’ve never seen before in your life while talking about Krishna conscious philosophy is indescribable. As Vaisesika prabhu had taught us, we choose only the “ripe fruits” and left the others on the tree for Krishna to ripen further. This eliminated the pressure to try and get each and every person to take a book, and also allowed us to leave everyone with a good impression. Some of us were addicted, wanting to knock on just one more door, but the oppressive heat of the day impeded us. A few of us had heat stroke and some dehydration, but overall the team experienced an exhilarating and powerful sense of fulfillment distributing books, prasadam, and the holy names. Vaisesika prabhu left an indelible impression on our souls, compelling us to be bold and share Krishna with whomever we come in contact with.

The Monthly Sankirtan Festival continues, and as of today, we have distributed over 800 books, which exceeds last years’ total by about 300%. To reach our goal of 5008, Team NC is getting creative to get the books out. We are planning to invade the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, set up numerous book tables around the state, increase smart boxes, and just carry books around to distribute to anyone we meet. Sankirtana is fun and easy, and we are confident that Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga will be pleased with our attempts. We humbly beg all the Vaisnavas to bless us in our endeavor. Transcendental book distribution ki jai!

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1 Akruranatha

Congratulations on your MSF. This book distribution is one of our core activities in ISKCON just like going out and chanting in public. We study these books and read them together every day, and the practice makes us feel very purified, happy and enlightened. It is only natural that we will want to share them with the “ripe fruits” who can scarcely know the miracle of these books, how they offer wisdom and enlightenment and enable us to taste the nectar for which we are always anxious.

I think that in the past by promoting the “maha ratha” book distributors who could distribute huge quantities of books, we may have inadvertently discouraged others from just going out and representing Srila Prabhupada in this fashion.

It was good to promote enthusiastic individuals who go out every day, and encourage them to strive to reach first place in the Sankirtan Newsletters. That is still the way most books get distributed. But my concern is it may have also sometimes had the tendency to divide the devotees into those who identify as “book distributors” and those who identify as “temple devotees” or “congregation”. Those who could never make it to the top of the charts may have felt, “why bother?” Also, those who are shy about stopping strangers in the street or knocking on their doors might have felt, “I cannot distribute books.”

Actually in ISKCON we are all book distributors. Not everyone goes out every day to present books, but “books are the basis” and studying and glorifying these books are among our main activities. Everyone should try keeping some books on hand and showing them to people, telling them what we like about them, or discussing something interesting we read. Even if one distributes just one or two books, the activity is glorious and may change someone’s fate.

When you come to think about it, books get sold frequently by word of mouth. People tell their friends, “I just read this fascinating book”, and the friends read it and tell others. Yes, there are book reviews, talk shows, ads, “signings”, and other promotion going on, and books are displayed in stores and websites for people to find a book they like, (and of course books are assigned reading in schools and colleges), but mostly people are reading what others have read and recommended.

If we read the books and sincerely appreciate them, friendly people will surely thank us for “turning them on” to these wonderful books.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on August 16th, 2012

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