Skype Preaching: The Next Frontier
By Sri Radha Govinda Dasi
Making 250 contacts of potential devotees in a few weeks? Finding people to whom you can preach freely? Making connections without physical effort? Identifying people who are open to listen to you about Krishna consciousness? Talking and chanting online with people?All this is just a Skype-cast away!
Let me tell you my experience with Skype. Skype is a free program (download at www.skype.com) that lets you chat, talk, share files, and have voice and video conferencing—all for free—with any individual or group among the many millions of Skype users.
And of course Skype is also very useful for communicating among devotees.
Two months ago I was chatting with a friend on Skype. I switched to the ”Skype me” mode, in which you become “visible” to whoever is on line (as I write this there are more than eight million Skype users online). Dozens of people started to send messages and call. I realized that there are thousands of people who are open for talks and discussions. I didn’t have to find them—they would find me. I started holding regular chats with some contacts, especially those who wanted to know more about Vedic psychology or even directly about Krishna. In less than three weeks I made hundred contacts with interested people.
I get to meet different kinds of people out there on Skype: atheists (perhaps the majority), lovers of Jesus (but not always followers), followers of Sai Baba, fans of certain angels and demigods, messed up minds, and so on. But I also meet intelligent, open-minded persons, eager to learn about the origin of the Vedas or Hinduism. I have been keeping in touch with them and have introduced them to Krishna conscious sites.
In the first couple of days I disclosed my real age (23), but I noticed that it was a great disadvantage, as many men were just looking for girls. So later I chose to say that I am 65 years old. Then I started to get the cream of people, genuinely interested in hearing about God or the truth. After building trust with a person, I would then explain why I had said I was 65. So far that hasn’t been a problem.
Once someone from Hyderabad asked me, “Don’t you feel tired talking about Krishna to so many people everyday?” “No,” I said, “I never feel tired.” Somehow it was discovered that also his boss and another colleague at his office were chatting with me. All three of them started talking about the contents of their chats, and of Krishna, during their lunch break.
I have already distributed various Bhagavad-gitas (in pdf format), Beyond Birth and Death and Isopanisads. These books were available for free on www.krishna.com.
On Skype, all of us feel protected and boldy share on various subjects, including philosophical concerns. Since first meeting time-passers, I began requesting all my contacts to go through sites such as www.krishna.com www.krishnascience.com and www.mayapur.com. If they want to talk to me they should have some spiritual vibe. Some people didn’t contact me again, but many were amazed after visiting these sites and started to ask all kinds of questions.
In general, Chinese people seem to get excited about these sites, especially www.mayapur.com. I encounter argumentative people, fanatics, racists, and (mostly) Mayavadis, all of whom challenge the existence of God. It was fun to try to defeat their arguments, but I often wondered, “What did I achieve in those two hours?” Therefore, a month ago I stopped arguing, and decided to talk only with those willing to hear, those sincere and open, even if confused in their beliefs. Sometimes it’s worth spending a few hours with someone who, though argumentative, appears sincere. For instance, on my contact list I have more than forty Muslims; fourteen are open-minded enough to hear the philosophy of Bhagavad-gita, and three now chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra.
Skype also offers a system in which you can talk to a number of people at the same time. I have set up several conference calls, mainly to cultivate my contacts. Each time, twenty or thirty people joined. A couple of times I just read from Bhagavad-gita or Srimad-Bhagavatam.
During the Gaura Purnima festival I hadn’t logged on for a week. After that I found that some of my contacts were waiting to talk to me. They told me things like, “Hey! Where did you go? We missed hearing about God and philosophy”; “You didn’t leave your email to me. I’ve got few questions”; “Since having found you on Skype, my life has changed in habits and thoughts. Now I am chanting the mantra and feel peaceful. Please keep in touch!” Several others said, “We don’t find anyone who talks about the truth, about the purpose of life” or “Hearing such topics is among the best things in my day, amidst all my hectic work.”
Recently I discovered the Skype cast program to be an effective tool for preaching to many at the same time. It’s a public chat. Sometimes it can be difficult to get even a few people to attend a home program, but on Skype you can have as many as you wish. You can give them the option to simply listen, or to speak, or just to write, etc. And of course, as the host you can exclude anyone who creates a disturbance. Many Muslims and Christians are preaching through Skype. For instance, today you can find Skype casts named “Ask a Mormon a Question” (with nineteen people), or “Questions from the Bible,” “Talk to God,” and so on. Mine was the only “Hindu” Skype cast.
You should be prepared with appropriate explanations for the crowd. Make sure that your language and spellings are proper. Get the emails of potential contacts to be cultivated, and keep in touch in a personal way, sending them interesting articles and so on.
We could coordinate our Skype preaching and form teams of devotees willing to do this service. Many devotees sit at a computer for many hours every day. Have many Skype casts, and lecture or dialogue online. We could have a Krishna conscious presence twenty-four hours dailyy. We could give the contacts of interested people to preachers in their area for more direct follow up. The only difficult thing is to give them prasadam online—but you can teach them how to offer food to Krishna. This can be a complete program and a beginning of a new preaching era.
Yesterday I had a Skype cast entitled “Mantra Meditation.” Seven people chanted japa for twenty minutes. Then we had a kirtana. It was awesome and amazing! I gave them the link for the Mayapur webcam and while chanting they were watching the live darsana of Sri Sri Panca-tattva!
“Skype me” at radheradhes.