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Friends of the BBT Newsletter – August 2007

Thursday, 19 July 2007 / Published in Newsletters / 3,994 views

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In loving service to His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Founder-acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness and The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust

In this issue…

June Newsletter pdf

Download PDF version here.

Back to Godhead
People Profile

Jahnava Dasi

News in Brief

Seminar Inspires Boston

Smart Boxes
Distribution Story
Weapons of Mass Instruction



Hungarian BRGThe World Goes Back

To Godhead

by Madhava Smullen

Back to Godhead magazine was Srila Prabhupada’s first step towards fulfilling his Guru’s order to preach Krishna consciousness in English. Now, years later, his disciples have taken his beloved magazine and brought it beyond the English-speaking market, just as he did with his books and teachings. With last year’s Vyasa Puja book reporting over 90,000 copies printed in Europe and 600,000 in India, it’s been a slow but sure sucess.

BTG has been published in many Indian languages, including Marathi, Hindi, Bengali, and Gujarati since the early seventies. But when former editor Jayadvaita Swami established offices in Mumbai in the early nineteen-nineties, he took things to the next level. “The offices bustle with energy,” says Murari Gupta, writer at Bhagwad Darshan, BTG’s Hindi branch, “And our staff are varied and dedicated.”

It’s an understatement. Try Shyamananda Dasa, editor of the English edition, who also  translates Prabhupada’s books into Marathi and fulfills temple president duties. Or Vamsi Vihari Dasa, who triples as proofreader, translator and writer, while moonlighting as pujari and flower decorator.

But Marathi edition Jao Devacha Gao, or “Go back to the abode of God,” has possibly the most colorful staff in its sole member Vrindavan Kishor Dasa, translator, writer, and yes, national gold medalist gymnast.

BTG’s Indian editions only have 32 pages compared to the US edition’s 63. But audiences receive twice as many issues, and respond with enthusiasm.

“We set up a BTG stall at Nasik Kumbha Mela in 2005,” Murari Gupta says. “Unfortunately, people were more interested in a loin clothed yogi doing complex yoga right beside us. But when we announced over our PA system that Bhakti yoga was the highest and could instill love of Godhead, the yogi himself took a copy, put it on a stand in front of him, and continued doing his performance.
Immediately, people started buying BTG, and by the end of the day we had distributed 10,000 copies. Through- out the whole event, we distributed 50,000 copies.”


While Bhagwad Darshan was rising in India, Meditarranean BBT Trustee Madhusevita Dasa was launching Ritorno a Krishna, or “Back to Krishna” in Italy.

Since few people in the country could speak English, he, along with current editor Nimai Pandita Dasa, saw a need and decided to fill it. The 48 page magazine mainly reproduces articles from the North American edition, but the staff’s determination pushed them to continue even when that magazine ceased publication between 1991 and 1994.

“We were the only BTG in print in the world then,” Nimai Pandita beams proudly. “Ritorno a Krishna has been published for almost twenty years without interruption, and we intend it to stay that way for much longer.”

The bi-monthly magazine now sells 2,000 copies per issue, and remains a beacon of Krishna consciousness in Europe.

A local Hare Krishna magazine was always at the center of preaching in Hungary. But when Manorama Dasa took over as editor, he wanted to integrate it with the BBT and named the magazine Vissza Istenhez – Hungarian for “Back to Godhead.”

In an attempt to refresh BTG and make it more relevant, Manorama employed a professional graphic designer, had a local artist repaint the original logo, and created themed topical issues. These proved very popular, allowing readers to learn about a subject in depth and from many different angles.

BTG Hungary’s content is also completely original, borrowing little or nothing from the North American edition. Instead, it features articles from local devotees, and aims them at an external audience.

“They’re mainly introductory, for
people interested in spirituality but
with no deep Vedic knowledge,” says
Manorama. “We hope that our magazine will inspire them to read Srila Prabhupada’s books, where they can deepen their knowledge.”

The magazine is also very popular with devotees because it can teach them how to present a topic, and is a valuable preaching tool. Which leads to yet another unique quality of BTG Hungary – most, if not all, of the copies printed are distributed on the street. And that’s impressive; considering that they print 10 to 20,000 copies per issue, and 60-80,000 copies per year.

This success is largely due to national management’s treating BTG as a fully integrated part of ISKCON Hungary, rather than an isolated department. This year, local leaders  introduced a new level of ISKCON membership that co-ordinates all preaching efforts and includes BTG subscriptions for every member.

Manorama believes that this kind of cooperation is the key to success. “Every BTG edition is successful in its own way,” he acknowledges. “But imagine what would happen if all our resources were combined and coordinated?”


Prayer for Pranada Dasi

We ask all our friends and supporters to please say a prayer for Pranada Dasi, co-chair of Friends of the BBT. After many operations throughout her life, she is now seriously ill with a condition that includes chronic fatigue and an increased heart rate among many other worrying symptoms.
She will soon be undergoing tests in hopes of diagnosing her condition.

Pranada has worked with the BBT since 1985. From Back to Godhead magazine to book distribution to seven years with Gita Nagari Press to her current positions as BBTI corporate officer and co-manager, Pranada has always shown incredible enthusiasm and dedication to Prabhupada’s BBT mission.

“BBT is my life; it’s who I am,” Pranada says.

We all offer our love and prayers to Pranada. May Lord Krishna keep her healthy and happy so she may continue engaging in His eternal service.


News in Brief

Vaisesika DasaBook Distribution Seminar

Inspires Boston

National Sankirtana Leader, Vaisesika Dasa recently treated local and visiting devotees to an inspiring book distribution seminar in Boston,

The seminar, running from June 29th to July 1st, demonstrated how to distribute Srila Prabhupada’s books and highlighted the importance of this service to Srila Prabhupada.

Topics included essential principles of book distribution, practical strategies for distributing books, and the auspiciousness of keeping Srimad-Bhagavatam in one’s home.

Sanskrit School LogoSmart Boxes Distribute Books All on Their Own

The “Smart Box” project, covered in our May 2007 newsletter, is currently reporting some exciting success.

Project Director Venkatesh Chembrolu told Friends of the BBT this month that twenty-five Smart Boxes located in and around San Francisco’s Bay area distributed two hundred and fifty-six books, including twenty-five copies of Bhagavad-gita As It Is, in a single week.

Five hundred and forty-eight dollars were collected by the boxes which sit in various public venues and allow people to leave a donation and pick a book, vending-machine style. Altogether, the Bay area boasts forty-five Smart Boxes in ten different locations.


People Profile

Dravida Dasa at UFJahnava Dasi

Hare Krishna devotees first got a glimpse of Jahnava Dasi’s trademark determination and dedication to Krishna consciousness in 1993 when she struggled against China’s rigid materialist society to join

From the very beginning, things seemed to fall into place for Jahnava, who encountered her life’s calling a mere two years later when she was asked to edit the Chinese version of the abbreviated Srila Prabhupada Lilamrita for the BBT. Thrilled at the thought of using her writing talents in Krishna’s service, she set to work.

There weren’t many Chinese devotees at the time, and the translation had been done by some undergraduate students with a passing interest in Krishna consciousness.

“It didn’t take me long to notice that many of the sentences lacked logic,” Jahnava says. “So I started checking the English version, and realized that I really had a knack for carefully understanding each English sentence and putting it into smooth Chinese.”

A door had opened for Jahnava, but her translating career wouldn’t really kick off until her spiritual initiation in 1996 when her guru, Tamal Krishna
Goswami, instructed her to translate all of Srila Prabhupada’s books into Chinese.

It was a tall order that might have seemed daunting to a less determined mind, but Jahnava seized it with passion and immediately began to train herself by studying language books and practicing her craft. When she finally felt ready to launch herself into the work, it was with incredible zeal.

“When I’m translating a book,” she says, “I work on it for at least eight hours a day, seven days a week. If I’ve nothing else on my plate at the time, I can finish a big book in three to four months.” So far, Jahnava has translated over twenty BBT volumes into Mandarin including The Nectar of Instruction, Krishna, and one third of the Srimad-Bhagavatam.

“Translating Prabhupada’s books is my life and soul,” Jahnava tells Friends of the BBT. “It’s my Guru Maharaja’s personal instruction; it helps me focus on Krishna consciousness, and I get to associate with Prabhupada and other great devotees all the time. I couldn’t live without it.”

Jahnava’s husband, Ekachakra dasa, understands. As manager of the BBT’s Western Pacific division, Prabhupada’s books are his life, too, and the almost constant marathon the couple has been on since the beginning of their marriage only serves to strengthen their bond.

Her translating work keeps her busy, but doesn’t stop Jahnava from finding time to further other projects close to her heart. She has produced six episodes of Bhakti Yoga, a TV show that gradually introduces Krishna conscious concepts through physical yoga; eventually showcasing Prabhupada’s contribution to the world, including his books. 

Along with her husband, she has opened two Bhakti Yoga cultural centers in Taiwan, where they also give philosophy classes and distribute Prabhupada’s books.

On top of these activities, Jahnava has got even more plans. “When the time and money comes my way, I hope to produce audio CDs in Mandarin of all the BBT’s major books,” she says.

Jahnava has the kind of zest for spreading Krishna consciousness that would have Srila Prabhupada beaming proudly from ear to ear.


Distribution Story of the Month

Paratha-sarthi - SoldierWeapons of Mass Instruction

by Paratha-sarthii Dasa

I’m currently serving in the United States Army. Some people think this is not so favorable for Krishna consciousness, but I actually find the battlefield a book distributors’ heaven.

The other day, I was invited to give a talk at a “prayer breakfast.” I agreed to do so, and Krishna inspired me with the idea to set up a book table presenting only the Bhagavad-gita. I figured that since the Gita is spoken on a battlefield, the soldiers would be able to relate to it better than any other book.

I set up my books and gave my presentation. Afterwards, I started to pack up the books and go back to work when something wonderful happened.

Suddenly, a soldier came up and stopped me from packing, saying, “This book is amazing!”  Then, another soldier, and yet another came up and took books in their hands to examine them more closely.

It so happened that my Command Sergeant Major had bought the Bhagavad-gita many years ago, and had recommended that the soldiers read it. In the end, the soldiers took all fifty of the Gitas that I had put on display.

I feel so blessed that Srila Prabhupada’s mercy was bestowed upon the U.S. Army, and that I was used as an instrument by the Lord in this way.

Visit our website for more stories like this >>


“This is Very Good ”

Ramesvara: Srila Prabhupada, I just received a telegram from America about the book selling. It is from our main warehouse in Los Angeles. They report that there has been increase this month over last month. For Back to Godhead the increase has been seventy percent.

Prabhupada: Hm!

Ramesvara: For small books like
Perfection of Yoga, it has increased forty-five percent. For medium books like Krishna Trilogy and Isopanisad, it has increased forty-five percent, and for the hardbound books like Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-

Bhagavatam, it has doubled, two hundred percent increase.

Jayapataka: In one month.

Prabhupada: This is very good.


Conversation on June 2, 1977, Vrndavana, India


We are happy to welcome the following new members in June:

Sponsor Members
Raj K. Chadha

Advocate Members
Ramkumar Manoharan Kanti Dasi

Contributor Members
Manmohini Dasi Dhirasanta Dasa



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